I'VE HAD JUST ABOUT ENOUGH OF YOU SONNY
During the Iowa State - Michigan game on Sunday, I couldn't help but notice how many times the announcers pointed out or made a reference to the ruckus crowd there at Hilton Coliseum. Usually, something like that is just a local reference that announcers lean on, but having seen several Iowa State home games over the last couple years (Oklahoma State and Kansas come to mind), that is a legit great crowd that is loud, engaged, and a total game changer. It affected Michigan, especially the noise level in the last 8:00 of game time.
Looking across the country, there are some great environments to play in. San Deigo State, UNLV, Iowa State, and New Mexico's stadiums have become known has such tough places to come into and play. Looking even at the Big Ten, Michigan State with the Izzone (as we saw against Columbia), Ohio State, Wisconsin in the Khol Center, even Minnesota, and of course; IU and Assembly Hall are all atmospheres that affect the quality of play, and have a psychological affect on their opponents. Even Bradley, a MVC team, had a crazy atmosphere. In all games played at these courts, and others (Duke, Kansas, etc), the announcers always mention several times how crazy the atmosphere is.
I have never once heard anyone say the same about Michigan. It can be described as "loud", but never in the sense that I have ever seen it visibly affect a good opponent (Shot clock games with EMU don’t count). Now, the Maize Rage does a great job (love the Canadian flag for Stauskas), but what steps does Crisler have to take in order for it to be considered a feared environment in College Basketball, or even in the Big Ten? I can think of student section size and location, as well as arena design as possible reasons, but what is stopping Michigan from becoming one of the feared courts of basketball, or, at least to the point where we can affect and visibly rattle an opponent like ISU did to us on Sunday?
With all the success the Michigan women's basketball program has had on the recruiting trail, one thing that's eluded them is a true post player. In fact, one recruiting service characterized the 2014 class as consisting of a 1, 2, 3, and 4. Well they've now added a 5 to that class: Terra Stapleton, a 6-4 center who attends Fairland H.S. in Proctorville, Ohio (located in the southeastern part of the state, near Huntington, West Virginia). She plays AAU ball for the West Virginia Thunder. She committed to Michigan today and will sign an NLI before the end of the early signing period on Wednesday.
Stapleton had committed to Minnesota in October 2012 but reopened her recruitment just within the last couple of weeks, reportedly because she wanted to attend a school closer to home.
Here's a Blue Star scouting report from a January 2013 event rundown:
Another member on Ohio’s ultra-deep 2014 class is this early University of Minnesota commit. The 6-4 post came in averaging a double-double and stepped up with another in the form of 13 points and 11 rebounds in Fairland’s 13 point win over Clinton Massie. Stapleton is deceivingly mobile for her size and frame plus shows a willingness to work for the ball aggressively block to block. Her size and strength are something she could exploit more around the rim and will no doubt be an asset for her at the next level. There’s already plenty of production but lots more potential for her to tap into.
As is often the case, the rankings on Stapleton vary widely: ASGR has her #332 in country, calling her a "strong, true low post player who can score and pass," while espnW has her as a three star and the #16 post nationally, which would place her just outside their top 100. espnW's brief eval is: "Low-block performer with size defends, alters shots; rebounds and initiates fast break; developing consistency on faceup game to the arc; average mobility in transition." Prospects Nation also has her as an unranked three star.
With Stapleton's commitment, Michigan is out of scholarships for 2014, barring any future attrition*. The staff is also left with just one open spot for 2015. With three commits so far for 2015, none of whom are post players, they may still look to secure a commitment from a center in that class. Among the players Michigan has targeted are 6-2 Batouly Camara (NJ), 6-6 Theresa Ekhelar (NJ), 6-4 Hallie Thome (OH), and 6-2 Jonell Williams (FL)—all highly rated prospects. Thome has been on campus multiple times; Williams took an unofficial visit in October and a Michigan coach recently trekked down to Palatka, Fla., to attend the first game of Williams's high school basketball season.
But there are a number of other top prospects they're also after who aren't centers, including two in-state players from 2015 who I've mentioned in previous threads: guards Kalabrya Gondrezick (Benton Harbor) and Cierra Rice (Grosse Pointe South). Michigan was also recently included in the final 11 of 5-9 guard Arike Ogunbowale, a 5-star, top-10 prospect out of Milwaukee. Her other finalists are Connecticut, Duke, DePaul, Louisville, Marquette, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Stanford, UCLA, and Wisconsin.
*Note that this is based on Val Driscoll coming back for a fifth season. She's listed as a senior on the Michigan roster but has another year of eligibility left after having sat out last season with a torn ACL. I'm not going to just assume she won't get a fith year on the basis of how she's listed on the roster, however.
Tough road loss.
+ Got Experience
+ Looked good in spurts
- Interior defense
...not a bad loss in the grand scheme of things. Just hate to lose games that you feel should've won. That said, it was a tough loss...McGary's first game, and we did look good in spurts. Everyone is going to complain about the refs, and rightfully so. But we didn't play perfect.
I thought our subs were awful, we never went to "2 bigs" and ISU DOMINATED us on the boards and in the post.
Mitch McGary is believed to be playing this weekend against Iowa State.
EDIT 2:43 PM: A few people have pointed out that I posted too much paywalled info, and after secondary consideration I agree. I should have done a quick paraphrase and left it at that. The copy/paste was certainly too much.
Obviously he wouldn't be 100%, but I think even an 80-85% Mitch for 20 minutes would be a large boost to Michigan's chances on Sunday at Hilton Coliseum.