landing spot. will be interesting to see how he does.
Dytarious Johnson is mean
The question we no longer have to answer about basketball
Does it concern you yet that Harbaugh and staff are going after so many 3-star or less recruits (and even unranked ones) rather than shooting for more 4- and 5-star types? Might JH be underestimating his own standing and instead still be in "I'm at Stanford" mentality (i.e., "I need to find the hidden gems because the 5-stars are going to USC, Alabama, and such")?
Thanks for the blog, and give Ace a raise.
Hail to the bloggers,
This is so overblown. Michigan has ten commits. Five of them are composite four-stars (Swenson, Onwenu, Peters, Falcon, and Evans). Of the five who aren't, one committed to Brady Hoke (Harding), one is (probably) a fullback (Reese), and one picked up Nebraska, LSU, and Florida offers after his commitment (Davis). The two other guys are Kiante Enis and Dytarious Johnson. Enis ran for three thousand(!) yards last year and Johnson looks like a BAMF on his Hudl film.
That is not a high flier rate thus far. The two guys who truly qualify are both gentlemen an expert talent evaluator has seen in person.
Meanwhile, here is a list of high four star recruits who Michigan is thought to lead for: NJ WR Ahmir Mitchell, NJ WR Brad Hawkins, PA TE Nasseir Upshur, MD OL Terrance Davis, WI OL Ben Bredeson, MI DE Khalid Kareem, and NJ DE Ron Johnson. They are at or near the top for five star NJ DT Rashan Gary and CA LB Caleb Kelly.
They won't get all those guys; they'll get a healthy chunk, and they'll get involved with more guys down the road. It's not going to be an Alabama class but it should be comfortably top ten.
And that's only half the reason recruiting concern is overblown. The other half:
That class was Andrew Luck and three stars. It followed a class that was all three stars, and ranked ninth in the then Pac-10. Stanford was slightly better than that when those classes bore fruit. Recruiting is important; coaching is more important.
[After the JUMP: Countess impact, concerns that Michigan's skill position players are no better than Iowa's, outrageous afro.]
you asked for it
"Soon he will start appearing in historically significant photos and no one will remember that he was not, in fact, present."
Harbaugh put his Jim Harbaugh on the Declaration of Independence, and war was avoided. The British decided to do anything else at all; Harbaugh was forced to invent the game of baseball so he could play it with himself.
Shot clock effect on upsets.
Given that lowering the shot clock from 35 to 30 seconds had little to no effect in the NIT, and that we can expect the same for a full season, I wonder if a side effect of the change might be fewer upsets. While efficiency might not change, the number of possessions will. I would think that with more possessions the better team is likely to win, because more possessions mean less randomness and greater reversion to the mean overall.
Give EMU 50 possessions against Michigan vs. 100 possessions against Michigan, and I would think that they would have a better chance to win with 50 possessions than 100. Could the 30 second shot clock actually make March Madness less maddening by reducing upsets? Thoughts?
-A slightly amused reader who still hopes for upsets
I think that's correct. I still remember that game back in the Amaker era when Illinois was at their apex and Michigan was rolling out Dion Harris and walk-ons named Dani. Michigan's strategy was to run the clock down without running offense and have Harris take a contested shot—the most Amaker strategy ever—and it worked for a while.
Anything that increases the number of trials without making those trials significantly less reliable indicators of talent should reduce upsets. It should be a real effect, but it might be so small as to not be reliably measurable. Maybe Kenpom will address it once he's got a big ol' bag of data.
I have gotten a lot of questions/assertions about the 30 second shot clock—far more than I think the change warrants. The differences are going to be minor. The median NCAA team saw only 10.7% of its shots go up in the period of time just erased. Some of that time can be reclaimed by being more urgent about getting the ball up the floor. (For example, the NBA's back court violation is an eight second call, not a ten second call.) The net impact is likely to be less wasted time and approximately equal efficiency. That's a good change for the game.
More on shot clock
I don’t believe this will affect the quality of shots as much as it will affect substitutions…
On a number of occasions I watched several teams, Wisconsin and Michigan included, essentially ‘waste’ at least 5 seconds tossing the ball back and forth outside the 3 point arc without any other movement. Case could be made this was simply being used to offer the players a short rest on offense, meaning that the top players likely play longer before substitution.
This may mean that teams with deep and talented benches gain an advantage…so the question may become whether it is the team with the best starters or the team with the best top 9 that wins.
-Howard [ed: a basketball referee]
There's another effect: if teams do decide to make those five seconds up by being quicker that's going to result in more pressure to get up and down the floor and more tired legs late in games. That'll be something to watch next year: does the percentage of bench minutes go up as a result?
Again: probably marginal impact but one that I would argue is unambiguously good.
[After the JUMP: another theory of baseball competitiveness, sea cucumbers.]
skill position recruiting under Brady Hoke
Where is the talent?
Hoke's recruiting classes were consistently highly ranked, bringing in 4 and 5 star athletes coveted by other reputable football programs, yet I keep reading that we lag many Big Ten teams in talent. I find it hard to believe Hoke is this bad at talent evaluation and missed on this many athletes. What do you think of the innate talent on the roster? Is this a pure development issue, or was Hoke that unlucky or bad at identifying talent?
Peter from Horsham, PA
It could be there, but concealed by the Hoke chaos.
Last year's D was 14th in yards per play and returns eight or nine starters, depending on how you define the term. The only personnel losses were Raymon Taylor, Frank Clark, Jake Ryan, and Brennen Beyer; Michigan gets Desmond Morgan off an injury redshirt and adds Wayne Lyons.
It didn't feel like that good of a defense, though. Part of that was the quality of competition. Michigan is 41st in FEI despite having shiny regular stats. (MSU is one spot ahead of them in 40th.) Part of that was the offense putting the D out there so often in bad situations that they were going to crack eventually. Many, many games over the past two years have had a similar pattern. The defense scratches and claws to keep Michigan in it and then they collapse in the fourth quarter because they're out of juice.
The other part of that was Michigan going to a man press defense their team simply could not hack. Blake Countess was exposed for half the season before they went back to their old ways. Is that "talent"? In some ways. But Hoke took an All Big Ten sophomore and destroyed him because he couldn't see that he was being put in a terrible situation for his skill set.
Meanwhile on offense… I got nothing. With the exception of projected TE Devin Funchess, Michigan recruited horribly at QB and WR under Hoke. The Chesson/Darboh class was all right, but they appear to have missed on all three guys they took the next year and the jury is very much out on last year's class. QB… I want to throw a rock in Hoke's general direction every time I think about it.
Recruiting very badly at QB is a way to have your recruiting rankings far outstrip your ability to play football. It's only one spot. Michigan's piles of OL are five. Michigan has nothing to show from the Hoke era other than a three star they took early with little competition and Shane Morris, who it is now clear was wildly overrated by the services. Morris is the kind of boom-or-bust guy you can take happily in a Harbaugh context where the roster has five or six or seven QBs on it; he is a disaster waiting to happen if the two guys in front of him are Russell Bellomy and air and the guy behind him is a middling three star. Harbaugh set about fixing that, at least.
Meanwhile the places Hoke did best—the lines—are the ones where you have to wait the longest to get a return on your investment. OL are particularly unpredictable.
And, yes, I do think Hoke was pretty bad at IDing talent. Look at the Dukes/Jones/York WR class, or the performance of the tailbacks he brought in, or the Wangler/Ferns/Furbush/Winovich LB class. Do not get me started on the tailbacks. Look at the decision to move to press man.
Defensive line is an obvious exception, where Michigan's turned two three-star Glenville projects into real players, but that just re-confirms that Hoke was a pretty good DL coach who ended up in way over his head.
Uppity so-and-sos with their thesauri
Excuse me while I correct your nerdom with my (apparently) superior nerdom. Ferret Tecmo Bowl Bo Jackson would not be the correct name. What you are looking for is Ferret Super Tecmo Bowl Bo Jackson. In the first Tecmo Bowl, Bo Jackson was just a man. It is in Super Tecmo Bowl that he became an unstoppable run-circles-around-the-cpu-god. Surely you did not mean to name the ferret after the lesser of the two Bo Jacksons.
Bro. I said I would brook no criticism about my asymptotically perfect ferret names, and yet here you are, brooking your ass off. Well, BEN, clearly "Ferret Super Tecmo Bowl Bo Jackson" is clunky and unwieldy and stupid, as any six-year-old child could see. It is obvious to any Tecmo Bowl connoisseur that we are talking about the destroyer of worlds Bo Jackson, "Super" or not. Humor, prose, and lovemaking are all about omitting unnecessary flourishes. So too are ferret names.
[After the JUMP: Ben gets commuppanced hrrrrrd]
Two words: Jed York.
A little confused by the notion that Harbaugh has "worn out his welcome" everywhere he has been for the past ten years, as seems to be the popular narrative. Are there any examples of Harbaugh actually being no longer appreciated/welcome anywhere but with the 49ers? It seems to me like he climbed the ladder like any successful coach up until the end of his time with the 49ers.
Also let's continue to wait until November to blow the whistle on Urban Meyer's Tinder account.
I have the feeling that either San Diego or Stanford would have sucked it up and consented to another year. Harbaugh led both to one-loss seasons in his final campaigns with those teams, whereupon he moved on to bigger jobs.
The first we heard of Harbaugh "wearing out his welcome" was a narrative being pushed to the Play-Doh NFL media for a year by Jed York and his assorted executives. Whether that is in any way more true for Harbaugh than it is for, say, Bill Belichick is unknowable. Successful football coaches are often completely nuts. It is almost a job requirement. They are inevitably going to leave offended people in their wake. Harbaugh's done that; he's also had a public bromance with Frank Gore.
Other players have taken to social media to defend him.
We don't know exactly where Harbaugh falls on the high functioning lunatic scale, but we do know what happened in the aftermath of his departure from the 49ers: they hired a barely articulate defensive line coach with no experience as a coordinator, chased off their highly successful defensive coaching staff, and lost a ton of players. Alex Boone is publicly moaning that he was being pushed too hard—an excellent sign for when Jim Tomsula, who has all the authority of a mewling kitten.
Harbaugh, meanwhile, is still being pursued by the Raiders. He grabbed DJ Durkin from heavy competition, retained Greg Mattison as a position coach, yoinked Tim Drevno from USC, hired an in-demand John Baxter, and hired a deposed NFL coordinator as a wide receivers coach.
Hhe does not care about what people think of him. Jed York is removing mentions of Harbaugh from the 49ers museum; Harbaugh barely remembers the name of the short guy with a spoon in his mouth on the West Coast. That's why he shows up on Real Sports for a piece that few other football coaches would consent to: he does not care about what happened to him in the past even a little.
That differentiates him from a deeply insecure 49ers management, and is the main reason the idea is out there. Without it there is no possible way to justify the 49ers sabotaging one of the most successful coaches in the NFL.
Hyman to fly free
Panthers have been notified that prospect Zach Hyman won't be signing w/them. Possible he gets traded before hitting UFA on Aug. 16.
— Craig Custance (@CraigCustance) April 21, 2015
What's that about you think?
Hyman had an outstanding senior year and should get a rookie max contract once he hits the open market. Florida likely offered him that, but Florida cannot offer him his pick of interested teams. Hyman can now find the team most likely to play him in the NHL next year and establish himself in the league.
This is a longstanding flaw in the CBA that I complained about way back in the day when it was instituted. It took a good long while to hit home, but when it did it really hit. Winnipeg was pushing and pushing to sign Andrew Copp this offseason largely because they didn't want to end up in the situation the Panthers did with Hyman. Any college senior can walk away from the team that drafted him; therefore NHL teams hate to see their draftees become seniors.
[After the JUMP: basketball recruiting, Wigan apology.]
Recruiting rankings and outperformance
Good afternoon –
Beilein has developed a reputation for being a stellar recruiter. He is now known for uncovering basketball players who were either lightly regarded, lightly recruited, unknown, or young, so that they grew and developed significantly after he recruited them. (Burke, Rahkman, Dawkins, Albrecht, LeVert, and now Moritz Wagner all fall into this category.) I will be interested to see how Harbaugh and his staff correlate to Beilein in this regard. In one sense, every fan wants every recruit who comes in to be a 4 or 5 star rated recruit. But the reality is that the coaches sometimes see things that the rating experts missed. This has been an on-going discussion: how much do stars matter? I think the correlation of Wagner and Kingston Davis committing today brought this topic to my mind.
So, my questions and requests for you:
1) I’d love to see a table showing recruiting ranking vs. actual performance. Who ends up bring in recruits who significantly outperform their ranking, who brings in recruits who perform the way expected, and who brings in recruits who underperform, relative to how they were ranked.
This is too hard to do for basketball since there are very small and wildly varying recruiting classes. Last year Michigan brought in six players; this year it looks like it will be just one. A couple years ago Ohio State's recruiting class was… nobody. The attrition rates are wildly different so recruiting rankings, which always favor volume, are going to be skewed. You can point to anecdotes like Beilein turning fringe top 100 recruits into lottery picks on the regular; I don't think it's possible to do anything systematic with the numbers.
Football does give you a reasonable baseline to work with and this has been done by Ross Benes at Deadspin. You will be unsurprised to find Michigan where it is in a study that covers 2009 to 2013:
I am a bit skeptical about the methodology here, as it doesn't seem to account for the fact that there's nowhere to go but down for the teams at the top of the rankings. (It also doesn't take last year into account, which is why Michigan State isn't in the Wisconsin zone.) But it's still good for comparing you to your peers and the result is undeniable: amongst teams that recruit like Michigan, only Tennessee and maybe UCLA perform worse; Miami is on par.
2) The followup question would be to assess how much of this is attributable to a recruit being ranked accurately and appropriately, and much is attributable to the recruit’s development in college. The knock on Hoke wasn’t recruiting: it was the belief that he didn’t develop players to perform to the best of their capability.
Thanks, best regards, and enjoy the balance of the Spring.
No doubt it is some of both. Recruiting rankings are necessarily ignorant of a number of things that will influence the development of the player—ACL stability for one. But it's clear that some guys are awesome teachers able to improve players and others are guys who clap and shout "let's go." It's nice to see Stanford on the right side of this ledger even after Harbaugh's departure since many of those coaches were his, and he set up the culture that lifted them from the bottom.
I think that perhaps I don't understand what goes into the APR and was hoping you could help me understand. I thought (although it appears incorrectly) that APR measured the percent of a school's players with remaining eligibility that return to school, maintain that eligibility academically, and/or graduate. With 7 Kentucky players declaring for the draft (following several years of many more declaring), it would appear that Kentucky couldn't possibly evade APR penalties because legions of eligible players have not and will not be returning to school. Is there an exception for going pro that I'm unaware of? Is Kentucky's APR really only measured by whether their mop up players stay eligible and graduate, without regard to the majority of the team that goes pro?
That is correct. The APR has a loophole for players who leave school early for pro sports. You don't even have to get drafted to take advantage of it—NCAA-sanctioned UConn men's basketball started digging out with a perfect score this year despite a player leaving for Europe. He signed a contract overseas and left in "good academic standing," so he doesn't hurt UConn's APR.
As a result of that loophole all Kentucky has to do is gin up some Cs for the NCAA minimum progress toward a degree and their APR is untouched. It's probably in fact easier for them to comply with APR stuff because all they have to do is get their kids to go to Easy Class 101. Few end up having to move on to We Kind Of Need You To Pay Attention Now 386.
On the one hand, you need that exception because it's not the school's fault if, say, Nik Stauskas blows up into a top ten pick and wants to go get paid millions of dollars. On the other it does enable the travelling circus that is the current one-and-done system.
Medical hardship logistics
Hey Brian --
Recently there's been significant attention paid to key questions facing Michigan basketball this offseason (Will Levert go pro? Will Jaylen Brown commit? etc.). All of the discussion seems to operate under the premise that either Austin Hatch will continue to take up one of the 13 scholarships the team has to hand out, or the team will place him under "medical hardship." I have two questions.
1) What does this medical hardship entail? Would it be 100% career-ending? Would he no longer be able to practice and play with the team?
A medical hardship allows the school to continue giving the kid a full scholarship. It would end his playing career at Michigan. He could still be affiliated with the team, could still practice (there's no regulations on who you practice with in college; womens' teams will often go up against guys). He could not get in the game. He would be a student manager, basically.
Michigan might be able to get a waiver for senior day.
2) Why has there been no discussion of freeing up Hatch's scholarship to use on, say, Jaylen Brown or Mike Edwards, by making him a walk-on? I'm assuming there are other ways the University can make sure all his tuition bills are paid for. At the very least, paying for Hatch to go to Michigan is worthy of $200K of the millions of dollars the athletic department has gotten from Stephen Ross or Al Glick.
In other words, maybe we don't have to choose between keeping Hatch on the basketball team and bringing in another scholarship player of Jaylen Brown's caliber, should LeVert choose to come back.
Once you've been on scholarship, you count as a scholarship player even if your money supposedly comes from a source than the athletic department.
There are in fact certain things that you can do when you are just a recruit that make you count as a scholarship player, something that football teams have been dancing around of late with this "blueshirt" thing where kids arrive on campus as walk-ons. Those kids can't take officials or they end up counting against the limit of 25 signees annually.
Again, this is a situation where Michigan might be able to get a waiver since it's very high profile. Without that Michigan cannot use Hatch's scholarship without disqualifying him from playing.
Buy it and burn it.
I am so upset about this I had to share...
The above Ebay link is for a new Devin Gardner card with a sick & twisted "variation" of the winged helmet. This just is not right! I don't see how Upper Deck can get away with messing with our helmet design and printing this card.
Is that a sugar cookie made by a deranged aunt on the card? Why is anyone making a Devin Gardner rookie card and is it even slightly possible that any of the bids on this travesty are legitimate? Supposedly this card is up to 16.05 with four different bidders. This makes me want to find a WIRED article about the shady lives of professional EBay sellers or something. I have a million questions.
— A2Forever (@AnnArborRules) April 9, 2015
Gonna go with "no" on this one.
it could happen, maybe
Basketball decision timetables.
What is the timetable on a Moritz Wagner decision? And how does that affect other decisions, like Bielfeldt's?
Michigan should know what their 2015-16 roster is going to look like within the next few weeks. The late signing period kicks off April 15th; the NBA draft entry deadline is April 26th. Wagner and Jaylen Brown are both supposed to decide within the month, as you might expect.
Wagner is down to Michigan and staying with his professional team and could decide whenever since LeVert's status is not likely to impact him much. Brown is being recruited by a number of schools with NBA draft decisions on the docket and wants to see how the dust settles before pulling the trigger; he may wait until the 26th. And yes, Michigan appears to be seriously in the mix for him according to both Brian Snow and Sam Webb of Scout. Michigan is reputed to be in the top two but no one knows who the second team is. Normally that is a big, flashing YOU ARE LEADING indicator. In this case the situation is so fluid and close to the vest I wouldn't go that far, but I'm saying there's a chance.
Meanwhile, instate post Mike Edwards continues to Blow Up, adding offers from Pitt, Marquette, Kansas State, and SMU along with interest from Iowa, Wisconsin, and even Duke(?!). Edwards told Rivals that Michigan leads for his services($) despite not having an offer yet. If he turns into a high-major prospect and there's room I think Michigan might prefer him to a fifth year from Bielfeldt.
Michigan just got an impromptu unofficial visit from fifth-year Cornell transfer Shonn Miller, who has to leave the Ivy League if he wants to continue playing basketball. Miller, a 6'7" wing with a monster DREB rate, carried a third of Cornell's offense with reasonable efficiency a year ago. He would probably be a 4 at Michigan. Seton Hall transfer Jaren Sina has also expressed interest. Given the roster composition he would need LeVert to leave to find a spot.
One man's vague priority list, assuming that Michigan has three spots for LeVert, Bielfeldt, and any potential recruits:
And of course look out for any inexplicably unrecruited sons of famous basketball coaches who can jump out of the gym. All of this will be figured out by the 26th.
SPOILERS (sort of)
Don't know if you saw this or if I'm like the 15th person to point this out, but there was an evil Doctor a few nights ago on Archer named "Zoltan Kovacs." Obviously not a coincidence. Attached is a screen cap.
(yes that is my real name)
If that is your real name, Lloyd Cargo. Obviously not a coincidence.
How special were M’s special teams last season?
M’s offense had its own issues but how awful were M’s special teams last season? How much affect did it have on M’s w/l record? To me it seemed, every game M’s special teams was grossly outplayed and might’ve been a factor in some close losses.
FEI added special teams rankings a few years ago that give you a reasonable baseline from which to start. The high variance nature of certain special teams events means you have to sanity check it, though. Let's do that. Michigan was 67th overall in a metric that doesn't respond too much to schedule strength, so they were bad but non-disastrous. By unit:
- FIELD GOALS: 52nd, slightly above average. FEI takes distance into account when valuing FGs FWIW.
- PUNT RETURNS: shockingly good at 19th for one reason: Ben Gedeon's 32-yard blocked punt return touchdown against Appalachian State. Non-Gedeon returns averaged 4.3 yards an attempt on just 13 tries. That's a good demonstration of how swingy these stats are. Minus one event against a tomato can this would be one of the worst units in the country; meanwhile one less dumb block against Maryland and it would look like one of the best.
- KICK RETURNS. Speaking of worst units in the country, Michigan finished 118th. Highly random touchdowns have an even bigger relative impact now that touchbacks are a goal of the rules. Only 16 teams were "above average" in this stat.
- PUNTING. Michigan was 97th. This is a stunning departure from their raw gross yardage, which was 28th, and yet another ringing condemnation of 1) Michigan's archaic NFL-style punting and 2) their ability to put eleven guys on the field.
- KICK COVERAGE. 30th! /waves tiny flag
Other than okay field goal kicking and a blocked punt against a Sun Belt team, Michigan was awful awful awful in all phases except kick coverage last year.
I took them to dinner and bought them a Ufer CD.
listening to past podcasts yesterday, i came across post rutgers podcast featuring hobo-quest. i assume washtenaw county is hobo free.
For those, who aren't bored enough to listen to podcasts from October, a large portion of that podcast was given over to how many hobos we would strangle for certain coaches. It turns out, Tripp, that hobo sacrifices do not have a direct impact on the outcomes of coaching searches, thus sparing me a grisly few weeks and the life in prison that would inevitably follow. I think it all worked out for the best.