so much for that
A picture of the conference. Michigan's defense isn't that much of an issue so far:
It's pretty good, and then the offense is off the charts. It's only in the context of the super-elite teams vying for a national title that it seems deficient. And with that offense… well… Gasaway's latest Tuesday Truths puts it in perspective:
It may turn out to be the case that Michigan is not in fact excellent at defense, that they're merely very good at it. But that needs to be seen in the proper context. First, this isn't a case like, say, Missouri last season, where a good many people chose to overlook the Tigers' vulnerability on D. (There was a push to give that team a No. 1 seed. I still shudder at the memory.) John Beilein's defense this season is day-and-night better, thus far, than Frank Haith's was last season.
Second, whatever Michigan's level of performance has been on defense, the Wolverines have been able to plug that in as one half of an equation whose result has been outscoring the best conference in the country by nearly a quarter of a point per possession. The Wolverines' only loss this season has come not to an offensive juggernaut that was able to exploit UM's worrisome deficiencies on defense, but to the hapless-on-offense Ohio State Buckeyes, who shut down Michigan's offense beautifully.
Lastly, the past 10 years can be ransacked profitably not only for prerequisites (and I'll be joining Luke on this beat soon -- watch for it!) but also for weirdness. I've seen a team rank No. 8 in its 12-team league in two-point accuracy and then go on to win a national championship. I've seen a team rank No. 103 in the nation in offense and then go on to make the Final Four. And do I even need to drag Gordon Hayward into this?
The most likely outcome of March is that Michigan will indeed lose to some other team in the tournament, because they are only amongst a leading group of teams. If and when that happens, people will point to the defense; I'll just be like "Michigan was the Vegas favorite and still 5 to 1 against."
Slightly more favored in the league. Michigan's huge scoring margin in the league sees them favored to win the Big Ten in SpartanDan's Bradley-Terry projection system*, which may not be a huge surprise. What is surprising is how much they're favored by.
Dan's basic system that does not take margin of victory into account says Michigan has a 69% chance of an outright title and an 85% chance of sharing. The margin-aware numbers are 80%(!!!) and 92%(!!!).
Those numbers are probably too high since Michigan is likely to have outperformed its real level of skill significantly in the opening third of the conference schedule, but… wow.
BONUS: Penn State has a 30% shot at going winless in the margin-aware system.
*[College hockey fans: this is KRACH.]
Bullet of stats-enthusiasm-dissing hypocrisy incoming. While I'm generally a fan of Big Ten Geeks, their latest foray into stat assemblage is goofy to me. They use "stops," which is a Dean Oliver formula that crams steals and blocks and rebounding statistics into a number. As with all attempts to create a catch-all defensive statistic, it waves its hand at who is in fact responsible for team defensive rebounding and how replaceable they may or may not be. Also unaccounted for is a player's contribution to the opponent's shot quality.
But they've compiled the numbers and shown you the results:
Let’s look at Stops:
Player Stops per 40 minutes Adam Woodbury 11.35 Mitch McGary 10.94 Jordan Morgan 10.47 Branden Dawson 10.21 Trevor Mbakwe 10.20 Cody Zeller 10.20 Ryan Evans 9.45
Well, this is interesting—we have a couple of freshmen leading the way. Both Woodbury and McGary are tremendous rebounders (as is Jordan Morgan this season), which explains why they rate so high. And to those who complain that Stops unfairly rewards good rebounders, I think that’s about as valid a point as the complaint that offensive rating unfairly rewards efficient scorers. Rebounding is defense—a big part of it.
So this works if rebounding is, in fact, defense. It's not. It has an impact but the top ten teams in defensive rebounding are 54th, 144th, 162nd, 147th, 103rd, 171st, 240th, 64th, 18th, and 25th in defensive efficiency. As I mentioned when pooh-poohing Mason Plumlee's KPOY candidacy, rebounding is the least important of the four factors. It's only its trackability that makes it so prominent. It's easy to say who got a rebound. It's really hard to credit someone for an effective rotation.
This metric thinks Jordan Morgan is a lot better this year because the team is better at rebounding. His personal DREB rate is a tick better this year, but it's still just 257th. He gets credit that other players don't because Tim Hardaway is mansome this year.
Morgan is then declared the best defensive player in the league because he fouls less often than the other guys at the top of the list, with this capper:
I can’t believe I’m saying this, but Jordan Morgan has been the best defensive player in the Big Ten so far. Unbelievable. And in case you’re wondering, Oladipo fouls quite a bit—4.42 fouls per 40 minutes. Talk about the eye test all you want, but the numbers suggest he’s not the best defensive player (or even the best defensive perimeter player) in the Big Ten.
I accuse Big Ten Geeks of gross misuse of stats. Yes, it is unbelievable. Thus you should disbelieve it.
Victor Oladipo isn't a high-end defensive rebounder because he's frequently sticking his hand in the face of the highest-volume shooter the opposition has. His role defines his numbers. You can cram defensive rebounds into a slightly modified form all you want—notice that not one perimeter defender appears on this stops list—but all you get is a comparison between yourself and David Berri. Deployed.
Sometimes you have to go by the eye test because the stats compiled are inadequate, and until basketball stats get crazy detailed individual defensive performances are in that bucket.
BONUS WONKY STATS COMPLAINT. Most attempts to compile defensive numbers underrate the value of a steal, by the way. A defensive rebound is just the successful conclusion of a defensive possession ending in a missed shot. A steal ends a possession by itself—it's the miss and the rebound rolled into one—and frequently leads to a transition opportunity at the other end. That latter part is not well accounted for.
Morgan's ankle. Nothing broken, just a sprain, AP got a totally gross picture of it, if he can play basketball on Wednesday he will play basketball on Wednesday—I bet he cannot play basketball on Wednesday.
Zak Irvin continues rain of destruction. Last week: 26 points and 30 points in wins. One was over Arsenal Tech, both the best-named and top-ranked team in the state until Zak Irvin declared his school was now named Sharkfin Elfin 3000 and scored almost half of his team's points in a 64-59 win.
You want to watch the whole game, you say? You have free time.
If you are going to do this you probably want to start at halftime. Irvin scored 26 of his 30 after the break.
Zing. John Niyo on the Nobody Remembers #1 thing:
"It's Jan. 27," Beilein said after a 74-60 victory at Illinois last weekend, "and not one of you can remember who was No. 1 last Jan. 27."
Well, actually many of us can. It was a 20-1 Kentucky team that went on to win the Southeastern Conference and the SEC tournament and eventually the NCAA title.
But point taken.
5 to 1 against, 5 to 1 against, 5 to 1 against, repeat until you internalize the likely outcome of the season is not cutting down nets…
Etc.: You can be happy about being #1. Via UMHoops, the view on Bielfeldt from Peoria. Being back on top is nice and you should be happy. Here's an excellent primer on Beilein's 1-3-1 from the man himself.
come back so I can mute you
WANT. Ace points out that this is a thing that exists:
The technology exists to remove commentary from live sporting events via your home sound system.
There's only one downside.
You may have to move to England to get the sound system as the Sony BDV-N7100W hits UK stores in May and contains technology initially developed by NASA. The new state of the art home system is able to differentiate commentary from background noise and remove the announcers' voices to allow you to enjoy the ambient atmosphere of the stadium with its "football mode"...
"Sony says that its speakers are able to recognise what is the natural ambient sound of a sporting event, and what is somebody nattering on top. …
The benefit is that fans can watch sport as if they're at the game, and not sitting next to a relentlessly unimpressive summariser with a booklet of cliches."
Goodbye, Craig James. Dick Vitale. Etc.
Meanwhile, I am off to patent a system that turns all color commentary into Dan Dakich hitting on Doris Burke. I'll see you from my space palace on Moon II.
Erp? As I type this Miami is housing Duke and Michigan is ticketed for #1 in the polls as long as they hold serve against Purdue. That's one thing. But being the odds-on favorite in Vegas?
VegasInsider.com moved Michigan to a 5-1 favorite to win the NCAA tournament on Tuesday, the best odds of anyone in America at the moment.
I feel that this is irrational exuberance. Surely, like, Florida or something.
Derrick Walton: pretty pretty good. Via UMHoops:
He seems a lot like a guy named Trey Burke, except he never misses shots.
You did what? The NCAA just announced they were going to investigate their investigation of Miami because of… stuff. This bit I didn't understand:
Former NCAA enforcement staff members worked with the criminal defense attorney for Nevin Shapiro to improperly obtain information for the purposes of the NCAA investigation through a bankruptcy proceeding that did not involve the NCAA.
As it does not have subpoena power, the NCAA does not have the authority to compel testimony through procedures outside of its enforcement program. Through bankruptcy proceedings, enforcement staff gained information for the investigation that would not have been accessible otherwise.
If this seems like whatever, as it did to me, the problem is that people not named Nevin Shapiro who have not signed off on this are suddenly getting asked questions under oath about things that are not laws.
This has served as another opportunity for people to shout that there's little reason for the rules the NCAA is enforcing here to exist. They just push activity under the table and hurt organizations who try to stop it. Wetzel:
Whatever. At the end of the day it's a rich person sending money to a young – often poor – person. We are supposed to be outraged by this? This is how the country works, this is how the force of a capitalistic economy will always make it work. Only the NCAA thinks it can stop it.
The goal of the NCAA is to create the illusion of amateurism because it allows the NCAA to avoid paying taxes – billions and billions of dollars in taxes. Which means billions and billion in taxes have to come from somewhere else – like the rest of us.
I'm down with this. I'm not down with crapping on Mark Emmert constantly, since he inherited this crap and is understandably focused on bigger things than any individual investigation. He just hacked out 25 pages from the rulebook, he added multi-year scholarships, he tried to get the cost-of-living increase through before being shot down by Indiana State, and next year they're going to have a knock-down, drag-out fight about agents and transfer rules and whatnot. All of that is due in no small part to the fact that anyone under 60 with a platform is tearing the NCAA apart on amateurism issues, and this is good.
Crapping on Emmert himself seems counterproductive. The guy is ramming reform down a thousand-headed-hydra throat collective as fast as he can. The root of all NCAA evil is the precious idea that the playing field can be level—and Emmert's working group just inserted language into the bylaws specifically repudiating that. Yeah, enforcement's screwed up. Emmert's busy with more important things.
Pretty good. From Luke Winn's latest power rankings:
Winn also mentions that Michigan's leap in offensive efficiency is ninth in the country, which is all the more impressive because Michigan is coming from a place of strength (22nd last year) and most of the other teams on that list are coming around from awful—the best 2012 offense on the list other than M is Butler, 223rd last year. The rest are 284th or worse.
Show us the game! Here's an early candidate for rant of the year at Troy Nunes Is An Absolute Magician. It is dropping the bomb on the guy producing Syracuse's nail-biting win over Cincinnati:
2.5 -- And here we come to ESPN's coup de grace. Their fucking Starchild shot of the whole broadcast. With an incredibly important front-end one-and-one foul shot in a 2-point game, this is the camera angle ESPN goes with from the time Brandon Triche recieves the ball from the official all the way through as he shoots, misses it, Cincinnati rebounds it, and then calls time out:
I always want to watch important plays from the worst seat in the house! In fact, it's why I usually watch games on TV instead of heading to the arena...because you can just never get those worst-seat-in-the-house tickets.
Any live shot that is not the traditional sideline view is fist-clenchingly bad. You are not Stanley Kubrick, director guy. Just push the button.
Grraaagh. There's always a chance Penn State loses a game 19-16; outside of that Michigan State's 49-47 win over Wisconsin is assured of being the ugliest game of the year in the Big Ten. Consider this sentence:
This one was a double shutout until Wisconsin hit a 3 four minutes into the game.
And then this one:
A layup by Dawson with 6:58 to go to give MSU a 47-43 lead would be MSU's last field goal of the game.
They scored two points in the final seven minutes! And won! Wisconsin shot 30% from 2 and 3 and 39% from the line, and lost by two!
Neither of these teams will play a game this bad again this year, so prepare to be frustrated when they score in the, like, 50s.
File under Everyone Hates Wisconsin. Possessions in Wisconsin's Big Ten games so far: 59, 57, 59, 59, 64 (Iowa), 55. Prepare for a grim, grim game. Given Wisconsin's free-throw shooting woes—61% on the season, 331st, and 52% in Big Ten play—Michigan's low-foul ways might actually work against them in this one.
If they find themselves down, hack-an-Evans should be a real option. He's 33 of 84 from the line (39%) and a team with Michigan's offense should be more inclined to exchange points at the line for extra possessions than normal.
Denard at WR. As you might expect, he's inexperienced.
Gilmore said Robinson has some tangible and intangible qualities that should allow him to make up ground quickly. "The language I'm talking right now to him is foreign," Gilmore said. "It's Chinese. But the one thing I appreciate, he's asking questions." On Monday and Tuesday, Robinson stuck close to Gilmore when he wasn't taking reps. When Robinson saw something he either didn't understand or wanted to clarify, he asked Gilmore. "He's very coachable," Gilmore said. "He's a very humble kid. He asks some great questions. Not good questions. Great questions." That willingness to learn combined with Robinson's superior athleticism should help him close the gap with more experienced receivers. "Because of the athleticism he possesses, it will be a shorter learning curve than most," Gilmore said. "Once again, the God-given ability will take over. He's just got to get the reps."
But we want to visit the empty cathedrals of college football. Talkin' up neutral sites is one Gene Smith:
Big Ten athletic directors have a lot of decisions to make for the future, including the possibility of playing nine or even 10 conference home games per season starting in 2014. If the league does go that route, Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith has an idea.
"I would like to see more neutral sites in those scenarios," Smith told ESPN.com. "We've got a great stadium in Chicago, one in Detroit, one in Indianapolis, and now we have the East Coast. So I can see more neutral sites for conference games."
I find myself strangely unoffended by this because it seems like Smith is talking about moving games from Rutgers and Maryland to somewhere other than Rutgers and Maryland. And… yeah, I don't care. No one's ever going to move a Michigan home game away from Ann Arbor, so I don't care. I do have a problem with Penn State essentially buying an Indiana home game and moving it to Philly, as that upsets competitive balance. Moving a Rutgers game to the Meadowlands doesn't, so I don't care.
I probably should care, but I've already done my YOU BLEW IT UP YOU MANIACS bit and am now settling in to my new reality in the dystopian future I thought couldn't happen to us. Vat-grown protein for all.
Etc.: Denard's getting mixed reviews as a wide receiver at the Senior Bowl. Ain't no gentlemen 'round here. Mitch McGary profiled and profiled. Devin Booker scores points in front of Michigan coaches. Irvin, Kennard also score points. Mark Donnal scouted. Winning by lots is good. Purdue braces for impact. ADIDAS SCREWED UP 1928.
Hey guys. After sleeping for 12 of the last 16 hours, I feel better. Better is not great, but here is a linkdump.
Oh, and an mgolicious note: my chrome extension broke when delicious updated their site for the first time since the Civil War, so that aspect of the site has halted for the moment. If anyone knows of a functioning chrome extension for the new delicious let me know. Also: sidebar tabs. Why do you hate me, Google?
Creepily accurate. This list of Denard Robinson smiles from 10 to 0:
Bowl revampin'. It appears that the people with the football teams have surveyed the landscape and discovered that oh yeah we have the leverage here. Mike Slive:
“Since we’ve made such a significant change with the playoff, it’s a perfect time to look at the bowls and how they work,” SEC commissioner Mike Slive said this week. “This is a very good time to take a hard look at how we do our bowl relationships and see if there’s a better way.”
Since Mike Slive just created a "Champions Bowl" that he let sites bid for and picked the Sugar Bowl to host it despite what I assume was a ridiculous offer from content-mad Jerry Jones, I'm guessing his better way does not involve bowl directors making 800k.
According to Stewart Mandel, that model is already in place with the Rose Bowl, which is probably one of the reasons the Pac-12 and Big 10 were so intent on keeping their baby. Anyway, the schools are going to move the risk from the schools to the bowls, because they can see...
Meanwhile, Jim Delany made some noises about diversifying the Big Ten's bowl slate. The current setup is great if you like the worst cities in Florida, but not so great if you like, you know, culture and stuff.
We heard this about seven months ago as well when the Big Ten had its smoochy session with the Rose in a futile attempt to cover up for the fact they couldn't get enough votes for home playoff games. I assume that the desire is real, and that when the contracts come up there will be diversification into places that are more than strip clubs and strip malls.
Congratulations to all of us for collectively being fed up or financially unable to support this model, and thus forcing a change.
[HT: Get the Picture. ]
Obligatory plea. Denver! December/January highs average in the mid-40s, it's usually sunny or snowing, the stadium district is pretty cool, and the Front Range is just an hour away.
Threes of doom. I wish this Five Key Plays bit included the loony long Burke two that kicked off Michigan's fatal sequence, but it gets everything else:
1. Hardaway takes heavily contested three with a hand in his face with 25 on the shot clock.
2. GRIII takes a basically open three with 11 left—the contest is token and doesn't impact him.
3. Burke runs down and takes a three that Ravenel is credited with a block on that airballs. Since Ravenel comes nowhere near the top of Burke's shooting motion… no. This should be a foul, and with Morgan charging towards the basket with Craft on his back anything that hits the rim has a decent chance of being a putback dunk. Much less upset about this, now filing under Big Ten refs are cowards instead of insanity. Dollars to donuts there is a post-airball whistle if this game is at Crisler.
4. Terrible contested NBA-ranged three with 29 on clock from Stauskas.
5. Decently open look from Hardaway with 25 on the clock; Hardaway run over, no call.
Part of the reason Michigan's offense looked so bad in this one is just the way the game was being called. OSU was in They Can't Call Everything Mode—and with M so foul-averse I wonder if that hurts them on the offensive end since refs have an unconscious bias towards keeping foul calls relatively even.
Beilein was okay with the final three, BTW. I didn't mind it either since going for a win in that situation is at least on par with attempting to tie it with a slightly easier shot. If Michigan gets that one extra point from the Burke breakaway bucket, though…
This week in post touches suck. Via UMHoops:
|Ohio State Buckeyes||6.4%||80||71||0.888|
|Minnesota Golden Gophers||8.9%||122||105||0.861|
|Michigan State Spartans||10.1%||131||112||0.855|
|Penn State Nittany Lions||9.7%||118||92||0.780|
|Illinois Fighting Illini||4.2%||59||35||0.593|
The D-I average points per possession is 0.995; every Big Ten team is well below that. I wonder if the data is only considering shots from post-ups and not kicks and rotation and suck, because that's so amazingly low across the board that it feels faulty. Surely there are some post-touch benefits this analysis is missing, or coaches simply wouldn't run them anymore.
Anyway, no I don't think Michigan should post up Morgan and McGary more.
This week in loldelany. Your Successories conference is not working out.
When deciding on division names in December 2010, Delany said the Big Ten "didn't have great options."
"We weren't going to go with 'Bo or Woody,' 'Black or Blue,' or 'Plains or Lakes,' " Delany said. "Obviously we got some acceptance [with Legends and Leaders], but not as much as we would have liked."
Delany said he was a "little surprised" by the backlash when the division names were announced.
People in charge of things are just in charge of them. There is not a reason. They instantly become megalomaniacs despite this.
"I'm not sure it was a national survey [of people who didn't like the names], but people who hit the 'send' button," Delany said. "I don't take umbrage to negative reaction. I don't necessarily change when I hear it. I think on the other hand, we said we would test-market it, and we have for a couple of years. We have the opportunity to look at it again. I'm sure we will. Whether or not we change or not is to be determined. I don't have any presumption that we'll change on it, but that doesn't mean we're not looking at it.
"I don't think when you try to build something, lead some organization, you don't want to be tone deaf. But it's not up for vote every week."
That is the best probably unintentional double-negative ever.
The UV bullet doesn't count. Hockey got swept by Alaska this weekend for the first time ever, which came as no surprise, really. The first line was AJ Treais and the only guys who skate hard consistently: Andrew Copp and Zach Hyman. They skated five defensemen since they've got three out injured. So that's where the team is: injured on the backline, lackadaisical on the front line, and still getting really bad goaltending.
Yost Built has a recap.
Zak Irvin is kind of good. He's the favorite for Mr. Basketball in the state of Indiana—Michigan has never acquired one of those—and seems like a bigger version of GRIII:
Zak Irvin: 6’7” Shooting Guard, Hamilton Southeastern H.S. (2013) I just love watching him play. He is the best Senior in the state and I don’t think it is even that close. At 6’7”, he can shoot the lights out, handle the ball well, and really gets after it defensively. I really don’t see how he isn’t ranked higher by some national scouting service. He is the total package. Will be great at Michigan.
“He is fundamental with both hands,” Harrison senior Mark Huston said of Irvin. “The best you can do is try and contest (his shot) to the best of your abilities and hope he misses. But he is a great talent, and he doesn’t do that a lot.”
“It almost felt like he was guarding three people at once with his length on traps,” Huston said. “He can jump passing lanes real easy, so it was tough for us to get the ball moving."
Etc.: Cierre Wood enters draft. Basketball is young. The latest on Austin Hatch. It's hard to win all your games. Chip Kelly: he gone. Enjoy your sanctions, Oregon! Dawg Sport's T. Kyle King retires. If blogging age is defined by the number of words you put on the internet, he does so at the young age of 120. Mike Harden profiled. Michigan is just one of five programs with the same staff for three straight years. DON'T TWEET AT ATHLETES PEOPLE WHO CAN'T READ THIS BLOG ANYWAY. Mel Kiper, soulless robot. Michigan in comic book format.
Reading between the lines not particularly necessary. After largely quieting Jadeveon Clowney in the Outback Bowl, Taylor Lewan has got to be out the door. Everyone expects it; latest bit to read into:
"I haven't addressed the team yet," Lewan said. "I'll address the team, then we'll do whatever (sports information director) Justin Dickens, Coach (Brady) Hoke wants to do and how he wants to let that out to the public.
"It's not fair to my team to tell y'all, then not tell them."
Why hold off for a formal announcement if he actually intended to stay for his senior season?
"Next question," Lewan said.
Hope for sanity. I'm still holding out for the Eye of Sauron but I'll take anything that gets Michigan and Ohio State in the same division. It sounds like that may in fact happen. Rittenberg:
Delany has said geography would be a bigger factor in the new division alignment than the first one, so expect several teams to be on the move. Several items to watch:
Will Ohio State and Michigan be placed in the same division? It would eliminate the possibility of a rematch in the Big Ten championship, but it might balance out the power between the two divisions.
Will Wisconsin move back to the "West" side of the league? The Badgers would like to play Iowa every year, and their rivalry against Nebraska packs plenty of potential.
I'm holding out a vague hope they'll add a ninth conference game.
Gallon checkup. The Mathlete was kind enough to run the numbers on my Gallon yards per target speculation from yesterday and came up with this:
Don't have bowl games in yet, but Gallon is 22nd in Yds/Target for players with 50+ targets. At 11.0 YPT, its the third best UM season, behind Hemingway last year (12.0) and Manningham in 2006 (11.1)
That is impressive. The bowl game may push Gallon above Manningham as long as Gardner didn't miss him too much, and Manningham was kind of good. I bet Gallon's final five games are even better. Bodes well for 2013, especially since Minnesota/Northwestern/Iowa/OSU/South Carolina is a pretty tough stretch relative to a full schedule with cupcakes and whatnot.
Of note: Gallon's 2011 was 10.8 on 42 targets, so you can tack that on to your sample size to increase your confidence he can play, and that Borges is a notch above previous offensive coordinators who did not desire to unleash the dragon as much.
MSU departures en route. Dion Sims is gone according to Joe Schad. LeVeon Bell is likely out the door after a bell-cow season at State. Will Gholston seems like he may be leaning to early entry as well:
"It's about the things I can do, and the other things in my life I have to take care of,'' Gholston said. "But I know I can graduate on time. I may have a year and a semester left (to get a degree).''
FWIW. Their defense should be fine without Gholston, but losing Bell would be rough. MSU has very little on their roster—just Nick Hill and a few not-so-touted freshmen. Unless they strike gold twice in a row that looks like a major dropoff.
[UPDATE: Bell declares.]
File under structure of the offense. Luke Winn charts Stauskas's threes to date:
Not much to read into that, I don't think, except when you play the 3 in this offense you end up on the left side of the floor mostly.
Winn also discovers a blocked three erroneously listed as a two from the Bradley game, which liessssss.
Hardaway status. Sounds like it's not going to be a big deal, but his availability for the Northwestern game is in doubt.
"Based on what I found out about the injury, it was something that needed a little bit of time (to rest) or it could nag him all year long. I do not know when he'll be back."
Burke had a sunnier take:
"They haven't told me, but it's not too serious," Michigan point guard Trey Burke said after the game. "I think it's just like a bone bruise. I'm sure he'll be back next game.
"But that's all I've heard, we just heard coach wanted to sit him for this game so nothing major could happen."
In the opposite of news, John Beilein desires Hardaway to be healthy.
Meanwhile, Northwestern's Reggie Hearn—their leading scorer—is out. The Wildcats are unlikely to pose a challenge even on the road that shorthanded.
Bonus loladidas moment. I forgot this one. Michigan wore alternate jerseys for the GLI, and on about half of them they screwed up the nameplates.
Here's hoping they're branding themselves "the apparel company for colorblind people."
Statement of slight annoyance. The kPOY suffers from Rebound Overrating Syndrome, as many basketball statistical measures do. Mason Plumlee is getting a lot of rebounds on both ends, but how important is that really when as a team the Blue Devils are sitting right on the national average on defense? And are poor on offense? If Plumlee's rebounding was truly a major asset Duke would probably be, you know, good at it. They are not, so he's probably just grabbing rebounds from teammates.
QED bit of this is that when Ben Wallace—who I love don't get me wrong—left the Pistons their rebounding changed in no way whatsoever. Rebounds just happen. They're important, but just because you get a lot doesn't mean someone else couldn't do as good a job if they were in your role. Meanwhile, on a team level the correlation between defensive rebounding and efficiency seems extremely weak. Exactly one of the top ten teams in DREB has a defense that ranks better than 77th in efficiency: Michigan, 39th. Three of the ten check in better than 100th. Hauling down monster boards is less important than any of the other four factors*, but it is the one defensive thing we have a stat for, so…
Trey Burke, obviously, is being robbed, and don't get me started on Russ Smith, whose main asset is huge usage on a team with the #1 D in the country. FIGHT ROS.
*[In the top ten in eFG%D you find one defense outside the top 100 and five top ten outfits. TOs have four outside the top 100 but also feature the top two defenses in the country, Louisville and Syracuse. FTrate also has four outside the top 100, but none very far outside and has six teams better than the 77th that DREB brings. Rebounding is the least important factor.]
Etc.: Canada, I know you gave us Stauskas but come on please refer to walk-ons as "Windsor's Kovacs" instead of "Windsor's Rudy." Lloyd Brady articles are epic, constant. Purdue beat Illinois last night; Nnanna Egwu DREB rate drops to an even 10.0. Free throws and luck.
Hey folks. Hope you had a pleasant holiday. I did except for my hard drive dying, then beeping alarmingly, then resurrecting itself. Either I need a new computer or I should hand over this hard drive to SCIENCE so all can benefit from this discovery. Probably the former. Anyway…
Merry Christmas. Stauskas attempts to hit 90% from three, does:
I like to have this man on a basketball team I like.
A non-ringing non-endorsement. Hoke on the Big Ten expanding:
Michigan coach Brady Hoke suspects it won't end there.
"It's probably not finished," he said Thursday in Tampa during a segment with Michigan Radio.
Although Hoke offered no dissension toward expansion, he also didn't endorse it.
"Is it a positive? I think it's the world we live in right now," he said. "As coaches, we have no say in anything, I want you to know. The presidents make those decisions -- people way up in the food chain. But I doubt it's done."
Bo is spinning in his grave right now. As I've mentioned before, at this point I'm all for further expansion since Big Ten Old and Big Ten New (And Purdue Or Something) is a much better setup than seeing Iowa and Wisconsin and whoever else once every million years.
Meanwhile, Michigan's moving to a third hotel Monday for some reason.
Hoke quote, epic variety. Is here:
Hoke on Denard & Kovacs: "So we have a distant cousin of Bob Marley and an accountant as our captains."
Cumong man. Very frustrating to hear Will Campbell speak of his laziness early in his career:
"When I was younger, I was lazy," Campbell said. "I didn't listen as much, I didn't take everything in like I should of. There were people around me telling me, too -- it was just me not doing it."
That's one thing recruiting rankings will always struggle to encompass. Jonathan Hankins couldn't get through three consecutive reps when he hit Michigan's camp as a rising senior, but got it together and turned into a beast. Campbell had that famous picture where he's all throwing guys all over the place…
…and then he doesn't really do much until he's a senior and by then we're just happy when he's okay. Meanwhile, repetition of theme about redshirting: RR threw Campbell on the field as a true freshman despite the fact he was patently unready, and now both Michigan and Campbell probably wish they'd have one more year together in which Campbell improved on his 2012 and maybe moved into the middle rounds of the draft. The redshirt forever.
On the other hand. Will Campbell on his beach day:
It's hard out here. I done fought two sharks, wrassled a sting ray, ate two crabs--had butter out there. It's hard out here but you know how we do it, I'm from Detroit. You know, it was nothing. Two great whites, punched a whale in the face... easy day. Go Blue.
He has never lacked for entertainment. The entire segment is pretty fantastic:
Also in this category. Brendan Gibbons on pirates:
Michigan placekicker Brendan Gibbons grew up a big Tampa Bay Buccaneers fan, and has always dreamed of playing at Raymond James Stadium.
Of course, he has a perfectly logical reason for loving the Bucs.
"I like pirates," he said.
Unfortunately, we are doomed since Gibbons no longer looks like Keith Stone.
Made with weed and torn ACLs. A reader sends along a shot of a micorbrewery in Coralville, Iowa, with a very special Extra Special Bitter:
Other than the relatively low alcohol content, perfect.
Exit bizarre decision guy. MSU wing forward Brandan Kearney announced he was leaving a few days ago, leaving Izzo to grasp his hair alarmingly($) and dance on the edge of calling Kearney a danger to society:
One of the more bizarre things I’ve been involved with in coaching. Came back from Christmas and (he) just informed me he thinks he’s better off going somewhere else. Not really happy with his role, you know. Wants more role, wants to score more, wants to do this more, wants to do that more. I gotta admit, it was a little strange for me and the players when a guy’s playing 17 minutes a game, but at the same time it’s gonna open it up maybe for another guy.
Thus ends what was, in retrospect, one of the most overblown recruiting controversies in Michigan basketball history: Carlton Brundidge vs Brandan Kearney. Answer: neither, and nobody in state. Unless I missed a guy from outside the Rivals 150 who is blowing up Amir Williams is the only guy from that instate recruiting class doing anything at a major school at the moment. Michigan did get a guy named Trey Burke that year, so that recruiting class something less than a total loss.
As for the departure's impact, Kearney was playing about 40% of MSU's minutes but when the going got tough those dwindled to 6-9 per game. He was a quality defender with little offensive game; MSU will probably revert to the twin towers lineup they had scrapped earlier in the year in an apparently futile effort to cut down on turnovers. I'm not sure Kearney's departure is worth much—maybe a game—but in a brutal big ten every little bit helps, or hurts as the case may be.
Oh for pants' sake. One side of the story and all that but a former Louisville player has sued UL for cancelling his scholarship mid-year after
- two teammates attacked him in the locker room and broke bones around one of his eyes (they were later charged with assault and kicked off the team)
- he was told not to tell the doctor and other folks how he sustained those injuries
- a doctor told him to stop playing football after problems with his eyes
Cancelling a scholarship mid-year is against NCAA regulations, FWIW…
Mid-year cancellations must be for specific reasons in the NCAA bylaws or for violating a term of the scholarship agreement. Any cancellation or non-renewal requires the student-athlete to be provided written notice from the financial aid office and a hearing opportunity.
…and it seems like they could easily have medicaled the guy. I'm sure Strong and Louisville have their side of the story. Looks ugly.
As more money flows into the top echelons of the sport it's time to ask why the NCAA has such strict limits on scholarships issued. If a team wants to carry 100 scholarship players, why not let them? All of this oversigning business would be done tomorrow if the NCAA would restructure revenue sports in such a way as to encourage retention instead of attrition, as a hard cap does.
In the barn. The following six true freshman have enrolled early:
- OT Logan Tuley-Tillman
- OG Kyle Bosch
- CB Ross Douglas
- S Dymonte Thomas
- DE Taco Charlton
- TE Jake Butt
For Douglas, Bosch, and Butt the early enrollment should give them a better shot at early playing time. With the thin interior OL it's not out of the question that Bosch is in the mix to play from day one despite being an OL. Douglas will probably have to wait a year with Countess/Avery/Taylor in front of him but the fourth guy will get PT and the race is on for that spot. Thomas may play some as well; Charlton and LTT seem like obvious redshirt candidates.
All but out of the barn. Taylor Lewan:
"I have an idea what I'm doing. I'm almost positive what I'm doing. But at the end of the day, this bowl game doesn't have to do with what I'm going through. ... I'm playing football on Tuesday, Jan. 1, and I'll make my decision, and I'll talk to the coaches about it, and then we'll obviously go from there and what they want to do to get it out.
Is there something that could change his mind?
"No," Lewan said. "No."
So long and thanks for all the fish.
It all worked out. Followup on "how to schedule nonconference games": Michigan did pretty well this year despite the Binghamton game. They approach the finish line of their nonconference slate 15th nationally after playing 5 major teams and avoiding the very bottom of D-I with the exception of the Bearcats. Their peripheral numbers should be good come tourney time after slogging through the brutal Big Ten, and that'll give them a leg up on anyone with around the same record not named Duke when S-curves are plotted.
Fight. James Young vs. Derrick Walton, go:
Walton is ripping opponents for 30-40 points a game these days to go along with the point guard stuff. There will necessarily be a dip when Burke is gone next year; it may not be a huge one.
Etc.: Elliott Mealer reminisces about the bad thing. Tony Dungy drops in on Michigan. Chad Ford declares Trey Burke "firmly planted in the first round"($), so godspeed Mr. Burke. Going I-A: Why? Stop. Don't. Joe Lundardi has Iowa the last team in, Iowa fans excited. Craig Roh is about to break the Michigan record for consecutive starts.