landing spot. will be interesting to see how he does.
Hello. Ace is on vacation, so I take over recruitin' for the week.
Let's start with basketball, because things are happening(!)
Huff and Dawkins will decide within a month
The departure of Mitch McGary leaves Michigan with two scholarship yet to give in this recruiting class and Michigan seems determined to give them, what with someone blowing up into a lottery pick every year. Unusually for spring-term basketball recruiting, when things like "Michigan got a commitment from Spike who?" occur, the picture here is crystal clear.
Option 1A: CA/NH SF Aubrey Dawkins took his visit to Dayton and came back asserting that he was done taking visits($) and that he'd have a decision between the Flyers and M within a week. No offense to Dayton, but this quote seems to favor Michigan:
"It’ll really be academics… which is better from that standpoint? Which degree carries more weight?”
Some guys talk about academics and they mean having a support system that will guide them through; Dawkins talking about prestige seems like a good indicator for Michigan and its shiny rankings. Dawkins also dropped a quote about being "pleasantly surprised($)" by his visit to Dayton, which is a backhanded compliment that gives you an idea of where his mind was going into that trip. Dawkins did give a different decision criteria to the Dayton site:
"The most important thing I'm looking for is opportunity and how I can come in and contribute. Not necessarily start, but carving out a role on the team."
If Michigan can convince Dawkins of that they'll probably land him. With just fellow sleeper freshman-to-be Muhammad Ali Abdur-Rahkman slated to back up the SF/SG spots, it seems likely they'll be able to do so.
Option 1B: Nevada SF/PF transfer Cole Huff set three visits before the McGary news, all to schools in the Midwest, and then added Michigan once their spot was definitively open. He was at Creighton yesterday, Iowa next week, and Dayton the week after. The chatter coming from Huff's camp (ie, his AAU coach Clint Parks) is positive for Michigan, to the point that quotes like this are showing up in newspapers:
“As far as Cole goes, it’s Michigan,” Parks said. “And when a school like Michigan calls…”
And that was before Huff was certain he had an offer. He is now. Huff would be a terrific add, already the top pick and pop guy in the country(!) as a sophomore coming off a year of weights and Beilein coachin'.
That would fill Michigan's scholarship allotment for the first time in a while with no seniors last year. Don't be alarmed, though. Even if Michigan does get both Huff and Dawkins they'll likely have room next year to chase the Brunsons and Colemans of the world. Michigan may not exercise their option of giving Max Bielfeldt a fifth year, Austin Hatch may end up on medical scholarship, and if LeVert continues on his current trajectory he'll be pirated away by the NBA—especially if the NBA moves to a 20-year-old minimum. The median expectation for scholarships to give next year seems to be 3, plus or minus a LeVert or Irvin or Walton.
If Michigan misses on one of the two gentlemen above, the spectacularly-named Igor Ibaka is a name that's been bandied about after announcers at older brother Serge's NBA game said he was gathering Michigan interest. Igor, a 6'9" PF currently at a JUCO as he adapts to life in the US, does not appear to be a serious target at the moment.
Nothing much is happening with 2015s, as is basketball recruiting's wont, so after the spring period resolves itself the next major event will be Michigan's annual June 15th offer spree to 2016s.
Offer watch at QB?
MI QB Alex Malzone is threw for for Nussmeier($) this week and should get clarity as to where he sits on Michigan's list. WOTS is that things went well:
I'm hearing that @alexmalzone KILLED it in his throwing session this morning! Crisp, accurate... very few balls hit the ground
— Sam Webb (@SamWebb77) April 28, 2014
If Michigan does offer it sounds like Malzone is likely to drop soon thereafter.
Most valuable hooray, not on lists boo
Kinnel got a Prestigious Invite this weekend
OH S Tyree Kinnel is one of the least touted defensive backs to commit to Michigan over the past couple years, and that's a good thing. Kinnel's a four star most places and will at least be holding his spot on Rivals after he was named the DB MVP($) of their most recent camp:
Kinnel's play during one-on-ones sealed the deal. He was very physical with the wide receivers and had very good instincts. Kinnel wasn't tricked by head fakes and knew when to sit on a route. He bumped many receivers off their route in the open field and was deceptively explosive when breaking on the ball.
Kinnel got an invite to their Five Star Challenge thing and will get an opportunity to move up. That was a Rivals-exclusive event FWIW, so don't expect anyone else to react.
Also of note from that camp are LBs Brendan Ferns and Darrin Kirkland. Ferns (Yes That Ferns) is Michigan freshman Michael's younger brother and despite being a 2016 he drew mention as a guy to watch, as he's already a little bigger than his brother and "moved very well in space." Ferns recently picked up offers from Minnesota and WVU to go with a Virginia one that kicked things off. Michigan is still evaluating.
Kirkland, meanwhile, has a Michigan offer and there was a window in which chatter had him strongly considering becoming member of the class. That should cease, as Kirkland's moving his commitment date back from May 30th to August after Texas and Nebraska offers and Michigan does not seem super high on his list at the moment:
Kirkland is prepared to narrow his list of offers to a top eight on Sunday. He previewed that list by naming Ole Miss and Tennessee as two schools who were strong contenders to make the cut. He has visited both programs, traveling to Ole Miss within the last month.
Kirkland did tell Brandon that Michigan would be in that top eight a couple weeks ago.
Also in guys getting diverted from Michigan, PA OL Sterling Jenkins reconfirmed his final two of OSU and PSU.
We are on this list at least
"I think the Michigan one went better than the Ohio State one to be honest. I felt a little more comfortable with the players at Michigan. Both Coach Hoke and Coach Meyer have a good idea of what they want to do at the tight end position. I think I would say that Michigan is the favorite right now though."
Post-visit glow is always something to be cautious of; in this case a guy coming off an OSU visit who still says he likes M better is probably meaningful. Clark's next stop is a June visit to MSU. Unfortunately, these days you can't just go "lol out of state recruit visiting State." See above.
FWIW, Clark's high school, Avon Old Farms, sent Mike Cox to Michigan.
That seems less than good
MN DE Jashon Cornell took a visit to Michigan State's spring game. Before he said there was a possibility he would swing by Michigan afterwards; he apparently did not. And the aftermath:
Five-star DE Jashon Cornell says Michigan State is his No. 1 school after his visit today
— Tom VanHaaren (@TomVH) April 26, 2014
Whether or not that stands up, that's a new spot for MSU to be for a big time recruit who doesn't live in Michigan. It spurred a number of 247 crystal ball folks to flip their prediction to the Spartans, including the creepily accurate Steve Wiltfong. Cornell plans a decision in August, so time is running out and officials will not make an impact. Your "guhhhhh" quote of the day:
“I noticed that defense is all world and I see myself playing in that defense in the future,” Cornell said.
MSU's recruiting profit from having 40k at Spartan Stadium for an actual game instead of a desultory 10k for 90 minutes of punting and 45 minutes of disjointed scrimmage is right there. Winning the Rose Bowl probably helps, yeah.
But not all is lost at DE
NC DE Darian Roseboro, a four-star on the fringe of the top 100 in the 247 composite, just finished a four-day(!) visit to Michigan. Articles are still pending; as a preview Sam Webb dropped a quote from Roseboro's dad in a message board post entitled($)
"The frontrunner for Roseboro?"
The answers to these questions are generally "yes"; Webb further asserted on WTKA that Michigan was now in "pole position" for Roseboro. FWIW, he's been predicted to NC State by the three people who have ventured a guess on the Crystal Ball.
A dance to the death with James Franklin
NJ OL Grant Newsome isn't announcing a top list, but it appears that Michigan and Penn State are well out in front for him. He's visited both campuses, plans to decide in late June, and wants to visit M and PSU again before that:
The four-star said he wants to see the full package at Penn State and let his mother see the campus at Michigan since she couldn’t make it when he visited this spring. Newsome said he wants to decide in late June after visiting the Lions and Wolverines in late May or early June, adding he does not plan to announce a top group prior to deciding.
Newsome also mentions M and PSU most prominently in a 247 article, with secondary mention to OSU, Alabama, and LSU.
Etc.: Further good feelings about FL WR Auden Tate from 247; if he visits sounds like it's time for a commit watch. VA DE Clelin Ferrell has Michigan in his top 10-ish($), but comment chatter from guys vouched for by 247 makes it sound like VT is the proverbial lock. Michigan offers 2016 DC OL Jauan Williams, whose only experience on a college campus is at Maryland. Wide open? The widest. They've also offered 2016 GA OL Ben Cleveland.
ludicrous photo illustration of Donnal via the Blade.
I'm trying as hard as I can to not go on a rage bender, so let's just move on to the implications for next year's basketball team. They are not good, obviously, but it is also not the end of the world. John Beilein won a Big Ten title with a 6'4" starting power forward; Michigan will live.
Jon Horford's ever-more inexplicable decision to exit as buckets of playing time beckon leaves Michigan with the following options for tall rebounding folks:
- Mark Donnal. Freshman coming off a redshirt; reputed to be highly skilled perimeter big who certainly could play the 4 in a Beilein offense but now slides down to the five. Has a back-to-the-basket game, not that such things are at all relevant in Ann Arbor. Can be a Pittsnogle pick and pop guy; defense questionable. Supposed to be a below the rim type, though Camp Sanderson has endeavored to change that.
- Ricky Doyle. Gangly three-star freshman out of Florida now standing next to Bacari Alexander in an effort to demonstrate that he's a legit 6'10", Doyle has a decent face up game and is reputed to be your standard hard-working blue-collar rebounder. Freshman bigs, though, are not fifth year senior bigs.
- Max Bielfeldt. If only Bielfeldt's body was as large as his calves. Since they're not, the 6'6"-ish Bielfeldt just gets swallowed by actual posts. The first half of the Big Ten Championship game is the most recent example. Will have a role off the bench against certain matchups.
- Random fifth year guy. Nobody on the radar and Michigan's contingency plan in the event of a McGary exit appears to be Cole Huff, who won't be eligible next year if he does end up transferring in and wouldn't be a post even if he got a waiver.
- Random freshman. See previous bullet: Michigan's late offers have been focused on the wing. If Dawkins or Huff does turn Michigan down they would have a spot to go fishing with. Finding someone this late who is both a fit and able to play basketball is doubtful.
So Michigan's going to have to roll with what they've got, it seems: a 6'9" redshirt freshman and a 6'10" freshman plus Max Bielfeldt.
What about the four?
Irvin is not an ideal option at the 4. [Fuller]
Any thought Donnal would spend significant minutes at the 4 is out the window. Michigan's options there:
- Zak Irvin. Irvin saw the occasional stretch at the four a year ago, always when Robinson was on the bench. It seems doubtful Irvin can provide anything more than a few minutes here and there against a decent matchup, as he's far more wing-shaped than Robinson. His DREB rate was the lowest on the team, yes behind even Spike. That's partially roles and whatnot; I think it's also Zak Irvin not being much of a rebounder. Even a Hardaway-like move there does not make him the best option, which means Michigan's in a different place than they were a few years ago. Also, Irvin is going to be needed at the 3 for about 30 minutes a game.
- Kam Chatman. Chatman measured in at 6'8" at the most recent camo basketball all star debacle, so he'd actually be an improvement over Robinson in the height department despite being widely regarded as a wing player. At around 200 pounds that's understandable. Chatman would probably get beat up worse than Robinson did as a freshman, as he's taller and skinnier—going to be a lot of times he gets shoved under the basket when rebound time kicks in.
- DJ Wilson. Chatman's fellow freshman is the truest stretch four Beilein's brought in during his time at Michigan. Depending on who you listen to and what time they scribbled his weight down, Wilson's either the same 200 pounds Chatman is or a skinny-but-survivable 215 at 6'8" or 6'9". Wilson finally had a healthy high school season and used that to shoot up almost fifty spots in the Rivals rankings.
- Guy who looks suspiciously like Zack Novak wearing a fake beard and stovepipe hat. It could happen.
That seems super young
Yep. For the third straight year, Michigan projects to be one of the youngest teams in the country, with a frontcourt that is handing probably 70 of its 80 minutes to freshmen, has no seniors, and will have only one starter who's even a junior. That junior is almost as young as you can be and still be a junior. Kentucky might be older. For real.
This is not necessarily doom. The last two years Michigan has been 342nd and 330th in Kenpom's experience stat*. This did not matter much: no team in the country collected more NCAA tournament wins than Michigan whilst they were idling at the bottom of the table there.
It is something different to have freshman bigs who are not Mitch McGary, though. Bigs are long-term projects best eased into serious time lest they be overrun. Michigan can and will survive—I see Jane is tweeting out modified Forgot About Dre lyrics, which I second. "Surviving" is not what they did the last couple years, though, and we're probably in for a comedown from the highs of the last couple years.
*[Which is just an average of FR/SO/JR/SR weighted by playing time, so that a senior who plays five minutes a game doesn't throw you all out of whack.]
But I didn't want this to happen
Hey, at least the staggering hypocrisy of the NCAA chasing dudes out of school for an infraction that the legal system treats like whatever dude has a really good rationale behind it.
"Whereas the CSMAS rightly focused on the fact that marijuana and other street drugs are not performance enhancing, the committee also recognizes that the universe of sport is special, and the student-athlete is obliged to embrace the spirit of sport."
I'ma go build a lego Mark Emmert so I can hurl it off a building.
Familiar music. Michigan replay promo, 1983.
Via Wolverine Historian, of course. Also: the 1983 Washington State game.
JMFJ. Jack Johnson is a fascinating NHL player, because stats hate him. There's a thing called Corsi that is basically a shot attempt ratio* while you're on the ice that the hockey advanced stats guys like because it takes the randomness of goaltending out of the equation. Jack Johnson has been anomalously poor in this department. He's bad at Corsi. Very, very bad. It's to the point that a Google search for "Jack Johnson corsi" results in various bloggers calling him the worst player in the NHL:
Despite this, Johnson has been a heavy-minutes workhorse for the Blue Jackets since his arrival, leading the team in ice time for two and a half years now. The Jackets made the playoffs with a +15 goal differential with Johnson as their undisputed #1 D, thus spurring the flurry of articles that caused me to muse on Jack Johnson and Corsi. Por ejemplo:
"Jack has been very good down the stretch and these first three games," Richards said. "He plays like a man on the ice. He can log the big minutes. He played close to 40 minutes in the OT game in Game 2. And they're big, tough minutes. It's the opposition. He's playing against Crosby or Malkin most of the night. Penalty kill, he's one of the first guys over the boards and he plays power play."
ESPN also praises him:
"I would just say [he's a] machine. He's a different bird, man. On and off the ice, he's just a thoroughbred and he's always in the gym," Columbus forward Cam Atkinson told ESPN.com Tuesday. "You can tell he's elevated his game tremendously in this playoff series and he's been one of our best players, if not our best player. It's great to see and hopefully he can keep playing the way he's been playing."
This has no doubt set Corsi-fiends on edge, which is a lot like David Berri holding up whatever metric he's regressed into his butt and declaring subject matter experts to be idiots. You'd think something as rough as relative shot attempts would bring with it the humility to look at why a player with a bad Corsi might still be good at hockey.
#CBJ with Jack Johnson on ice Corsi: -11 (2-13) with Johnson off ice Corsi: +7 (20-13) But, he does have a goal.
— Scott Cullen (@tsnscottcullen) April 22, 2014
*[It's shots on goal + missed shots + blocked shots for and against, expressed as a percentage. So a 50% Corsi means you're even and a 45% is pretty terrible.]
They may know what they're doing. Kam Chatman sees a significant ratings bump from another service, as Rivals flings him up the board to #25, one spot away from five-star status. Measuring in at 6'8" at that camo Jordan thing is kind of a big deal to these gents. All around him are coulda-beens, though: #22 James Blackmon, #26 Keita Bates-Diop, #29 Devin Booker.
On the other hand, DJ Wilson cracks the top 100 at #86 and grabs a fourth star, which isn't bad for a guy who seemed like the consolation prize's consolation prize when he committed over offers from Columbia and Gonzaga. They may know what they're doing, these guys.
Also they may acquire this other guy. It seems like Michigan's interest in Nevada transfer Cole Huff is genuine:
Huff met with Michigan assistant coach LaVall Jordan on Tuesday in Reno, Nev., and is now waiting for some scholarship dominoes to fall.
"The meeting was good," Huff told MLive. "It was nice of him to come out here and we had a good conversation. He talked about the opportunities they can offer, but really, when it comes to Michigan, you don't need a coach to talk to you too much because of all that tradition. It was just an added bonus to have coach Jordan come out here and give me the specifics."
Those specifics are: Michigan is waiting on Aubrey Dawkins, who has an offer and is following through on a promised visit to Dayton this weekend. If Dawkins takes the Michigan offer, they are out of room unless Mitch McGary declares for the draft. Yes, even though Austin Hatch etc., etc.
If Michigan does have room it doesn't sound like the "I want to play small forward" thing is going to be much of a barrier:
"It was more about how I was being used (in the system)," Huff said of his decision to transfer. "Nevada did a great job using me as a pick-and-pop player and putting me down low with my back to the basket, but that's not all of who I am. I think I can be used for more than that.”
Huff won't have to worry about playing with his back to the basket in Ann Arbor. Posting up is a foreign concept in a Beilein offense. Michigan has a couple of connections with Huff, one a team manager, the other his AAU coach, and it sounds like there is strong mutual interest. Huff would have to sit out next year and then would have two to play; as a 6'8" guy who hit 40% from three he is filed under DO WANT.
Huff won't have to wait long, as McGary will be in or out of the draft by the end of Sunday and it sounds like Dawkins is not going to extend the process much longer than it takes to visit Dayton. Via Sam Webb($):
"I knew I wasn’t going to commit on the visit. I already have a visit to Dayton (set up), so I knew that was going to happen too. I knew I wasn’t going to commit on the visit. I wanted to come back and talk to (my parents) and see what they thought and things like that.”
The rest of that article makes it sound like he wants to jump on the Michigan offer but has to fulfill a promise made to Dayton; that's just my speculation.
Schofield will be a middle-round selection. [Fuller]
Draft status (DON'T PANIC, NFL). Mel Kiper is bullish on Taylor Lewan, saying he could go as high as #2 overall and projecting him sixth to the Falcons. A couple of other grads are in line to get picked as well:
"Gallon ran better than I thought he would (at the combine), he made a lot of clutch catches, does a lot after the catch as a slot guy, to me he's worth a fifth round-type pick," Kiper said. "Schofield was a little underrated. He was solid pretty much all year at tackle, he could be a third- or fourth-round pick."
I'm happy that Schofield is going to get picked as he had a solid year that may have gotten overlooked what with the chaos around him. It's nice when the UFR process seems accurate about a player who doesn't have stats.
I'm less happy that Michigan had two NFL-worthy tackles last year and still looked like that, and is now trying to not look like that without them.
Ticket details. Take it FWIW, but an MGoUser asked the department how sales were going and got a number in response:
After I renewed my season tickets this year I contacted the Athletic Development Office and specifically asked what the renewal rates were compared to last year. Whether or not you view it as half full or half empty, the 8% difference from a year ago is down about 8,792 seats. Then there was the student renewal discussion which amounted to about another 1,200 - 1,500 seat renewal drop off. I know some of these will be picked up by new buyers but, I doubt they all go to new buyers. I think we will see the return of the ticket packs. Losing roughly 10,000 fans at the Big House is going to be very noticeable unless the AD gets creative. Having said that, I still think we see a sellout for most every game. I am hoping it is not as bad as it sounds.
An eight percent drop in one year is huge. How many will come back next year when the schedule has some actual attractions on it? This realignment went as poorly as possible for 1000 S. State Street.
Union vote tomorrow. Northwestern still telling their kids that a union will get them fired and strangle their grandma.
“Understand that by voting to have a union, you would be transferring your trust from those you know — me, your coaches and the administrators here — to what you don’t know — a third party who may or may not have the team’s best interests in mind,” Fitzgerald wrote to the team in an email.
"If you have a union that is comprised of you, you may not have your best interests in mind." That's some 1984 business up in there. I mean:
Players have heard warnings that the formation of a union would make it harder for them to land jobs after graduation; that Fitzgerald might leave; that alumni donations would dry up; that Northwestern’s planned $225 million athletic center could be scrapped.
All because the players want to negotiate about medical benefits and likeness rights. Andy Staples lays out a case that even if Northwestern's current players vote a union down, it doesn't really matter:
Also, if athletes are employees, some team at a private school somewhere will eventually vote to unionize. Not all coaches are as beloved as Fitzgerald. Not all schools treat their athletes as well as Northwestern does. Because of numbers, the chances are much greater that it will be a men's basketball team instead of a football team. On a basketball team, only seven of 13 scholarship players would have to agree to form a union. A galvanizing event such as the firing of a popular coach or the hiring of an unpopular one could easily tip the scales in favor of a union.
What matters is the NLRB's decision on appeal.
Etc.: Private Joe Paterno statue planned for downtown State College. Anyone want to see Spencer Hall vomit? AAAAAAAARGH. MLB cam is fascinating, vertigo-inducing. Talking with MAAR. How MAAR got to Michigan.