I'VE HAD JUST ABOUT ENOUGH OF YOU SONNY
Darius Morris and Jack Johnson
The Bylaw Blog has developed a recurring theme of late: by placing greater restrictions on the folk it has control over it cedes territory to people it doesn't. A prime example is when the NCAA banned college coaches from attending AAU events. AAU events didn't stop collecting players or happening, and coaches got more distant from the players they were trying to recruit. This provides greater influence for middlemen, and in college basketball these days lots of middlemen want to get paid, yo.
Here's another example, one year after ACC coaches successfully lobbied the NCAA to move the draft withdrawal date up 40 days:
A year later, here we are again. The ACC's coaches drafted a new proposal, one that moves the early-entry deadline all the way up to the day before the beginning of the spring signing period. In 2011, that date -- April 12 -- would have passed us by weeks ago. It would have given underclassman prospects exactly eight days after the national title game to decide whether they wanted to go pro or stay in school for another year. It would have -- I mean, it will; I'm still having trouble with the idea that this is actually happening -- forced players with millions of dollars on the line to make life-altering decisions in the matter of a few days with minimal information on which to make them.
Why move the date? April 10th is the day before basketball's late signing period. Now coaches will know how many spots they have open when that period opens. Except they wont. Bylaw Blog:
In attempting to control the draft process, college coaches have lost all control of the draft process to the NBA. Instead of an NCAA deadline of May 8, the new deadline is not April 10, but still April 24, the NBA's deadline.
The NBA's shown no interest in helping college basketball, so the chances the change actually has any positive effect are slim. The net effect is to prevent a bunch of players from declaring and returning to school. But at least there's an alternate universe in which college coaches are happier.
Why not revamp? I've been bothering the Bylaw Blog about this on twitter, and now I'm going to bother you: you could sidestep all these issues by dumping the current NBA draft structure and replacing it with something closer to the MLB/hockey model. In those sports everyone is automatically put into the draft and thus retains their eligibility. In baseball there is a narrow window in which you have to sign or the team loses rights to the player; hockey teams retain rights to the player until they graduate.
The Bylaw Blog keeps shooting down these proposals like so:
Short draft, limited roster spots, lack of minor league make MLB model less workable for basketball. NBA should adopt MLS approach*.
That was the same reasoning given to me when I bothered him about hockey, but I think he's conflating the two models. The MLB model does encourage a bunch of players to sign way before they're ready to enter the major leagues and implementing it in basketball could see a bunch of college stars toiling away in the D-League, something no one wants. (If the NBA had any designs on making people care about the D-League they wouldn't have started forcing players to go to college.)
The hockey model doesn't necessarily have this issue. Since teams retain rights they can leave kids in school until they determine whether or not they want to sign them. Players do tend to sign before they are NHL-ready but that's because there is a ready-made minor league with a higher level of play that acts as an intermediary between the NHL and the league. There isn't in basketball and the D-league is never going to be one, so teams would almost want to keep their players in college until they thought they were ready.
If I woke up tomorrow and was David Stern this is what I'd do:
- Change the draft so that every recruit who signs a LOI is automatically entered.
- Extend the draft to three rounds.
- Rookie contracts are at least one year longer than the amount of eligibility you're giving up. (IE, straight out of high school: five years, junior: two years, senior: one year, but in that case you don't have the sign the guy so this is essentially zero years.) That roster spot cannot be reclaimed by cutting the player; contracts are not 100% guaranteed but have some floor (probably the league minimum) that is.
- Allow unsigned, drafted players to play in the summer league.
And then if I woke up the next day as the president of the NCAA I'd:
- Fume at my lack of power.
But if I woke up the next day as an NCAA president who could force choke anyone who disagreed with me I'd:
- Allow pro teams to pay for their players to attend rookie camps and assorted "should we sign you" activities.
In the specific case of someone near and dear to us who seems to be making an odd decision because of the current NBA draft structure, Darius Morris would have been in the draft out of high school and after his freshman year, but would have been passed over each time. This year he'd be taken at some point, could work out with his team a bit as long as he paid his own way (about which don't get me started, see fuming above), and then it would be up to the team and Morris to decide whether or not he was ready to make the leap. If the NBA team signed Morris immediately they'd be committing to having him on the roster for the next three years, so they'd have to think about it.
In this specific case and a lot of others the player would be far less likely to make a bad decision because he'd be talking directly with the team who held his rights. Similarly, NBA teams who draft a college player only to find out he needs more seasoning than they thought could save the roster spot and cash for someone else as they wait to see which of their prospects develop. Everyone would have more information via which to make better decisions.
Unfortunately, this seems diametrically opposed to the way things are going. Like Brionte Dunn and showing up on campus, I'll start getting my hopes up when people talking sense about how basketball recruiting goes down pass a legislative proposal and no sooner.
*[The MLS approach is to sign the player and then find a home for him, which doesn't seem workable because the NBA is not a single entity, unlike MLS. MLS is competing with leagues around the world for players, so there's a point to negotiating a contract with a league. The NBA isn't competing against anyone for anyone other than Josh Childress, so I'm not sure what the advantage of their structure is for basketball.]
RIP Jim Mandich. Jim Mandich passed away last night. As with Vada Murray I don't have any of my own memories about Mandich, so I'll just offer condolences to all who do. MVictors republished a post containing a Sam and Ira interview of Mandich from a couple years ago.
An eagle-eyed poster on the board noted that TE Brandon Moore just tweeted he'll be switching from 88 to 89 this fall. While that's just because he's playing special teams with Roh, if they could get Mike Jones to switch away from 27 they might be able to do something with those jerseys this fall.
The resounding chorus. Everywhere you turn these days there's a guy flogging NBA draft analysis telling Darius Morris to GTFO of the draft. Mike Rothstein flags down anonymous scouts:
“If somebody is in good academic standing and still needs to improve his game, which I think he is in both of those categories, then it only makes sense to come out if you’re going to be in the first round.
“And I don’t think he would be.”
So does Luke Winn:
"I can't see him getting picked in the first round," one scout said. "He has a good feel, especially in transition, but there are still some issues with shooting [25.0 percent on threes] and athleticism that leave a lot to be desired."
And Chad Ford($):
Morris is on the first-round bubble. Most scouts believe he should return to Michigan for at least one more year.
Despite that, the vibe out there is Morris will enter the draft anyway, thus thoroughly depressing everyone. Ford does say he's "very much on the fence," for what it's worth. The deadline to withdraw is May 8th.
The definition of gamut. Ohio State fans have spent the last few days reacting to the widespread reaction to the NCAA's Notice of Allegations. Responses include:
- Hey, wait a minute, nothing happened and everyone still talking about how terrible we are. Yes. This is something to get used to. It's going to happen at least twice more before anything is resolved. To be fair to the general alarm sent up earlier this week, the NOA came out at the same time the Dispatch's news side got FOIAs back that revealed a more extensive correspondence about the Cicero emails—we did learn some new stuff, and it was not new stuff helpful to Tressel or OSU.
- Everyone does it. "In Big-Time College Football Nobody Is Innocent." This may be true. Michigan fans certainly said it during the Jihad, but in that case we had a lot of anonymous and non-anonymous coaches saying the same thing. Here not so much. Certainly there are degrees of innocence and Tressel appears to have lost all of them.
- NA NA NA NA NA CAN'T HEAR YOU. "Jim Tressel Is Safe and Bruce Feldman Is Wrong" about Jim Tressel not being safe.
- Heads should roll. "Jim Tressel should resign or be fired." Self explanatory. Author does not get crucified in the comments.
Meanwhile, an Eleven Warriors poll showed OSU fans split right down the middle:
One of those ESPN polls that people drag out when Idaho stands alone shows only Ohio believes Tressel should be retained but it's close: 60-40 in favor. This is kind of like when Michigan fans were 33% fire RR, 33% keep RR, 33% don't know. It's not a fun spot. This is fine by me—OSU fans have had vastly more than their fair share of fun since Tressel showed up.
The comfy chair. MVictors has his season ticket renewals in hand and relates you can now rent your seat cushion if you are fed up with the onerous task of carrying it into the stadium:
Just 32 dollars. Greg frets about what this will do the aesthetics of the empty stadium. I'm not sure it's a big deal but it will be awkward if people in the seats painted yellow hit these up. Maybe they have an inverted version for those?
I won't be partaking because the last three OSU games have featured our section not just standing but standing on the benches for the first quarter or so. That may be comfy but it's probably not great to stand on.
Further adventures in eking out marginal revenue. The Big Ten is considering changing their game times to noon, 3:30, and 7. If those seem like the current game times, they are, but that's like this "central" time zone thing:
If you're one of those Big Ten football fans who despised the frequent 11 a.m. starting times for games, take heart. They might be a thing of the past.
Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany reportedly is lobbying hard in negotiations with the television networks to do away with them. If Delany has his way, all Big Ten games next season will start at either noon, 3:30 p.m. or 7 p.m.
Big Ten noon games are now mostly in the hands of the BTN but it's hard to imagine ABC/ESPN moving their traditional 3:30 afternoon game to 4:30 just because some Iowans want to get drunk. Also this only furthers the conspiracy against fans who would like to see something, anything other than their game before the night games start. Also also that makes 4:30/7 games freakin' cold.
If the BTN wants to show games in the central time zone at 1 the only thing stopping them is their contract with ESPN, so fine. These days the average number of CST Big Ten 11 AM starts that show up anywhere else seems very small. I'm not sure why they have to mess with everyone else's start times to do that.
Etc.: Herbstreit bombs OSU. Spielman is less mean but clearly thinks this is srs. Herbstreit has been excommunicated. DocSat assesses the potential damage. PSU fans wonder how OSU evaded a "lack of institutional control" charge when one of the examples is "The institution fails to make clear that any individual involved in its intercollegiate athletics program has a duty to report any perceived violations of NCAA rules and can do so without fear of reprisals of any kind." Sports By Brooks rounds up additional funny stuff.
Photo from under-construction Crisler Arena. I already covered yesterday's most pressing issue, the potential early NBA entry of Darius Morris. The rest of John Beilein's post-season talk follows. If you're interested in the video, UMHoops has you covered.
Though the expectations for the 2009-10 team didn't pay off, this team has handled some increased expectations, even just over the course of the season. "We focus on just us getting better," rather than worry about expectations. "It's the ones that sort of sit back and rest on their laurels that won't get better."
On the drop-off in 2009-10: "I think most of us were part of that. Whether you're an incoming recruit - they were a part of that - and they know stories about it. So we don't have to talk too much about it, and I don't think we should beat them over the head about it."
Talkin' 'Bout Practice?
The team gets 8 hours of instruction time once the season ends. Yesterday, they did the fourth hour of practice, and the last one in Crisler Arena before the facility is closed until next fall. During those 8 hours, a lot of the time is spent showing the players the offseason practice routine the coaches want them to practice.
The coaches give players a written "shell" practice plan, and also instructional DVDs that demonstrate some of the drills. In terms of individual development, the next 5 months "are an important time for us. What our guys are going to do when the coaches aren't watching anymore." Stu went to a private facility last offseason to work on his game, and the coaches encourage the other players to get private instruction.
"We've got a bunch of self-starters, and you just never know how much they're going to improve. I think you saw that with Darius over the summer." It's hard to pinpoint any individual player to make a big step forward in the offseason. It all depends on how hard they work on their own. "I think when Tim Hardaway Jr. goes home and sees Tim Hardaway Sr., they'd be in the gym within hours, because Tim Sr. was in the gym for hours."
"What we're really working on right now is making sure that we have the option to just not go to four guards and play that way." It sounds like they're trying to develop more 4/5 players so that Novak is more free to play the 2 instead of guarding the likes of Bill Cole from Illinois. [Ed: or Trevor Mbakwe.]
"The competition level is gonna be very high, because we're going from 10 scholarship players to could-be 13 scholarship players."
Teams like Butler are good to observe playing in the Final Four, because they show how far a good team concept can take you. "But we're still the University of Michigan, and we love what the large University in a BCS conference can also bring to our recruiting."
There are no specific team goals for next year. Just like every year, they start out wanting to be in the top 6 in the conference (since those are usually the tournament teams), and then to win the Big Ten Championship once you reach that level.
The coaching staff is fielding calls from a lot of interested recruits, with the success on the court. "We feel positive momentum." The Player Development Center and Crisler renovations (pictured at right) are going to be a boost for recruiting, but more importantly for the team's practice. "We can practice any time that we want to, they can practice any time that they want to that fits their schedule in their free time." The new facility also allows the coaches to drill more concepts at once, and film everything, etc.
[Note: Max Bielfeldt wasn't mentioned by Beilein, I assume because they hadn't received his official LOI by yesterday's conference]
The incoming players are given a similar voluntary practice plan to the returning players. "We can only give them... 'these are some of the ways to improve as a player.'" Both Burke and Brundidge are going to enroll in summer term, and be here in June.
Trey Burke - "He truly is a point guard, he truly runs his team. He really has great pace to him, and his quickness is exceptional." He will add quickness to the roster - which Beilein talked about lacking several times this year.
Carlton Brundidge is also a quick player, and excels in ball-screen situations. He played well for a great high school program, "but I'm really looking forward to putting him in the Michigan program as well."
Darius had to play a lot of minutes this year, and adding these two guys will give the team more options to give him some rest. Zack and Stu will also get an opportunity to play a little less and get some rest. They want freshmen who want to compete right away for playing time.
Next Year's Schedule
Playing in the Maui Invitational, they'll have the opportunity to play three high-level opponents, and the ACC/Big Ten Challenge should give a solid opportunity for a home game (though there's a chance they may have to switch and play away).
"Now we're looking at several opportunities to do what we've done in the past with the Kansas, with the UConns, with the UCLAs." There's also an away game at Oakland already planned.
They're trying to line up the guarantee games right now, and trying to fill in to get a good strength of schedule. "I think we have understood what the committee is looking for."
This following item doesn't come from Beilein's conference, but it also relates to next year's schedule: The new 12-team Big Ten will feature seven 2-plays and four 1-plays, with the 1-plays from last year (for Michigan, that's Illinois and Purdue) guaranteed to be 2-plays this upcoming season. There are no protected rivalries, so there's a chance Michigan and Michigan State only play once.
A Classic Tale of True Love and High Adventure.
It seems just about everyone in the media has a "source" that knows what Darius Morris plans to do this offseason. Such rumored plans include:
- Returning to school for his junior year with 100% certainty.
- Entering his name for the NBA Draft, but not hiring an agent, so he can pull out of it.
- Absolutely, with 100% certainty, entering the NBA Draft - for keepsies.
The correct answer is... none of the above. At John Beilein's meeting with the media today, he went into great detail about Darius's (possible) upcoming decision.
There are effectively three phases for an underclassman who intends to enter the NBA Draft. The first phase, which is what Darius has done, is to submit an application to the NBA Draft Undergraduate Advisory committee. John Beilein recommended to Darius that he apply to this committee: "Within two days after the season was over, I called Darius into the office, and suggested that we go through the Undergraduate Advisory Committee and gather information - and that's all that's happening right now." This is not a decision that blindsided the coaches, and in fact was Beilein's own idea.
Phase two is declaring for the NBA Draft, which Darius has not done. In fact, the application for evaluation explicitly states:
Please note that submission of this application is not a declaration of eligibility for the 2011 NBA Draft. A separate letter must be sent to Commissioner Davis Stern (received by April 24th, 2011) declaring eligibility for the 2011 NBA Draft.
(Emphasis original to the source). The third phase is actually going through with the Draft, which means not withdrawing by June 13th, or hiring an agent, etc.
Beilein declined to discuss specifics of Darius's merit for the NBA Draft, only pointing out that conventional wisdom states that underclassmen who aren't projected to be first-rounders usually stay in school at least one more year. He's not a scout, and hasn't watched film on every player who's a senior or has submitted his name for evaluation, and so did not say whether or not he thought Darius met that standard.
He was adamant in pointing out that Michigan's coaches want nothing more than for their players to have successful careers (emphasis on career, presumably as opposed to a big draft payday) in the NBA. "It's not about getting drafted, it's about having success in the NBA."
"There's a lot involved in this, and you have to think about it; it's a very important decision," Beilein said. Manny Harris has proven in his first NBA season that he made the right decision, as he's a regular in the Cavs' rotation. It remains to be seen what the Committee will tell Darius, and he'll make his decision after that.
Other post-season notes from Beilein's luncheon are less pressing matters, so expect a recap tomorrow.
As expected, Michigan basketball guard Manny Harris has elected to forego his senior season with the Wolverines to declare himself eligible for the NBA Draft. Press release quotes from Manny Harris and coach John Beilein:
"After long discussions with the U-M staff and my family and friends, I have decided to pursue my dream of professional basketball and leave U-M early for the NBA," said Harris. "It is important for me to thank the University of Michigan, Coach Beilein and his staff, my teammates, my professors, as well as all those in the athletic department who have helped me over the last three years. My growth as a person and player wouldn't have been possible without them.
"I will always appreciate the college game and what it has done for me, but playing professional basketball has always been a goal and I feel it is the best time to pursue that. I will always be a Michigan Wolverine at heart and bleed Maize and Blue forever."
"Manny believes it is his time to move on to the NBA and we fully support him," said U-M coach John Beilein. "It was a tough decision for him and we are prepared to assist him in every way we can as he begins this new chapter in his life. Manny has assured us he plans on successfully finishing this semester, which would put him in a position to graduate from Michigan with just one more academic year."
"In three short years, Manny has compiled outstanding career numbers in points, rebounds, assists and steals -- milestones many very good players do not reach during a four-year career. I have many fond memories of Manny's time at Michigan. He has been clutch in so many big wins we certainly will miss him however we wish him nothing but the best in his professional basketball career and beyond."
That's mostly boilerplate, obviously. A few notes from the press conference, with bonus DeShawn Sims material as well:
- Regarding his draft stock: "I believe the work you put in is what you get out." He's not worried about his projections for the draft, and will simply work hard to achieve his dream of playing in the NBA. If that means he has to play in Europe or the D-League first, he's willing to do so.
- Harris plans to hire an agent, and will not be able to return to Michigan next season. He will keep working out with Michigan's coaches and strength staff to prepare for the NBA.
- Manny said it's very hard to leave Michigan, but at the end of the day you've got to make a decision. He consulted AAU coaches, old high school coaches, and family and friends.
- Manny stressed that his relationship with Coach Beilein is good (despite butting heads with him a few times this year), and he will always support the program and Michigan. Playing the 3 position at Michigan is "a great experience," and he would encourage any talented guard to come play at Michigan. Beilein's probably happy about that, as he said, "If there's a kid out there who will help us replace Manny, we'll recruit him."
- For all Manny did for this team, Beilein pointed out that it's his clutch free throw shooting that the team might miss the most.
- DeShawn Sims said that Manny feels like he's been around longer than his three years, because he's had to bear so much responsibility from the beginning.
- DeShawn will definitely attend the Portsmouth Invitational. He's working out in Ann Arbor with Michigan's coaches and Manny to prepare for the NBA.
- Sims said that next year's team will be improved because the players will understand the system, and chemistry will be improved. He noted that poor chemistry might have been the source of some of Michigan's troubles this season.
Rumors flying, with an official decision Monday:
"I'm going to make my decision on Monday," Harris told The Daily this afternoon in a phone interview.
He declined to comment further.
General feel is that this presages a departure, possibly an irrevocable one. I'd think Manny would at least leave the door open for a return based on the returns from predraft camps. If he doesn't, that says a lot about his relationship with Beilein, IME.