no wonder we hired Hunter Lochmann
Jaylenbits? Maybe not quite but it is by far the most interesting thing going on right now. The latest:
- Scout's Brian Snow has been saying this is a top two of UK and M for weeks and reiterated that, with Cal running third. Feels like the Bears would be a surprise but not an all-caps SHOCK.
- Sam Webb did not offer a gut feeling on WTKA this morning but did reiterate that Michigan was very much in this recruitment; he's got an article coming up in the News on why that is. As a guy who's badgered him about this recruitment for months I can say that Sam is getting more hopeful as we move along here. He is not playing coy, though: nobody knows.
- Kentucky offered 2015 6'6" wing Shaun Kirk yesterday just hours after he committed to NC State. Kentucky needs a lot of guys, yes; they already have a commitment from a 6'6" wing out of Chicago and are about to get a JUCO shooting guard, Mychal Mulder. A 247 Kentucky staff member suggested this was "more indicative" of where things are with Jaylen Brown than Cheick Diallo, the 6'9" power forward who is the other major prize Kentucky is after.
- Even if Kentucky sweeps Kirk/Mulder/Diallo they will still have a spot for Brown, FWIW. Adding Jamal Murray, the Canadian combo guard who is considering reclassifying from 2016, and all those guys would fill them up but even then a guy like Marcus Lee could get Creaned.
- Crystal Ball predictions continue to roll in for Michigan, including one from Jerry Meyer, 247's head of basketball recruiting. Michigan now has the last 13 picks, with 247 staffers at their Duke, Ohio State, Kansas, and UNC sites amongst those to pick M in the last couple days. Again, I wouldn't take this as gospel since this recruitment has been cloak and dagger. Somebody is hearing something.
- College coaches don't seem to be among that group, as several said they have "no clue" and/or "no feel" for what Brown was going to do.
- The OSU staffer told his message board that after some texts it looks like it's "headed UM's way" and that the Adidas thing was "huge". Steve Lorenz also mentioned something along those lines. I will call them Competent Germans for a week if this happens.
- Rivals, which has been pessimistic the whole time, suggests that Kansas writers in their network are "beginning to believe" they have a real shot. That's at odds with what their 24/7 guys are saying.
- There's no scheduled commitment time but people expect that that Brown will choose within the next couple weeks.
Meanwhile VA combo guard Kenny Williams is planning to take an official to Michigan. UNC and Virginia are the other schools he'll visit after using two of his officials earlier in the year; those schools and maybe VCU appear to comprise his list. Obviously if Brown does happen, Williams will no longer be an option.
Other basketball things. During the Hatch press conference, Beilein touched on a couple personnel matters. On DJ Wilson's position:
Beilein: 'If DJ (Wilson) plays in the middle, it'll probably be the only year he plays in the middle.' Not a center. But can be, apparently
— Nick Baumgardner (@nickbaumgardner) April 27, 2015
That is no surprise with Teske and maybe Davis scheduled to enter in 2016 (Davis may prep), but it is an indicator where Michigan stands this year. They may need a third C and it sounds like Wilson will be the guy playing Bielfeldt/Smotrycz when foul trouble looms.
Spike Albrecht will undergo a second surgery. Beilein expects full recovery by the start of fall practice.
— Alejandro Zúñiga (@ByAZuniga) April 27, 2015
That does not put talk about Spike redshirting to rest but it should at least dampen it considerably. Given the composition of the roster Michigan should want to add a point guard in 2016; a Spike redshirt prevents that. And having Albrecht available is a very good thing for a team with aspirations.
On other potential roster moves:
Beilein still expects every other player currently on the team to be back next season.
— Nick Baumgardner (@nickbaumgardner) April 27, 2015
There was some speculation that Chatman might light out for greener pastures; happy that is not the case. He is still a guy who can develop into an excellent player. Just get that corner three down and get mean on the boards and we're in business.
1925 sounds exactly as fun as you would expect. The roaring 20s of football:
— Rodger Sherman (@rodger_sherman) April 28, 2015
Several years later mud would obscure key numbers in the New York Stock Exchange, and the rest is history.
Nyet. Mike Spath reported a week or so ago that Michigan would look to add a grad transfer wide receiver or two over the coming months, space permitting, and thoughts naturally turned to Devin Lucien, the UCLA receiver who Michigan essentially turned down (they asked him to play D) days after Hoke took the job. Lucien is no longer available:
WR Devin Lucien is transferring to ASU. Grad transfer. Eligible immediately. Nice get. 29 catches, 225 yards, 2 TDs last year at UCLA.
— Doug Haller (@DougHaller) April 28, 2015
Cut to the chase. The Final Four—two spectacular games and Duke punking MSU—put the "COLLEGE BASKETBALL IS DEATH" meme to the sword, or it least it should have. But at the same time the tournament was going on, basketball was experimenting with a 30 second shot clock in their B- and C-tier postseason tournaments. Those increased scoring without a commensurate decrease in efficiency, so you may as well do it. It appears that people are going to do it:
Men's basketball is likely heading toward reducing its shot clock from 35 to 30 seconds, NCAA rules committee chairman Rick Byrd told ESPN.com on Monday.
Byrd, the coach at Belmont, said a year ago that there was a 5 percent chance of the change happening, but he changed his tone Monday.
"Now there's a real decent chance," Byrd said. "It's pretty evident a lot more coaches are leaning that way. The opinion of coaches on the shot clock has moved significantly to reducing it from 35 to 30. And all indicators are pointing toward that."
Byrd also said there was a 90% chance college basketball would adopt the NBA charge circle. It does sound like other changes are on the horizon:
Byrd said coaches have told him the game is too physical and too rough. He said that will come up quite a bit in the meeting.
Byrd also said there will be discussion about altering the timeout rule to create better flow. He said he would like to mimic the rule in women's basketball where if a coach calls a timeout within 30 seconds of a media timeout, then that becomes the TV timeout.
He said too often coaches will call a timeout, knowing they are getting a media timeout 15 seconds later, and that creates an even longer downtime for the fans in the stands and the TV audience.
"You can have the last few minutes take 20 minutes," Byrd said. "It doesn't bother coaches, but it does for those watching at home and in the arena. We need to try to get the games within two-hour windows."
All of that sounds excellent. From a selfish perspective I think the shot clock reduction hurts Michigan since they use their time on offense so well, but if it's part of a package that includes improving offensive flow by reducing the Spartanizing of the game I'll take it in a hot second.
Now just implement my coaches-must-cut-off-a-digit-to-call-timeout plan and we are cooking with gas.
The unbundling. ESPN has sued Verizon for attempting an end-around of their contract. ESPN thinks it says Verizon can't offer "basic" packages without its family of channels; Verizon is like nah.
Verizon Fios has just shy of six million cable subscribers -- making it the fourth largest cable company and sixth largest cable or satellite company in the country. Verizon recently announced a new cheaper alternative to a basic cable package. That offering allows consumers to subscribe to a basic cable package for $59.99. Unlike Dish Network's recent Sling TV offering which includes ESPN in its basic tier, the new Verizon Fios package doesn't include ESPN in its basic tier pricing. Instead ESPN -- along with ESPN2, FS1 and NBC Sports Network -- are included in a sports tier package which consumers can purchase for the additional price of $9.99 a month. That is, it's possible to subscribe to Verizon's new cable package without receiving ESPN.
That's actually a great deal for that sports package since ESPN and ESPN 2 alone cost Verizon seven dollars. I am not a law-talking guy but I can't see how this is going to fly in the courts; it is an indicator of where we're going. Right now sports is being subsidized by people who don't care about it at all. In an a-la-carte world that no longer happens.
Then what? Then ESPN takes a bath, with sports leagues next on the chopping block. ESPN costs 6 bucks a month for a channel 20% of people are interested in; it will not cost thirty bucks a month in an a-la-carte world because a lot of people will forgo it. There's only so much you can do by strong-arming customers in an environment where ten bucks a month gets you a virtually infinite pile of content. The people who don't care will opt out.
This is why adding questionable fanbases to the Big Ten in the pursuit of short-term cable dollars was so incredibly foolish even beyond the deleterious effects of adding a bunch of games nobody in the world cares about. Every time I see someone hail Jim Delany as some kind of visionary I want to laugh/cry.
our very own MarktheNomad leads the way
Well done. The EDSBS charity challenge has completed, with Michigan once again lapping the field several times over:
By collectively cracking 30k, the commentariat has forced Spencer into getting a Michigan-themed tattoo. He reports being interested in some sort of wolverine-in-profile wearing a top hat. I am taking submissions, both good and bad. Load up the photoshop and do your best. Or worst! Either way.
Jeff Goodman's on the bandwagon. Hopefully this edition of the Big Ten can be as entertainingly proficient as the 2012-13 version that Indiana won (and Michigan did not win by a micron) with their Zeller/Oladipo outfit:
Big Ten is gonna be so strong next season. Not much separation between Maryland, Michigan St, Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin, even Purdue.
— Jeff Goodman (@GoodmanESPN) April 26, 2015
You can make a legit argument that eight of the top dozen or so teams may come from Big Ten and Big 12 next season.
— Jeff Goodman (@GoodmanESPN) April 26, 2015
Not sure I'm seeing it with Purdue but otherwise, yeah. How Wisconsin transitions away from the Dekker/Kaminsky teams is uncertain—they have Hayes and Koenig back but lose the kPOY, a lottery pick, Josh f-ing Gasser, and Traevon Jackson. That latter might be their secret weapon.
I assume they'll be good, because when have they not been good under Bo Ryan, but they should be taking a significant step back. I don't know who their 6'10" guy who shoots threes and looks like the perfect player for Beilein is going to be.
I am mildly surprised at this. Max Bielfeldt is transferring and getting interest from schools that are a bit bigger than hometown Bradley:
Bielfeldt confirmed to MLive on Saturday that he made his first visit on Friday, traveling to Ames, Iowa to tour Iowa State and that he's in the process of setting up more visits.
The current list of schools that have contacted Bielfeldt and are under consideration includes Boston College, Kansas State, Iowa State, Bradley, Stanford and DePaul.
Obviously Iowa State's Hoiberg Home For Lost Big Ten Boys was going to get involved here. Due to a bizarre footnote in NCAA regulations the city of Ames will be expelled from the surface of the earth if they do not have a basketball player who used to call a Big Ten school home.
The half-dozen other power conference schools are more than I thought would knock on Bielfeldt's door. He must fit better on teams that aren't averse to running out two posts at the same time—he's a lot more plausible as an old-timey power forward than a center.
And it is possible we are doing Johnny Dawkins a solid for keeping his kid stashed in witness protection long enough for Michigan to swoop in on him.
Could this be related to last year's injuries? Michigan is looking for a new basketball athletic trainer. People move on to new jobs all the time, etc., but the timing there suggests that maybe Beilein wasn't particularly pleased with the way Walton's injury was handled. Add Spike's hips, LeVert's twice-broken foot, and Mitch McGary's general unavailability and that's a lot of injuries for a basketball team comprised of 18-20 year olds.
Your parents must be very interesting. Remember Equanimeous St. Brown, the California wide receiver who speaks several languages and ended up at Notre Dame? There is another.
There is apparently a third St. Brown pass-catching brother who goes unnamed in that article. The possibilities are endless. Sahara? Odin? Vladivostok? Benzene? The mind boggles.
I'm just here on name patrol but FWIW, St. Brown says he's headed to Sound Mind, Sound Body and will visit Michigan as part of that trip.
UPDATE: Ace points out the younger brother is Amon-Ra!
Scouting Austin Davis. Scout's Brian Snow took a look at Michigan's latest commitment and came back reporting something in line($) with what everyone else is saying:
When on the floor in terms of actual skill, Davis is very good on the low block. He has pretty good footwork around the rim, soft hands, and a nice touch. Most of his damage comes close to the bucket, and he is able to overwhelm opponents with size and has the skill to go with it.
He's not a jumping jack of an athlete and has to compete at the 5 with Teske since neither has the ability to guard anyone on the perimeter. There's been some chatter that Davis might take a prep year and come in in 2017 if that is mutually agreeable, FWIW. That would somewhat ease the coming logjam at center and give a developmental big some more time to develop.
Rutgers: the team that gravity remembers constantly. Land-Grand Holy Land checks in with Rutgers first season of Big Ten competition. How'd they do? Fourth in women's soccer. Not so good in almost everything else:
So to recap, not only did Rutgers fail to capture a single league title in their first season,they haven't even come close, only cracking the top four in two sports. Rutgers finished (or is currently ranked) last or second to last in an astonishing eight sports. Their football program was their best male team sport, and they didn't crack the top six of the conference. Rutgers has been uniformly terrible at nearly every level.
Plus, not only has Rutgers been awful on the field, those mid-week flights from places like Nebraska and Iowa to New Jersey are probably just awesome for student athletes, right Delany?
But hey, TV sets. Location. National brand. Enjoy those hypothetical Nielsen ratings the next time you have to watch a terrible Rutgers sporting event in the near future.
Maryland is vaguely defensible. Rutgers is just an anchor.
Sounds good. Freshmen ineligibility isn't going anywhere. There are a thousand reasons for that. Here's one: even the NCAA's president, our nation's most skilled double-talk practitioner, is pretty much like nah.
"It's a really interesting notion that's worthy of debate," Emmert said. "It has all kinds of problems. It is highly controversial."
"It has all kinds of problems." This is a person who publicly states that the NCAA itself has no problems. DOA.
They're all over on satellite camps, BTW. They'll be banned by next year.
Etc.: Lax misses Big Ten tourney. Many Big Ten fanbases have no life balance. Robert Washington's weekend commitment was… interesting. Sling TV reviewed. Brian Kelly is "the worst coach Notre Dame has ever allowed to oversee its football team for at least 65 games." Nebraska adds satellite camp. Gasaway on early entries.
Jim Harbaugh is Jim Harbaugh and will remain being Jim Harbaugh. The parable of the donut shop.
Support this cause. A bunch of alumni are getting together to help raise money:
On December 26, 2014 Evelyn Grace Spytek - daughter of former Wolverine John Spytek - passed away due to complications following a CMV (Cytomegalovirus) related surgery. In her memory and in support of the National CMV Foundation, a team of eleven former Michigan Football student athletes - John Spytek, Dave Pearson, John Navarre, Grant Bowman, Andy Mignery, Tony Pape, Phil Brackins, Brent Cummings, Jeff Rich, Steve Baker and Eric Rosel - will be running the Columbus, Ohio Capital City Half Marathon on May 2, 2015 to raise money for the cause.
As causes go this is one of the best. Hit it up here to help out.
Har-bonus. Additional items that didn't make the cut for the Real Sports thing:
As for the piece itself, I thought it was fine. Alex Boone's statements were self-contradictory, which made me feel like maybe the full conversation would help reconcile that into something where context makes the first bits less harsh.
Harbaugh himself came off as a guy who is aware that his personality is to the best of his ability but had no plans on changing it; the moment where Visser asks him about the "wear out his welcome" thing and he just says "that must be true" given the evidence was charmingly without artifice or defensiveness. There was some regret in there, but nothing to the point where Harbaugh would consider changing. Even if it meant he spent his childhood playing baseball with himself in the strip mall nearest to my home.
(Does he still do this? Can I buy tickets if that is the case?)
Gumbel's bit at the end was predictably smug, but whatever.
Hilarious aside. Remember when NFL reporters were swearing up and down that Harbaugh would never leave the NFL because he hates recruiting? Nobody asked his wife.
THE LAST BASTION OF zzzz. Don't care, is football coach, must have mandatory football coach opinions unless he's Lloyd Carr. The position is self-selecting gentlemen who value toughness above just about everything else and can't find that value elsewhere.
no I don't want to talk about it
the problem with politics from the perspective of a sports fan is that there is no difference between the two activities
The Houston Nutt of satellite camps. Michigan's camp schedule in June, via Sam Webb:
June 4th - Midwest stop
June 5th - Prattville, Alabama
June 6th - Tampa, Fla.
June 7th - Pennsylvania
June 8th - Houston, Tex
June 9th - Dallas, Tex
June 10th - California
June 11th -12th - Sound Mind / Sound Body (Michigan)
This is the satellite camp equivalent of Houston Nutt signing 37 guys one year at Arkansas: the thing that gets people up in arms enough to bring down the NCAA hammer. SEC coaches are complaining, the commissioner is bringing it up to the rules committee, even Urban Meyer's against it, another avenue in the arms race threatens to open up, and soon there will be a bylaw saying NOPE. Because when it comes down to it, NCAA laws are for the coaches, not the players.
False alarm? ESPN's Paul Biancardi momentarily had hearts a-flutter yesterday when he asserted, citing sources "close to his family," that national #1 player Jaylen Brown had a top two of Cal and Michigan. That's Cal the school, not Cal the coach who thinks shot clock violations are the way to go in the late stages of a Final Four game.
No offense to Cal the school, but competing against them versus the blue-bloods of college basketball seems like a highly tractable position—no doubt Cal was thinking the same thing.
Alas, Brown shot that down:
Jaylen Brown has not cut his list, he told SNY.tv by text on Wednesday.
“No,” he said when asked if he was down to Cal and Michigan.
Now, that is not quite a response to what Biancardi said. He made no assertion that Brown had dropped anyone—they in fact also mention Kansas and Kentucky in the segment—just that those two schools were the names they were hearing. Biancardi can be correct and Brown can answer that question like he did. And that would be very nice.
Cal, now the home of bizarrely-deposed former Tennessee coach Cuonzo Martin, does have a commit from top-ten Ivan Rabb. Despite going 7-9 in the Pac-12 last year they will have some surrounding pieces to entice with.
Brown's recruitment is currently very mysterious, but as we were talking about this on the WTKA roundtable today Sam re-iterated that he was confident that Michigan was in Brown's top two and that the other school seems to keep changing—always a good sign for the constant. I'm still in believe-it-when-I-see-it mode when Michigan goes head to head for the big dogs, but they did get Mitch.
In other big boy news. 2016 SF Tyus Battle is coming off a visit to Louisville that his father rather gushed over($) to Louisville's Scout site…
The elder Battle said all of the pre-visit information with the day and a half spent with the staff on the official visit made for an "awesome" time in Louisville.
"We got a lot out of it," he said. "A whole lot."
The father said the campus tour and atmosphere around the program led him to believe he would be turning his son over to "someone who really cared about him," if Tyus Battle were to pick Louisville down the road.
…and is winding down his recruitment. A lot of people are talking about Duke, which is natural. Though he and Derryck Thornton are not a package since Thornton reclassified to 2015, they are friends. Unless Thornton's going to become the equivalent of a none-and-done, that could be a factor.
But Michigan does have another shot:
"He's probably just going to go through the process and just pick a school," the father said. "It's not that we don't like the recruiting process, but there are some other things that he needs to get along with.
"He will visit Michigan on May 8 and after that we will see."
Michigan will have openings after the departures of LeVert and DEFINITELY JAYLEN BROWN*.
*[Unless Brown sticks to his statements he might stay two years.]
This is not your job. FSU's trustees are complaining that Florida State, which was bombed by Oregon in the CoFoPoff, was disrespected so thoroughly as to be placed third in the final rankings:
"I think the perceived bias of the ACC in general, [with] Florida State falling to No. 4 in the rankings and still being undefeated and being [No.] 3 at the end of the season … a one-loss ACC team or two-loss ACC team is going to have a hard time breaking that top four," Gruters said. "I think the top ACC team over the next four or five years, we're going to be in that [No.] 5 to 8 category. And we're going to be on the outside looking in."
You are. And it will be justified. Florida State's season was a series of high-wire escapes indicating that it was nowhere near the team that steamrolled to a national title the previous year. Voters and the committee reacted appropriately. In a sport like college football there is not enough data to just exclaim "just win baby"; FSU drop was not about bias but performance.
I did not know that #talkinboutthenoles extended to the trustee level. In retrospect I'm not surprised, though.
All right. Michigan gets a home game with Xavier in the new Gavitt Tipoff, which is basically a Big East/Big Ten challenge with less overall oomph since the Big East is short on teams. Unfortunately, the Stain Train is out of eligibility. Michigan does get to match up against Trevon Bluiett, who was quite good as a freshman.
Xavier was a six-seed this year, reaching the Sweet 16 before losing to Arizona in a tight game. They lose two starters but return a large group of experienced players; they appear to have an excellent replacement for Stainbrook in junior-to-be Jalen Reynolds, who had a virtually identical shooting percentage (62%) on a similar number of shots.
Hope you like night games. Minnesota joins Maryland and Utah as night games on the road—though Utah was always going to be at night since it is on Thursday. Add in rumors that PSU could be at night and Michigan searching for one at home and noon kicks are dead, man.
Harbaugh on Real Sports. Sounds like it's going to be interesting:
In HBO's upcoming episode of "Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel," reporter Andrea Kremer asks Harbaugh if it's true that he has a problem working with others at various jobs.
"It must be true," Harbaugh says. "Because I'd wear out my welcome.
"People just don't want to be around you after a while."
Harbaugh may be polarizing personally, but people one or more steps removed from him get to observe the chaos from safe distance. This would never have happened during the previous regime for a thousand reasons:
The program also shows glimpses of a mic'd up Harbaugh at practice, at one point taking a player (whose number is blurred out) aside and delivering him a stern and somewhat profane message: "I'm just telling you the right way to do it. If you want to look at me like with that look, then go (expletive) somewhere else."
I hope Michael Rosenberg hasn't suddenly come down with the vapors. Ten PM tomorrow if you've got the HBOs.
How do you give M0.0N dollars though? The annual EDSBS charity bash is on. It's been won by Michigan every year since its inception and has resulted in things like Spencer comes to the Penn State game and writes about it. This is your prize in 2015:
OKAY WHAT'S IN IT FOR US?
We will outfit the site in the colors of the school. We will devote an entire Hatin' Ass Spurrier to ripping on the rivals of the winner. We have random celebrity guest calls to big donors. For instance, last year we might have had a Heisman Trophy winner call a particularly generous donor. That might could be you! You'll never know until you give, and then give again, and then wisely take out a second mortgage all in the name of getting a sports parody site's highest honor. (Oh, and you'll be giving to a great, great charity, too.)
Also 30k overall equals tattoo. You can give here. Money goes to support refugee resettlement.
Figuring out what we've got in Moritz Wagner. Nobody really knows how big of a deal Wagner is because he's spent his career on the U18 Alba Berlin team with only occasional forays onto the big squad.
The occasional NBA scout has weighed in. Rivals's Eric Bossi flagged one down who said he was in the 20-40 range, which would be terrific. Scout talked to another gentleman who was more conservative, saying top 100—still not bad.
The Daily adds to our currently thin pile of Wagner material by talking to Alba Berlin's coach:
“I predict two years for him, to achieve even a good position in the NBA draft,” said Alba Berlin coach Saša Obradović following his team’s 78-74 win over the Phoenix Hagen on April 15. …“
He thinks he’s not ready for the professional life,” Obradović said. “He (could have) played here. I expect that he could be a good prospect and good player for our future. So I think (Michigan has acquired) a very good talent, and you will see this very, very fast.” …
“He is a versatile player. Just don’t put him on the ‘5,’ ” Obradović said. “He has good, soft hands, good first step. He still (has) to learn a lot, but (he’s) already on a certain level of skill.”
Mission accomplished as far as not putting him at center goes. It'll be interesting how quickly Wagner proves himself. A lot of people are speculating that he might redshirt given the roster's current state—packed—and his current physique—skinny. A two-and-done doesn't redshirt, though.
A day as king of media. Richard Detsch asked a bunch of sports media people what they'd change if they could wave a magic wand. Some of the responses are inane—"pay more attention to baseball"—says one guy. Others are interesting, although not necessarily on purpose. Amy Trask:
Amy Trask, CBS Sports NFL analyst
I would abolish coverage of and commentary on ephemeral matters. Coverage of and commentary on matters that are transitory, fleeting and momentary is wasteful at best, and may be harmful, as it emphasizes the trivial instead of the important.
Amy Trask would ban sports media entirely.
Fran Frascilla wins:
In NBA and college basketball games, nothing slows a game down more than the incessant number of timeouts, TV And otherwise. Well-coached teams don't need to rely on all the in-games stoppages. That's what practices are supposed to be for.
I got a dollar for Fran.
Blake O'Neill pensively considering the third and long his team faces
Attention, ladies. If you would like more information on our new punter's modeling career, his profile can be found here. I foresee trouble if he keeps taking his shirt off during games.
HARBAUGH: O'Neill! In this country we play football without our shimmering torsos catching the afternoon sun in just that particular way that makes women weep.
O'NEILL: Sorry. It is the way of my people to frolic in the sun when the whim catches us.
HARBAUGH: Weber State sounds like damned weird place.
NHL on Werenski. He won't last past the first ten picks in all likelihood:
"He's such a cool, calm and collected player," NHL Central Scouting's Greg Rajanen said of Werenski. "He's the type of player you have to watch a little closely to realize how good he is. He's smart, always in the right spot, moves the puck and makes all the plays. But not in a 'wow' sort of way like Hanifin does. At the next level Werenski will be a really a good player who will produce points and be solid defensively."
Werenski started coming into his own with the puck on his stick about halfway through the year but still struggled with the physicality of the college game. That's not much of a surprise since a lot of the guys he was going up against were five, six, or even seven years older than him. He should take a major leap forward. If they got a Trouba-level year out of him that would paper over a lot of problems.
Another horse for the goalie mill. Michigan goes back to the NAHL well for a goalie:
Soo(NAHL) '94 G Chad Catt committed to Michigan.
— Chris Dilks (@ChrisDilks) April 18, 2015
Catt put up a flashy .937 in 2013-14 and had a .918 this year, splitting time between Aberdeen and the Soo. He's old: already 21. He is also an in-state player who was headed to D-III, so I'm guessing he's not getting a lot of scholarship money. (Hockey can split scholarships.) He'll give Michigan another option next year.
I didn't know this was a thing. The NBA kids these days and their "popcorning."
— Nik Stauskas (@NStauskas11) April 14, 2015
That is Nik Stauskas splayed upon the counter in his popcorn-covered home. Urban Dictionary doesn't know what "popcorning" is (top result: "One of the ways a guinea pig shows his/her excitement/affection") and neither do I. Apparently it has something to do with the fact that Stauskas doesn't drive?
I feel like everything about Stauskas's NBA career has gone through the same filter that created "Sauce Castillo."
A brief essay on Sauce Castillo. It was a tweet at first, with a picture to verify. It took off as these things do, and then the Kings stepped in wholeheartedly. They had a friggin' Sauce Castillo night.
This is probably a good idea for the Kings. They are on top of what is happening on The Social Media and provide some intrigue for an early April game played by a team currently 38 games back of the Warriors. (But seven ahead of the Lakers!) They sold some merch, I imagine. A brief survey of the Kings organization shows a marketing savvy that's a bit of a shock for someone focused on colleges that are doing it right if they aren't shooting themselves in the foot monthly. The Kings are the future, when people at the top of organizations actually understand the internet and act accordingly.
And that's a little sad. A few years ago Sauce Castillo would have been a mark of something… probably that you read Bethlehem Shoals and are the kind of NBA obsessive who needs to find similarly-minded groups of proto-marxist revolutionary cells. Now Sauce Castillo is joyously accepted by the organization at large and thus destroyed.
Man I feel like an old man in Portland complaining that Sleater-Kinney's latest album ruins their entire career right now. But it is kind of a thing: there is a lot of value in defining yourself as a separate, weirder in-group in a mass of fans. MLS and the ever-shifting power struggle between various USMNT supporter's groups do a good job of this; the rest of American sports doesn't.
That will have to come from elsewhere in the Kingsfuture when every mildly diverting tweet is swiftly assimilated by the entertainment Borg.
LeVert update. Holding pattern for Michigan but one in which the arrows continue to point the right way. Chad Ford's advocating a return:
He should return. His draft stock was trending down before he was injured. Not sure he'd be a first rounder if he declared. He'd need excellent workouts.
Among underclassmen at LeVert's positions -- shooting guard and small forward -- to declare early are Kentucky's Devin Booker and Aaron Harrison, Arizona's Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Kansas' Kelly Oubre, Wisconsin's Sam Dekker, Florida's Michael Frazier II, Eastern Washington's Tyler Harvery, Georgia State's R.J. Hunter, Houston's Jherrod Stiggers, Florida State's Aaron Thomas, North Carolina's J.P. Tokoto and UNLV's Rashad Vaughn.
Other wings expected to declare for the draft include Duke's Justise Winslow and Arizona's Stanley Johnson. Mario Hezonja, a 6-foot-7 small forward from Croatia, is also a projected lottery pick.
"Jherrod Stiggers" is a spectacular name.
Let's maybe hold off on that for one sec. After his commitment, Matt Falcon takes a cue from the Lawrence Marshall playbook:
Right now, he says he's focused on three-star receiver Dez Fitzpatrick and four-star defensive lineman Khalid Kareem.
His pitch to them both is pretty simple.
"The best players in the state play for Michigan," Falcon says. "I'm trying to recruit names in the state and trying to get them to join the family."
I mean, continue to do that. Just expect MSUThaBest2009 to be on your case as you do so.
Hello: Samuelssons. I don't have to tell you this is a hockey recruiting bullet, do I? You just saw "Samuelssons" and assumed we were talking about some Swedes, be they from Sweden or relocated.
Well done, reader: Michigan hockey has secured commitments from depressingly young hockey players once again. This time they are the sons of former NHL defenseman Kjell Samuelsson. The older one, Matthias, is a defenseman. Over The Boards scouts:
RE: Samuelsson, Big 00 D at 6'2 190, strong lower body, imposes will with leverage. Has a hard shot and piles up SOG. Soft hands in own end.
— Mark Bilotta (@mbilotta) April 13, 2015
He is… uh… 14 and his dad is 6'7" so I would expect him to be very large indeed by the time he reaches campus. Luke Samuelsson, his brother, also committed as a 2018 forward. I haven't been able to find anything on him yet, as you might expect in this age range.
Meanwhile in draft hijinks. Not much in the way of intrigue in this year's OHL draft; Michigan's commitments that far out are generally already signed up with the NTDP. There weren't any unpleasant surprises this year. Michael Pastujov, the younger brother of NTDP-er Nick Pastujov, was drafted by Saginaw in the fourth round on a flier. Michael was projected as a top pick—possibly the top pick—in the draft and slid significantly because of concerns over his commitment. Saginaw is not noted as a team that snipes random Americans.
Toronto-based forward Quinn Hughes, also projected as a top ten pick, slid to the third round. Hughes has dual citizenship and is already committed to the NTDP; his father also works in an NHL front office so they're well aware of the pros and cons of each route. Josh Norris went in the sixth round to Niagara.
How does the seemingly imminent retirement of Red Berenson play into these recruitments? I don't know. Michigan has to be telling these kids that it's unlikely Red is around in 2018, so the far-future ones seem somehow more secure than those who might be making decisions in a year or two. I expect there's some attrition when the change is made; how much is hard to tell.
Mmmm, sacrilicious. Notre Dame youtube music, you say? I've got my schaden-stick at the ready.
This is way less bad than Freekbass, at least?
Also in Notre Dame. Goodbye, Lou Holtz.
SI.com learned over the weekend that ESPN has parted ways with Lou Holtz, who had been a college football studio analyst with the network since 2004 and worked most notably with host Rece Davis and analyst Mark May on ESPN’s Saturday College Football Final pregame, halftime and postgame studio coverage. Holtz was also a regular contributor to SportsCenter and ESPN Radio. The decision, according to sources, was closer to a mutual agreement between the parties than Holtz getting forced out.
Holtz wasn't exactly good. Once you accepted the fact that he was not there to provide serious analysis but rather to do magic tricks and babble incoherently, though, he was reliably entertaining. That's something you can't say for a lot of television "personalities." He was kind of like Dan LeBatard's dad for college football. I'm not going to actually miss him but since ESPN is 50/50 to replace the Rece Davis/Holtz/Mark May combo with three clones of Craig James I have real trepidation here.
Um, okay? Bizarre sequence of events in basketball recruiting: Shaka Smart takes the Texas job, so top-100 combo guard recruit Kenny Williams asks out of his letter of intent. In the immediate aftermath seven Crystal Ball predictions come in, six of them for Michigan. (The other: Georgetown.) Actual recruiting expert Jerry Meyer is amongst them, and both Rivals and Scout follow up with reporting on it that suggests it is not a fever dream. Georgetown's 247 guy thinks it's M and their Duke guys are somehow insistent on it.
One problem, of course: Michigan has a full roster unless Hatch goes on medical or Caris LeVert decides on the NBA draft, something that doesn't seem to be likely at the moment. And they're already really deep at guard. And they were not involved with the kid before his VCU commitment. And everybody says he committed to the Rams because he wanted to stay close to home in Virginia, which is why he doesn't seem interested in following Smart to Texas. Michigan isn't close to Virginia. And Williams does not currently have a scholarship offer. This is really several problems.
But apparently it might happen? Williams, depending on who you ask and when you asked him, is a 6'2" to 6'4" shooting guard with one of the best strokes in the country. Beilein was just down to watch him play at a tournament, so there's a concrete indicator the interest there is mutual.
A way in which it might make a little more sense. Derryck Thornton's dad has told a few people that Spike Albrecht might end up redshirting after his hip surgeries this offseason. Albrecht has one complete and one to go; the recovery timetable of 4-5 months seemed to give him a month or two to get back in the swing of things before the season.
I have a solution for your problem. NBA owner Mark Cuban bitching about college basketball:
The "horrible" state of college basketball is hurting the NBA, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban said.
Cuban said he doesn't enjoy watching the college game, but his bigger concern is that the physical, slow-down style that has become common in the NCAA results in prospects who are poorly prepared to jump to the NBA.
"If they want to keep kids in school and keep them from being pro players, they're doing it the exact right way by having the 35-second shot clock and having the game look and officiated the way it is," Cuban said Wednesday night. "Just because kids don't know how to play a full game of basketball.
"You've got three kids passing on the perimeter. With 10 seconds on the shot clock, they try to make something happen and two other kids stand around. They don't look for anything and then run back on defense, so there's no transition game because two out of five or three out of five or in some cases four out of five kids aren't involved in the play.
"It's uglier than ugly, and it's evidenced by the scoring going down. When the NBA went through that, we changed things."
If college basketball is hurting the NBA so badly, it's the NBA's fault for instituting one-and-done. And that characterization of college offense coming from the land of hero-ball and isolations is even more nuts.
Yes, teams emphasize getting back in transition. I'd like someone try to find a rule change for that.
Again, there is no scoring crisis, very little has changed in the last decade of college basketball, people are
yelling pointlessly about a fractional dip in pace caused by fewer turnovers and more transition D that has actually seen offensive efficiency increase slightly over the past thirteen years. If you want to chop the shot clock to 30, fine. That will magically fix all of our problems, because there aren't any.
We just had five excellent offensive performances and Michigan State in the Final Four. Kentucky acquired 1.1 points per possession and lost by seven. And the bitching will continue because… Penn State, I guess?
A bit more on Alabama's pursuit and dismissal of Difficulties Guy. Holly Anderson writes about it, and hits the nail on the head:
Did Alabama consider the risks of bringing Jonathan Taylor to Tuscaloosa, and decide they merited his inclusion on the team? Or did Alabama never need to care about the risks at all?
Right now, it’s the only explanation that makes sense. What risk was there, really, to the program? This sport shifts glacially, and won’t change in time to adversely affect the careers of anyone who had a hand in this decision, or others like it. Neither the Crimson Tide’s recruiting nor their 2015 win-loss record will suffer. It seems most likely that they didn’t properly consider the admission decision, because they had no real need to. Because this little media conflagration that has unfolded over the past couple of days is Alabama’s worst-case scenario for a repeat assault allegation against Taylor: to be yelled at for a little bit.
Real consequences don't exist. The fanbase isn't going to deliver them (and I doubt many, if any, would). The SEC isn't. The NCAA isn't. Recruits and their parents aren't—recruits and their parents have been signing their kids up for Alabama's annual oversigning happily. The media will rattle a saber for a bit and rival fans get a bit of ammunition, and that's it. The end.
Etc.: Now that it's official I plan some passing game UFRs for Rudock; for now here's his game against Wisconsin, which was terrific. (He had some not very terrific games.) Wisconsin set to leave Adidas for UA. Urban Meyer has not pleased Jamal Dean's high school coach after declaring Dean not medically cleared.