"The University of Illinois is also in turmoil. The university sports an Interim Chancellor, an Interim Athletic Director, and an Interim Football Coach; the game will be played at Soldier Field, making this an Illini Interim Home Game."
Aubrey Dawkins: still bouncy
In the regular-season opener, Michigan made easy work of D-II Northern Michigan, taking a ten-point lead into halftime before blowing the game wide open in the second half. Since a traditional recap would still read "blowout" and not much else, I'll go with another list of observations.
While the competition remained easy, we learned a little more about the likely rotation in this one. Michigan started the same group as they did against Le Moyne: Derrick Walton, Caris LeVert, Aubrey Dawkins, Kam Chatman, and Mark Donnal. While Donnal got the start, however, he played fewer minutes (10) than Ricky Doyle (15), and DJ Wilson saw his first live action at the five.
To keep it simple, Donnal looked like Donnal, Doyle looked like Doyle, and Wilson looked viable in the middle—arguably more comfortable there than at the four, where he also saw extensive minutes. Wilson's athleticism made it easy for him to hedge on screens and get back on his man, he's got a rudimentary but functional post game, and he passed well from the top of the—he tallied three assists and only a foul on Dawkins at the hoop prevented a fourth.
If tonight was any indication, I think Wilson has a great shot at being the backup five before too long.
Moritz Wagner will not redshirt this year. He checked in with around six minutes to play. He looks to be behind Donnal, Doyle, and Wilson in the pecking order at center, but this is clearly a move being made with an eye on the end of the season. While Wagner looked lost at times out there and struggled with his post defense, his potential was apparent—his length contributed to a tip-in for his first career points and a late three-point attempt barely rimmed out. He probably won't play much early in the season, but I wouldn't be shocked if he developed into a contributor for the stretch run.
Aubrey Dawkins bounced back from an underwhelming game against Le Moyne with an impressive, efficient outing: 15 points on 6/7 shots, six rebounds, two assists, a steal, and three dunks, including the insane tip-slam at the top of this post and this alley-oop finish from Walton:
Not only did Dawkins hit 2/3 triples and use his cutting ability to create easy points like he did as a freshman, he also showed off a new wrinkle, hitting a one-handed floater off the dribble at the free-throw line in the first half. He's still a work-in-progress on defense, especially when it comes to fighting through screens, but there's no questioning his ability on the other end.
Duncan Robinson, meanwhile, came back to earth, missing his only shot attempt—which Dawkins would finish with authority—and getting pulled in the second half for missing defensive assignments. He played both the three and the four and was active on the glass, but he'll need to get better with his rotations or he'll max out at the 15 minutes he got tonight.
Caris LeVert and Derrick Walton: still good! LeVert had the superior game tonight, posting a stat line of 18-4-5 on 7/12 shooting with two steals. The offense mostly ran through him when he was on the floor; he had three consecutive assists during one second-half stretch, and he seems to be looking for the dish a little more.
While Walton had a quiet game statistically—four points on four shots, one assist, one steal—he was the primary driver of Michigan's 14 transition points; when he's on the floor, the Wolverines are looking to run, and with their athleticism on the wings (and at center when Wilson is there) that's a good plan. Walton had some hockey assists that don't show up in the box score. I'd like to see him be more assertive in halfcourt sets but with LeVert taking on a big role as a passer/ballhandler that's a minor gripe.
- Chatman looked more comfortable out there. His six points on seven shots isn't great, but he had two layups off sharp backdoor cuts, pulled down four boards, and used his length to affect passing lanes against an undersized NMU squad.
- Spike is a little limited but that didn't stop him from jumping passing lanes—scoring a reverse layup off one steal—and passing out three dimes. He got to the hoop more than you'd expect, too, though that probably has a lot to do with the competition.
- Rahkman still has a place in the rotation. He played 14 minutes, knocked down a corner three, and had a nice lefty finish on a hard drive to the hoop. While his shot is still coming along (2/5 FG), he remains one of the best on the team at attacking the rim.
Hey basketball's on tonight. Like, real basketball that counts. Our draft also counts: whoever wins gets to be the MGoBlogger who feels smarter than the rest of us. Because Brian and Alex squabbled over point guards in the first round, Denzel Valentine slipped to Ace. Because we had a run on power forwards in the 3rd/4th rounds, Zak Irvin and James Blackmon fell to Ace.
Can he deliver the coup de grace, or does that require, you know, forwards? Also: who are the best/most overlooked basketball players Michigan will have to face in conference this year? Find out in the thrilling penultimate 'geddon of this year's basketball season.
As things stand:
Alex is on the clock.
ALEX: Round 5, Pick 2: Jarrod Uthoff, Wing, Iowa
TEAM: PG: Bronson Koenig (UW), SG: Caris LeVert (UM), SF: Jarrod Uthoff (IA), PF: Malcolm Hill (IL), C: Thomas Bryant (Ind)
A year ago, Iowa won 22 games, finished tied for third in the conference, and advanced to the Round of 32 in the NCAA Tournament. Aaron White, the underrated and versatile 3 /4 wing, has graduated; almost everyone else is back (save for Gabe Olaseni)—Adam Woodbury, Mike Gesell, and Anthony Clemmons.
The best of the group is senior wing Jarrod Uthoff. He's 6'9 (and with that size, posts a nice block rate of 6.2) and had a shooting split of 47% / 37% / 74% last season. He might not be able to transition to being the leading scorer because of a possible lack of 2nd scoring options on offense. Still, he'd be a good fit as part of my drafteggedon team -- Uthoff can space the floor and score enough to carry a team for prolonged stretches.
[Hit the JUMP if you dare. Or care]
More of this, please.
The hoops preview continues with a look at Michigan's wings, which will be split into two parts because the Wolverines legitimately have eight wing-ish types who could conceivably see the floor this year. Today's post focuses on the three wings expected to slot into the starting lineup: Caris LeVert, Aubrey Dawkins, and Zak Irvin. While this trio has its question marks, they also have the potential to be one of the most dangerous starting groups in the country.
Measurables: 6'7", 205
Base Stats: 35.8 MPG, 14.9 PPG, 43/38/82 2P/3P/FT%, 4.9 RPG, 67 assists, 39 turnovers
Key Advanced Metrics: 25.9% usage, 101.1 ORating, 22.9 assist rate, 3.4 steal %
Caris LeVert passed up the chance to go pro for one last season at Michigan, and in doing so he has the chance to establish himself as a borderline lottery pick if all goes well.
Unlike with Derrick Walton, whose injury struck so early in the season that it's easy—and correct—to blame it for his struggles before he shut it down entirely, LeVert wasn't the All-American candidate many expected he'd become before his broken foot cost him the majority of Big Ten season. Instead we saw LeVert struggle to balance becoming the number one option with playing within John Beilein's offense; while he had less help than Trey Burke and Nik Stauskas before him, LeVert's herky-jerky drives to the hoop often caused the offense to grind to a halt.
[Hit THE JUMP.]
Jay Paterno and saying things: a terrible combination. On this day we remember the Salem Witch Trials on twitter.
Despite years passing-many recent events remind us that in many ways human nature is little changed from the time of the Salem Witch Trials
— Jay Paterno (@JayPaterno) September 22, 2015
This is the reason the reaction gif was invented. There is no combination of words that can adequately express the feeling reading this tweet produced in me. The Germans probably have a word for a paralyzing combination of horror and laughter induced by a stunningly wrong decision or statement.
/scans German dictionary
So this tweet filled me with klinsmann.
BONUS: hoo boy if you like terrible things, the tweet thread is your jam.
I am filled with klinsmann by this tweet as well. The Colts are in play!
Is there a dollar figure for which Jim Harbaugh would leave Michigan for the Colts after one year, and would Jim Irsay offer it?
— ProFootballTalk (@ProFootballTalk) September 22, 2015
This offseason is going to be awesome as every NFL reporter insists Jim Harbaugh is a candidate for every open job in the league. Harbaugh for the Colts. Harbaugh for the Lions. Harbaugh for league president. Harbaugh for assistant Ravens janitor.
Harbaugh might leave someday, but only after he's done something that allows him to do so saying he's done his job. And after his experience with San Francisco's little Napoleon my bet is he picks the place where he's the most important crazy person around.
Just Dayton and Michigan. Kyle Flood might coach most of college basketball.
The Harbump. Via Brendan Quinn:
According to the most up-to-date numbers provided to MLive by Dunn, Michigan's overall season ticket sales have risen from 79,014 in 2014 to 89,614 in 2015, a difference of 10,600 seats.
A big chunk of that comes from 7k extra students, which is pretty amazing. That section is 60% larger than it was a year ago. I wonder what it would have looked like without the drastic changes wrought by the Glorious Revolution. Hint: bad.
There was a chunk of complaining about student attendance against UNLV, but to me it looked pretty full after kickoff. Students tend to cram down; you didn't see the empty pockets in other sections solely because other folks spread out when given the room to do so.
A problem that 'Bama wants to address. It's no surprise that Alabama fans are peeved about ineligible men downfield in the aftermath of the Ole Miss game. I share that peevishness. Despite the fact that illegal men downfield is a "point of emphasis" this year, the biggest game of the early season sees a flagrant example of it go uncalled.
You get three yards in college but just one in the NFL, and you'll never guess the one weird trick RBR would like to impose on college football:
Personally, I think this rule change should be revisited. College offenses already have more latitude than their NFL counterparts on passes thrown behind the line of scrimmage - in college, linemen may drift as far as they like on the snap in these situations, while in the NFL they must stay within their one-yard window until the pass is released - so the only real effect of the rule change would be to require the pass to be delivered in the backfield. This makes sense, as the linebackers are given a fighting chance to rally to the football after it is caught and prevent a big gain. Assuming that such a rule change is a non-starter, and that better enforcement is the goal, the best solution would be to somehow incorporate instant replay.
I would like to see what the game looks like with an effectively implemented three-yard rule first. But since that seems impossible it might be better to do away with the rule altogether and just call offensive pass interference on any lineman who hits or impedes anyone other than a defensive lineman on a pass play beyond the line of scrimmage. That might be more enforceable—and the penalty would be much stiffer.
(A side note: do not title your post that is intended to be serious "A Modest Proposal.")
He was tranquilized shortly thereafter. Nik Stauskas wandered onto a local news set.
— Jennifer Mota (@motajen) September 22, 2015
A Canadian one, I'm guessing.
Ibi Watson video. He can dunk.
Rutgers. I hate it when stupid things happen during the season because I can't write one act plays about them. The Kyle Flood thing is magnificently stupid. I'd rather look at football, but barely. If this happened in the offseason… well it probably still would have gotten drowned out by all the Harbaugh stuff, but I would have gotten around to it quicker.
Anyway. EDSBS surveys the wreckage and pulls out the nine dumbest things about the grade pressure scandal:
1. Kyle Flood Wants You To Know He's Breaking The Rules On Purpose
When Kyle Flood first reached out to this unnamed professor, he did so from his personal email account. It was entirely possible that he did so on accident, perhaps sending the email from his phone without realizing which account it was coming from. Of course, it was also possible he did so to purposefully avoid New Jersey's Open Public Records Act.
Great news! Now we don't have to wonder which one it was. This is one of the dumbest things I've ever seen committed to a permanent electronic record. It's like leaving a knife in your carry on bag at the airport with a note that says "LOL I KNOW THIS ISN'T COOL BUT WHATEVER."
That is not even the worst one.
On the bright side, Flood is much better at hiding his inner Tim Beckman than Tim Beckman. You would never know Flood is barely capable of dressing himself based on his press conferences.
Are Rutgers blogs considering who their new coach should be yet?
Oh, well done. On The Banks is the most competent thing about Rutgers athletics by some distance.
This is blunt. Utah basketball coach Larry Krystkowiak gave some sort of lecture recently; in it he broke the omerta surrounding basketball recruiting:
"Did you know," Larry Krystkowiak asked in his Montana drawl, leaning over his lectern, "that there's a lot of cheating in college basketball?"
His earnest delivery prompted some chuckles among the audience of roughly 40 people. But Utah's men's basketball coach wasn't going to leave it hanging without telling a story. He asked two compliance officials if he could venture on.
The tale: He was once recruiting a top-level player, and the player (or his representatives) called Krystkowiak in the middle of the night. They told Krystkowiak the recruit's transcript would cost the Utes $50,000, and "it'll probably cost you $50,000 more to sign him."
Follow the recruits and you'll find the money. Again, all Michigan fans should be in favor of the NCAA paying players outright. Michigan has piles of money. They do not use it in this way.
BYU's walking wounded. BYU NT Travis Tuiloma is a big deal for the Cougars, and he went down in the same game Taysom Hill did. At the time he was expected to be out 4-6 weeks, but Bronco Mendenhall is making noises like he may be available this weekend:
Nose tackle Travis Tuiloma (knee) is also questionable for the Michigan game, a development that didn't seem likely when doctors said he'd be out 4-6 weeks after the Nebraska game.
"This will be a great week [for Tuiloma to come back] because we will see power [runs] about 5,000 times," Mendenhall said, having previously noted that the Wolverines under new coach Jim Harbaugh look like Stanford when Harbaugh was there.
That would be literally and metaphorically huge for BYU. Tuiloma is going to be in the NFL next year and they run a 3-4; he's the centerpiece of their D.
Etc.: Bo's steakhouse was a thing. Ian Bunting profiled. Falk on Harbaugh. We'll have an excerpt of his new book during the bye week, BTW. Jon Baxter with the fire tweet. Harbaugh wants to meet the pope. Leonard Fournette is living Bowser. Film Focus. Guards doing better.
Hello Hibbitts. Brent Hibbitts did decide to sign on with Michigan as a preferred walk-on over various MAC and other mid-major offers. This is more notable than most other walk-on acquisitions because Hibbits has intriguing size—he's 6'8"—and had a high level of interest from D-I programs. His skill set also fits in with Michigan:
Hibbitts averaged 17.4 points and 11.5 rebounds per game as a senior at Hudsonville last season, earning Associated Press Class A All-State honorable mention status and leading the Eagles to a district championship.
"He has a really nice skill set," Hudsonville coach Eric Elliott told MLive last Wednesday. "He can handle the ball, is a great passer with court vision and has a nice shooting touch. Interested schools see him as a stretch four. That's his ideal position."
There's a lot of competition at that spot presently, but give Hibbitts some time and there's a nonzero chance he's a contributor late in his career. I mean, we all know where the Stain Train started.
Weirder things have happened.
This is about to change. It already has with Dennis Norfleet's exit, in fact. It is a breakdown of attrition in the Big Ten:
That is spectacular on Michigan's part. The 2011 class rivaled 2010 in flameouts, and then virtually nobody left for three years. There's about to be a major uptick, but at least Michigan retained the bulk of their prospects before the inevitable attrition that comes with a coaching turnover.
Iowa is pretty salty about what's going on there BTW:
In all of the non-Iowa seasons in which a program lost 10 or more players -- 2011 Michigan, Ohio State and Rutgers -- a coach had left, with the new coach either cleaning house (Meyer, Hoke/Harbaugh) or failing to keep the last coach's guys (Flood). Iowa, of course, has no such impetus for big attrition.
That is especially galling when Wisconsin and Michigan State are quality redshirt-and-develop programs with recruiting approximately on Iowa's level. It seems impossible that Ferentz will get Iowa back to even B+ football before his buyout reaches plausibility.
DAYTON. ONLY DAYTON. I mean.
If Hibbitts had been offered by Dayton he would have gotten a full hello post, I think.
Overseas options hit hockey. I don't think this is going to be a trend since 18-year-olds can just go play in the NHL if they're that good, but uber-prospect Auston Matthews is at least considering the option of spending next year in Switzerland:
The Everett Silvertips of the Western Hockey League hold his junior rights after selecting him in the third round of the 2012 bantam draft. A report from Switzerland’s Blick News Service on Sunday said Matthews had signed a contract to play for the Zurich Lions in the Swiss A League.
He denied that report, but said he was keeping all options—including the A League—open. It was doubtful Matthews was going to sign on with Michigan, and more doubtful after the Copp stuff broke. It would have been fun to see him in college anyway.
HATIN' ASS MICHIGAN SPURRIER. The fruits of your labors, ladies and gentlemen:
Notre Dame players hit that "Play Like A Champion Today" sign, and dang if they don't look like a ten dollar sweatshirt you got in 1993.
Don't think Michigan fans should be torn up about the Notre Dame rivalry ending. If they want to play a religious school that goes .500 against USC, Boston College is free.
Rudy and The Lego Movie are basically the same story, except nobody pretends The Lego Movie is a documentary.
Bielfeldt is on the move. Any remaining hopes that Michigan might hang on to Max Bielfeldt are now gone, and it is definitely the coaching staff's choosing.
"I did tell the coaches that I did want to come back to Michigan," Bielfeldt said. "But at the end of the day things didn't work out and we both decided to move on."
Bielfedlt added, "I told (coaches) that I wanted to stay (and) Michigan was my first choice but as time went on I had to explore other options."
That is odd since it doesn't look like they are going to fill their 13th spot this year. I am more enthused about Ricky Doyle than most people but even I think Bielfeldt is a backup plan worth having when you have major questions about the guys behind him.
Etc.: Sierra Romero is ESPNW's softballist of the year. The Longhorn Network is a disaster. Jay Mariotti still has Jay Mariotti opinions. Rudock profiled. Remember this site calling the pursuit of Jim Harbaugh the "Harbaugh Hail Mary?" Here's a Harbaugh Hail Mary. On the shoe wars. Exposure U details.
I thought I'd revisit the basketball roster now that it seems set. We covered similar ground in the Always Next Year post on the team, but now that the Minutes Crunch™ is official, let's look at how things might shake out.
Starter: Derrick Walton (Jr.)
Backups: Spike Albrecht (Sr.), Muhammad Ali Abdur-Rahkman (So.)
Albrecht's hips and Walton's foot are lingering issues hovering over this spot. Derrick Walton was shut down in January and should be back from just about anything by November. His issues massively blunted his effectiveness. Walton went from a 45/41 percent shooter to 32/34. It's never good when a shooting line forces me to remind readers that the first one is twos and the second is threes.
Just about every part of Walton's statistical profile was static or regressed save his reliably mansome defensive rebounding; how much of that was the injury? How much was disorientation in an environment far more focused on his output? How much was just flat-out poor play?
We're hoping the answers to those questions are "lots," "some," and "not too much considering." Michigan and LaVall Jordan's point guard track record should mean that is close to the truth.
Still, the version of Derrick Walton Michigan gets is a major question mark for the season. Point guards have universally played above expectations since Darius Morris's freshman year. I just don't know what expectations are for Walton anymore.
Meanwhile, Spike Albrecht's presence would have certainly mitigated any downside here if he wasn't in the midst of dual hip surgeries. Instead he just probably mitigates any downside. The media has been told that he should be back in five or six months, no problem, but there are whispers he might be forced to redshirt. Albrecht was low usage and could not sustain his ludicrously low TO rates when forced into extensive action; he also led the post-LeVert team in assist rate by a huge margin and maintained shooting efficiency in a more difficult environment.
Spike was a major reason Michigan managed to remain competitive without Walton and Irvin. In the twelve games Michigan played without those two stars, Spike scored in double digits nine times, shot 45/43%, and had a stellar 60:19 assist:TO ratio. Even before the injuries Michigan was leaning on him heavily for minutes until the freshmen were somewhat more prepared. A senior reprise would have been most excellent. Is that still possible?
If not, MAAR steps into the breach. There are worse backup plans to your backup plans than a guy who put up 18 at Michigan State as a freshman and harassed DeAngelo Russell into an awful game. MAAR needs to work on his deep shooting (29% on fewer than two threes a game) and passing, but Michigan hasn't had a guy who can get to the basket like him since Trey. A bit more on him in the next section.
Minute projection: Fuzzy with injury issues. Call it Walton 25, Albrecht 15.
[After the JUMP: Caris, Dawkins, and the cavalry behind.]