go go go
Events! Two preseason events are booked for yours truly:
- I'll be in New York on August 15th with the Alumni Club of NYC. 7 PM, Professor Thom's.
- I'll be a part of the UM Club of Greater Detroit's kickoff dinner panel with Angelique Chengelis of the News and Greg Dooley of MVictors. Details here.
Yes, lol. Here's Todd Graham's motivational tactic at Arizona State:
This is lol. It is even more lol when you bring last year's edition into play:
Yes: I AM HERE TO THE END. I get that Graham is Todd Graham. What I can't understand is what the hell Arizona State's athletic director was thinking when he decided to grab a guy who already had a reputation as a job-hopper after one 6-6 year in the Big East. That's like hiring Brady Hoke… if Brady Hoke had no connection with your university and was widely regarded as not the best dude ever.
Oh, right, that. The Devin Gardner cat was released from the bag but never mentioned in this space. Here is the cat:
How much will backup quarterback Devin Gardner play at receiver this fall?
"I'll think we'll have a chance to get Devin on the field some at receiver," Hoke said.
But, legitimately, how much?
"We'll see," Hoke said, smirking. "I'm being coy, but we'll see as fall camp goes through what he can handle, ball security after the catch, all kinds of things like that."
Go for broke, man.
Does a quarter of the MSU football team have an alibi? Star Wisconsin tailback Montee Ball was the victim of an "unprovoked attack" last night:
Ball suffered head injuries after being attacked by five men near Wisconsin's campus around 2:15 a.m. Wednesday. Witnesses told police the men knocked Ball to the ground and began kicking him. Ball, a 2011 Heisman Trophy finalist, was taken to a hospital and released later Wednesday morning.
You'd think shouting "I RAN FOR 1,923 YARDS LAST YEAR" would be an excellent way to get people to stop kicking you in the head. Or "my best friends are 6'6", 320 pounds." But these guys are probably hopped up on PCP.
Bullet: dodged. Remember when Zeke Pike was probably going to be in Michigan's most recent recruiting class and was supposed to be really good at football? He's taken quite a dive since:
Freshman quarterback Zeke Pike is not expected to be part of the Auburn football team that opens preseason practice on Wednesday afternoon, but knowledgeable sources say the possibility remains that he could rejoin the team, perhaps after the 2012 season. …
Pike was sent home after his arrest on a public intoxication charge in June.
That's after a series of camp performances that saw his stock dip from top-100 type to generic three star.
New era: nevermind. UCF's athletic director got a show cause for working with a street agent, the NCAA concluded thusly…
The NCAA Committee on Infractions ruled that Central Florida officials, including former athletics director Keith Tribble, had knowledge of the involvement of Ken Caldwell, a Chicago man with ties to a sports agency, and his associate Brandon Bender, to recruit players. The NCAA said both men used cash inducements in an effort to steer nearly a dozen football and men's basketball prospects to Central Florida.
…and the Golden Knights got a one-year postseason ban that they have the chutzpah to appeal. (Because they sucked at cheating.) Tentative conclusion: Penn State was an aberration and PSU fans should probably be mad and stuff.
I guess the UCF punishment had been in the works long before Penn State got the instant banhammer and the two things have little to do with each other. But… seriously, what does it take short of enabling a pedophile to get seriously hammered? Head coach knows stuff, does nothing: one year postseason ban and flimsy scholarship penalties. Athletic director pays street agent to acquire recruits: one year postseason ban and flimsy scholarship penalties. The equation seems heavily stacked in favor of rolling the dice.
Lewan was even asked if he was sad that Gholston wasn't part of the Michigan State contingent at the Big Ten's media days.
"I don't know," Lewan said bluntly. "That's kind of an odd question to ask."
Lewan repeatedly deflected specific questions about Gholston and Michigan State throughout his two hour roundtable session, but did admit to one thing.
Gholston is one heck of a player, and regardless of what happened last season, Lewan certainly respects his talent on the field.
"Will's a good player," Lewan said. "He's been very successful since he's been at Michigan State, and it's going to be exciting to play against him."
What's the point? Maybe the first question, sure, but once Lewan has revealed he is going to give you the boilerplate, move on.
Side note: Gholston hype is out of all proportion to reality, man. Marcus Rush is the better MSU DE, but Gholston and his five sacks are… uh, tall. And good when not blocked.
Air Force 1,000 foot view. Via Pre-Snap Read, a fine preview of the Falcons:
It could be worse: Air Force’s offense could have to replace nine starters, as on defense, instead of just eight starters. Then again, it’s probably fair to make one point in regards to the Falcons’ overwhelming lack of experience heading into September: Air Force is not like other programs in the country. Elsewhere, you see five returning starters and point towards a downturn; Air Force, like its fellow service academies, deals with roster overturn every season – perhaps not to this degree, but without redshirt seasons and with most teams very senior-heavy, this sort of retooling is not new to Calhoun and this staff.
The Falcons also return just two starters on defense; the "dream season" section still includes a loss in Ann Arbor.
Etc.: Merrill named Devils' top prospect by NHL.com. Burlon third after spending entirety of last year in AHL. Argh. Alabama concern-type substances. Online poker to return soon? Meinke compiles Will Campbell hype. Chengelis does the same for Kovacs. Restoring the Old Man.
Wisconsin is the origin of Leinenkugel’s, cows, and the directional state motto (forward). The school over there has a football team that is favored to win the Woody Division. This means that should Michigan beat out Sparty and Big Red for Bo, Michigan fans should expect the other half of the Lucas Oil be jumping around sometime at the end of the third quarter of the title game.
The conditions for the Badgers to reach Indianapolis in 2012 are favorable, but that doesn’t mean they’re a compelling contender. They lose key pieces of their offense, including their quarterback, top receiver, and half of their offensive line. They also lose a significant chunk of a defense that ranked a disappointing 60th in the nation against the run last year. While the acquisition of former Maryland QB Danny O’Brien and the return of star RB Montee Ball will be a significant boon, it’s easy to see Wisconsin being, at best, slightly worse this season than they were in 2011. That they are favored to win their division is less a compliment to them than it is an indictment of their division.
- Sept. 1, Northern Iowa
- Sept. 8, @ Oregon State
- Sept. 15, Utah State
- Sept. 22, UTEP
- Sept. 29, @ Nebraska
- Oct. 6, Illinois
- Oct. 13, @ Purdue
- Oct. 20, Minnesota
- Oct. 27, Michigan State
- Nov. 3, WIFEDAY
- Nov. 10, @ Indiana
- Nov. 17, Ohio State
- Nov. 24, @ Penn State
Wisconsin’s consumption of nonconference cupcakes continues, although the 2012 batch has a little more substance than in years past. Northern Iowa and Utah State, for instance, both had winning records. A visit to Oregon State is a nice gesture, except Oregon State went 3-9 last season. Regardless, Corvallis is a great destination. I used to live there.
The B1G schedule is the B1G schedule. Wisconsin misses Michigan (yeah she’s married now) but plays Nebraska, Michigan State, Ohio State, and Penn State, two of them on the road. Keep an eye on the Nov. 17 game. The brawl in Madison should take the edge off a Buckeyes team gearing up for their season finale against the Wolverines.
This schedule is as favorable as: Watching a horror movie. You'll probably make it -- it'll just be somewhat unpleasant.
Your uniform makes rest of us vomit into our mouths, too.
Leaving: QB Russell Wilson (72.8%, 3,175 yards, 33 TD, 4 INT), WR Nick Toon (64 rec, 926 yards), RG Kevin Zeitler, C Peter Konz
Returning: RB Montee Ball (1,923 yards, 6.3 ypc, 33 TD), RB James White (713 yards, 5.1 ypc, 6 TD), TE Jacob Pederson (30 rec, 356 yards, 8 TD), LT Ricky Wagner.
I take some of that back: losing half of their NFL-caliber linemen may not be that big of a deal. There is plenty of protein, grain, and beer available in Madison to turn their next crop of linemen into run-blocking pâté.
Losing Russell Wilson, however, IS a big deal. He ran the Badgers offense with remarkable efficiency as a transfer. That kind of ability is rare. O’Brien is a lot less talented than Wilson and has already shown that he isn’t great with transitions. In light of the loss of their one elite receiver, I predict O’Brien will be a slightly worse version of former Wisconsin QB Scott Tolzien.
Player you’ll probably see on Sportscenter: Montee Ball
Doing what? Loitering in the end zone. Like a bawss.
This offense is as frightening as: “The Ring” -- with the lights on. Fear level = 7.5.
His smile makes me believe this was from a pre-game presser.
Style: 4-3 over, coverage not guaranteed if the game is on the line.
Leaving: DT Patrick Butrym (55 tackles, 10.5 TFL, 4 sacks), CB Antonio Fenelus (42 tackles, 4 INT, 9 PBU), S Aaron Henry (55.5 tackles, 7 TFL, 4.5 sacks, 4 INT, 7 PBU)
Returning: MLB Chris Borland (103.5 tackles, 19 TFL, 2.5 sacks), WLB Mike Taylor (105 tackles, 9 TFL, 2 sacks), CB Marcus Cromartie (34 tackles, 3 PBU)
Linebacking should be fine. The secondary will take a hit. The defensive line needs some work.
Also, really gotta do something about this:
Player you’ll probably see on the BTN: Chris Borland.
Doing what? Getting called a “throwback.”
This defense is as frightening as: “House on Haunted Hill” 1999 remake. Has its moments; I have no idea what's going on during the last two minutes. Fear level = 4.
Overall: 9-3, 5-3 B1G
Their chances of making it to Indianapolis are as good as: Making it through a double feature of “The Ring” and “House on Haunted Hill.” You are with your grandpa, your neighbor’s little brother, your stepsister, and a bunch of their middle school friends. Your uncle was there but got caught bringing in outside food and got kicked out of the theater.
-----BIG SECTION BREEEAAAAAAKKKK-----
Bold prediction: This statue stays.
Let's not talk about the elephant. Let's talk footbawwww, and in terms of footbaw Penn State should be okay for the season. New head coach Bill O'Brien is going to install his superinnovative Patriots offensive scheme, and it's going to be great. No more field goal fests against Iowa. Enough guys are coming back that the Nittany Lions won't feel the effects of their abysmal 2012 recruiting class for another year at least. If it weren't for all the Penn State Awful Thing stuff going on, there might actually be some sense of optimism. It's like the football version of finally getting crisp, clean sheets after years of bedridden awfulness.
Unfortunatelly, Penn State Awful Thing.
- Sept. 1, Ohio (Bobcats)
- Sept. 8, @ Virginia
- Sept. 15, Navy
- Sept. 22, Temple
- Sept. 29, @ Illinois
- Oct. 6, Northwestern
- Oct. 13, WIFEDAY
- Oct. 20, @ Iowa
- Oct. 27, Ohio (Buckeyes)
- Nov. 3, @ Purdue
- Nov. 10, @ Nebraska
- Nov. 17, Indiana
- Nov. 24, Wisconsin
Penn State has a relatively soft nonconference schedule and doesn’t face either of the Michigans. They get division primary foes Wisconsin and Ohio State at home. If they had either an offense or, you know, program stability, they’d be slightly favored over Wisconsin. We’ll see if O’Brien can work on the former, but there’s nothing to be done about the latter. Regardless, the Nittany Lions come in close second to the Badgers in the preseason division rankings. You never know. With a few lucky bounces they might just end up in Indianapolis.
This schedule is as favorable as: A sturdy lifeboat in the middle of a hurricane.
Sure. Why not.
Style: New England
Leaving: WR Derek Moye (40 rec, 654 yards, 3 TD)
Returning: QB Matt McGloin (54.1%, 1571 yards, 8 TD, 5 INT), RB Silas Redd (1241 yards, 5.1 ypc, 7 TD), WR Justin Brown (35 rec, 517 yards, 2 TD), C Matt Stankiewitch
Penn State has some issues at quarterback again with ginger walk-on extraordinaire McGloin, perennially unfinished attic Rob Bolden, and founding father (John) Paul Jones, but McGloin seems to be in best position to lead the charge. The tradeoff of having a low ceiling is the fact that he maybe kinda understands how plays work. Redd's return to the backfield will be helpful regardless of who starts.
Whether O'Brien's massive overhaul of the offense will be effective is unknown. The Nittany Lions were awful last year, and not enough of the personnel has changed to suggest that they won't be again. Playcalling was probably a weakness in 2011, but playcalling is usually dictated by talent and execution. Unless you're Jim Bollman.
Player you’ll probably see in a flashback nightmare: Matt McGloin.
Doing what? Victimizing J.T. Floyd.
This offense is as terrifying as: An Xbox made with disassembled Atari components. Fear level = 3.
No. 42 LB Michael Mauti
Style: 4-3 under
Leaving: DT Devon Still (42 tackles, 17 TFL, 4.5 sacks), DE Jack Crawford (29 tackles, 7.5 TFL, 6.5 sacks), LB Nate Stupar (59.5 tackles, 5.5 TFL, 2 sacks, 2 INT), CB Chaz Powell (35 tackles, 2 PBU, 2 INT), S Nick Sukay (48 tackles, 8 PBU, 3 INT)
Returning: DT Jordan Hill (37.5 tackles, 8 TFL, 4 sacks), LB Michael Mauti (injured for most of 2011), LB Gerald Hodges (76 tackles, 10 TFL, 5 sacks, 1 INT), S Malcolm Willis (25 tackles, 1 INT)
Player you’ll probably see on ESPN: Gerald Hodges.
Doing what? Getting drafted, wishing he’d left a year earlier.
This defense is as terrifying as: A refurbished Xbox made with Xbox components. Fear level = 8.
Overall: 9-3, 5-3 B1G
Their chances of reaching Indianapolis are as good as: Getting a LAN game to work with aforementioned Xboxes.
-----BIG SECTION BREEAAAAAAAAKKKKKKKKK-----
I have only one word for Indiana’s outlook for 2012: Hoosierquest.
- Sept. 1, Indiana State
- Sept. 8, @ UMass
- Sept. 15, Ball State
- Sept. 22, WIFEDAY
- Sept. 29, @ Northwestern
- Oct. 6, Michigan State
- Oct. 13, Ohio State
- Oct. 20, @ Navy
- Oct. 27, @ Illinois
- Nov. 3, Iowa
- Nov. 10, Wisconsin
- Nov. 17, @ Penn State
- Nov. 24, @ Purdue
Playing UMass on the road is so Indiana.
This schedule is as favorable as: The Ann Arbor Art Fair is to traffic.
Style: 4-out, 1-in Motion.
Leaving: Some dudes.
Returning: PG Tre Roberson (57%, 937 yards, 3 TD, 6 INT), SF Kofi Hughes (35 rec, 536 yards, 3 TD), PF Ted Bolser (14 rec, 165 yards, 1 TD)
Indiana is still figuring out why the term “basketball on grass” isn’t more literal. They are currently adjusting to the oblong shape of the ball and learning that traveling is okay.
Player you’ll probably see during a live update: Tre Roberson.
Doing what? Getting pwned.
This offense is as frightening as: Modern art; Why is your running back facing backward? What is the symbolism of having just four guys on your offensive line? The abstract shape of your I-formation evokes the image of a bowl of red jello about to get thrown against a window. How uncompromisingly postmodern. Fear level = 1.
Replogle, left; Black, right
Leaving: LB Jeff Thomas (57.5 tackles, 1 sack), LB Leon Beckum (42.5 tackles, 2 sacks)
Returning: DT Larry Black (48 tackles, 5.5 TFL, 1.5 sacks), DT Adam Replogle (38.5 tackles, 7 TFL, 4 sacks)
Yes, Larry is Jibreel’s older brother. He is decent (massive Indiana caveats abound), so maybe Jibreel will be too.
Player you’ll probably see on Sportscenter: Adam Replogle.
Doing what? Getting dragged into the end zone by Montee Ball.
This defense is as frightening as: Pottery exhibits; they take up space, but are liable to fall over and break on contact. Fear level = 2.
Overall: 1-11, 0-8 B1G
Their chances of making it to Indianapolis are as good as: Finding an item at the Art Fair that is both aesthetically pleasing and reasonably priced.
Sponsors with benefits. Hotels: there are none on gameday unless you want to stay in Canada or Ohio. These places are inconvenient. Few people even speak English. Houses: Ann Arbor has many, lots of them right across the street from Michigan Stadium. Money: can be used to convince people in these houses to let you borrow the houses. Thus your crew of 8+ people can stay in the same, convenient place.
You are probably entering URLs that seem likely candidates to host such a service as we speak. Your fingers ache, your keyboard smokes. Well, enter nonexistent website URLs no longer. You can use Money to avoid Hotels at Gameday Housing, which not only benefits you but also the site. A bonus: mention MGoBlog when you sign up (in the "you heard about us from" box) and they'll take 50 bucks off your first rental*. You can lock down accommodations for Michigan State for about what a hotel would run you, except instead of a hotel room you get a house. Doing so also supports the site.
*[Fine print: only valid until the end of 2012, can't combine with another promotion, one per user.]
2011 photo spectacular. Max starts an excellent thread of favorite pictures from last year:
No sources are listed, unfortunately. Everyone should be shoving the metadata in their files so people can credit back if so inclined.
Troubaaaargh. The Daily's Matt Slovin reports that Jacob Trouba has a 200k offer from the OHL sitting on the table and that this is a source of OHL-related optimism in re: guy breaking his commitment to leave. Again. Kitchener denies this because kids in the OHL get 45 bucks a week only. It's not a professional league, man. You have to believe us.
We'll see how that goes. It's a chunk of cash, but for a guy who's likely to sign a max rookie contract in a year or two it's not a life changing amount. Insert usual bits about how Something Must Be Done, but what? It's clear the OHL doesn't care about its own rules, and the NHL is never going to step in, so what can be done?
UPDATE: Trouba has again reiterated he will play at Michigan.
Werner something. You're probably aware that Joe Paterno's legacy is even further tattered after the release of emails that imply the university administration was about to go to some sort of police-type organization that would have put Jerry Sandusky's crimes to an end until Joe intervened on Sandusky's behalf. But are you aware of the contortions many on the Penn State rivals board are willing to undertake to maintain their worship?
I Would Like to Pose a Question to the Board
Let's see who can answer this question. Bear with me -- I have a point to make. Here it is:
The human body consists of 99.9% of something. What is it?
[several posts in which people respond.]
Congratulations! Three of You Got It.
The answer is empty space. Now, on the face of it, the answer is absurd. How can the body be empty space? Well, because atoms are empty space. Vibrating energy (I think) is what gives things solidity (this is a quantum physics deal, so I can't elaborate). But, here's the point. It is absolutely PREPOSTEROUS to claim that the human body is empty space, just as it is preposterous to claim that Joe Paterno was not involved in covering up Jerry Sandusky's child abuse. Yet, the human body really is empty space; so why can't Joe Paterno not be involved in a cover-up, particularly since no one yet has forwarded any evidence of such? It is a supposition that Paterno was involved, just as it is a common supposition that the human body is not empty space.
This guy has a future as a noir defense attorney.
Meanwhile, Vijay comes out of retirement to re-evaluate the "Grand Experiment."
If this really happens… If Wisconsin's nonconference scheduling goes from sad to decent, yes, Virginia, strength of schedule will be a big deal in the new playoff world. Alvarez is talking about it, at least:
“If you want to be a player (in the national championship equation) and strength of schedule is going to be a part of it, then you really have to consider (a different approach),” UW athletic director Barry Alvarez said.
That might explain why UW football coach Bret Bielema disclosed on his Twitter account this week that he’s reached out to his Notre Dame counterpart Brian Kelly about a possible series with the high-profile independent. Bielema is targeting openings for 2018 and ’19 when Michigan drops off the Irish’s schedule.
It might also explain why Alvarez disclosed this week that there were recent discussions, orchestrated by ESPN, about matching the Badgers against defending national champion and Southeastern Conference power Alabama at a neutral site.
Alvarez, who handled scheduling when he coached the Badgers from 1990 to ’05, said Bielema countered with an offer to play a home-and-home series with the Crimson Tide — no specific years were discussed — but that Alabama coach Nick Saban declined.
That's all talk now. I have a hard time seeing SOS becoming important enough to overrule our current how-many-losses ranking system except in intraconference instances like last year's Oregon-Stanford hypothetical controversy, and if that's the case Wisconsin will continue its steady diet of cupcakes. Something to keep an eye on, at least.
Mario. He got suspended that one game and was kind of frustrating at other times, but Mario Manningham could play, yo:
In other Wolverine Historian bits, he captures the 1994 Minnesota game.
Big Ten Network programming breakdown. A poster on BSD totaled up a month's worth of BTN programming this summer and came out with these numbers:
A quick breakdown of school and how many hours of programming they have, in order from least to greatest:
Nebraska 27.5 hours Minnesota 32 hours Northwestern 40.5 hours Penn State 47.5 hours Purdue 49 hours Illinois 73.5 hours Iowa 82.5 hours Indiana 85 hours Michigan 106 hours Michigan St 108 hours Wisconsin 127.5 hours Ohio State 153 hours
Wisconsin and MSU benefited from frequent replays of the inaugural champinship game. OSU's edge on the rest of the field is a combination of football and basketball prowess that no one else is matching at the moment. The jump from Purdue to Illinois is… odd.
Left tackles can't stand normal bikes. Via a TTB interview with Erik Magnuson:
That is a 6'6", 300 pound man on a unicycle. Maybe we'll see him performing during halftime at Crisler next year.
Etc.: Hardaway, Burke, McGary all second-round-ish NBA prospects at the moment, with Burke in that gray area between the first and second round. The 2013 class rankings are rejiggered: Walton, Donnal up, Irvin down a little.
Sam Mikulak makes the Olympic team. Jeff Porter makes it in the 110M hurdles. Michigan alum Richard Kaplan is mayor of a small Florida town that is way into cricket. Brady Hoke returns to his old stomping grounds to out MANBALL Ball State's new coach.
Out: Matt Roth, Tom Pritchard, Verdell Jones, maybe Christian Watford, probably not Cody Zeller.
In: Yogi Ferrell (5*), Hanner Perea(5*), Jeremy Hollowell(4*), Peter Jurkin (3*), Ron Patterson(3*).
Status: A chic pick for big things next year, the Hoosiers lose only a few seniors who didn't contribute much. Roth and Pritchard saw about 25% of Indiana's minutes, and while Roth hit a spectacular 55% of his threes he only took five twos. His 82 shots will go to good homes. Pritchard was terrible at everything. Oft-injured Verdell Jones provided some assists, but had an ugly turnover rate and poor ORtg. No one will be pined for next year.
Meanwhile, the incoming class is loaded. Yogi Ferrell was a McDonald's All-American and seems a lot like Trey Burke except with bunches of extra hype; Hanner Perea and Jeremy Hollowell played on a virtual Big Ten All Star team in that game GRIII got the MVP in and impressed. Add those guys to a virtually intact roster that sees its best player go from freshman to sophomore and you can see the outlines of a very, very good team.
Question in need of resolving: Can they play defense?
The Big Ten featured three of the top five defenses in the country, all of whom received Sweet Sixteen seeds. The other two B10 outfits to do so were Michigan (60th defensively) and Indiana (64th). Michigan's problems were obvious: they played Zack Novak at the four most of the year and had one legit post defender after Jon Horford was sidelined with a foot injury early in the year. They'll fix those issues with an influx of size and athleticism.
Indiana's defense has fewer easy solutions. They'll probably start the same guys they did this year, and that means a lot of Jordan Hulls blowbys. That's something you can live with when a guy is shooting 49% from three. It's also the thing that may keep Indiana from being as lights out as people expect.
Out: Zack Novak, Stu Douglass, Evan Smotrycz, Carlton Brundidge, Colton Christian, maybe Trey Burke.
In: Mitch McGary(5*), Glenn Robinson III (4.5*, right), Nick Stauskas (4*), maybe Amedeo Della Valle (3*) or other late pick-up.
Status: The departure of Smotrycz, the only guy to hit some shots in Michigan's first-round tourney flameout, puts a damper on expectations that had begun to tower relative to the program's recent success. Before that Michigan's departures were seniors who built the program despite talent deficiencies; their recruits were versions of their current players after a power mushroom.
Now… well, they're probably still fine. It was a struggle to find minutes for the two incoming five stars and Smotrycz since Michigan has two upperclassmen at the five and Tim Hardaway at the three. Jamming everyone into the four left me projecting Mitch McGary would manage 15 minutes a game next year.
It's actually the least-heralded recruit who may be the most important: Nick Stauskas figures to step right into the starting lineup at shooting guard and is the most plausible guy on the roster to give Burke a little bit of rest here and there. If he's truly the deadeye shooter he's reputed to be, Michigan's three-heavy offense could finally reach the heights of efficiency last year's Indiana team scraped.
Michigan is boned if Trey Burke leaves. They'd probably hobble into the tournament still, if only just.
Question in need of resolving: Is Tim Hardaway an elite talent or not?
Hardaway entered his sophomore year a potential All-American and exited it the Big Ten's leading bomb-chucker despite shooting 28% from three. He picked up little of the shot-creation slack in the aftermath of Darius Morris's departure and played indifferent defense. Flashes here and there and a relatively efficient end to the season could not obscure the massive disappointment.
Now entering his junior year it's time for everyone to find out whether Hardaway is truly an NBA talent or a guy headed to Europe for the standard Quality Big Ten Player 15-Year Career.
Out: Draymond Green, Brandon Wood, Austin Thornton, maybe Branden Dawson if he can't recover from his ACL tear fast enough
In: Gary Harris (5*), Matt Costello (4*), Kenny Kaminksi (3.5*), Denzel Valentine (3.5*)
Status: Losing Green will force a massive restructuring of the program. Green was an All-American who finished as the Kenpom POY, which means he's a high-usage player with a good assist to turnover rate and buckets of rebounds. Those are rare. Wood was also a major piece of the MSU renaissance; while Thornton had no usage he finished fifth in ORtg thanks to 48% shooting from three and 87% from the line on an inexplicably high number of free throw attempts.
Branden Dawson's ACL throws a wrench into this transformation. Mostly a three last year, Green's exit seemingly opened the door for him to move to the four, where his lack of shooting would be less of an issue and his rebounding could become even more pestilential to defenses. Now he's going to spend the summer rehabbing instead of adjusting, and while an ACL is generally regarded as a six-month injury these days that still puts him behind the curve when the season kicks off.
If Dawson doesn't move to the four Izzo will either have to field both of his posts at the same time—a dodgy proposition what with their conditioning issues—or go to a Beilein-esque lineup featuring freshman stretch four Matt Costello. Which might not be a bad idea. Kid is 6'10", can shoot threes—something MSU's offense has gotten used to lately—and poured in points en route to Mr. Basketball.
/shakes fist at Izzo recruiting all of Beilein's perfect power forwards
Question in need of resolving: This will become a theme, but do they have a point guard?
While Keith Appling managed the position decently this year, he's more of a natural two-guard. Without Green taking a near-equal share of the shot-generation duties he may find there's too much on his plate to be an effective distributor, scorer, and defender. He seemed to suffer late this year when an outside shooting slump saw his three-point shooting dip to 25%. MSU will be better off if they can move some of Appling's duties to other players.
This is where Harris comes in. He's got the rep and the skill; if he steps into the lineup at the one immediately and performs MSU will maintain their high level of performance from a year ago.
Out: Jordan Taylor, Rob Wilson
In: Sam Dekker (5*, right)
Status: Remember when we were getting all defensive about Wisconsin's Kenpom ranking? Point Kenpom. The Badgers recovered from a 1-3 Big Ten start to finish 12-6 in the league, get a four seed, and come within one point of Syracuse in the Sweet 16.
Next year is anyone's guess. They're replacing their version of Draymond Green: Jordan Taylor sucked up 25% of Wisconsin possession in his 36 minutes a game, had a massive assist rate, never turned the ball over, and shot… well, not well. But pretty well for a guy who seemed to get the ball 30 feet from the basket with five on the shot clock ten times a game. Unlike Michigan State they do not have anyone remotely plausible to plug in the large shoes of the departed.
They do have Sam Dekker, though, and Sam Dekker is the truth. A 6'8" small forward with range and burst, you can add Dekker to the long list of Wisconsin players John Beilein has naughty dreams about. They also return every player of note other than Taylor. If the swing offense can sustain itself in an environment where there is not a primary shot generator, the Badgers can expect similar success next year.
Question in need of resolving: Does Wisconsin need a point guard? Because they don't have one.
Right now their players under 6'6" are Ben Brust and Josh Gasser, guys with assist rates of 7.9 and 11.3, respectively. Gasser's going to have to be the guy, I guess. How do you feel about heaping Jordan Taylor's job on a guy who used 13% of Wisconsin's possessions despite being on the floor 85% of the time?
You might feel fine about this. You might not. Either Gasser is on everyone's lips as the most improved player in the conference or we're going to find out what happens when Bo Ryan doesn't have even the vaguest semblance of a point guard.
Sorry for the late post. WLW crashed at the worst time possible and their auto-recover function didn't work since it only took down one of my windows. So the column bit is shorter and I'll find links later.
1/8/2012 – Michigan 59, Wisconsin 41 – 13-3, 3-1 Big Ten
If Michigan's season to date was a rollercoaster, it would be one with a cartoon bumblebee on the first car and a You Must Be This Short To Ride This Ride sign out front. They've beaten the teams they were supposed to beat, lost to the ones they were supposed to lose to, and done these things more or less convincingly. Maybe the Virginia loss was a disappointment, but they're 14-1 now. Maybe Minnesota was uncomfortable. These are not events that will cause anyone in a television studio to talk about Michigan's wild season.
On the whole, that's a positive, but it does leave you wondering if Michigan is taking a step forward. Once Trey Burke hit the ground running it seemed like they should, but when you're sifting through the evidence all you've got are some instances of not blowing it. Tough to judge, that.
An 18-point win against Wisconsin is a step forward even if they're notoriously overrated by Kenpom. They are also rated by the people who vote in these things. North Carolina had to scrape by them at home; it took Michigan State overtime to dispatch them. They will likely recover from this sour start to easily claim an NCAA tourney bid, and Michigan ran them out of the gym.
This has a directly comparable moment from last year. It was this:
DEATH TO BACKBOARDS
THAT IS ALL
At that point even that hopeless freshman playing pinball for the win was regarded as "man fun," evidence that Michigan's basketball program was alive at 17-12, 7-9 in the league.
Michigan was rebuilding and started the Big Ten season off so poorly that the narrative of the season was near-misses that would cost them a tourney bid until, suddenly, it wasn't. When they got the bid they were staring down a second round matchup with Duke and the Sweet 16 was not a consideration until Darius Morris was running at the basket with time winding down.
This year they're coming at it from ahead, with a win or two in their pocket and a hope for more. Next year they won't be rebuilding anything. They'll be built, and expectations will loom. Right now we're going through the last vestiges of having no expectations because we have no program. Step by step, inch by inch, Michigan departs its past and becomes something else.
Bullets that can hit the backboard all they want
TREY BURKE! Burke followed up the worst game of his young career by outplaying Jordan Taylor. Taylor had a couple baskets late when he started forcing quick shots; these came against Stu Douglass and were desperate heaves in any case. In the first half Taylor had 4 points on 2 of 8 shooting; he hit a single additional three against Burke in the second half. For the game Taylor's late chucks got him to 12 points on 15 shots; Burke was not the model of efficiency but had 14 on the same number of shots. He did not pick up a single foul.
The rest of the defense! Michigan held Wisconsin to 0.76 points per possession, UW's worst output of the year. Marquette is next best at 0.86. I'm not sure how or why this happened, but it was no fluke. Wisconsin could not find an open shot anywhere. Despite having a terrible night, Taylor was forced into an even larger share of the offense than he usually has. He averages around 25% of UW's shots and hit 30% in this game.
Michigan showed on ball screens and Wisconsin could not pick and roll or find post players in good position. The Badgers had maybe three open looks from three all game, one transition basket, and vanishingly few dunks and layups.
Hardaway: more turnovers please. Last year, this site identified Tim Hardaway's abnormally low turnover rate for a high-usage freshman as a reason he would be an efficient player going forward. It would now like to retract that assertion since now it seems to mean Hardaway is settling for a lot of long twos.
In the last two games he's probably shot a half-dozen jumpers from just inside the three-point line with more than 25 seconds on the shot clock. I don't care who you are: that is not a good shot. You can make the case for the occasional semi-contested jacked up three as a decent opportunity that opens up later driving. You cannot for a slightly shorter shot that has about the same chance of going in but provides 33% less reward. Can Hardaway get that anytime he wants? Yes. Try to find something better with the time allotted.
If this results in more turnovers from young Skywalker, so be it. He's shooting 27% from 3—and probably about that from just inside 3—and 58% from two. Either drive to the basket or kick, and take the threes only when they come to you.
He seems to be overreacting to the first half/second half thing and is now shooting everything all the time. His shot% has cracked 30% and is now in the top 100, which is frustrating when a lot of the shots he's adding are low quality and he's got guys like Novak, Morgan and Smotrycz hanging out being deadly when the offense can create a shot for them.
Sanity check on aisle Wisconsin. Like Miami (That Miami) finishing third in offensive FEI, Wisconsin tenaciously clinging to their #2 spot in Kenpom despite a 1-3 Big Ten start is an unfortunate, credibility-sapping outlier. Sometimes these things happen to systems that try to rank teams by taking every possession into relatively equal account. Kenpom's strength of schedule adjustment is overwhelmed when a team beats its tomato cans by 54, 27, 36, 46, 23, 18, 33, and 34 in low-tempo outings. Computers have hearts, too. You can't expect them not to fall in love with that.
Wisconsin also has a narrow road loss to UNC and wins over Kenpom favorites BYU and UNLV, with only a home loss to Marquette a potential blemish before the clunky conference start. That the Badgers are still #2 after a home loss to Iowa and an 18 point blowout to M is a little dismaying; maybe Kenpom can find a way to discount possessions that are obviously scrub vs scrub or something.
UPDATE: Kenpom has a Wisconsin FAQ that seems driven by a lot of twitter @ replies.
The leap. The anticipated Kenpom surge was major: 12 spots—or three full seeding ranks in Pomlandia. Michigan's many indifferent outings against bleah competition saw them enter Big Ten play 52nd.
Let's go, Hoiberg Home for Lost Big Ten Boys. Michigan's meh nonconference schedule features just one win over a probable tourney participant (Memphis; Oakland is 3-4 in the Summit)… or at least it did until Iowa State swept Texas and A&M last week to kick off the Big 12 slate 2-0. The Cyclones also beat Iowa, which isn't a huge deal but does mean they're on a 7-game win streak in the aftermath of their loss in Crisler. Kenpom now projects a .500 conference record for them.
That would probably not get them in since their best nonconference win is against the Hawkeyes and they have losses to Drake and UNI, the other two instate schools. If they can swing an extra game or two their way, they could make it. FWIW, they're already in the top 50 in RPI.
The road ahead. Michigan has two should-win games next against Northwestern and Iowa. Iowa's on the road, though, which makes things touchy. See: recent Michigan trips to Carver-Hawkeye. See also: insane charge/block calls against Hardaway and Novak that cost Michigan the Indiana game.
Anyway, once they get past the next two games they have this daunting gauntlet (all rankings Kenpom):
- #7 Michigan State
- @ #85 Arkansas (annual inexplicable nonconference game)
- @ #29 Purdue
- @ #1 OSU
- #8 Indiana
- @ #7 Michigan State
If they can take care of business over the next week they can come out of that stretch .500 and still have established themselves a tourney lock. The home stretch is much easier: @ Nebraska, two against Illinois, @ Northwestern, @ Penn State, and return games from OSU and Purdue. If they manage to go 2-3 against the above conference opponents they'll be 7-4 in the toughest conference in the country with two gimmes and plenty of other games left to get to the .500 mark that will be auto entry for any B10 team this year.
File under "Phil Knight is an immature wheel of cheese." Since you are not related to someone on West Virginia's football team you did not see the Orange Bowl postgame—or the second half—and thus could not boggle at Nike's latest foray into puns a six-year-old thinks are played out:
I'm just like… man. Man. Democracy is over. When can we be ruled by machines? Is it soon? I hope it's soon.
The mind further reels at the notion that there's another one of these things left and Nike has already used their finest Def Leppard reference. What's left? "SHOW ME YOUR TITTLES" is left. Search your heart. You know it to be true.
BONUS: how about that dynamic offense in Morgantown winning a BCS game? We should hire that Holgorsen chap, I think. What could go wrong?
Just one more time, six more times. Hinton's sworn off shooting the rapidly cooling corpse of the BCS but can't help pointing out that no matter the outcome of the game I probably won't bother to watch, Alabama cannot have a better season than LSU:
With a win in the title game, the Crimson Tide will finish the year 12-1 with two wins over teams ranked in the final polls, none of them from outside of the SEC. With a loss, LSU will finish 13-1 with four or five wins over teams ranked in the final polls (give or take West Virginia [ED: that would be take]), four of them coming outside of Baton Rouge and two of them coming against fellow conference champions (West Virginia and Oregon) who are also playing in BCS bowls. The Tigers and Tide would be be 1-1 against one another, with LSU's win coming at Alabama. LSU will still be the champion of the division and the conference.
In a system that continues to defer to polls and resumés, there is virtually nothing Alabama can do short of ritually sacrificing the Tigers to the sun that can make its season better than LSU's season.
Every game counts except the national title game. Whenever you think the BCS has reached its maximum cockup level, just wait two years. I can't wait to see what 2014 has in store. Possibilities:
- Alabama versus LSU
- LSU versus Alabama
- Alabama versus Alabama
- Alabama versus the entire Pac-12 with assault rifles
- Alabama versus crippling ennui
- The Los Angeles Angels of Alabama versus Giant Catfish
- Tiny Alabama versus Ditka
- The 1996 Olympics' rhythmic gymnastics competition versus the Large Hadron Collider
- Just, like, Harvey Updyke wanking it for three hours
I have Updyke –3 over the Higgs Boson. Elsewhere in controversy needlessly barged into, Jacobi wonders what's to be done about "rogue" AP voters in an article with one of those jarring in-post links to another column. This is from Doyel:
That's settled. AP voters who will not vote for Alabama under any circumstances are to be given a cookie and a certificate vouching for their cognitive abilities. This is essentially Jacobi's conclusion as well.
Flantastic. Darryl Stonum, this is not so good:
Michigan wide receiver Darryl Stonum… was ticketed this morning in Ann Arbor for driving on a revoked license, 15th District Court records show.
Stonum, 21, was stopped by Ann Arbor police after he checked in with probation at 7:03 a.m., said Steve Hill, Stonum's probation officer. Hill said Stonum was not taken into custody.
A probation violation form is being completed, but so far Stonum has not been charged with violating probation.
Reading between the lines it seems like the court is not hugely peeved by this, but thin ice and all that. I don't think this should have an impact on his availability next year as long as he successfully jumps through all his hoops. This probably adds another half-dozen. Stonum needs an understanding brunette to wake up at 6 with him.
Turnover in Madison. Bielema got raided pretty good this month:
Wisconsin lost two assistant coaches Wednesday -- wide receivers coach DelVaughn Alexander and linebackers coach Dave Huxtable -- bringing the total number of departures to four. Huxtable will join former Badgers aides Paul Chryst and Bob Bostad in Pittsburgh as the Panthers' defensive coordinator. Chryst is Pitt's new head coach, while Bostad will serve as his offensive coordinator. Alexander is joining Arizona State's staff.
Bielema initially thought Bostad would be the only assistant joining Chryst at Pitt. It appears as though Huxtable will be the last departure.
It'll be interesting to see how Wisconsin copes. Their offense went from decent to lethal with Chryst's arrival. Losing him is kind of a deal. The hot name right now is Oklahoma "co-OC" Jay Norvell, which sounds like a good idea. Why does Wisconsin consistently have good ideas that no one else in the Big Ten does?
Longhorn fail. A major opportunity for ESPN to strongarm the Longhorn Network onto someone, anyone's cable has come and gone:
Comcast and the Walt Disney Company announced a 10-year, multiplatform distribution deal Wednesday that brings the “TV Everywhere” concept one step closer to reality. The Longhorn Network however, is not a part of the ESPN channels included in the agreement.
I'm rooting for the LHN to be an ignominious failure for many reasons: irritation at Texas for being one of two main parties that screwed up the structure of college football, a desire for the Big Ten's model to remain cromulent, etc. If the LHN doesn't get on cable by this fall it probably won't ever. At least it got a commenter on the above article to call Texas "the Ted DiBiase of college football."
No, not so much. From a Daily article on Molk:
“How we came in and how my first four seasons went, I thought we were the stain on Michigan tradition,” Molk said, walking slowly toward the winner’s podium on the turf. “But the reality is that we came back from everything and we’re back to where Michigan is.”
A big game. Basketball takes on Indiana tonight in Bloomington. Vegas and Kenpom both have them 8 point underdogs against the resurgent Hoosiers, which makes this a gravy outing. Win and that's a major bonus; lose and eh, we're okay.
Rumors be rumoring. There was some recent chatter from the OSU side of the rivalry that moving The Game was inevitable and had a good chance of happening when the new set of schedules came out. Dave Brandon says this is not so:
"That's just Internet rumor that has no factual basis," he said. "It's not going to happen."
Etc.: more postgame react from the Key Play. Getting a bit ornery (justifiably in cases that are not the overturned TD) as the shock fades. Shakin' the Southland reacts to the Orange Bowl fallout. Via On The Banks, a NYT report on Penn State documents unveiled by FOIA requests shows the institutional reaction to the media firestorm. I'm surprised the NYT can manage this since Pennsylvania has somehow exempted Penn State from transparency laws.
Wallpaper from the MZone.