"The University of Illinois is also in turmoil. The university sports an Interim Chancellor, an Interim Athletic Director, and an Interim Football Coach; the game will be played at Soldier Field, making this an Illini Interim Home Game."
3/20/2014 – Michigan 57 – Wofford 40 – 26-8, reach round of 32
It's nice to be a two seed. Michigan played an ugly game by its standards. They turned the ball over on almost 20% of their possessions, got to the line just nine times, and allowed a SoCon team to hit half their twos. But since that SoCon team put up an epic brickfest from three, they ran away with a near 20 point victory in a short 56-possession game.
The privilege of being way high up in the seeding is you can have a crappy first game and still not sweat it much. (Usually.) Contrast that with tourney darling Louisville, which found itself down two to Manhattan with two minutes left. There's a big difference between a 15 and a 13 even for a team that is arguably underseeded. Hooray playing well enough in the regular season to draw Kenpom's #184 team.
Yes, that is going up. There was a point in the first half when Zak Irvin had the ball and a relatively open three and did not take it. I fainted at the shock and when I came to apes had taken over the planet. If Irvin gets a look, any kind of look, the ball is being shot. In this one he missed his opportunities; he's still 41% on the year.
Must get it together. That turnover rate is like Amaker's turnover rates before he got to Harvard and became our secret agent. It is against the principles of HORSE basketball and must be fixed up before tomorrow, when a much tougher opponent comes calling. It was probably just one of those things. There seems to be no particular reason that Michigan turned it over a bunch. They were just sloppy, which can be attributed to a lack of focus or randomness depending on your druthers.
The Walton alley-oop that should have had Bob Uecker on the call at right (via Dustin Johnston) was emblematic. Michigan was just kinda off. It happened at an opportune time. Here's hoping it doesn't happen at an opportune one.
Wither the back door? More alarming is that Michigan struggled to get to the rim. Their offense just got over a point per possession—awful by their standards—and it wasn't particularly surprising when I checked the box score. Michigan's offense seemed less purposeful than it usually does.
It shows up in the hoop-math box score. Michigan struggled to create shots, period. Thirteen of their attempts came in the last five seconds of the clock; they got just six shots at the rim in their half court offense, two of those putbacks by GRIII. Because they are Michigan they can waddle through by hitting 57%(!) of their two point jumpers in the halfcourt and put up an eFG% of 81%(!!!) on must-jack shots late. This is always their safety valve.
That they always have a safety valve is lovely, but the offense didn't seem particularly flowing. Wofford pressured the perimeter and Michigan did not have much of a way to punish them for doing so. The general lack of backdoor action (PHRASING) has been a frustration. It was nice that one time against Michigan State when it got them a series of easy buckets early, and then it went away. With Duke and their perimeter overplay potentially looming in the Sweet 16, the ability to get some offense off the backdoor is critical. It really seems like you shouldn't be able to chase a team as skilled as Michigan well past the three point line without suffering something in return.
Wither the dumpoff? I know that Morgan and Horford combined for their usual 6/9 from the floor, but it does seem like these days Michigan's pick and roll game is struggling to get those gentlemen the parade of flushes they've been accustomed to. Opponents are rolling wing defenders underneath, making things more difficult and threatening block/charge decisions that can go in any direction against Michigan's already foul-prone bigs. Hopefully we'll see Michigan look for that kind of defensive action and kick to the corner for threes.
Part of that lack of rim attack. Stauskas picked up two highly debatable charge calls that looked like they could easily have gone the other way or not drawn a whistle. In general it felt like the refereeing swung back to last year's block/charge standards, which is probably good for Michigan if that is at all consistent. It obviously will not be because obviously.
Hey, how about that. Karl Cochran picked up his second personal foul with 11:41 left in the first half. Terriers coach Mike Young sat him for a few minutes, as required to by the coaching Illuminati manual, and then brought him back in. Cochran immediately made some aggressive defensive plays that could have brought a third whistle but didn't and ended up playing 34 minutes. He got just one foul the rest of the way, landing almost precisely on his season average of 2.9 fouls per 40.
A salute to Mike Young. Yeah, he may have been forced into his decision because Cochran is his offense. Hopefully the object lesson there keeps one of Michigan's stars in the game at a point in the future.
Peak bench McGary. Via Dustin Johnston, McGary pew pew pew:
At a later juncture, McGary and Dakich had an albatross-off.
For those of you who don't have twitter. Or for those of you who do and still giggle a little even when it comes up for the 30th time in your timeline. (I have the same relationship to this newspaper cover as I do the tiny kangaroo saying "I love work" in that commercial.)
Oh now you've gone and done it, OSU. Just try any Ohio Bobcat cracks and you will get snapped back at with THE University of Dayton. Trolling has to be limited to… oh, right. That. WELL OTHER THAN THAT YOU'VE GOT NOTHING. NOOOOOOOOOTHING.
Exit Aaron Craft. I'm actually going to miss the bastard. There was nothing quite like the "oh shit Aaron Craft" thing he could do to the unprepared, and nothing quite like Michigan's stars getting pwned by Craft in their first matchup and then coming back to pwn in return. I thought he was a fun player for all the reasons announcers fell all over themselves about him, but turned down about 90%. He was also a terrific nemesis. That he was vanquished at the last is the narrative of the John Beilein era in a one on one matchup.
I won't miss people talking about Aaron Craft, of course. I love Raftery and Lundquist but their eulogy for Craft was the perfect ending to a four-year love affair: kind of gross and way over the top. Will Leitch has a great article about Craft and the backlash and oh by the way Lenzelle Smith might be a nice guy too but who really cares if Lenzelle Smith stopped existing.
Michigan shot 8-17 from WANTING IT MORE while Ohio State had just three HUSTLES out of 20 WHEN YOU PLAY HOOPS. They even out-DECIDED TO GO OUT AND GET ANGRY'ed them 14 to 8.
And you can't have one without the other…
Thank you Triplor, god of threes. Your praises shall be sung with the ardor of a thousand Dakich-approved SHOW INTESITYs.
Michigan's not the only Big Ten East power program holding introductory press conferences this month. PSU has a mostly new staff, and Ohio State poached a legendary assistant from them while also adding what appears to be one of the more competent guys from the Bielema group. How does this change things?
Nussmeier to Michigan, Franklin to Penn State, Ash and Johnson to Ohio State, Pat Narduzzi to...dammit all to hell, how can a guy mentioned in every coaching search not go somewhere?!?
How will these recent coaching changes affect the balance of power in the Big Ten East, and the Big Ten in general? Who'll still be coaching at the same place, and who will be the happiest with their guy three years hence?
Ace: If nothing else, recruiting in the Big Ten East is going to be an absolute war. We've discussed the recruiting upgrade Nussmeier provides over Al Borges in this space. Now Penn State lands James Franklin, who managed to reel in the #26 (247 Composite) class at Vanderbilt in 2013 and was on his way to repeating that feat this year before his departure; given the foundation laid by Bill O'Brien and the ever-receding shadow of the sanctions, he should be very successful as an energetic, big-name recruiter in a relatively talent-rich area. Franklin's already had three prospects commit (or flip their commit from Vandy) to Penn State since he took over; he's a coach who players commit to over a program, and now he's got a big-name program to pitch, as well.
Meanwhile, Ohio State gets the Nittany Lions' longtime ace recruiter in Johnson, who should pick up any slack lost when Mike Vrabel bolted for O'Brien's Houston staff—coaching musical chairs! It can be weird!—and Ash also carries the reputation of a solid recruiter.
|Those who've witnessed a James Franklin press conference admit Penn State won this round. [Justin Aller/Black Shoe Diaries]|
All in all, I think Michigan benefits the most right away from their recent hire, though I can also see the argument for Ohio State. The upgrade from Borges to Nussmeier should pay immediate dividends on and off the field; while OSU is very much the team to beat in the division, U-M's recent recruiting success and strengthened coaching staff should start closing the (for now, relatively wide) gap between the two programs.
The Buckeyes, for their part, landed a quality co-DC in Ash whose specialty—coaching defensive backs—is exactly what they need to patch up a porous secondary playing well below its talent level. He improved Wisconsin's pass efficiency defense from 53rd in his first season there (as the defensive backs coach) to 22nd in his third year (his second as DC and DBs coach) before moving on to Arkansas; how much he's to blame for the Razorbacks' #105 ranking in that regard in his lone season there is unclear.
[After the jump: the stuff after the jump. Also: tautology]
Alex Kile's pointless game winner [Bill Rapai]
And it was the most pointless of all events. Michigan got a 2-2 tie out of a tightly contested game against a quite good Ferris State outfit on Wednesday, and fans were treated to a shootout at the end. The shootout decided nothing and meant nothing and took about 85 shooters to complete, but it was superficially fun all the same. Wow experience.
Anyway, Michigan staged an epic comeback in the shot department after a first period that Ferris dominated there and on the ice. M went from 14-4 down to 22-22 after two and went toe-to-toe; in the third they were held without a shot for a long time mostly because they kept tipping the puck two inches wide of the post, agonizingly. Ferris's tying goal came on a screened shot where it looked like Nagelvoort was unaware of who even had the puck and was badly positioned; other than that he was pretty damn good.
Michigan needs Kevin Lohan back, and soon, so they can sit Clare. Clare saw a potential two-on-one developing at center ice and decided to charge it, for the rare center-ice pinch. Upside: Clare gets the puck just outside of the blue line with three M skaters in the offensive zone. Downside: two on one featuring Sinelli as the last guy. Completely insane decision, one of many.
Other than that, a damn good game between two good teams without a lot of offensive wizards on their roster.
GO AWAY. EVERYBODY GO AWAY. Pat Narduzzi turns down the UConn job, which makes perfect sense. Bob Diaco then takes it, which doesn't but does mean Notre Dame has lost both its coordinators this offseason. Offense hardly matters since that's Brian Kelly's show; Diaco's departure might put some wobble in a unit that's been pretty good ever since he figured out how to defend Navy.
ND players certainly freaked out about it. Stephon Tuitt in a since-deleted tweet:
It is called that, Mr. Tuitt, and my suggestion to you is to do the same.
As for Narduzzi, he seems to be holding out for a job that is not an AAC death trap. This is probably the right idea. Unfortunately for Michigan fans hoping for some shakeup in the MSU program, with all the heads on the table save Mack Brown it doesn't look like there's going to be an opening of appropriate attractiveness this offseason unless someone gets poached by the NFL late. I'll pencil him in as Illinois's coach starting next year.
Coaching trees. Diaco is the third Brian Kelly assistant to get a head job (Charlie Molnar is at UMass and Chuck Martin was just hired at Miami). Current head coaches from Carr/Hoke era assistants after Ron English (understandably) lost his mind at EMU:
- Brady Hoke, Michigan
- This is not a tree.
- You need branches for that.
- It's a coaching line.
With Mattison and Borges not candidates for head jobs due to a variety of factors, that's not going to change. Hell, the only Michigan guy under 50 to have reached a coordinator spot is Scot Loeffler, who may not be long for that role after one-year stints at Temple and Florida were followed by a miserable opening year at Virginia Tech.
That's alarming. Compare Carr's coaching tree to Bo's… actually don't even bother doing that, compare it to Gary Moeller. It's not good that the only major school still willing to hire Michigan coaches is Michigan.
YES GO AWAY. Braxton Miller's looking at the NFL:
“It’s tough,” Miller told the Tribune. “I just don't know. I’ve really got to sit down and go through the pros and cons. I’ll talk to my parents, take it slow.
"Hopefully ball out on January 3rd and see what the scouts are looking at.”
The NFL is looking at Braxton Miller and seeing a guy who's nowhere near an NFL quarterback right now, so this probably won't come to anything. But it should. Go away!
I like big Butt. Sorry. Inevitable that was going to happen at some point. It couldn't be helped, really. Here's why it happened:
Butt entered his first year at Michigan as a scrawny, 6-foot-6, 209-pound prospect with potential.
He'll leave it some 37 pounds heavier, at 6-foot-6, 246-pounder with 11 percent body fat and an appetite for much, much more.
"(The coaching staff) wants me at 255, but I think I can get to 260, I'm a skinny 246 right now," Butt said. "I can put on more."
That is a crazy amount of weight in one year. Contrast that to Devin Funchess, who was listed at 235 as both a freshman and sophomore. While that lack of weight gain was mostly due to the roster lying its ass off about Funchess as a freshman, hey look one of those guys is a tight end and the other one is a wide receiver who occasionally puts his hand down.
If Butt can get to 260 by next fall, Michigan could have an actual dual threat tight end. This would make everyone happy: Borges would have a guy who's an actual matchup issue and I wouldn't have to watch Borges put tight ends on the field over guys like Dileo when that makes no sense at all.
Come on baby.
You wouldn't even recognize my blocking (back in the spring compared to know), I didn't know which foot to step with or where to put my hands, it's night and day," Butt says. "I look at the film and wonder 'who is that kid?' The coaches here put a complete transformation on me."
They're going to play tight ends; hopefully they'll have one worth playing.
This used to happen all the time! Michigan's safety play was not great this year but got a lot worse once Michigan started futzing with their starters, inexplicably at first and then apparently injury-forced, and I still don't get why Michigan was so down on Thomas Gordon. Was he great? No. Did he do this?
For instance, below Michigan State packages mesh with a smash variation combining a corner and swing route. The goal is to put a man beater to the boundary and a hi-lo stretch to the field against a cover 2 corner.
At the snap, Cook reads cover 2, so he knows he is going to the wide side of the field, where he has the 2 on 1 against the squat corner. Cook knows that the corner must cover the swing to the wide side flat, and he can throw the flag pattern before the cover 2 safety can react.
So Michigan State has a good call against the Buckeye coverage. But a completion is one thing. Throwing gasoline on the fire, Corey Pitt Brown takes a horrible angle, coming under the throw and violating a cover 2 safety's primary rule, which is not get beat deep. Seventy-two yards later Michigan State was up 10-0.
No. He was a boring person who did boring things like be a step late on well-thrown corner routes. This is pretty good in the grand scheme of things.
Given what we saw out of Avery and Furman when they were inserted it's clear no one was pushing through; messing with the safeties was a counterproductive move likely borne out of panic about the offense making the defensive coaches try anything that might improve the defense. By the OSU game their hand was forced by Wilson's injury, which is one of about ten things that may have cost Michigan that game.
Compare and contrast. Michigan State got inundated with Rose Bowl ticket requests to the point that they had a choice: cut out some low end folks or reduce available tickets for big ballers from 6 to 4 and medium ballers from 4 to 2. They went with the latter.
"At some point, you have to be true to the character of your institution, your history and fanbase. We're not elitist. We realize we have tremendous fan support and we know the sacrifices people make to be donors.
"The decision was made to be in line with the inclusive character of our university," Schager added. "The bottom line is Michigan State University wants to accommodate as many people as possible (for) this experience that everybody wants to be a part of."
As soon as Michigan got a good basketball team, they reseated Crisler such that people who had put in the time to watch ten years of dreck got booted upstairs if they weren't huge donors.
And there's not going to be a pep band on Saturday… for some reason. The pep band people are irritated, so it's not them, but it seems insane for even Dave Brandon to try to milk some 100 extra seats out of one regular season basketball game. That appears to be the case, though.
One of these athletic directors is making decisions based on building loyalty with his whole fanbase; the other is still running a company that markets cardboard as pizza.
Amir Williams! Oh man I feel your pain, Amir Williams.
Here are the photos from Michigan vs. OSU 2013
Tuesday. Must be time to post a shirtless photo of somebody. Nik Stauskas is a larger person.
Hopefully this makes him LeBron James, or at least more capable when it comes time to finish at the rim. Last year he had two modes: 1) Game, blouses dunk. 2) wildly inaccurate layup.
Drink. Nick Baumgardner, or at least his headline guy, gets the season off to a rousing start:
Not just a shooter: Nik Stauskas backs up his teary-eyed Final Four pledge by focusing on defense
"I'm going to get back in the gym as soon as I get back to Ann Arbor," Stauskas said, with tears in his eyes. "I'm going to be a different player next year."
Six months after making a vow to improve himself, Michigan's sharp-shooting Canadian sophomore showed up to media day Thursday looking like a different person.
Stauskas added 16 pounds of muscle to his frame, spending most of the summer in Ann Arbor in the weight room with fellow sophomore Caris LeVert.
Michigan loses two first round NBA picks; gets back three or four Sophomore Leap™ candidates, depending on how you look at McGary.
My other three is a lottery pick. Mitch McGary won't play in tonight's exhibition against NAIA Concordia. This is the only thing that prevents me from declaring victory in the great Glenn Robinson III Is A Small Forward Over John Beilein's Dead Body war of the 2013 offseason:
“Spike or Derrick will play at the point, Nik or Caris will play at the two, Glenn or Zak will be at the three, and at the other three it will be Jordan or Glenn. Jon’s played real well, too. Jon’s going to get a great chance.”
"The other three." A door opened, and Michigan became the first team to go 1 2 3 3 5, because it was good PR. In fairness to Beilein, the roles of the 3 and 4 in his system are not particularly different, especially when you've got a guy like Robinson.
Also, please be true:
“Glenn is one of our top assist guys in all the scrimmages thus far. A lot of times we’ll just let them play, and allow them to play to the vision and strengths that they have,” Beilein said. “He’s got an ability to play where he can see open men really quickly. You see a lot of kids who, for some reason, while they’re athletic, don’t have the same feel for the game in crowds.”
Shot creation from Robinson would be enormous. Freshman to sophomore leaps are possible at a couple of different positions from players who were already pretty damn good last time out.
A SHORT LIST OF THINGS TO KEEP AN EYE ON
- Does Nik Stauskas rip an arm off a Concordia player, use it to shoot a three pointer, and then bite a chunk out of it as he leaves the floor?
- Is Caris LeVert showing any signs of making the proverbial Jump?
- Why did Tim Hardaway Jr get taller?
- That's still Trey Burke, right? I left my contacts out.
By the way, a quarter will get you in the door. If the University's making more money off the unclaimed student tickets, it's not going to be much money.
AT LEAST THEIR HELMETS WERE DUMB
Well, that's not good. By the time I got home from Saturday's hockey game it was halftime in the PSU-OSU game and the score was 42-7. That's some pretty un-swell boding right there. By the end, the Ohio State offense had eviscerated Penn State in unprecedented ways:
• Ohio State racked up 686 yards of total offense against Penn State, a new high for the Buckeyes against a Big Ten defense and a new low for the Nittany Lions in the 127-year history of the program. The final score, 63–14, made it the most lopsided defeat Penn State has endured since Nov. 25, 1899, in a 64–5 loss to the Duquesne Athletic Club, which was also the last time Penn State allowed 60 points. In the intervening 114 years, only two other opponents scored 50 points against Penn State: West Virginia in October 1988, and Navy in October 1944.
I was curious and grabbed a torrent of that event. OSU's line blew that 282 pound defensive tackle who occasionally featured against Michigan off the line regularly, took all manner of perimeter screens when presented the opportunity (including, oddly, a third and one conversion and a second and one conversion), and used Hyde as a punishing alternative to Braxton Miller—the usual. I guess they've kind of struggled in their other league games? Yeah.
Also alarming was Michigan State's Illinois-aided demolition of Illinois:
• Michigan State QB Connor Cook was 15-of-16 for 208 yards and three touchdowns against Illinois, setting a school record for pass efficiency (264.8) in a 42–3 rout. After a slow start, the Spartan offense as a whole converted 14 of 16 third-down attempts – including a kneel-down to end the game – the best single-game rate by any team this season, and scored touchdowns on six consecutive possessions before killing the clock.
One of those touchdown drives featured an Illinois player certain to intercept not only not doing that but batting the ball directly to a Michigan State player for a touchdown. That put MSU up 14-3 in a half featuring that and a goal line stand for MSU at the one, turning a potential tie into a lead insurmountable and eventually a laughable blowout.
On the bright side, Minnesota ran for almost 300 yards in a relatively easy win over Nebraska. Football is weird. That's the hope now, anyway.
At least this is the last year we have to talk about this. Fresno State and Northern Illinois are currently undefeated and on track to finish higher than the champion of the Large America conference, which means whichever finishes higher in the final standings will get the honor of being annihilated in a BCS Game. This is the BCS's own fault, because rough and tough football coaches mewled about how it was mean when that man scored another touchdown:
One of the reasons the Bulldogs and Huskies are in such solid position, surprisingly, is their good standing in the computer polls, where both rank in the top 15 despite the computers' alleged emphasis on strength of schedule. (NIU's best win is over Iowa, by three points; the crown jewel in Fresno's resumé is either a one-point win over Rutgers, in overtime, or a one-point win over Boise State.) In fact, even the machines don't really know what to do with them. In Jeff Sagarin's rankings, for example, his "real" rankings – which include margin of victory – list both NIU and Fresno as mediocrities at No. 51 and No. 52, respectively, nowhere near the threshold for a BCS game; in the version Sagarin submits to the BCS, though, which excludes margin of victory, the same teams come in at No. 3 and No. 14.
The BCS has been one eyerolling compromise after another. Even if the playoff committee was Condoleeza Rice and 14 animals representing the diversity of American agriculture the output would be less of a steaming pile than the soon-to-be late, extraordinarily unlamented BCS.
Math is just a tool, and for two decades the people in charge of college football took the safety off of Richard Billingsley and pointed him at their face, then sawed-off the other computer rankings and pointed them at their family. We're better off without it if it's going to be used like that: by morons.