When in Rome, kayak as the Romans did. Cesar Ruiz's displacement is an asset on the football field. In a kayak not so much.
Maybe the funniest video of the day. Cesar Ruiz w an assist from Mo Hurst pic.twitter.com/vKEStiPCL1
— angelique (@chengelis) April 25, 2017
This trip is probably the most Summer Of Harbaugh thing that's happened yet. Except for the shirtless touch football game at a camp he participated in. That's permanently #1.
I could use more Gus in my life. ESPN's college football announcing crew was decimated this year so I'm much more into this than I would have been previously:
...this season kicks off Fox Sports' six-year, $1.44 billion deal with the Big Ten Conference. Under the terms of the new pact, not only has Fox wrested the deed to the annual Ohio State-Michigan game from co-rights holder ESPN/ABC, but it will also broadcast the Big Ten football championship game in December. (And no, the change of broadcast venues doesn't suggest that the Buckeyes-Wolverines grudge match is going to move under the lights for a primetime airing any time soon -- tradition still demands a noon game.)
Gus Johnson and Joel Klatt might be the best extant CFB announce team and I'm totally down with those guys calling M-OSU. Hopefully FOX tones down the robots and goes with a more collegiate feel for their Big Ten games.
I am far less enthused about this, however:
“It’s still a concern,” Manuel said. “The only difference is, the Big Ten and television can assign us to a primetime game and it’s not our option. In November, we have the option if we choose to do so. I don’t anticipate that choice being made.” ...
“It comes out in terms of we agreed to it several years ago as a part of negotiating the new Big Ten television contract that we would allow up to two games at night,” Manuel said. “Last year for this (2016) football season, we had the option. Next year and moving forward the Big Ten can assign us and television in the Big Ten. In the month of September and October.” ...
“Jim (Harbaugh) and I have been in lockstep, saying our preference is in the afternoon and not in the evening,” Manuel said. “In this particular case, we have granted the ability for the Big Ten to assign two home games in the evening. That’s where it will go.”
I don't know if that's yet another Dave Brandon ace negotiation or an unfortunate side-effect of being part of the Big Ten during a period when it's being run by someone who cares about nothing other than stacking dollars. It kind of sounds like the former since Manuel says "we have granted the ability" to the Big Ten. Which is another going-away president from the worst AD in history. Also in "Dave Brandon's icy hand reaches out from the grave": he scheduled Air Force again. Never schedule Air Force.
Cord cutting leads to other forms of cutting. ESPN is about to have an on-air bloodletting:
ESPN will part ways with more than 40 people, all of them “talent,” a label that ESPN applies to radio hosts and writers (almost all of whom regularly do video or audio), not just traditional TV personalities. ESPN says it has 1,000 people in the category. Still, you can expect most of the people cut to be faces you’ve seen on TV. In some cases, ESPN may buy people out of existing long-term contracts—as Sports Illustrated points out, that is unusual.
Most of these folks are probably going to be peripheral folks with few names you'd be familiar with, but the story speculates about one potential exit that would be frown-inducing:
The New York Daily News has some speculation, including SportsCenter anchor John Buccigross, whose contract expires on July 1.
Nooooooooooo. Buccigross is probably the network's foremost college hockey proponent and things would not be the same without him. Here's hoping his skillset keeps him on the four-letter.
who are you going to believe, your own lying eyes or this dipshit?
This week in bullshit. Danny Kanell brings his turtleneck to a fact party:
@MoveTheSticks Did you talk to any of his teammates? Did you examine the leg? See an MRI?
— Danny Kanell (@dannykanell) April 25, 2017
Kanell is way out of line here. Consider the environment he's living in at the time of the FSU game: various players have outright skipped bowl games and gotten praise for it in the media; neither Leonard Fournette nor Christian McCaffrey has seen his draft stock altered one iota by that decision. Even if Peppers wasn't going to play by his choice he could have just said "nope" privately and not dressed, as is common in football.
Instead he dressed and attempted to warm up, whereupon he looked like a guy who'd injured his hamstring. So unless he's a pathological liar who's simultaneously extremely convincing at faking muscle injuries, he was, you know, injured. Kanell is slandering Peppers without proof. Probably because he's dumb as a brick.
These poor exploited Michigan football players. Forced to go on an all expenses paid trip to Italy. Probably had to fly coach too...Sad!
— Danny Kanell (@dannykanell) April 24, 2017
Here's a guy in need of some firin', ESPN.
When third chances go wrong. If your program has a guy get in trouble, it had a guy get in trouble. It happens. If your program takes a guy with two arrests in his recent past you'd better do your homework, because if he gets in trouble again that is on you. This is on Mark Dantonio:
Michigan State's Auston Robertson has been charged with third-degree criminal sexual conduct stemming from an April 9 incident.
— Dan Murphy (@DanMurphyESPN) April 21, 2017
Robertson was arrested for criminal mischief* in 2015, then arrested shortly before Signing Day for inappropriately grabbing a female student at his high school. MSU issued a statement about the deep background they did on the guy in an attempt to justify the signing:
“Our decision to accept Auston Robertson’s signed National Letter of Intent and Big Ten Tender has been evaluated over the last three months while utilizing all resources available to us to thoroughly review his situation,” Dantonio said.
“Our relationship with Auston began last summer when he committed to Michigan State. When we accepted his verbal (commitment), we also made a commitment to him and his family. We elected not to sign him in early February, and since then he has been accepted into a pretrial diversionary program and must continue to satisfy those requirements. Given all the information available to us, we believe Auston should be provided with an opportunity to begin his education and playing career at Michigan State.”
He lasted barely a year before getting charged with criminal sexual conduct in East Lansing, a charge that is easily predicted by the nature of the battery he got diverted. The above statement should have read "We know this is a risk for the people who will be around Robertson. Sorry. (Not sorry.)" That risk seems to have resulted in something very bad indeed, given the fact that Robertson went on the lam for two days. Even more ominously, Mark Dantonio saw fit to remove him from MSU's team. Short of failing to meet academic eligibility requirements, when does that happen?
This isn't and shouldn't be a rivalry thing. Hopefully the fact that I bombed Brady Hoke and Dave Brandon for their useless lies about Brendan Gibbons demonstrates that 1) nobody is immune from this sort of thing and 2) I'm not just a message board dude with my rivalry lols. It should be about what looks like an institution that has serious issues with sexual assault, at multiple levels.
*[And "resisting law enforcement," a charge which I'm always extremely dubious about.]
Expected starter confirmation. Chris Evans on his spring game deployment:
"I wanted to play more ... But they said 'nah, nah, nah, you're not going to play, you're not going to play.' I just respected that and just back to the drawing board (for spring practice) on Tuesday."
That is a leader in the clubhouse.
Red encomiums. John Bacon:
Berenson loved the game from the start. When he was a 6-year old kid in Regina, Saskatchewan, for Christmas his parents gave him new skates, new gloves and new shin pads. He was so excited, he called his best friend – at 6 a.m.
When his friend's mom answered, she asked, "Do you know what time it is?"
Berenson replied, "Yes -- but this is important!"
Berenson stepped down Monday after 33 years as Michigan's head coach. He was hired during a tumultuous time in the program's history, May 1984. It was the third time then-athletic director Don Canham had asked him to take over. He was an assistant coach in the NHL at the time. He finally accepted.
"I left a job making $85,000 a year to take a job making $40,000," Berenson said. "I thought, 'Did I get my MBA at Michigan to make a decision like this?' But it was the right thing to do. I loved Michigan and loved the experience I had."
MGoBlue has a thing that's more of a pretty-design item than a story but here is a picture:
And Hoover Street Rag:
Red Berenson did not invent Michigan hockey, that's Vic Heyliger and Al Renfrew. But Red did save Michigan hockey, first with the Regina Regiment, then by coming home to Ann Arbor in 1984. He was hired by Don Canham, and he, slowly but surely, brought Michigan back from the abyss. He won 848 games in the NCAA, fourth most in college hockey, and starting in 1990-91 when Michigan posted a 34-win season and its made first trip to the NCAAs in 14 years, an event they would not miss for the next 22 seasons, Michigan began a streak of 8 straight 30-win seasons, with 6 Frozen Fours and 2 national titles, Michigan's eighth and ninth all time. And in all of this, in the down seasons, after the Hunwick fueled miracle run in 2011, after Mel left, and we wondered when would this moment come. Then came last year, when Michigan hockey was fun again and four NHL-caliber players were lighting the lamp and Michigan won the conference tournament, there was the notion of maybe the old magic had been recaptured, let Red have one more run this year and then hand the reins off after one more season. But, wishing doesn't make it so, and Michigan Hockey Summer took its toll, as it is wont to do.
Woke Harbaugh continues. Harbaugh on Colin Kaepernick in Time:
Colin Kaepernick was alone in his early protests last year when he boldly and courageously confronted perceived inequalities in our social-justice system by refusing to stand for the national anthem. At times in our nation's history, we have been all too quick to judge and oppose our fellow Americans for exercising their First Amendment right to address things they believe unjust.
Rather than besmirch their character, we must celebrate their act. For we cannot pioneer and invent if we are fearful of deviating from the norm, damaging our public perception or—most important—harming our own personal interests.
That writing style is familiar from the opening video at home games. Feels like every word is capitalized, which is very Harbaugh.
Sponsor note. This here blog is an S Corp, because of this aspect of US tax law as related by wikipedia:
As is the case for any other corporation, the FICA tax is imposed only with respect to employee wages and not on distributive shares of shareholders. Although FICA tax is not owed on distributive shares, the IRS and equivalent state revenue agencies may recategorize distributions paid to shareholder-employees as wages if shareholder-employees are not paid a reasonable wage for the services they perform in their positions within the company.
This saves me a few thousand dollars a year in taxes, and is a Good Idea for anyone with a small business. There are many things like this, because there are many laws and more loopholes, and boy howdy it would be nice to have someone point them out for you. You are sensing that a logo is coming.
Rick Hoeg hung out his own shingle recently after working in big law for a decade, and specializes in helping people start, organize, operate, fund, and expand their businesses. His small firm has clients including a national pizza chain and a major video game publisher, plus an array of university professors, entrepreneurs, and licensees. Hit up hoeglaw.com or Rick himself at [email protected], or read his blog(!) Rules of the Game.
Maybe he's good. Show this to your local Ohio State or Michigan State fan the next time they foam at the mouth about Jabrill Peppers:
More importantly for your purposes this video offers some clear explanations of how Michigan's defense is structured. Editor Brett Kollman makes an assumptions about why Don Brown put Peppers where he is that are incorrect—it's not because Ben Gedeon is slow, it's because that's how he's run his defense forever—but otherwise it's a definitive assessment of Peppers. Spoiler: he's good at football.
I got dibs on the swooping motions. Basketball is looking to fill its 13th scholarship spot with somebody, whether it's Mo Bamba or a transfer or an out-of-nowhere late recruit. Transfer options keep popping up, with former Wright State PG Mark Alstork currently the hot name. Alstork's going somewhere, whether it's the NBA or a grad transfer. He says he's mostly focused on the NBA...
“I’m really taking it as I’m going to the NBA draft and NBA team workouts and potentially get signed or get drafted that’s what I’m going to do,” he told the Free Press Tuesday. “But if not, I just want to have my options open and that’s why I got my release papers.”
...but he's evidently keeping college options open, as a guy with a sub 100 ORTG should. Michigan is one of them.
Michigan is an option because Billy Donlon was Alstork's head coach a year ago. Here's a surprisingly comprehensive and informative highlight reel for a guy from Wright State:
Not bad, and the ORTG is easily explained away: Alstork shouldered huge usage this year. His 34.7% usage rate was seventh nationally, so there's a lot of Dion Harris "oh shit, there's no more shotclock and my teammates are bad" shots in there. This is why he has a post-like 23 TO rate and shot just 41% inside the arc this year. Those numbers were 13 and 48 the previous year when Alstork had a still-heavy but not absurd 25% usage rate.
Upsides seem considerable: he's 6'5" and should be plug and play in Donlon's defense. He shot 84% from the line and 38% from three, so he's clearly got Beilein-level shooting chops. He had a Waltonesque DREB rate, and got to the line a bunch. I'd take him in a second.
Another name that recently popped up for Michigan's 13th slot is Shakwon Barrett, a 6'3" point guard out of Canada who will be on campus this weekend.
— Shakwon Barrett (@SB11_LT) January 30, 2017
Barrett is a MAAR-style late riser currently with just one D-I offer in hand, that from Tulane. Beilein's done well with guys like that recently, but with Simpson and Eli Brooks already young PG sorts it seems like a grad transfer is a better fit than a freshman. Barrett spent a couple years at Findlay Prep, one of those basketball factories, before a grad-year transfer to Montverde Academy, another one of those basketball factories, so he's no doubt been scouted up and down and passed over by everyone. That's not great; by contrast MAAR just hung out at his high school getting ignored.
That's good, but that's uh what? ESPN puts Michigan in their early top 25 at #22. That's good. The thing I've seen people mutter about on the internet after they read this article is not:
Forward D.J. Wilson's game flourished down the stretch to the point that the NBA seems like a foregone conclusion, and that's a heavy blow, at least relative to the opportunity cost of a fully realized Wilson back on a college floor for one more season.
FWIW, I don't think that's any inside information of Eamonn Brennan has, but rather an assumption—"seems like a foregone conclusion." I haven't heard anything's changed. The status quo is that Michigan expects both Wilson and Wagner back but they'll submit their names to the NBA, as one does.
One mitigating factor. This is a quibble in a Jourdan Lewis scouting report I otherwise almost entirely agree with, but cumong man:
Struggles with bigger receivers. Gave up 109 yards on seven catches to Michigan State’s Aaron Burbridge in 2015.
On 19 targets. Struggling is a bit much. It is true that NFL QBs are going to be able to hit the windows Lewis's lack of size provides more frequently and he'll probably be best as a nickel guy. I just have to defend the man's honor for that game.
Slims down to... 360. If you immediately thought "Michael Onwenu," sorry we're talking about your mom:
The 6-foot-3 sophomore from Cass Tech High School amazed Michigan's staff with how quick his feet were and how well Onwenu was able to use his weight and power without grinding to a halt. Jim Harbaugh and company were focused on letting Onwenu adjust to the college game, get his feet wet, learn the ropes. The weight, surprisingly, wasn't a concern.
It's still not, really. But that didn't stop Onwenu from dropping 15 pounds this offseason -- down to around 360 -- to help him polish up some of that footwork. He moved extremely well for a 375-pounder. Imagine what he might be able to do at 360 -- or less?
"I think I want to get lower, just for my health. I don't really have a target, but just want to get lower," Onwenu said last week. "I move better."
Good news, though: your mom is probably the starting RG.
Don't do this, also don't have a roofing business. Kentucky fans did not like the refereeing in their loss to UNC, so they harassed one of the refs at his place of business:
Business at Weatherguard Inc., has become somewhat more normal since phone calls with a Kentucky area code were blocked. Little business got done last week after around 25,000 contacts were made through social media after Higgins officiated the Kentucky-North Carolina game, which the Wildcats lost by two points.
He’s still dealing with the fallout from those thousands of negative emails and phone calls and the reviews on Weatherguard’s Facebook page that dropped its rating from 4.8 to 1.2. It’s back up to 3.0, but that’s still not good when weighed against the competition, Higgins said.
He’s also got the unseen victims to take care of — his wife and family, some of whom wanted him to stop officiating after 28 years, and his employees. They were nervous and a little shaky, Higgins said, driving around the Omaha area in company trucks after everything they’d heard.
False reports were even filed with the Better Business Bureau, using names such as Adolph Rupp, the legendary former Kentucky coach, and Calipari John, a reversal of the current Kentucky coach’s name.
1) It's a miracle this has not happened to TV Teddy. 2) It was always going to be Kentucky fans. 3) Why does a ref who worked the Final Four have to have a side hustle? Or, rather, why is refereeing a side hustle for a guy working a billion-dollar tournament?
Game changing call here, what a joke. pic.twitter.com/kcxSfH7bTF
— Matt Smith (@SamENole) April 4, 2017
Since said refs destroyed the final game of said tournament I think this is relevant.
Etc.: Incoming C Josh Norris lands at #21 on ISS's latest rankings. Doris Burke is moving to men's basketball exclusively. Indiana G James Blackmon puts name in draft sans agent. I don't know how I feel about this basketball change. Partridge on recruiting.
"Access to the legal system requires money; also that was holding." [Fuller]
The most interesting man in the world. Jim Harbaugh is (probably) the only football coach in history to land a Politico interview and come off more educated on the topic of said interview than most elected officials:
Politico: What was the response to the tweet when you sent it out?
Harbaugh: Mostly positive, varying to some degree of people’s awareness. There's issues that people just don't understand. One of the biggest issues that got me most fired up is how fines and fees are being used to punish the poor. I've learned how the devastating effect it can have on lives of low income Americans. I mean across the country 48 states have increased civil court fees since 2010 and they're using those fees to pay for government services and not just courts but roads and generating millions and in some states billions of dollars.
But basically the crux of it is when people can't afford to pay a fine or a fee for things like a speeding ticket or municipal violation then they get additional fees. Late fees can start piling up and these fees can double, triple, quadruple the total amount due and if somebody has an inability to pay that fine that can quickly snowball into a driver's license suspension or driver time. People aren't even able to go to work. So you can't pay a fine or a fee and then you lose your driver's license. You're not able to get to a job, and a lot of people, I mean, they’ve got to work.
Also Harbaugh quotes the Federalist Papers in this interview. It is quite an object, the interview.
Bamba (center) yukking it up with fellow BOYCOTT THIS COMPANY
A version of reality including this guy would be nice. Brendan Quinn hits up the [Boycott This Company Until There Is At Least One Ugly Person In Any Of Their Commercials Ever] All-American Game, to focus on the guy Michigan is recruiting: Mo Bamba. Nobody thinks Michigan is actually going to get this dude but MAYBE:
"There's a significant difference between greed and hunger," he said. "When you're greedy, you just want things. That's your only need. But when you're hungry for things, it's a mixture of need and want, which is more logical to me."
Bamba is a different cat, it appears, and hopefully that will take him to Michigan instead of the one-and-done factories down south. I mean, it's not going to. But maybe! But no.
If he did do the thing he isn't going to do that would be kind of good though?
With my own eyes, I saw Bamba grab a rebound near the shot clock during Tuesday's practice. I mean, I think I saw it. Watching Bamba can sometimes feel like bearing witness to Paul Bunyan swing an ax. The facial expressions of the NBA scouts sitting baseline told the story of this young man's mythology. After watching Bamba stretch, a veteran sportswriter covering the event approached me to say: "He's got joints I don't have."
Bamba sees himself as a stretch four and if there's anyone on the planet who can effectively sell his development of enormous inside-outside guys it's John Beilein. Dude has two 6'10"+ potential first round picks* collectively shooting 38% from three on his roster. Neither was as highly recruited as Bamba, to say the least.
Yes, this section has been a waste of time. Unless! But no.
Chris Collins might not be nice, but it's the system that rewards him. It wouldn't be worth mentioning except for the fact that so many people went to Medill and enjoyed telling us about pristine Northwestern being everything that's right with college athletics, usually two seconds after they slammed Jim Harbaugh. But since they exist and they did:
On February 3, 2015, the Northwestern men's basketball team somberly walked to the visiting locker room of the Pinnacle Bank Arena in Lincoln, Nebraska, after a 16-point loss to the Cornhuskers.
The team, now 1-8 in the Big Ten, sat down to meet, as it always does after games. Coach Chris Collins, then in his second season at Northwestern, turned to freshman point guard Johnnie Vassar.
According to Vassar and another person who was present, Collins yelled, "Johnnie, you fucking suck."
By any reasonable standard, Vassar had little to do with Northwestern's struggles. A seldom-used reserve, he had played one garbage-time minute against the Huskers. Yet, according to Vassar and another person who was present, Collins continued to berate the backup guard.
That's VICE's Kevin Trahan at the beginning of a lengthy article describing the lengths Collins took to get Vassar off his team, which took some doing in the era of four-year guaranteed scholarships but was nonetheless accomplished. It was accomplished by forcing Vassar into a demeaning "internship" that was mostly janitorial work and then juking timecards to boot him. One catch, via a D-I compliance officer:
"You can't push them off to another obligation," the official said. "There's nowhere in the NCAA manual that says anything about that. If they say, 'you need to do 40 community service hours,' no, you don't. It doesn't say anything about that." Another NCAA Division I school compliance official confirmed that analysis to VICE Sports.
Northwestern booted Vassar off the team after a year and then did whatever they had to in order to get his scholarship available again. Chris Collins seems like an incredible dick in the process. And not even a competent one:
One card spells Vassar's name wong; one has only another person's name on it (with that person's name crossed out); one says "Johnnie V" and has another crossed-out name; one is blank; and three have Vassar's name spelled correctly, but in handwriting that appears to be different than Vassar's.
None of this is news; what is news is that Vassar refused to suck it up and go quietly despite it being much, much easier to take the hint and move on. I admire that bullheadedness. Someone's gotta be Curt Flood.
The Vassar story once again exposes how the NCAA's terrible incentives force players and coaches into adversarial relationships annually. You should not be surprised if dicks like Chris Collins do well in a system that is set up to reward dick behavior. It forced John Beilein into similar last year when he no doubt encouraged Aubrey Dawkins and Ricky Doyle to find greener pastures.
A solution to Vassar's problem should be easy: allow him to keep his scholarship without impacting how many scholarship kids Northwestern can recruit. That costs money, and that's historically been a stumbling block because the SWAC and Colonial type schools without any outnumber those in power conferences; with autonomy there should be nothing stopping the Power 5 from allowing someone cut from a team to continue on scholarship, medical hardship or no.
Speaking of non-Bamba options and transfers. Per Some Guy, Michigan is on Washington PF Noah Dickerson's list of potential destinations as he transfers away from Washington.
Dickerson doesn't look like a great fit: he's not a stretch four in any way—he is 1/10 on threes in his career and his 68% FT rate last year does not suggest he's a butterfly waiting inside a pupa—and would likely have to play the 5 at Michigan, where he'd join Teske and Davis as 5-only contemporaries.
OTOH, he drew a buttload of fouls and was an excellent rebounder and interior scorer. The most fun thing about him is wondering how you have the #1 pick in the NBA draft and a dude with an 115 ORTG on average usage who pulls down rebounds at an 11%/23% rate and go 9-22. Lorenzo Romar, man.
Exit Melo Trimble. The Maryland guard is headed for the NBA draft and will hire an agent, figuring that another year under Mark Turgeon isn't going to get him solidly in the first round. The locals are a little cheesed off:
With 1,658 career points to his name, he would've had a chance to chase the No. 1 spot on the school's career scoring list next season, but he'll pursue a professional career rather than local immortality.
He probably figures that when you lose in the first round as a six seed in the NBA nobody gets on your case.
This is not me. I wish it was.
Whoever sent me this POTATO!!!! Much appreciated.... pic.twitter.com/fVaqRvvgTn
— Dirk Nowitzki (@swish41) March 15, 2017
It turns out to be a wildly successful marketing stunt for a company that will send you image or message-emblazoned potatoes. This company is inexplicably not based in Ohio. The best thing to come out of this is the Wall Street Journal giving the headshot treatment to Dirk's tuber:
Twitter did not find this nearly as amazing as I did, but rest assured this is incredibly entertaining.
Oregon: good matchup? The WaPo's Neil Greenberg seems to think so. He's using extremely small sample sizes, but given Chris Boucher's absence that's less unfortunate than it usually is. Transition is a major Oregon focus and Michigan's stepped up their stinginess:
In transition, Michigan has allowed opponents to score 39.1 percent of the time in the tournament, an improvement over their regular-season performance (46.3 percent) and a potential stumbling block for Oregon, who has scored almost two-thirds of the time in transition (63.6 percent) against their first two opponents. No other remaining tournament team has had better results on the break. Take that element away from Oregon, and it’s a big blow.
This item won't surprise you but will shock your January self:
The Ducks also won’t get as many open looks as they have through the first two rounds. Oregon has taken 24 of 32 (75 percent) catch-and-shoot opportunities unguarded, per Synergy Sports, scoring 1.08 points per shot. Michigan, however, has allowed just six of 22 (27 percent) catch-and-shoot attempts without a defender close by.
Oregon is was already a bit three-heavy with Boucher in the lineup and figure to be more so without him even if that hasn't shown up in the three games since his departure, and Michigan is very good at preventing threes from being launched.
They're 5'9" with big hair and one of them doesn't have a work visa. Welp, they've been found. Both DJ Wilson and Mo Wagner are major risers on Chad Ford's NBA draft board:
Moritz Wagner, F/C, So., Michigan
No one did more to help his draft stock over the weekend than Wagner. His career-best performance against Louisville -- 26 points on 11-for-14 shooting -- showed why he was been quickly moving up our Top 100 over the past month. Wagner is a fluid athlete at 6-foot-11 who can score off the bounce and on the block. He also has 3-point range.
When he's engaged and not in foul trouble, he can take over a game. The fact that he did it against a bunch of NBA-caliber athletes on Louisville impressed scouts. He sat at No. 40 on our Top 100 before the tournament and moves up to No. 21 in our latest rankings. That's a huge leap for any player, but if you watched his draft stock all month, it isn't just based on one game. It's just scouts getting more and more comfortable with the idea that he has all the skills he needs to be a good NBA player someday.
D.J. Wilson, F, Jr., Michigan
Wilson showed off all the strengths of his game against both Oklahoma State and Louisville. He's a terrific and versatile athlete who can stretch the floor, finish at the rim and block shots. He can even handle the ball and bring it up the floor.
However, his lack of toughness continues to bother some scouts who want to see him initiate and handle contact better. He grabbed only two boards against Louisville and at times seemed bothered by the physicality. Still, athletic 6-foot-10 guys who can shoot 3s and protect the rim don't come along every day and Wilson has made a strong case to be a first-round pick after hovering in the 30s in our Top 100 all season.
FWIW, I was talking to Sam Webb a month or two ago and at the time his impression was that the NBA was interested in both guys but that they were both likely a year away. Let's hope that's still the case, because I'm guessing Teske and Davis are going to need another year of grooming before they're ready. Also I really want to see weaponized versions of Wilson and Wagner.
If one or both does end up going this will be another situation where Beilein's astounding player development—despite almost no access to one-and-done types Michigan was 12th in NBA players produced entering the season—outpaces his recruiting. Nobody was expecting Trey Burke or Nik Stauskas to be two-and-out, and I don't think anyone thought Wilson or Wagner would have any chance of going to the league this year after the pair averaged two points a game in 2015-16.
Remember when Bernard Robinson sticking at the end of a roster for a year or two was notable to Michigan basketball fans? Slightly different situation these days.
Part of that development. Congrats to friend-of-blog Andrew Kahn for landing a WSJ byline. It's a look into some player development tools Michigan (and others) are using. Wagner has a bad day against Ohio State and Beilein set to work on his shot:
...Beilein set out to fix Wagner’s problems using one of basketball’s hottest new diagnostic tools: a machine that measures the arc of a shot as it reaches the hoop. ... [tool vendor] Noah’s data says the ideal shot comes in at about 45 degrees.
Wagner’s practice session showed that he was shooting the ball far too high, coming in at around 53 degrees. Beilein knew they had no chance of going in and pressed Wagner to adjust by flattening his shot.
“By the time we were done, he was draining threes all over the place at 45 (degrees), 46, 47,” Beilein said. Wagner, a 41 percent three-point shooter for the season, shook his slump and nailed 8 of 17 (47%) from deep the next four games.
Beilein is still adapting and taking advantage of new tools being created even though he's "no spring chicken," which not every coaching in his 60s does. You can safely assume that Michigan is on the cutting edge with this stuff. The results are proof enough.
Two points. The Big Ten did pretty well in the first weekend of the tournament, sending three teams to the Sweet 16 and Shutting Up All The Haters, except not really. Mark Titus:
As soon as the buzzer sounded on no. 7 seed Michigan’s 73–69 victory over no. 2 seed Louisville on Sunday afternoon, the talk of the internet became whether the Big Ten, which was complete trash from November through early March, had been underrated all season. ... [The Big Ten got three S16 teams and the ACC was bad.] ... Clearly this had to mean something, right?
Of course not. You know what Michigan beating Louisville and Wisconsin beating Villanova proved? That Michigan outplayed Louisville and that Wisconsin outplayed Villanova. How come everyone who gets so wrapped up in conference-pride bullshit always seems to move the goalposts with these arguments?
Neither side of any conference superiority argument generally marshals anything resembling a coherent argument. It is talk-radio fodder.
While a few tournament games don't establish that the Big Ten was at the level it was a few years ago, neither was it "trash." They entered the NCAA tourney fifth out of six power conferences on Kenpom, all of two points behind the second-place ACC. That's roughly the difference between #20 Michigan and #24 Butler, or #37 Northwestern and #44 Illinois State—ie, barely any difference at all. The first two rounds should at least be sufficient to demonstrate that the Big Ten is in the same range as any other power conference (with the possible exception of the Big 12).
This weekend did matter in the computer rankings, sliding the Big Ten up to fourth, and it should influence our perception of the league this year. The real answer, though, is that the Big Ten was just slightly down. Titus seems to be projecting his feelings about Ohio State, which was so trash that many Michigan fans gave up on their season after losing to the Buckeyes*, to the wider league.
Nice. 2017 PF Isaiah Livers won Mr. Basketball. He's a 6'8" stretch four with game and hair fairly reminiscent of DJ Wilson.
Wilson has a couple of inches of both height and hair on Livers, but hopefully he's able to step into the rotation next year.
Star-crossed Ricky Doyle. Remember how he was ill or injured seemingly perpetually? This has not abated, at all.
Ricky Doyle, a Bishop Verot Catholic High School alum, was forced to sit out this season after transferring from the University of Michigan due to NCAA rules, as well as a tumor.
“I just kept having these stomach pains for a long time and I just kind of pushed them off,” he said. “One day, I just had to go to the hospital and it turns out that my appendix has been burst for two months…they found a tumor about the size of a softball and they had to cut 6 inches of my colon out.”
The tumor was non cancerous, Doyle said, and his body formed it naturally around the burst appendix to prevent poison from seeping out and killing him.
Doctors believe the medicine Doyle is on for his sleep apnea dulled the pain to the point where he didn’t realize how severe the tumor was.
Writing on the wall. There's a ton of football stuff that we'll get to in a week or two as part of a spring preview, but one roster note: Sam Webb replies to people asking about a lack of Shelton Johnson coverage that "he is not a part of [Scout's] defensive line preview." I would not expect him on the roster this spring.
Etc.: A lot of people say the tournament saps the importance of the college season. I don't buy that, because I like Big Ten championship banners. For an example of a season that truly doesn't matter, I give you the NBA.
Every Michigan 3 against Oklahoma State. Holdin' The Rope on the Louisville game. Five key plays from said game. We are #3 in Will Leitch's rootability rankings, because of "cattywampus." Leitch on the Brad Underwood hire. TTB talks to Kevin Koger. Jim Harbaugh promotes colon awareness.
we going to the ship
Michigan represented in the real bracket. This Is March, and that means it's Name of the Year time. College football, which annually raises hundreds of names from obscurity, contributes five participants—at least five that I recognize—to this year's tournament:
1 seed Kobe Buffalomeat, an Illinois State signee.
15 seed Dredrick Snelson Jr, a UCF wide receiver.
11 seed Bumper Pool, a 2018 LB committed to Okie State (who Michigan pursued).
5 seed and Michigan signee Luiji Vilain(!).
1 seed Quindarious Monday, a 2018 safety out of Georgia recently offered by Michigan.
2 seed Sultan McDoom does not appear to be related to Eddie, FWIW. Also there is a Taco Dibbits who is presumably not related to Taco Charlton.
I believe Vilain is the first Michigan-affiliated participant since Iris Macadangdang made it to the final in 2009, losing to LSU DE Barkevious Mingo. Yes I knew that off the top of my head. Yes my brain is very good and full of useful things.
The NOTY bracket is always a magical one that different people will take different things from, like a diamond with 64 gleaming facets. Personally, I'm partial to Boats Botes. Boats.
— Cass Tech Football (@Detroit_CTFB) March 14, 2017
Many, many spring practice(?) things. I was thinking about splitting out huge data dumps from Sam Webb and Steve Lorenz into a separate post but since they're mostly about winter workouts—ie not even practice—during the heart of NCAA tournment season maybe we'll just jam it in here.
Prepare for JAM:
- Webb reports that Don Brown is bringing up Mike Wroblewski—who is apparently called "ROBO"—unprompted as the third ILB along with McCray and Bush. Sounds like Michigan will be rotating three guys for two spots.
- Drevno picks out Mike Onwenu as the gentleman with the biggest offseason improvement. Also mentioned: Rashan Gary, Ian Bunting, and Donovan Peoples-Jones. Meanwhile Lorenz reports that Onwenu has shed significant weight and is in a good spot.
- Sam is asked which early enrollees are consistently drawing mention and responds with Cesar Ruiz and—surprise—Donovan Peoples-Jones. Lorenz also mentions Ruiz as "college ready" physically and broaches the possibility he'll be a four-year starter. That would necessarily kick either Mason Cole or Ben Bredeson out to tackle. Frey thinks he can bat Cole around this spring and it won't have a negative impact.
- Lorenz also asserts that the coaching staff is pushing Juwann Bushell-Beatty because they think he can make it. They thought he was a reasonable option midseason, so he's got to be doing something right in practice.
- Per Lorenz, Karan Higdon's gotten up to 200 and he'll push Chris Evans.
- Metellus and Hudson are candidates at both safety and VIPER(!). Metellus is getting talked up a lot as a guy who had "one of the best winters on the roster" by Sam and by Lorenz as the favorite to start next to Kinnel, as he's a "rock solid 205" and a Don Brown favorite.
- Lorenz reports that Michigan is big on Carlo Kemp and Donovan Jeter has impressed early.
There's more at each of the links but that's how they get you, with the useful information.
ACC BIG 10 BIG 12 SEC PAC 12 BIG EAST. It's me again. Looking 4 home & home next year. Pls call me 4 chance 4 QUALITY road win, top 33 RPI pic.twitter.com/zYAZpR3kJn
— Dan Muller (@DanMuller) March 13, 2017
Illinois State should have been in. Ken Pomeroy writes on the exclusion of Illinois State from the field. One reason I was mildly incensed about what the committee did this year is that they gave the numbers-literate a window for hope:
In January, the NCAA invited me and several other people to discuss using new metrics to support the tournament selection process. It is encouraging that the people in charge of men’s basketball at the NCAA are interested in using the best tools available.
That discussion obviously went nowhere, as the Minnesota-Wisconsin seeding discrepancy and Illinois State exclusion demonstrate. Kenpom's take on the Redbirds:
Teams from a competitive mid-major conference like the Missouri Valley play a much different kind of schedule. Most games against teams outside the top 100 are conference games, which are just as likely to be on the road as they are at home. Also, very few of those “bad” opponents are going to be as bad as Howard or Western Carolina, whom Marquette played. Although it played many more teams outside the top 100, Illinois State still had fewer games (three) against teams in the bottom 100 than Marquette. As a consequence, a whole lot more of Illinois State’s games against poorer teams were potentially loseable, if the Redbirds had a particularly bad night or their opponent was feeling it. And the Redbirds did lose two of them—road games to Murray State and Tulsa. ...
If Marquette and Illinois State swapped schedules, the Golden Eagles would almost surely lose some games to teams outside the top 100. If you put Illinois State in the Big East, it would have earned some quality wins. No doubt, though, the Redbirds would do much worse than their 17-1 Missouri Valley Conference record when facing the tougher competition. But consider that Xavier went 8-10 against Big East teams not named DePaul and easily earned an at-large bid. The standard for small-conference teams is incredibly high, while the standard for major-conference teams is not as high as you think.
The "bad loss" mode of thinking fails to take into account the fact that when you play a high number of road games against teams with RPIs from 100 to 200, an NCAA quality team will be expected to lose some of them.
There are metrics that take this into account. "Wins Above Bubble"—defined as "the amount of wins you have - than the amount of wins an average bubble team would expect to have against the schedule you faced"—is an easy concept to grasp that ranks on overall resume instead of the distorted windows that arbitrary RPI bins provide. Illinois State was excluded despite being 1.5 WAB, ahead of 7-seed Dayton and 9-seeds MSU and Vandy*.
We blithely dismiss Illinois State's record because it came against "nobody", but anybody can be somebody on the road. Take Illinois State's game at Missouri State. On the day of the game, Missouri State was ranked #130 in Kenpom—bad loss territory if this was RPI. Illinois State was ranked #44, which is where nine-seed VT is ranked today and ahead of at-large picks VCU, Seton Hall, Providence, and USC. Kenpom gave Illinois State—which, again, was performing like a legit NCAA tournament team at the time—just a 63% shot at victory. Play nine road games against teams from 100 to 200 and an NCAA bubble team should lose a couple, as Illinois State did. Their record should have been enough to get them in the field.
*[I don't think WAB should be used for seeding; it's a selection metric. I mention the above teams because they were not only in the field but evidently not even on the bubble.]
New hockey coach maybe possibly. This gentleman appears to be Pavel Datsyuk's agent:
— Jeffrey Moss (@JeffMossDSR) March 15, 2017
Obligatory disclaimer: agents are not always reliable sources, and the deletion of said tweet makes it even shakier. If, however, he is correct and Michigan has already moved to secure their next head coach that could mean they've gone off the board. IE: they hired Not Mel. It seems doubtful that this guy would be in the loop if it was Pearson.
We could do this in the middle of Texas or at home. It's not hard to figure out how neutral site games are viable when home and homes sometimes aren't:
For a regular season game... pic.twitter.com/KVQA4c8JYm
— LG (@LGhail) February 27, 2017
Ticket prices for the Bama game were similar. Throw in a corporate sponsorship and voila: both teams can get close to home game money. We're in a weird place when schools find it necessary to outsource these kind of things. If I was AD I'd ask season ticket holders how much of a surcharge they'd be okay with to get a game like Florida at the Big House. I'm guessing it would cover a lot of the costs of a real game relative to a bodybag game, if not all of them. Michigan doesn't need to cut in a middleman*.
*[Except maybe in this particular case. This game is happening because of the ND cancellation that left Brandon scrambling. This is probably the best alternative to a negotiated agreement. I'll leave it to the reader to decide how much of the situation Michigan found itself in was Brandon.]
Color me unconcerned. Crain's engages some concern-trolling about Michigan's debt load:
The University of Michigan athletic department sits atop $240 million in debt at a time when several major college athletics programs are grappling with enormous and potentially crippling debt loads.
Michigan is not. They make 160 million annually, so their debt load is manageable. Someone making 80k with a 120k mortgage is in fine shape, and unlike a mortgage Michigan's debt load largely exists because Bill Martin built the boxes to increase revenues. A mortgage does not throw off income.
The article itself admits this by way of the bond market:
Unlike some of its cash-strapped peers, Michigan has a packed Big House on fall Saturdays, deep-pocket donors, an elite credit rating, and it expects its share of TV money to keep increasing — a mix the university expects to give it the financial maneuverability to readily pay what it owes and to keep borrowing to build or refurbish its facilities.
This seems to defeat the purpose of this article, which goes on to discuss the slow decline of ESPN and fracturing of the cable unit—none of which has slowed the explosive revenue growth Michigan and the Big Ten has not only seen recently but locked in for the next six years. It also invokes Cal as a potential disaster situation. Cal was 22 million dollars in the red last year and has almost twice Michigan's debt. The situations are not at all similar.
Dave Brandon was a lot of things, but he wasn't Tom Goss.
Interesting twitter exchange. PFF likes Channing Stribling's coverage a lot. His run D, not so much.
— Steve Palazzolo (@PFF_Steve) February 27, 2017
<script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>
Stribling noticed this and tweeted about it, leading to a brief, interesting conversation between Stribling and James Ross:
@jross_iii bro i had to fit the C gap...thats harder than settin edge bro
— Channing Stribling (@C_Strib8) February 28, 2017
@jross_iii lol ima get in there but there aint much i can do wit that...thats alllll you lol
— Channing Stribling (@C_Strib8) February 28, 2017
I'm with PFF after some boggling missed tackles but he can fix that, and his coverage was just as good as Lewis's.
This won't be a surprise to Chat Sports aficionados. James Yoder, "CEO" of Chat Sports, tried to buy the Cauldron, another website, for about two million dollars. This naturally resulted in a fraudulent term sheet, a ton of finger-pointing, and ham-handed cover-up attempts. Yoder comes off as completely unhinged in the story:
Yoder says that Jamie O’Grady is a “master of creating fake emails.”
As a demonstration, Yoder sent me, at my work email address, a fake email that made it look like I had emailed Yoder asking for help finding clean urine. Yoder stressed that he faked an email from me strictly to show me what O’Grady does.
After I privately forwarded the email to my editors, Yoder emailed me again asking why his email had been opened multiple times; he had tracked the email. “We track every email we send,” he says. “We use an email tracking service.”
This is because he is totally unhinged. "Spoofing and phishing tactic mastered by the other party." Cumong, man. Even OJ Simpson didn't go around giving stabbing demos.
The article briefly mentions the aspect of Chat Sports most infamous around here, but doesn't quite get it right:
In its early days, Chat Sports posted original content from many different writers—some of those bylines, like Rick Steele or Tipp Smith, have Twitter accounts that have tweeted only one time. Were they fake? Yoder says yes. “Absolutely we had fake writers,” he says. “That’s because we’re a scrappy company. What do you have when you start a company? You have zero traffic, you have zero name brand… So we had a writer program for college-aged kids… and sometimes they had information about things that they didn’t really feel comfortable writing in their own names. Some people think that’s such a terrible thing—‘journalistic integrity!’—that’s called growth hacking.”
The problem with the fake writers was not that they were operating under pseudonyms but that the stories they "reported" were made up. Chat Sports has the same business plan that Macedonian teenagers did during the election: say anything at all shocking or controversial that dullards on the internet propagate because they can't tell the difference between Chat Sports and something with a smidgen of credibility. Buzzfeed has an article about a similar company that spews out near-identical posts for political dullards on both left and right. The parallels go all the way down to the obvious stock photos used for author bios.
The only truly surprising thing in the story is that Yoder was able to find a dupe despite coming off like Borat The Investor. Remember Borat? NOT! Good times.
Anyway, don't post Chat Sports stories here.
Austin Davis: good? Michigan's center situation this year is bogglingly shallow, which naturally makes one wonder how good Austin Davis can possibly be if he's redshirting. Beilein says he's all right, though:
"He's really good, that's all I'm going to tell you," Beilein said today. "I wish, I knew what I know now." ...
"In the middle of January, it all started slowing down," Beilein said. "Guys just throw him the ball and he puts it in. There's no drama, there's no Kardashians. The ball is in. The ball goes in."
I'm not sure how to react to that. If Davis was in fact very good and was doing that well in January, keeping the redshirt on him is an odd decision. OTOH, he might not play even if he is very good. The only thing Beilein hates more than playing a freshman point guard is playing a freshman post. Not even Mitch McGary got much run until really late in the year. (Jordan Morgan took a redshirt before emerging into a starter.) Wagner barely got off the bench last year despite Michigan's center situation being Mark Donnal and a guy with literal narcolepsy.
I do think Davis is going to be a breath of fresh, rebound-y air next year. He's a burly dude, something Michigan hasn't had since McGary.
I very much want to see a Michigan lineup that goes Teske/Davis-Wagner-Wilson-Matthews-Simpson. That will look like the Monstars with Webster at point guard.
Etc.: Spencer's take on Ole Miss is kinder than mind and good. More croot profiles: Andrew Stueber. Goodbye, eggs. Peppers draft stuff. HSR on Wagner. Get The Picture with more Ole Miss fallout. Jim Harbaugh is not sticking to sports. Lewis draft stuff. Harbaugh thinks Grant Newsome will be back this year.