that's unfortunate, but at least the interest is there on both sides
junior vs ncaa: fight!
I didn't know this was a thing. The NBA kids these days and their "popcorning."
— Nik Stauskas (@NStauskas11) April 14, 2015
That is Nik Stauskas splayed upon the counter in his popcorn-covered home. Urban Dictionary doesn't know what "popcorning" is (top result: "One of the ways a guinea pig shows his/her excitement/affection") and neither do I. Apparently it has something to do with the fact that Stauskas doesn't drive?
I feel like everything about Stauskas's NBA career has gone through the same filter that created "Sauce Castillo."
A brief essay on Sauce Castillo. It was a tweet at first, with a picture to verify. It took off as these things do, and then the Kings stepped in wholeheartedly. They had a friggin' Sauce Castillo night.
This is probably a good idea for the Kings. They are on top of what is happening on The Social Media and provide some intrigue for an early April game played by a team currently 38 games back of the Warriors. (But seven ahead of the Lakers!) They sold some merch, I imagine. A brief survey of the Kings organization shows a marketing savvy that's a bit of a shock for someone focused on colleges that are doing it right if they aren't shooting themselves in the foot monthly. The Kings are the future, when people at the top of organizations actually understand the internet and act accordingly.
And that's a little sad. A few years ago Sauce Castillo would have been a mark of something… probably that you read Bethlehem Shoals and are the kind of NBA obsessive who needs to find similarly-minded groups of proto-marxist revolutionary cells. Now Sauce Castillo is joyously accepted by the organization at large and thus destroyed.
Man I feel like an old man in Portland complaining that Sleater-Kinney's latest album ruins their entire career right now. But it is kind of a thing: there is a lot of value in defining yourself as a separate, weirder in-group in a mass of fans. MLS and the ever-shifting power struggle between various USMNT supporter's groups do a good job of this; the rest of American sports doesn't.
That will have to come from elsewhere in the Kingsfuture when every mildly diverting tweet is swiftly assimilated by the entertainment Borg.
LeVert update. Holding pattern for Michigan but one in which the arrows continue to point the right way. Chad Ford's advocating a return:
He should return. His draft stock was trending down before he was injured. Not sure he'd be a first rounder if he declared. He'd need excellent workouts.
Among underclassmen at LeVert's positions -- shooting guard and small forward -- to declare early are Kentucky's Devin Booker and Aaron Harrison, Arizona's Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Kansas' Kelly Oubre, Wisconsin's Sam Dekker, Florida's Michael Frazier II, Eastern Washington's Tyler Harvery, Georgia State's R.J. Hunter, Houston's Jherrod Stiggers, Florida State's Aaron Thomas, North Carolina's J.P. Tokoto and UNLV's Rashad Vaughn.
Other wings expected to declare for the draft include Duke's Justise Winslow and Arizona's Stanley Johnson. Mario Hezonja, a 6-foot-7 small forward from Croatia, is also a projected lottery pick.
"Jherrod Stiggers" is a spectacular name.
Let's maybe hold off on that for one sec. After his commitment, Matt Falcon takes a cue from the Lawrence Marshall playbook:
Right now, he says he's focused on three-star receiver Dez Fitzpatrick and four-star defensive lineman Khalid Kareem.
His pitch to them both is pretty simple.
"The best players in the state play for Michigan," Falcon says. "I'm trying to recruit names in the state and trying to get them to join the family."
I mean, continue to do that. Just expect MSUThaBest2009 to be on your case as you do so.
Hello: Samuelssons. I don't have to tell you this is a hockey recruiting bullet, do I? You just saw "Samuelssons" and assumed we were talking about some Swedes, be they from Sweden or relocated.
Well done, reader: Michigan hockey has secured commitments from depressingly young hockey players once again. This time they are the sons of former NHL defenseman Kjell Samuelsson. The older one, Matthias, is a defenseman. Over The Boards scouts:
RE: Samuelsson, Big 00 D at 6'2 190, strong lower body, imposes will with leverage. Has a hard shot and piles up SOG. Soft hands in own end.
— Mark Bilotta (@mbilotta) April 13, 2015
He is… uh… 14 and his dad is 6'7" so I would expect him to be very large indeed by the time he reaches campus. Luke Samuelsson, his brother, also committed as a 2018 forward. I haven't been able to find anything on him yet, as you might expect in this age range.
Meanwhile in draft hijinks. Not much in the way of intrigue in this year's OHL draft; Michigan's commitments that far out are generally already signed up with the NTDP. There weren't any unpleasant surprises this year. Michael Pastujov, the younger brother of NTDP-er Nick Pastujov, was drafted by Saginaw in the fourth round on a flier. Michael was projected as a top pick—possibly the top pick—in the draft and slid significantly because of concerns over his commitment. Saginaw is not noted as a team that snipes random Americans.
Toronto-based forward Quinn Hughes, also projected as a top ten pick, slid to the third round. Hughes has dual citizenship and is already committed to the NTDP; his father also works in an NHL front office so they're well aware of the pros and cons of each route. Josh Norris went in the sixth round to Niagara.
How does the seemingly imminent retirement of Red Berenson play into these recruitments? I don't know. Michigan has to be telling these kids that it's unlikely Red is around in 2018, so the far-future ones seem somehow more secure than those who might be making decisions in a year or two. I expect there's some attrition when the change is made; how much is hard to tell.
HELLO. I am back. I was blank yesterday after being in a car for like 14 hours, but here are some links to other things.
According to Wikipedia, I have been to the place where this was conceived.
Things I learned in Iowa. A sampling.
- Iowa is not as flat as Nebraska
- …but it's close
- …and it's really surprisingly large when you have to drive from one corner to the other
- Do not smell a pig farmer's phone
- …especially if he's presenting it you to like the natives might present Dr. Livingstone an eyeball to consume
- …even if he looks stunningly like Dr. Drew
- David Foster Wallace was not joking about the omnipresence of the howling mid-American gale that scours pockets from your face when there are shards of ice to fling at you
- …this does at least keep the roads clear
- You can be relieved and grateful to see a Subway
This is maybe not enough things to justify the time spent but needs must.
Here are all these things and then a school that's like NOPE. As Ace covered this morning, there's another uniform hijink in the near future. (Can hijinks be singular?) The basketball uniforms aren't iconic like football, so the proportional outrage is lower. I'm still bugged by the fact that Adidas is coming up with one design element and applying it to everyone because they want to advertise themselves, with no thought to how they could help Michigan out.
Michigan did draw the line at Adidas's Zubaz monstrosities a few years back, so at least there's that.
Still, I'm jealous that Indiana's the uniform in the center going NOPE here:
— Nick Baumgardner (@nickbaumgardner) February 26, 2015
"We have seen your ideas and find them lacking." –university that employs Tom Crean.
I wish we had the desire to do that. And the desire to go back to the 1989 throwbacks permanently.
"These throwbacks appear to be jerseys Michigan actually used to wear. They just don't get it, do they?" –The Brandon formerly known as athletic director
A seven footer! 2016 C commit Jon Teske was supposed to be growing constantly, as high school people tend to do, and now he's broken through a symbolic threshold:
Jon Teske has grown 1 inch since verbally committing to play basketball at Michigan back in early August.
This would be trivial if not for one fact: When Teske enrolls in 2016, he will officially be U-M's first 7-foot player since Ben Cronin, the first recruit coach John Beilein signed when he arrived in Ann Arbor eight years ago.
Teske is reportedly a shot blocker, something Michigan hasn't had since Beilein arrived.
Other than adding strength and bulk and improving his quickness in the lane, Teske's defensive skills are already at an elite level. He provides Medina with a safety net on the back line and blocks shots with a combination of a pterodactyl's wingspan and sharp instincts. Most impressively, he does so without fouling.
"The number of shots he changes is just unbelievable," Hassinger said. "That's what Michigan will get out of him -- he's such a good rim-protector. ... We can do so much defensively because he just rules the paint."
Would you go so far as to say he is also strategic? Jedd Fisch gets in on the Jameis Winston praise pile:
George Whitfield said Jedd Fisch really wowed Jameis & Bryce Petty on their time at #Michigan: "He was very tactical but also dynamic."
— Bruce Feldman (@BruceFeldmanCFB) February 18, 2015
Sounds like a man to play Battletech with. Meanwhile, another quote on Harbaugh from Petty:
"Outstanding guy," Petty said. "Just a football dude. That's the best way I can describe it. He just gave us a lot of advice about what to expect here (at the combine), about how to handle everything, especially going in as a rookie into a camp and what he expects as a coach in that scenario, things like that.
"We were tickled to death, anytime you get a chance to meet and talk to a guy who has been in it for four years and had a lot of success in it."
Harbaugh is definitely a Football Dude, as anyone who has watched that QB clinic video and giggled about knuckle placement knows.
Marketing back in the day. Gary Moeller repeats "keeps ticket prices down" three times in about 30 seconds at the end of this clip about marketing from a 1991 edition of Michigan Replay:
The word "brand" does not make an appearance.
We like this better because it doesn't work as well. It's that time of year when NFL guys ding spread QBs because their offenses provide too many open receivers to judge whether the guy can fit it in tight windows:
Ignore NFL translation, isn't this weird? Prostyle is better because it produces less open guys/doesn't work as well? pic.twitter.com/wfChgwGzdN
— Chris B. Brown (@smartfootball) February 26, 2015
I think the NFL guy was saying that tight windows are an inevitability in the league rather than pro-style is necessarily better. (Or even a concept that really means much other than Our QB Don't Run. New England is basically Texas Tech with a separate LeGarrette Blount offense stapled to it.)
And stay out? CHL teams are making noises like they would withdraw from Washington if their for-profit enterprises with mid five-digit attendances have to give their players anything other than a per diem and the vague promise of an education package maybe a sixth of them will use:
Silvertips GM Garry Davidson was clearly singing from the same songbook when he told legislators if the state did not exempt the teams from minimum wage laws, “it could negatively impact our ability to operate and would force us to move or not operate in the state.”It’s an age-old tactic used by sports teams and it’s age-old because it so often works. Build us a new arena or we’ll go to a place where they’ll happily build one for us. Give us tax breaks and concessions or we’ll have to pick up our ball and go somewhere else. And in this case, grant us an exemption from laws governing the basic human right to minimum wage or we’ll take our teenagers and have them entertain hockey fans somewhere else.
Oh really? Considering the Everett Silvertips (4,898 average fans per game), Spokane Chiefs (5,570), Seattle Thunderbirds (4,353) and Tri-City Americans (3,976) are attracting decent home crowds, it’s safe to assume the revenue they’re drawing from their regular season gate alone is robust. Probably multi-millions.
A CHL departure from Washington is about as likely as the Big Ten re-implementing freshman eligibility. There aren't enough markets in BC and Alberta that aren't already covered. Meanwhile on the other side of the continent, a QMJHL team just sold for 25 million dollars.
Silver lining: it turns out there is in fact a sports organization that can make the NCAA look good.
Obligatory. Ohio State has a five star recruit incoming.
This is man with a good super power. Michigan Hockey Now pings commit Nick Pastujov about various personal things. He has never gone to a concert, he likes the World Cup, he envisions having a hilarious dinner with Bill Gates, Steve Carrell, and Bob Marley, and he has a very practical approach to super powers: "could do anything." That just about covers it, I'd think.
Etc.: Kentucky fans are terrified of Northwestern.
How did I miss this? Maize and Blue Nation has a shot of team goals taken from within the locker room onto which he's photoshopped success or failure thus far. As you might imagine, there's a lot of failure. I'm more put off by one of the criteria:
Time of possession? In 2014? Ugh. Slowness as a virtue.
Sounds familiar. We're going to have to be really nice to Orson for his fundraiser this year because the man followed up Michigan-Penn State by actually attending the Mizzou-Florida game. In person and everything. In the flesh. To watch his team lose 42-13 to a team that gained fewer than 120 yards of offense. The resulting hot take:
4. This was expected, and almost comforting. It's a custom, slow-drip/ slow-pour kind of disaster. At one point in every fan's life there is a team coached by a person who trademarks a specific variation of loss, and then serves it until the Health Department closes it forever for numerous violations of common standards. For Florida, Will Muschamp is the hardworking barista at the local coffee shop who takes your order, brews your coffee without putting the water through any caffeine of any sort, and then pours it into your cup insisting its coffee. When you point it out, he shakes his head, grimaces, and mutters: "We'll get that sorted out. We're trying, and we'll get that fixed." Then he brews and pours another cup of hot water for you wonder why you keep coming to this stupid fucking coffee shop every time.
Brady Hoke sends you none pizza left beef no matter what you order, and when you call to complain he says it's really all about the kids who are making 8.15, no thanks to you.
Fantastic. Devin Gardner's profiled by Angelique Chengelis and what could make everything worse than it already is?
"I've been called the N-word so many times this year," Gardner said. "One guy told me I was the N-word, and said I know N-words can't play quarterback. And I was like, are we not past this? Say what you want about my skill, but come on."
I'm not surprised, but I'm still surprised. If Dave Brandon wants to fire off "find another team" emails to these gentlemen we are all behind that. I can only hope this is the usual 14-year-old-on-mom's-computer thing and not, like, actual adults, but I am almost certain I heard Dennis Norfleet described thusly by the Cumong Man guys at the 2012 Northwestern game so they're out there, being repulsive.
When Gardner's graduated (again) I hope we all buy him sandwiches and apologize on everyone else's behalf. I want Gardner to have to start his own charity to distribute the sandwiches he cannot eat, and then become such a sandwich expert he gets an honorary PhD in Meat Betwixt Bread. It's the least we can do.
Also in that article. I mean, even beyond the people who get shot into the sun it hasn't been a nice ride:
"It's hard to play effectively when you're continuously getting hit," Gardner said. "But that's the situation we're in. And my guys are trying as hard as they can, so I can't ask for anything else. I've just got to find a way, which I'm trying to do each week, so the stats aren't going to be there sometimes. It's just finding ways to win, that's it."
That's life at the moment, though pass protection has actually been pretty good the last few weeks. Maybe they can protect long enough to get some guys open downfield? Or covered downfield? I'm just asking for some downfield.
Case in point. Big plays: we do not have them.
The standout individual effort by Funchess gave the Wolverines their longest completion of the year and the longest play of any kind since a season-opening drubbing of Appalachian State
We seem to have swung too far the other way from Borges here.
And the guy we're not really trying to throw bombs to is… moving up on the SI draft board to 13th. Very frustrating.
THANK YOU BIG DADDY MAY I HAVE ANOTHER.
The block ‘M’ on Michigan’s campus has been painted green. pic.twitter.com/lGFvnXeVbv
— Alejandro Zúñiga (@ByAZuniga) October 22, 2014
The race to be SI's most embarrassing employee narrows. The results have come back in the Oklahoma State investigation spurred by the eighty-part investigative piece by Thayer Evans and they are…
The NCAA and Oklahoma State announced Tuesday that allegations of widespread misconduct in the football program outlined in a Sports Illustrated expose last year were "fundamentally unfounded.''
…as per usual when a university maniacally checks for ticks, Oklahoma State turned up a few Level II violations. (The NCAA revamped its punishment structure into a four-tier thing a couple years back; levels I and II would have been the "major" violation level, although as Michigan learned your major violations can be not particularly major.) The projected punishment for Thayer's lurid descriptions of cash, grade-fixing and ladyfun distributed willy-nilly: a couple scholarships over a couple years.
The three violations named in the notice of allegations include a failure to follow institutional policy concerning player punishments for positive drug tests; the organization of the "Orange Pride" support program through the football program rather than the university, meaning all campus hosting duties performed for prospective football recruits ran "contrary to NCAA legislation"; and a failure to monitor charge related to the first two violations.
Details on the drug policy:
Finding: On four occasions, the applicable penalty for failed drug tests was not applied, but TCG concluded athletic ability was not the reason.
The NCAA's notice of allegations says the school failed to follow policies regarding athlete drug use. It said five athletes from January 2008 and October 2012 tested positive for banned substances and were allowed to play without the required corrective or disciplinary action. In one case, the notice says an athlete was not dismissed after a fourth failed test and allowed the athlete to compete during the first half of the season. This would be an infraction.
That doesn't move my "you can't hire THAT guy" needle since I've heard tell of schools closer to home doing similar things, and nothing else in the lurid story Evans published was substantiated. Evans went full Rosenberg here.
If you're wondering about Mike Gundy's viability: if he's leavin' he's viable.
So with that in mind. Evans combines with similarly dubious Pete Thamel—he of the dead Manti Te'o girlfriend story—to project what might happen at Michigan and Florida. While they get off a depressingly accurate zinger by describing the handling of the Shane Morris concussion as "straight out of the Julie Hermann p.r. playbook" they burn everything to the ground by swinging wildly at coaching candidates like
GREG SCHIANO, who is hated by the entire NFL and couldn't get a job last year; in his two years in Tampa he managed to make Tom Coughlin a hero for chewing him out after he instructed his players to go after the opposition QB as he kneeled to see the game out.
JERRY KILL, who would be coming off one good(?) season in the watered-down Big Ten in which he lost 30-7 to TCU and beat Purdue by a point. Plus the whole seizure thing makes him a risk.
BRET BIELEMA… which… no. Jeff Long has reportedly done a fantastic job of reining in Bielema's fratty tendencies, but this one fails on legit cultural grounds.
They also say Mississippi State has nicer facilities than Michigan, to which I say YES, they may be more stable and YES their athletic department is not run like a crappy Domino's franchise but dammit we have shiny buildings that will go toe to toe with anyone's.
It's coming down for the CHL, too. Actual law talkin' guy Chris Heisenberg writes on the recently-filed lawsuit against the CHL that seeks minimum wage for players. They currently receive 50 dollars a week plus the vague promise of a scholarship down the road that evaporates if you play pro hockey for any appreciable length of time (including the AHL and below); makes you wonder why anyone would pick the CHL over the NCAA… oh right large under the table payments to top players.
Heisenberg forsees the CHL losing this battle as they are no longer even vaguely credible as non-profit-ish enterprises. CHL franchises are now worth millions. If that in fact happens the trickle-down effects are going to be considerable, and hard to project. Some of them:
- There won't be any more crocodile tears from the CHL about how the big bad NCAA makes their players ineligible despite being amateurs.
- Mid-tier players with options in both leagues might be more inclined to go junior. Hard to see this being a large effect since a lot of these guys are overagers in the NCAA and that group doesn't have a lot of overlap with 16-year old CHL draftees.
- Top players might be more inclined to go NCAA. The Big Ten has implemented a bunch of scholarship improvements and if the CHL has to play everyone down to the fourth line that would drain resources currently used to woo big stars.
- US CHL teams might be under threat. Nobody cares about the Plymouth Whalers and they are probably relocating to Canada; increased expenses for dubiously profitable enterprises may force the CHL's US outposts relocate to various Canadian suburbs.
SALT. Any present cracks against Michigan State are inappropriate, so let's take the long view from a salty Henry Phillip Tappan:
“It is better to have one great institution than half a dozen abortions,” proclaimed U-M’s first president. “One institution must be located somewhere because we cannot locate everywhere; let us not split it into little pieces which shall have no strength and value anywhere.”
I think I saw that guy yelling that Christian Hackenberg was a bum a couple weeks ago.
Early hockey entries: a trend? One applicable to basketball?
With both Zach Werenski and Noah Hanifin (BC) graduating high school a year early to play for their respective schools, do you think this might be an emerging trend among schools looking to secure top end talent? Or at least secure them for more than a season?
Also, seems like there could be applicability to basketball. If he's academically eligible, bring a guy a year early. A lot of the high-end recruits are probably about as college ready at 17 as they would be at 18. Is this a possibility for schools or do you think Werenski and Hanifin are the rare exceptions?
Don't forget BU's Jack Eichel, who is joining Werenski and Hanifin in college this fall after accelerating. That's three, and that's a trend. And it's one that makes sense. The USA NTDP U-18 plays a schedule heavy with exhibitions against college teams, and they're competitive. You could take the top guys on those teams and put them on a second or third line and they'd be fine, if not better.
Then you probably will get them for a second or even third year instead of one, two, or—increasingly likely as the prospects get more and more touted—zero. One of the most interesting aspects of this new version of early enrollment is that all of these guys are leaving the NTDP a year early. That does not happen often because the NTDP contract comes with a clause that forces you to repay the costs of your first year in the program if you leave before the second.
Given that it seems like this is a concerted effort by the NTDP and college hockey to get the top 15 pick types in the program to college before the OHL can try to sink its hooks in.
As for applicability to basketball, it is something that comes up occasionally as players move in and out of recruiting years in an attempt to find the best fit. Usually this means going back a year, though. And since a lot of high end basketball players were strategically held back so they'd be bigger and stronger than everyone else, moving ahead a year is often just moving back to your natural spot.
But the real problem with accelerating basketball players a year is the academic situation of the top players. In hockey, many of the players are at tony private schools or, in the NTDP's case, Ann Arbor's well-funded Pioneer High. American prospects generally have some money in their family—hockey is expensive—and as a result have gone to good schools for the bulk of their scholastic career. Accelerating is evidently within the capabilities of both the schools and the players.
That combination is undoubtedly a lot rarer for basketball players. These days large chunks of the top prospects are at places like Findlay Prep, which are dogged with eligibility issues. Often those are because the players who arrive at Findlay have been miserably served by their local high schools. There's an entire cottage industry dedicated to taking promising basketball players and beating their transcripts into shape the NCAA might accept. Doing that in a year less and packing an extra year of credits in is going to be a bridge too far for almost everyone.
What's the deal with Manning?
So, looking at coaching changes, is putting Manning, who has never coached DBs as the CB and nickel coach an effort to:
A) get your most dynamic recruiter to your most dynamic, desired athletes and keep them with him when they get to campus
Probably not. Coaches usually take an area rather than a position. The position coach does come into it but after much of the legwork has been done. And Michigan was recruiting CBs just fine before the move.
B) get a guy who has played and coached more physical positions (RB, LB) to take some physicality and tackling ability to the DBs
Maybe? Moving to what seems to be an aggressive man press defense means that a guy who knows what you should to to get under a guy and rock him back can apply his experience. It also minimizes some of his inexperience at the position. If the position is about getting in a guy's grill and reacting to what's in front of you that's something that takes less holistic knowledge of what to do in situation X in a zone.
C) minimize the role of Curt Mallory, who has been rumored to be looking at a head coaching gig elsewhere
Not sure if "minimize" is quite the right word, because just by the numbers he had five guys while the most anyone else had before the move was two. But yes devolving some of those responsibilities seems like a good idea.
D) get rid of overlaps in coaching staff. Hoke will work with Smith on DL, Mattison takes over LBs, Manning and Mallory take DBs. basically your 3 most dynamic recruiters (HC Hoke, Mattison and Manning) all head up a unit on D.
I do think this is a reasonable idea. When Montgomery, Hoke, and Mattison were all dealing with the DL that was three guys for four starters with the other two guys handling seven. Now everyone has about the same number of guys.
E) all of the above
Parts of three of the above.
I like 'em both.
Would you rather see Michigan win a football national championship or the USMNT win a World Cup? I'm a lifelong Michigan fan like most of your readers but I think I would rather have the World Cup. At this point I have more pride and anticipation when watching the USMNT in the World Cup. What are your thoughts?
I like 'em both.
A couple of readers who would prefer not to be identified passed along this:
We are pleased to announce a special offer for our Season Pass Holders. To show our appreciation for your loyalty to Radrick Farms and the University of Michigan's Athletic Department, we are offering complimentary tickets for you and a guest to attend up to two football games at the Big House!
We have LIMITED tickets available for the following games on a first-come, first-served basis:
- UM v. Appalachian State on August 30th
- UM v. Miami of Ohio on September 13th
If you are interested in attending these games, you must let us know at least THREE weeks prior to kick-off.
Football's just around the corner, but World Cup fever (including your soccer columns) has me paying a little more attention than usual to soccer. Last year I caught bits and pieces of NBC's EPL coverage on Saturday mornings while counting down the minutes to actual football and was thinking maybe this year I'd find myself watching more of it.
Here's my question: Who should I root for? Should I pick a team to follow? Pick a team to root against? Root for current/future USMNT players? Root for bicycle kicks or red cards? A quick guide to "What to watch on Saturday mornings before real football kicks off" would be a fun read.
Looking forward to your season previews!
There's not a whole lot of American flavor in the EPL these days, just a couple goalies and various people trying to keep their teams from getting relegated. There was a good eight years or so where Fulham was relying on Brian McBride and then Clint Dempsey as their primary goalscorers, but now not so much.
You can't root for the Yankees, and you probably shouldn't root for whichever random club has been picked out by a petrosheik and driven towards the top of the league through no merit of its own. And you don't really want to pick out some team that stands a good chance of relegation within five years, because a team that gets relegated won't be seen by an American until it comes back up.
With that in mind, options:
EVERTON. Tim Howard, a strong finish last year (fifth, just outside a Champion's league spot), they like Landon Donovan, you know their manager from ESPN, they've been in the top flight since 1955, and haven't won since 1987. Wear blue.
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR. Named "Tottenham Hotspur." That's all you need to know. Also have been in top flight forever but hasn't won since 1961. White and blue color scheme M-friendly. Have the money to potentially do something but generally don't. Had Clint Dempsey for a bit.
STOKE. Brek Shea and Geoff Cameron. Probability of relegation is low in immediate future. Long term… they will probably go down at some point. Currently have Peter Crouch, the 6'7" robot-dancing beanpole former England striker.
LIVERPOOL. Along with Arsenal, the most tolerable team that regularly participates in the Champions League. Advantages over Arsenal: still plays at Anfield instead of stadium named after Middle Eastern airline, you might be tired of Nick Hornby, Arsenal's manager is a French guy who wears a ridiculous puffy coat whenever the temperature drops below 70.
ARSENAL. Along with Liverpool, most tolerable team that regularly participates in the Champions League. Advantages over Liverpool: you might rather like Fever Pitch, haven't won since 2004, just like Michigan.
Rooting against is obvious: Chelsea and anyone from Manchester. United is the Yankees, Chelsea plays desultory bore-ball and is backed by a Russian kleptocrat, Manchester City is Qatar FC, basically.
Hype video. Summing up the last two years in the tourney:
Paperwork. Michigan's three NBA draft candidates have submitted their paperwork for evaluation. This is a non-event, as they were always going to see what the NBA says. Unless they come back saying something different than expectation (yes Stauskas, maybe GRIII, probably not McGary). Which they probably won't.
SCOUR THE STREETS OF TIMBUKTU. Block/charge is broken but danged if Michigan wouldn't do well with one of those extreme defensive centers whose main job is to intimidate and throw down dunks. John Beilein may agree:
Beilein tells @michiganinsider he may look for a bigger shotblocker to place on the back line due to changes in block/charge call
— Brendan F. Quinn (@BFQuinn) April 9, 2014
Oh really. The Penn State game will be at night, as anyone who had looked at the 2014 home schedule could have told you. Prediction: I mutter about pom-poms in the aftermath.
Oh really, but in a good way. Hockey has already named its captains for next year and I bet you can get the C and one A without even thinking a little and the other A after a brief pause.
Copp will join Jed Ortmeyer and Carl Hagelin as two-year captains since I've been aware of Michigan hockey, and if he drives Michigan back to the tournament with authority he'll end up on my personal Michigan hockey Mount Rushmore with those two gentlemen. (Shawn Hunwick is the fourth.) I don't mean for this to turn into another discussion of Mount Rushmores like twitter was inexplicably doing a month back. Just let it go. No Rushmores.
OHL draft update. It was not a dramatic year for Michigan in the OHL draft, as every one of their commitments was picked in the late flier range. With James Sanchez's commitment to the NTDP, three of their four commits will be on the U17s next year. The NTDP contract has a financial penalty for early departure, so the window OHL teams have will be very small. It's not impossible, but generally NTDP guys who defect are staring down top-ten draft picks and decided they don't have to play school or are terrified by the prospect of competing with Shawn Hunwick.
Michigan's three gentlemen are highly regarded, but not in that range. They're probably safe, except for the whole looming Berenson retirement thing. But there's nothing you can do about that.
Simple, but more complicated. Morris on the differences between Nussmeier and Borges:
"We have to know a lot more this year. We have to know what lineman do on every play, who the back blocks on every play so we know who our (hot routes) are; stuff like that. It's definitely helping us out and making us more aware of the defense."
Morris, who completed 5-of-11 passes for 73 yards on Saturday, summed up the changes as "having to study defenses more" and knowing "the ins and outs of every play."
As long as there is less stuff this can work out, and it sounds like there's less stuff. Hopefully more stuff than Morris claims, though:
What's hoped for is improvement via simplification. Under Borges, the Wolverines struggled in an intricate, extensive offense.
Nussmeier's offense is the converse.
"That's how every coach should be," Morris said. "The stuff we run, we want to be perfect. I think Vince Lombardi, when he was coaching the Packers, they ran about three plays, but they ran them perfectly. That's why they won. That's what we're trying to do this year."
I want my amount of stuff porridge to be just right. Last year was too hot, and that would be too cold. But after last year we might have to settle for dully banging face for uninspiring yardage.
/rolls eyes, makes wanking gesture. If that's bolded I must be talking about Jason Whitlock.
"I'm not a big Shane Morris guy, Devin Gardner struggles during adversity," Whitlock said. "Devin Gardner handles adversity worse than others, in my opinion. …
"I don't want to beat the kid up, but that play against Michigan State when he's one yard away from a first down and he fell down," Whitlock recalled. "When you're a competitor and the leader of the team, that doesn't happen."
…which is probably why he threw for 451 yards on a broken foot against Ohio State. We could extrapolate from one play on which he made a mental error, or we could look at a season in which he was massacred weekly and still came out until—in fact after—his body literally would not let him.
It's a miracle Whitlock's made it as far as he has in the world without ever being even on the same planet as correctness.
Okay? Jeff Goodman flings Caris LeVert on his Way Too Early First-Team All-American list($). There's not much content and Goodman claims LeVert is a "terrific defender," which he's not yet…
G Caris LeVert, 6-6, Jr., Michigan
Stats: 12.9 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 2.9 apg
Nik Stauskas made the huge jump last season, and look for LeVert to do it next year. He's long, can score in a variety of ways and is also a terrific defender.
…but we have officially reached the point where people in the media point at a random Michigan player and expect him to morph into a beast because John Beilein. Michigan's actually got three candidates to make this morph—LeVert, Walton, and Irvin—who are sorta kinda making freshman to sophomore leaps. (LeVert is not but is very young for his grade.)
Yes please. The Northwestern union ruling is far from final but if things go like it looks like they're going to go—every time the NCAA runs up a judge these days the judge goes LOL NO—major changes are coming. If it does go the CAPA route, things will get interesting because public schools are going to be beholden to state law, not the NLRB. Ohio seeks to disadvantage itself:
COLUMBUS, Ohio — College athletes in Ohio would not be considered employees under state law, under changes to the state’s budget review made by a legislative committee on Monday.
Michigan, meanwhile, has what I'm pretty sure are strong grad student and lecturer unions. They are emphatically extant, at the least. It'll probably take Ohio one look at the stuff Michigan is handing their athletes to reverse course here, but never underestimate human stupidity.
Why bother with an early signing period? The entire concept of the "signing period" is uselessly anachronistic, but people keep trying to fix it by introducing early signing or late signing or whatever. Bylaw Blog's John Infante is the latest:
An early signing period should be in early December. It should be as close to the end of the regular season as possible to minimize the effect on bowl preparation. That means the Wednesday after conference championship games are played. This is one week earlier than the current initial signing date for midyear junior college transfers. The signing period would be open for one week; it would include prospects enrolling that January and the following fall.
There's no reason to have a signing day at all, but it's now a TV event so it will persist forever and ever amen. There is a way to both ease the burden on coaches and players who have come to an agreement: provide a non-binding letter of intent. Players can sign it at any time and withdraw it at any time. Once they sign it other coaches can't contact them and they can't take officials except to the school they signed with. They have to make it official on signing day.
That system would provide players a way to opt out of the recruiting process whenever they wanted without locking them in if their coach gets whacked. Importantly for its chances of passage, it reduces workload for coaches, who no longer have to babysit their commits so hard and have a more limited range of poaching options.
People are just in charge of things, part LXVII. You may remember Rutgers AD Julie Hermann from such events as "it is revealed that Rutgers, reeling from a scandal in which it was revealed that their basketball coach was a violent psychopath, hires person claimed to be violent psychopath by former players, then experiences mass football decommitment spree after football coach is claimed to be violent psychopath." And then nothing else because Rutgers.
Hermann is now back in the news, which can't be good.
“If they’re not writing headlines that are getting our attention, they’re not selling ads – and they die,” Hermann told the Media Ethics and Law class. “And the Ledger almost died in June, right?”
“They might die again next month,” a student said.
“That would be great,” she replied. “I’m going to do all I can to not give them a headline to keep them alive.”
Good job, good effort, Hermann.
I'd say the stink of Rutgers would harm the image of the Big Ten, but… hey, yeah we're a basketball conference now. The stink of Rutgers will harm the image of the Big Ten.
AND STAY OUT. The greatest collapse in NBA GM history is complete, as Joe Dumars will resign after creating the unlikeliest NBA champion in recent history, a team that was a bounce or two away from a second title. Then he traded Chauncey Billups for a broken-down Allen Iverson and spent the money saved on Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva, at which point it was over.
Eventually Dumars started making decisions seemingly to spite Pistons fans; aside from the fortune of having a franchise center slide to him in the draft there is literally no good thing Dumars has done since he broke bad with Iverson. The Pistons have been stuck in NBA purgatory, never any good but never bad enough to secure one of the top picks in the draft. This year's desperate attempt to get into the playoffs secured them the worst three point shooter in NBA history on a team with two promising young bigs. And of course, Trey Burke. Though Burke's not shooting well this year the difference made by his presence in Utah's lineup is obvious in their record. The guy Dumars picked over him picked up three consecutive trillions.
But you know what they always say: when you can draft a guy who dragged his team to a .500 SEC record you gotta do it.
Anyway, Dumars dug his own grave and I'm mad at him for… uh… being the dumbest person. But at one point he was a genius, so thanks for that.
They'll be undefeated in the nonconference pending matchups against two of Virginia, K-State, and Pitt!
They'll… go 10-8 in the Big Ten?
Whoah. Ah so:
Yes, Michigan is overrated. Pretty much anyone who's ventured an opinion about the mainstream basketball polls has done so to note that Michigan is overrated at #5, a faction that includes John Gasaway($), Eamonn Brennan, Kenpom above, and myself. As related by Brennan, this is the main reason why I'm with the skeptics:
The first is that, on Ken Pomeroy’s adjusted per-possesion basis, Michigan finished last season ranked No. 29 overall. Their offense ranked No. 22 in the country; their defense No. 60. No other current top-five team ranked outside the top 15. (Louisville, that 15th-ranked team, rode the No. 1 defense in the country to the Final Four. No. 11 Indiana had the nation’s fourth-best offense.)
They were never as good as the teams they split the Big Ten title with and were probably overseeded—if I wasn't a Michigan fan that game against OHIO would have been an easy upset pick in NCAA pools.
Brennan also tacks this on:
The counterpoint to such a crude year-over-year comparison is obvious: Michigan is hardly the same team as last season. Very true. The next question is whether that’s a good thing.
In the offseason, Michigan lost Zack Novak (graduation), Stu Douglass (graduation), and Evan Smotrycz (transfer to Maryland). All three were outside shooting specialists, and a big reason why the Wolverines ranked No. 8 in the country in their rate of 3-pointers to overall field goal attempts. They were also three most efficient offensive players on the team.
I'm not too concerned about that. While we love Zack Novak and have shirts and everything, he was a 6'4" power forward. Smotrycz was only getting about half of available minutes and seemed to have a chemistry issue with the rest of the team; Douglass was a quality on-ball defender and good shooter, but a low-usage guy. Novak and Douglass both find themselves in the "limited roles" section of Kenpom, and while Novak was unbelievably efficient it's not that hard to replace an efficient low-usage player. Between Stauskas, GRIII, McGary, and the return of Horford Michigan should get some combination of rebounding, defense, and shooting to replace Novak.
While Michigan will have to adapt to an offense that isn't spacing you out with four shooters, they've been pick-and-roll heavy the last two years. It won't be a huge leap. They'll improve… but I'm not expecting them to being the thick of a fight for a one seed at the end of the year.
Unless TREY BURKE
The good news. The AP top 25 is pretty good at IDing the right teams.
Yes please. Glenn Robinson's defense is getting talked up, which would be very nice:
"Glenn Robinson has shown some ability several times to really guard people," Michigan coach John Beilein said last week. "He's got instincts and he's really worked hard through the years to be a defender.
"That would be an easy way for him right now (to add to this team)." …
"We've been thinking about that," Beilein said. "You could switch on a ball screen (with the point guard) if his man is a bigger guy.
"I think he could do that."
Neither Burke or Hardaway has been a lockdown defender to this point and Michigan does need someone to go up against opponent's big time perimeter threats. Also you know how I feel about guys who contribute to teams without absorbing possessions. I like them—lots. If GRIII can be a plus player on defense and rebounding at both ends of the floor, he'll improve Michigan more than if he's doing equivalent stuff with the ball in his hands, because Michigan already has a lead ballhandler.
Sometimes uniforms are not crazy enough. 30 years ago, yeah, but whoah:
At least that one guy has a belt. Also, hey, Art Schlichter!
Oh good. Denard is not aging backwards.
"He should be fine," Hoke reiterated Tuesday on the Big Ten coaches' teleconference. "It's just one of those things that flares up now and then depending on how he gets hit. He's better every day.
"We think he'll be fine."
It's official. The NCAA's long-awaited penalty system revamp is officially official. There are now four levels of infraction. Level four is "incidental" and roughly equivalent to old secondary violations. What used to be major violations are now binned into three different groups:
- LEVEL 1: Big, big stuff. Violations that "seriously undermine" the NCAA model. Penn State, obviously. Maybe USC's agent stuff. Hopefully UNC's you never go to class thing.
- LEVEL 2: Serious stuff, violations that "provide or are intended to provide more than a minimal but less than a substantial or extensive recruiting, competitive or other advantage." OSU's tatgate. South Carolina's hotel stuff.
- LEVEL 3: "isolated or limited in nature; provide no more than a minimal recruiting, competitive or other advantage; and do not include more than a minimal impermissible benefit." Michigan's practice stuff.
Coaches now can't play see-no-evil and punishments are hypothetically ramped up, but we won't know for a while: anything that's happened before today will get the more lenient, older penalty structure.
Nope not happening. The CHLPA wants CHL players to be NCAA-eligible. This is not happening without significant concessions from the CHL. When the NCAA relaxed its standards for foreign player eligibility, hockey got together and had this inserted into the bylaws:
220.127.116.11.4 Major Junior Ice Hockey. Ice hockey teams in the United States and Canada, classified by the Canadian Hockey Association as major junior teams, are considered professional teams under NCAA legislation.
That was inserted specifically to prevent CHL teams from getting their claws into players who would otherwise be ticketed to junior leagues that position themselves as college feeders. The USHL is now a fine feeder league for the NCAA and there's no reason to give CHL teams a marketing point that won't have any bearing in reality and will in fact encourage CHL teams to make sure their players are not eligible, whether it's for academic or amateurism reasons.
The CHLPA is trying, though, and an extremely long post by Guy Flaming indicates there has been some movement on the whole amateurism front—the CHL has gone from specifically defining itself as professional to specifically defining itself as amateur. The fact that signed NHL players can still participate is an issue that has not been resolved—and it's hard to see it getting resolved. A large part of the CHL's appeal is having a bunch of first round picks around. They've built that into the NHL CBA by prohibiting junior kids from playing in the AHL until they're 20.
Meanwhile, the CHL can call itself whatever it wants and the NCAA can still reject players from that league. Unless the NCAA sees a benefit, they will not change their stance. The only way I could see something happening is if the CHL gives significantly and agrees to not poach players signed to LOIs, or poach guys mid-year, etc.
The only reason they'd do that is to stop this ramshackle insurrection they have on their hands. Right now it's just bad PR and erratic Georges Laraque appearances. We're a long way from what would be a seismic shift in college hockey.
Etc.: Oregon's using double stacks, too. More Michael Ferns tribute. Bring kleenex. Why does the NCAA want basketball coaches to explode? Hockey series against Miami recap. Don't be mean to Russell Bellomy or Lewan will eat you. Wolverine Historian puts up 2007 Minnesota.