just what the Pistons need: a third string center. Joe Dumars was replaced by a mean ol' alien a few years back you guys.
HTTV delivery schedule. I've gotten a lot of emails about when your hands can wrap around a copy of Hail To The Victors, and the answer is "soon." The launch party was the first I'd seen of the magazines myself and we're having some teething problems when it comes to getting them in the mail in a cost-effective way. (Kickstarter's reporting mechanisms are not complicated enough to handle what we wanted to do so we did quite a bit of shoehorning.) I'm expecting this will happen very soon. If you filled out a kickstarter survey, you're good. (If you haven't: do so ASAP.)
UPDATE: Unless we don't have your shipping info, everything that doesnt get a specialty t-shirt will be going out this week. Everything with specialty shirts will be going out mid next week.
Van Bergen 2.0. That's DT commit Henry Poggi, man:
Tremendous: OK, so I have to ask if you've ever seen a picture of Ryan Van Bergen. You can't deny the resemblance.
Henry (laughs): Yes, yes I have seen a few. Actually, when my brother Jim heard that I was looking at Michigan and sent me a picture of Van Bergen on Facebook and told me I looked exactly like this guy.
Tremendous: When we first started doing the site, we did a breakdown on you and I remember Keith calling me going off about how much you looked like Van Bergen, especially with the long hair. What are the long term flow plans?
Henry: I will definitely be staying with the long hair.
Mascot model. He's got a bike, he's in a suit, he's a mascot apart.
Yeah, he's a jaguar, not a wolverine. If he's willing to be environmentally friendly and stand on the sideling clapping disinterestedly while talking about real estate, he's Michigan's man. Jaguar. Whatever.
That's all that's left. It's testament to the work Wolverine Historian has put in that he's just posted highlights of the 1995 Memphis game:
He notes you should keep an eye out for Charles Woodson's hair around the 2 minute mark.
New bowl order. In the long term, John Junker's Fiesta Bowl plunder may be a benefit for college football since it seems like it was a wakeup call to college football conferences. Slapped with a torrent of bad publicity, various commissioners descended to the war room to plan strategy, found that they had all the power, and proceeded using it. First the SEC and Big 12 decided they'd co-own a bowl, now the ACC(!) has made a power play with the Orange Bowl:
If there was any doubt that the bowls are the biggest losers in the new postseason arrangement, the new ACC-Orange Bowl deal should put that to rest. That’s because the most significant part of it is this:
Along with the announcement that it will be aligned with the Orange Bowl, the ACC also told ESPN that it now controls the broadcast rights to the bowl, meaning that it will be taking bids on who broadcasts it, and will be taking at least 50 percent of those broadcast rights for itself.
It’s evidence of a sea change in who’s calling the shots.
“It’s a de-centralization,” one BCS source said. “Conferences taking control of their bowl games and determining who participates in the games. It’s the conferences really loaning their bowl games to us to have semifinals.”
I wonder if the Big Ten and Pac 12 are exerting the same leverage under the table with the Rose Bowl. That seems 50-50: Delany has been pretty ruthless at acquiring the money but Grandaddy don't hear too well these days, sonny, lean in so I can hear you better…
What was that again?
In other bowl rejiggeration news, we've found out what happens when the Rose or whoever loses a team to the playoff:
So when you hear the term “contract bowl” to describe the Rose, Champions and Orange bowls, it literally means those games have their own contracts with individual conferences. Hence, if they lose one of their contracted champions to the playoff, they can replace that team with any other team from that partner conference, minimum ranking be damned. The BCS is not dictating which conferences get these contracts. There’s nothing stopping one of those bowls from signing the Big East or Mountain West, but realistically it’s not going to happen.
That's Stewart Mandel, who also says that this AQ/non-AQ business that was supposed to be going away actually isn't: if the Rose is hosting a semi and the Big Ten champ doesn't make it, they have a guaranteed slot in one of the three "access" bowls that will fill out the new six-bowl red carpet lineup. No such luck for the Big East, let alone anyone else. In practice, expanding the number to 12 and going strictly on the selection committee's rankings of who are the best teams will get remotely deserving minor conference champs in most of the time.
We must protect the Rose Bowl from the horror of hosting the Pac 12 and Big Ten champions. Meanwhile… what the hell?
At least? Big 12 consultant Chuck Neinas and BCS executive director Bill Hancock have told CBSSports.com it remains uncertain how many times the Rose and Champions bowls will host semifinals. Both bowls have reasons to host less than four semifinals each over the course of the 12-year agreement. (24 semifinals in 12 years divided by six bowls = four each.)
We all know the Rose would prefer to have its Big Ten-Pac-12 matchup as often as possible. A little known codicil at the end of the current BCS deal required the Rose to take a non-BCS school only once in an eight-year period. (That was TCU in 2011).
The Big 12 and SEC own the Champions Bowl, essentially a start-up whose valuation grows by the day. The two leagues could find more money playing outside the semifinal (more often than not) with a separate rightsholder.
Protecting the Rose Bowl was priority one for the Big Ten, but this system is not the "if you're in, Rose hosts" system. It's a random rotation that will expose the Rose Bowl to potentially non-sanctified games in some years and has the potential to make the Rose the Grandaddy of Conference Runners-Up when the semifinals rotate away.
That's nuts. By handing away semifinals the Big Ten and Pac 12 are putting their faith in the Rose Bowl's brand over the cachet of the national championship… which, okay, I guess isn't surprising since that's been the MO here since home games were abandoned.
I thought the plan then was to put any game featuring a #1 or #2 ranked Big Ten/Pac-12 team in the Rose, which would have preserved its importance. Now it's mostly a consolation prize in the same way it would have been if there were home games—and the powers that be are trying to make it even more so. We must destroy this tradition in order to save it.
Walton something something. Wiggle? Rod Beard profiles 2013 PG commit Derrick Walton in the News:
"He's a point guard in the pure sense," said Scout.com recruiting analyst Sam Webb. "He had always been a pass-first point guard, but he was a pass-first, pass-second and pass-third point guard. He really had the ability to take over games offensively but was overly concerned with getting his teammates involved.
"There were times when his dad would say to him, 'I need you to go out and get it done offensively.' On the AAU circuit, they told him the same thing with the (Michigan) Mustangs. I remember he responded with seven 3-pointers in a game after he had deferred a little too much."
He probably won't have the immediate impact of Trey Burke because that's a once-in-a-decade kind of thing for anyone outside the realm of obvious one-and-done sorts, but Michigan should be able to survive a Burke departure after this year.
Sure, why not? EDSBS posts "We Are ND" for no apparent reason, which is enough of a reason for me to post it.
This serves as a reminder that we are We Are ND until such time as a pile of "In The Big House" records are burned at midfield.
Brief EA NCAA rant. Their latest gimmick is putting former stars in the uniforms of top rivals—sorry, putting people wearing certain numbers who may or may not be Tebowing but certainly aren't representations of current or former college players—and putting it on the internet to horrify people. They started with Desmond Howard in an OSU jersey and have now put Tim Tebow in a Georgia uniform.
In a nutshell, this is why I quit buying NCAA a few years ago. Instead of making an edition of the game in which receivers catch a realistic number of balls instead of dropping half of them or making a 50-yard pass actually difficult to complete, EA has spent the last decade working on stupid gimmicks and letting their franchise stagnate on a treadmill. Damn you, exclusive licensing.
Etc.: John L Smith declares bankruptcy, confirming that he is the Most Interesting Coach In The World. Purdue blog Hammer and Rails previews Michigan, asserts Boilers will lose 31-20. Notre Dame would like to beat Michigan this year. Jerry Hinnen profiles Betsey Armstrong, who will start in goal for the women's water polo team and could probably tear your arm out of its socket. Apply to be an assistant cheerleading coach. This is where your money is going.
MHN runs down hockey players who never showed up. Amazing how Jack Campbell worked out for Michigan: they get the statistically-best goalie in program history, Campbell puts up a sub-.900 save percentage in the OHL. Western College Hockey blows up Kitchener's libel threat at Slovin.
The blindfolded kick. Wolverine Historian repackages the nutso 2002 Washington game. If you're interested in reliving the #2 moment of the aughts, it's at the end here:
Also featured are Marlin Jackson turning in one of the best single-game cornerback performances I can remember and one of the most controversial calls of the decade.
Realignment bits. I know, I know, you'd rather talk about anything else, but it's late May.
Bit #1: the expanded SEC looks like it's going to a "6-1-1" model. That means you play everyone in your division, one crossover rivalry game, and then one rotating opponent from the other division. You play teams in that division once every six years. You see them at home less than once a decade. You are not in a conference with them.
Bit #2: always more, never enough:
Football and the lucrative TV dollars that come with it is a big reason why the SEC has more than tripled the money it’s distributed among its schools since Adams’ first attended the meetings in 1998, growing from $62.1 million then to more than $220 million last year.
The Big Ten has experienced similar revenue growth, and yet everyone's throwing aside century-old traditions for increments more. Shortsighted. SEC fans agree:
This seems totally sensible and not at all over-bloated.
A lot of red. This is important. It's Matt Hinton's All-America team:
First team is all red save for three LSU players, two Notre Dame players, and Taylor Lewan. And I guess Sammy Watkins and Jackson Jeffcoat are orange, red's slightly mellower cousin. Even the second team defense is almost all red save for the inclusion of PSU's Jerald Hodges and Purdue's Kawann Short. THIS MEANS SOMETHING.
On the other hand, for special teams excellence purple is recommended.
More of the baseball wranglin'. It's been a few months so it's time to check in with the revolutionary wing of the Big Ten: baseball. Kyle Meinke has the latest on the conference's proposal to play some games in the fall. Brandon:
“My understanding is it’s a great consensus around our coaches, a great consensus around our athletic directors, but we haven’t done as great a job as we need to of selling the other conference leaders and coaches to buy into that," Brandon said. "And we’re not totally sure why that is."
I'm pretty sure they are, actually. If they're not they should get some classes in ruthless self-interest from… themselves. Ask Delany to tell the Mark Shapiro fingerbang story again.
I still think the Big Ten should just leave the NCAA structure entirely, up the scholarships available, use wood bats, play a summer-oriented schedule that litters the BTN with content that isn't Northwestern's organic chemistry lecture, and try to establish itself a premiere development league. NCAA baseball is never going to accommodate the northern schools, so flip 'em the bird and spend some of that money to give the Big Ten footprint something to be interested in during May, June, July, and August.
FWIW, MSU got its first NCAA bid since 1979. It was the kind of pity bid baseball throws at Northern teams to keep them placated when they try to complain about all the stuff that makes leaving the NCAA make sense (MSU finished 5th in the Big Ten), but it was a bid.
CREEPER GUY NEVER LEARNS. Stop tilting your head, composite of all Ohio State fans!
I'm pretty sure that's why you're in jail.
Walton demonstrated some of the best handles in the tournament and always stayed under control. He rarely made bad decisions, and was stellar on both ends of the floor, bothering opponents with suffocating on-ball defense. He was comfortable on the wing in the 1-3-1 zone, displayed good recovery speed and was a vocal leader on defense.
Walton is lightning quick, and very unselfish. A pass-first guard, he easily penetrated and looked to kick the ball out, or found open teammates for easy buckets.
Irvin and Donnal also scouted at the link. Rivals also has a couple notes on Walton and Irvin:
Derrick Walton - 6-foot-1, PG, Detroit (Mich.) Chandler Park Academy, 2013: One of 2013's top pure point men, Walton is a skilled ball handler with a strong build and tremendous quickness on the break. A pass-first guard who always is looking to make his teammates better, Walton affects the game in a variety of ways. When you add in his scoring, which he can do from long-range or around the basket, as well as his on-ball defense, you can see why Rivals.com has him ranked as a four-star prospect. Since last August, the guard from the Michigan Mustangs has been committed to Michigan.
Zakarie Irvin - 6-foot-6, SF, Fishers (Ind.) Hamilton Southeastern, 2013: A pure scoring wing who just keeps getting better, Irvin is deadly from long range off of the bounce. A long and athletic wing who can use the dribble to score in transition, he can alter the game with his physical tools, but it's his skill-set that stands out. Irvin has a smooth jumper that he's always looking to get off over defenders who sag off of him. Once he hits one shot, the Eric Gordon All-Stars forward can heat up with the best of them. Like Walton, Irvin has been committed to Michigan since last summer.
Fast? Jehu Chesson takes home a couple of state titles on the track:
He was first to the finish in the 100 meter dash in 10.77. He beat his rival Aaron Mallet of McCluer North in the 300 meter intermediate hurdles 37.77 to 37.86 and Mallet returned the favor in the 110 high’s, winning by a fraction, 14.14 to 14.15.
Chesson had precious few minutes to spare between the back-to-back hurdle and 100 meter events.
“We have special training for speed and endurance and we have great coaches and they stay on us all the time. I don’t know if losing to (Aaron) Mallet gave me special motivation. I respect his talents a great deal. When you come from Ladue, and you are the team’s only hurdler, you have to run with a chip on your shoulder. You can’t always be the best. There is always someone out there who wants to come out and beat you.”
Chesson's speed was the main knock against him in recruiting evaluations. If that's not an accurate knock, hello, nurse.
The beatings will continue until you arrive. The university has posted a job description for yet another athletic department MBA type*, this one tasked with cracking the whip, but all nice-like:
A recent U-M job posting for an assistant director of marketing position notes that athletics is establishing "a best in class student loyalty program" and that the employee would be responsible for overseeing the launch, "develop[ing] student profiles, rewards and redemption" and "develop[ing] strategies to increase student loyalty acquisition and engagement."
Ablauf declined to comment further on the loyalty program, saying "we haven't finalized a program and the details yet."
This is not cutting edge—and neither was my suggestion Michigan should do this. The article notes that MSU has been using this to give Izzone members priority for a long time. Penn State has a similar program.
This is long overdue. It was a problem when I was a student (and in the post-student "I'm still a student!" pretend phase), with drunk people arriving in the second quarter, forcing you to relocate, and then woozily departing in the third quarter. If you want student ticket deals, show up on time.
*[I wonder how many administrators the department has added since Martin left, and how much money we're spending on people whose great task is to paint #goblue on the field.]
I think this is the same thing as before. CBS has an update on the playoff stuff that suggests bowls will be used as hosts. They'll "float," which apparently means it'll depend on what the matchup is:
They do not want the No. 1 and No. 2 seeds having to “go on the road” in the semifinals. In other words, if the Sugar Bowl were anchored in advance to be a semifinal site, it would be possible that a No. 4 seed – say, LSU – would have the home-field advantage playing the No. 1-seeded opponent in the Superdome.
The discussion seems to center around the SEC and the Sugar Bowl. The conference has the most rabid fan following and its teams are in the closest proximity to New Orleans than the other conferences are to other major bowls. The Sugar Bowl has had a formal agreement to take the SEC champion since 1976. However, its relationship with the league goes back decades.
[Via] I have this crazy good idea for how to fix this: play the games on campus.
Slive hates the plus one, BTW. So… maybe don't expect that.
Etc.: Tremendous interviews incoming D Jacob Trouba. Tom Strobel will come in as an SDE. At 260 he's likely headed for a redshirt. Corwin Brown's mental state analyzed. Michigan is smack in the middle of Steele's chart of returning lettermen. Craig James is a walking margin of error.
Tents fingers. The initial returns on Michigan's 2013 basketball recruiting class's AAU season continue to be positive—very positive to some. ESPN's just revamped its class rankings and 2013 looks a lot like 2012:
- PG Derrick Walton, a "true point guard" who has "an excellent feel for the game" and a "tight handle" rises to the #39 player in the class.
- SF Zak Irvin checks in at #61. "Has really good length and a great D-I basketball body," he can also shoot. Lots.
- C Mark Donnal also rises significantly and is now the #65 player to ESPN. He's "ever-improving."
Target Reggie Cameron, a 6'7" stretch four reportedly shooting over 50% from three so far this summer, is #67.
So over two classes Michigan's only non-four-star sorts are the point guard acquired as part of the Trey Burke panic and late riser Caris LeVert. The other six guys (and counting): hyped. I think we can put the last shovelful of dirt on concerns about Beilein's recruiting.
EVERYONE DO EVERYTHING ALL AT ONCE. Two things about the rapidly-morphing future of college football. One: I may owe Patrick Vint an apology after I scoffed at the idea that Jim Delany had a master plan behind his long, uncomfortable hug with the Rose Bowl. Now that the Big 12 and SEC have partnered up to provide a slow-cooked-pork version of the Rose, guess who's coming to dinner?
"I'd say before Friday that idea of a plus-one didn't have much traction, but I think the announcement on Friday's a game-changer," Scott said. "We're pretty far down the path on four-team playoff options, but given the very positive reaction to what the SEC and Big 12 have done, it's possible that (a plus-one) could get some traction."
The Sydney Poiter of playoff options: dignified, old-fashioned, and scary to Spencer Tracy. If they do go to the true plus one system, Vint is basically right and the two champs vs champs games are almost de facto semifinals.
Would this qualify as a diabolical master plan deployed by Jim Delany? I guess you're playing the Pac-12 champ for a spot most years but I'm not sure a steady diet of USC/Oregon/someone else every once in a while is much better than a true four team playoff. After all, the Big Ten's record in the Rose Bowl is horrible. Locking ourselves into it doesn't do much for the conference's title hopes. Sort of locking the Big East and ACC out is not a huge benefit.
If I had to bet I'd still put my chips on a true four-team playoff but I clearly have no idea what the thought processes these guys are using are like.
The second thing. The Big 12-SEC announcement threw college football into yet another realignment tizzy, this one focused on the Big 12 raiding the ACC for most of its prominent football programs. Florida State, Miami, and Clemson are most frequently mentioned. FSU started it, Texas scoffed at it, Virginia Tech denies everything, but now everybody's talking about it and the inevitable Death Star conferences that will emerge.
I still don't know how a 16-team conference even works. The SEC's gone to 14 and this has been enough for Steve Spurrier to invent (and Les Miles to back) the idea cross-division games shouldn't count in the standings. That takes the metaphorical "two conferences with a scheduling agreement" line I've dropped whenever this comes up and makes it literal. The Big Ten equivalent would see the Michigan-Ohio State game have no bearing on the Big Ten title. It's a nonconference game, an exhibition. It's either that or realign the two into the same division. There just aren't enough games to make 16 teams work without doing away (or all but doing away) with nonconference games entirely.
If that was the endgame, I'd be for it. Or if people got creative and implemented either dynamic scheduling—which may be the origin of this blog's "I come up with an incredibly complicated solution to something that may not be a problem" tag—or a relegation system*. The endgame that the current college football people can think up… not so much.
*[The linked post is for 14 teams and is really complicated and (BONUS) mathematically impossible. So don't take it too seriously. A 16 team relegation system could look like a bunch of things, but most likely is groups of eight playing a full round-robin with the eighth conference game either eliminated or given over to a play-in/play-out system.
I do still like the dynamic scheduling a lot, FWIW, but not knowing two thirds of your conference schedule before the season is tough.]
In other expansion news no one cares about. Luke Winn breaks out the graphs to show the relative strength of the new world of basketball conferences. The Big Ten is untouched but a couple conferences get hammered:
Even in this hypothetical world where Pitt and Syracuse are in the ACC, the Big Ten is still the #1 conference by some distance the past couple years.
Ohhhhhh. NHL commissioner Gary Bettman:
“To have imagined that the event would be this spectacular, particularly when you’re there, to imagine that we would own New Year’s Day, which used to be for college football, nobody could have imagined it.”
There was no college football on NYD last year because it was a Sunday, but… is he wrong? Yeah, probably. But the very idea of having another very popular sporting event on New Year's Day would have been inconceivable ten years ago. Now it's not that hard to compete with Northwestern-Vandy, or whatever.
Etc.: Buy Smart Football's book. They'll serve beer at the hockey game not featuring Michigan at Michigan Stadium. Softball lost last night; will try to stay alive at 4:30 on ESPNU. I'm disappointed Bob Gassoff isn't in this picture.
Epic triple point. It happened.
Y'all better get over there.
Hype video. With a historical bent.
The format. The Big Ten announced the first four years of their hockey playoffs will be the single-elimination, neutral-site plan that symbolizes college hockey boldly forging a new path into… oh right, same old stuff.
At least the worst-case scenario was narrowly avoided. The tournament will only be on the far west edge of the conference half the time. The rest of the time it'll be at the Joe, or wherever the Wings happen to be playing.
It will surprise no one that I think this is kind of dumb. The Big Ten is going to get five games in one weekend when they could have set it up to get 10-15 over three. Unless these things are crazy-popular sellouts with separate tickets for each games—and they won't be—the Big Ten's taking in less revenue so they can play fewer games. But high school tournaments are a go, so there's that.
The other format. Teddy Greenstein has some bad news for fans of home games in a college football non-playoff event:
So what is most likely to happen?
Sorry, Big Ten fans, but Delany's "home game" model is on life support. It makes sense in that it would boost the regular season by rewarding the top two in the rankings. And it would eliminate the sham of another LSU-Ohio State national title game in the "neutral" setting of New Orleans.
So what's the problem?
Aside from SEC teams not wanting to play in Ann Arbor or Columbus in late December, it's logistics. Many schools won't have the infrastructure then because they're on holiday break. Stadium size would be an issue with schools such as Cincinnati (35,100), TCU (50,000) and Oregon (53,800). If there's a playoff, officials will want to maximize revenue by selling hospitality and luxury suites. And, besides, most fans love going to bowl games in places like New Orleans and Glendale, Ariz. Delany cited the comfort of the fans when he helped choose a neutral site (Indianapolis) for the Big Ten title game.
"Logistics" is of course a laughable excuse, as is citing Cincinnati's stadium size as a hurdle. Cincinnati? Seriously? But Greenstein is forced to repeat what people tell him, so that's what people are telling him. Woo back to back travel weeks making it even dumber for Big Ten teams.
Crack down. TOC picture-pages one of Michigan State's many, many successful outside overload run plays from last year's game. The motion guy at top of your screen…
…isn't even needed by the end of the play:
As they say in showbusiness, if you want daddy to stop drinking, stop doing that. The first step in doing that is getting those linebackers shifted over to the strength of the formation. Here Hawthorne (near) gets clubbed and Demens (far) has no shot.
More detail at TOC; dealing with these outside runs is priority #2 for Michigan this year. #1 is, of course, not letting two linebackers fly up the middle of the field untouched on 10 snaps.
The AAU deluge begins. In terms of recruiting service rankings, the next three or four months will be more important than any others for Michigan's three 2013 basketball commits, The summer before your senior year is when the pencil of early rankings turns quickly to pen. One of those weird erasable pens, but pen.
MI PG Derrick Walton is off to a good start in Las Vegas. Rivals's Eric Bossi:
Michigan has itself another nice point guard on the way in Derrick Walton. The four star point guard runs his team and has a burst off the dribble that allows him to get into the lane and make plays with regularity. He's also a communicator, plays hard and will ultimately be a very good replacement/complement to Trey Burke.
Dave Telep also chimed in with some Walton praise, adding a similar "no Burke, no problem" view.
As for Donnal, he is also playing at a high level:
Michigan has got themselves a good one in Mark Donnal. The 6-foot-9 big man is a smart and productive player who has a serious competitive streak in him. His footwork is outstanding and he’s a good athlete who can finish through contact.
Scout's Evan Daniels called him "physical and talented" and "much improved" on the twitter. Athleticism is the issue that might keep him from flying up recruiting rankings; in any case he'll be a great fit with Beilein.
Zak Irvin is at the Nike Spring Showdown, where he led his team to a 6-0 record:
The intensity level of play increased when bracket play began on Sunday and Irvin’s play rose to the occasion. He struggled shooting the ball in his first Sunday game, but found other ways to make an impact. He commanded the ball, frequently playing point guard, and he sparked a crucial run by facilitating and getting his teammates easy baskets. With his team facing its only adversity of the tournament against Team D-Rose, Irvin became a better vocal leader. He displayed a calm demeanor and elevated his game as the moment grew.
He didn’t take long to get over his poor shooting performance, scoring a game-high 25 points, leading his team to a one-point overtime victory over the Illinois Wolves later in playoff action. He caught fire and was scoring in a variety of ways – establishing himself as the best player on the floor and everyone in attendance took notice.
Michigan is poking around numerous guys for the 2013 and 2014 classes; UMHoops has the details. Sam Webb has recently mentioned that Michigan continues to look for a grad-year transfer who will be eligible this fall, but no names yet except a guy who decided to stick at Xavier. There is a four year 2012 guy on the radar, though…
Possibly not done yet. As broken by Sam Webb($), Michigan is looking at OHIO(!!!) decommit Caris Levert, a rail-thin 6'5" shooting guard who opened up his recruitment in the wake of John Groce's move to Illinios. Levert appears to have had a monster senior year and has multiple Big Ten schools after him now, including Groce's new home at Illinois, Iowa, Purdue, and of course Michigan. Dayton is also in the running.
He saved his best performance for the state playoffs, getting top billing($) in ESPN author John Stovall's evaluation:
Caris Levert (Pickerington, Ohio/Pickerington Central)
2012, SG, 6-5, 185 pounds
He is one of the most improved players in Ohio. He was a 5-9 guard as a freshman and has continued to grow physically and from a talent standpoint. Caris is very good off the dribble, has the ability to create his own shot and has a chance to be a special talent at the next level if he continues to improve.
He was named the JJHuddle player of the year, an award with a damn good track record:
JJHuddle Ohio Player of the Year
Caris Levert (6’4.5/Sr.)- Pickerington Central
*Levert led Pickerington Central to the school’s first boy’s basketball state championship with a 45-40 win over Toledo Whitmer in the Division I title tilt. Levert scored 20 of his team's 45 points in the championship game including 11-straight in a pivotal third period and playing all 32 minutes. The Ohio University commit averaged nearly 19 points per game throughout his outstanding senior campaign. Coming into the year, Levert may not have been a household name, but his name is in the mind’s of many following this past tournament run along with a more than stellar regular season. Levert became the type of player capable of getting a bucket whenever the Tigers needed one. There were less than a handful of players in Ohio capable of doing so and the lengthy bundle of talent was at his best in big games. Levert shot slightly over 53 percent from the field and 41.5 percent from three-point range along grabbing 3.4 rebounds and swiping 3.4 steals per contest.
JJHuddle Players of the Year
2012: Caris Levert, Pickerington Central (Ohio)
2011: Trey Burke, Northland (Michigan)
2010: Jared Sullinger, Northland (Ohio State)
2009: Jared Sullinger, Northland (Ohio State)
2008: William Buford, Toledo Libbey (Ohio State) & B.J. Mullens, Canal Winchester (Ohio State/Charlotte Bobcats)
2007: Jon Diebler, Upper Sandusky (Ohio State)
While it's not a great year for Ohio talent—the only OH players in the Rivals 150 are UL commit Terry Rozier (#80) and MSU commit Kenny Kaminski (#113)—he sounds legit. Ohio does have a top 50 junior in OSU commit Marc Loving who Levert beat out.
No idea where he's leaning yet. He is a teammate of Taco Charlton, so Michigan will have a guy in his ear. Obviously they like Levert quite a bit more than new OSU commit Amedeo Della Valle; hopefully Michigan's sudden cancellation of his trip indicates they've got the inside track here. UMHoops has a bit more on Lavert's game plus some 2013 and 2014 notes.
We named the dog Indiana. Nick Baumgardner reveals the source of Spike Albrecht's odd nickname:
"I've been watching Zack Novak play since the first grade," Albrecht recalls. "He was tough back then, too."
No longer a first grader, and no longer the little kid whose obsession with constantly wearing baseball cleats earned him the nickname "Spike," the undersized Indiana-born point guard is ready to do whatever it takes to make an impact in Ann Arbor.
Just like Novak.
Wait… um… math. If Spike Albrecht is currently in fifth grade I think we've got ourselves a steal here.
The spokesman said that when a player opts to transfer from Michigan -- as Smotrycz, Carlton Brundidge and Colton Christian did last month -- it's Beilein's preference that the player not choose a Big Ten school or a program that Michigan has on its schedule over the next two years.
That's his preference.
However, it's not a policy, the spokesman said. And it's not a hard and fast rule.
The spokesman said that should a situation arise where a transfer student shows a strong desire to attend a school Michigan has scheduled down the road, then Beilein would be open to having a discussion about the situation, and would not be absolutely opposed to allowing the transfer to occur before the discussion took place.
Meanwhile, the Big Ten transfer rule has changed. Previously, you could not be on scholarship at all. Now you can, but you lose the year of eligibility you would otherwise retain by not playing. The upshot is anyone who hasn't redshirted has a powerful incentive to transfer out of the conference, but anyone who has may as well go to Purdue or wherever because it doesn't make a difference.
It will still be extremely difficult to get a release to a conference school unless Lloyd Carr thinks you belong at OSU, though. That's one restriction I don't have a problem with. If transferring player X can't find a suitable home outside of his current conference that's more on him than on anyone else.
Etc.: A Lion Eye takes stock of where the Illini sit going into fall in a two-parter considering offense and defense. Offense might have some issues at tackle, where two redshirt sophomores are backed up by redshirt freshman, and running back. Defense seems sunny in places that aren't the secondary. Brandon "hopeful" that band will make it to Dallas, undoubtedly with someone else's money. Andy Staples with this year's edition of "recruiting rankings are valid."
Mike Martin bombs the GERGfense as "backyard defense" and says that Bruce Tall didn't know anything about coaching defensive line. Let's all have arguments about RR again!
Yesterday's rapture of three players and near-rapture of Trey Burke takes Michigan from set on players for years to scramble mode. Even if Burke returns—
—Michigan has two open scholarships for now or 2013 and a third that could go to a grad-year transfer. Options? There are some.
Amedeo Della Valle
The 6'5" combo guard from Italy out of Findlay Prep in Nevada. Michigan made his top five despite not officially offering and Beilein's checking him out in person today. He's not ranked highly but has offers from Arizona, Ohio State, and Gonzaga, three of the other teams in his top five. (Texas A&M is the other team. They are not good at basketball.) He's not highly ranked but if he's actually got offers from those three teams and UCLA, UConn, and USC he's a best-case scenario as far as talent Michigan can add to the roster.
Is he a point guard? He thinks so.
Della Valle is a natural point guard, but with Dominic Artis and Nigel Williams-Goss entrenched in the Findlay backcourt, he’s been playing out of position a bit. Moreover, with Bennett injured, Della Valle has been defending bigger players.
It’s given him the chance to demonstrate his versatility.
“I can play the one and the two,” Della Valle said. “I can defend combo guards.”
Della Valle is taking his time with a decision, and said he will likely choose a school until April. There are no favorites, and no other visits planned just yet.
“I want to play right away,” he said. “I also want a great coach. And style of play is important.”
I get the vibe Michigan is in strong position with Della Valle but am simultaneously suspicious of my instinct. There was a random guy on the Rivals board saying he had some inside info and Michigan would get him if they pushed hard. So that's totally solid.
Albrecht is the kid with the ball.
That's not a protest sign directed at a Swiss alderman, it's a person. Sam Webb mentioned a point guard from Indiana spending a prep year in the same league Stauskas and McGary are in; though he didn't mention a name Albrecht fits the profile and is undoubtedly the player in question.
Albrecht is from Crown Point, Indiana—the heart of Michigan recruiting—and a former member of the SYF AAU squad that has provided Michigan with Glenn Robinson III and Mitch McGary. He took a post-grad year in an effort to get a major scholarship. He's still looking for one. He put up 23 points in the prep school AAA championship game after defeating Mitch McGary's heavily favored Brewster squad (link is to full game) and was named the tourney MVP. He's got a couple kids going to D-I schools on his team (Vermont, Harvard, Dartmouth) but still seems to be his team's go-to guy. As of October Albrecht was getting interest from Vermont and MAC schools; he's not rated and is variously listed anywhere from 5'11" to 6'2", with the shorter end of that scale being more realistic.
He is not large but does seem to have the wild double-clutch reverse layup game that you have to have if you're going to be a guy that size playing college basketball. We'd be totally boned if we had to start him next year and he's not likely to beat out Derrick Walton but he might be a solid rotation guy.
BONUS: his team is nicknamed the "Hoggers."
Random High Profile Uncommitted Dude
There are some uncommitted fellows with four stars at various recruiting services but with none of them listing Michigan it's doubtful they can get seriously involved. It is distantly possible they could hop on a guy like Darrick Wood, who is #104 at Rivals, plays at a New England prep school, and only shows an offer from St. John's… a school he already decommitted from. That is a name I picked off a list and nothing else.
With coach-firing season comes potential defections. Illinois has jettisoned Bruce Weber and will not reload with Shaka Smart. Could Michigan pirate one of their recruits? They do have a three-star PG named Michael Orris out of Crete-Monee (also the high school of LaQuon Treadwell). As of a couple weeks ago this was his status($):
"Absolutely," Orris said, when asked if he still planned to suit up for the Orange and Blue next season. "It changes a lot because (Weber) was the man that recruited me, someone I developed an amazing relationship with, but I've signed a letter of intent to Illinois. As of now, that's where I'm going."
It's a longshot, but not completely off the table. Illinois also has an unranked 6-foot shooting guard with one other offer from North Dakota State committed as a preferred walk-on. He's not likely to draw interest.
Nebraska also dumped its coach recently, and unlike Illinois they've got a number of commits. Unfortunately, none are geographically proximate and most are JUCOs. They do have a 5'8" three-star PG out of Kansas City and a 6'4" shooting guard out of Kansas. No one has gotten an "I'm still committed" quote.
This is also the category in which grad-year transfers might be explored. I have no idea if there's a Brandon Wood out there for Michigan this year, but if there is Michigan should take him without blinking. FWIW, UConn's Alex Oriakhi has announced he will transfer and will be immediately eligible as long as UConn's APR-related suspension is upheld. Unfortunately he's a 6'9" center who Michigan doesn't really need.
If Burke returns Michigan doesn't really need anything except maybe a backup point. They could bank a scholarship or two and try to add to their 2013 class with a Bo Ziegler or other guys. It's about 90% likely that Michigan does not fill both slots, I'd say.
Since he'll have to sit out a year, Trey Ziegler counts as air, BTW. Not that it seems like there's anything going on there.
Let's Feel Better About Things
Man, is Mark Donnal going to be a tough matchup in Beilein's offense.
Love the skill level, and he seems like he's got decent athleticism. Also, Derrick Walton is gooooood.