that is nice bonus change
don't tweet at recruits
World Cup stuff. LET'S GOOOOOOO
Zonal Marking has previews for the entire group, and despite the late shift by the US they are right on point with theirs.
The holding midfielder could still be Jones, if Klinsmann is adventurous, but Kyle Beckerman came into the side against Nigeria, having also played there against Mexico, and is a much better fit. Playing at the base of a diamond is a specialist role, and Klinsmann is fortunate to be able to call upon Beckerman, who has been playing in that position for Real Salt Lake, where he is captain.
The 2010 squad was packed with youth, and therefore it’s no surprise that the majority of players have retained their places as they’ve gained more experience. But as Ghana’s reputation has grown, they’ve been forced to adapt to different challenges. When they were the underdogs, they could sit back, remain compact and counter-attack extremely swiftly. Now opponents are aware of that threat, they’re forced to become more proactive, but lack the creativity and incision to dominate games and score goals.
The Ghanian friendly against South Korea could not have echoed that evaluation more closely; Ghana spent most of the game watching South Korea play around with the ball and not quite score, and then they executed ruthlessly—and somewhat fortunately—on the break. This is a game in which hoofing it upfield under pressure is understandable.
Note that Ghana has probably lost wing/forward Majeed Waris, who tore a quad in that game. The guy who replaced him scored a hat trick, but Waris was first choice and played well in qualifying.
Portugal always have roughly the same style, roughly the same strengths and weaknesses, and roughly the same chance of winning the competition. It’s no different this time around. Portugal’s starting XI for World Cup 2014 is extremely similar to their starting XI for Euro 2012, and it’s a familiar story – solid defence, talented central midfield, dangerous wide players, no prolific striker.
Talented players everywhere, but guaranteed cohesion nowhere. It feels like there’s a World Cup-winning XI somewhere in this side, and if Low had infinite friendlies to work out who works well together, he’d eventually find the winning combination.
There is no possibility that this World Cup will cast itself in Garrincha’s image more than Pelé’s. But if his spirit could just touch it a little. If the next month could just remind us that FIFA’s agenda is not all that soccer can be.
And here's an excellent and informative breakdown of how the US played against Nigeria and how important it is to keep things tight at the back:
Let's compare things to other things. The perennial easy post is back in force thanks to the unfamiliarity of where soccer nations fit in everyone's pantheon. Crimson Quarry takes a swing at comparing World Cup outfits to Big Ten basketball programs:
The Fab Five was a phenomenon in the 1990s, and the Wolverines made two title games but lost. Meanwhile, Total Football was a phenomenon in the 1970s for the Netherlands, who also made it to two World Cup finals and lost both. Since then, both teams have made it to the finals another time, but lost in the process. In addition, both have recently had strong offenses with suspect defenses, and love to refer to their teams by the colors of their jerseys. "Hup Holland" is basically the Dutch equivalent of "Go Blue." Plus, the state of Michigan even has a city called Holland. It makes too much sense.
That's a swing and a miss, from my perspective. Argentina is where it's at: offensively enthralling, weak on defense, had a moment of glory in the 80s.
Speaking of Indiana. IU QB Tre Roberson is transferring:
"We appreciate and thank Tre for his contributions to our football program both on and off the field," Wilson said. "He is an outstanding player and a great young man. We wish him well as he moves forward with his career."
Normally that would be a who-cares blip but after last year when Roberson came in for Sudfeld and nearly drove Indiana to a win, not so much. Taking the dual threat option away from the Hoosiers makes their offense considerably less scary.
Wait, what? Jeff Goodman has a list of the best developers of talent in the college basketball coaching ranks. John Beilein slides in at #3:
3) John Beilein, Michigan Wolverines: He’s starting to churn out NBA guys lately -- Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr., and Nik Stauskas, Mitch McGary and Glenn Robinson III this year. “Player development,” said one NBA scout. “Bottom line. He works on players' individual games. There’s a lot of shooting, of course, but every practice he takes 20 or so minutes to focus on getting guys better.”
This makes plenty of sense, as Beilein's made a specialty of making three-stars into early entries starting with the Burke/Hardaway class, and with Caris LeVert on the horizon Michigan will have dumped six guys into the NBA in three years, only one of whom was particularly hyped when he committed—McGary.
That makes sense. The rest of the list… hoo boy. #2 is Ben Howland who is unemployed at the moment. #4 is Tom Izzo, because… uh… Draymond? I mean, when your list of top NBA developers has an entry that starts like this…
Izzo doesn’t necessarily churn out a ton of NBA guys
…you may want to re-evaluate your list.
Calipari also shows up, because he doesn't tear many ACLs.
That's one way to approach it. Miami has decided they can sell more tickets by getting people to go to fewer games.
It's basically a two-game package of the FSU game and the North Carolina game, comparable to Michigan's mini-packages with Penn State and anything else except incrementally more desperate.
Come on down. Sounds like the Michigan Elite Camp couldn't have gone much better from a recruiting standpoint. UMHoops caught up with Derryck Thornton, Jr.:
“It was probably my best visit, it was great,” Thornton reiterated. “The staff did a great job so that was one of my better visits, if not the best one.” …
“I’m going to wait for my dad to get back and we’re going to talk about that soon,” Thornton responded when asked if he’d think about committing early. “I’m not sure, but I think I’m willing to commit and make the early decision.”
Rivals echoes the confidence($) you might have on their message board—Thornton's dad responded to a question about whether Battle and Thornton will end up in Ann Arbor and got the response "high"—and I'm pretty sure one of the Thorntons—probably the elder—registered for a Scout account so he could assert that Thornton would not stay on the West Coast. It would be excellent to get a commitment by the end of summer.
Meanwhile, Tyus Battle was also impressed…
“Michigan was awesome, we had a great time,” Gary said. “Tyus really enjoyed the visit. The coaching staff is very thorough. We really enjoyed their presentation and the campus and the way they would use Tyus. Obviously, academically Michigan is something we like a lot.”
…but doesn't seem like he's anywhere near as likely to drop in the near future. The Big Blue death star looms:
“We’re trying to really focus on Kentucky right now,”Gary Battle told SNY.tv by phone. “That’s always been something we had planned to do and Cal had expressed some high interest in the kid and he’s always wanted to go and check it out.”
Battle will be a… wait for it… battle. If Michigan can secure Thornton, the two guys have said they want to play together. Battle's father:
“And for Tyus, I think a lot of guys want to play with Tyus but Derryck definitely, he’s an easy kid to want to play with as well according to Tyus. They were pretty excited about it cause they consider each other brothers and have known each other for a long time.”
Let's hope that package stays together. FWIW, Battle's father flat-out stated "I think Derryck's going to Michigan."
Given all this, it'll be interesting to see what happens on June 15th. Cassius Winston has checked the offer boxes and is pretty much a five star himself, and KY PG Quentin Goodin says he expects an offer too. If I had to bet, I'd say he ends up disappointed. Winston is on another level and instate. He probably gets one.
Hello, eh. Hockey announces their four late additions: Tony Calderone, Sam Piazza, Niko Porikos, and Alex Talcott. (They're still working on Zach Werenski's accelerated entry, it appears.) The release is the usual but it does give you some indication of where these guys might slot in on the depth chart. Talcott gets "depth" and "energy" mentions and Porikos is compared to Andrew Sinelli; they seem like guys for down the road.
"Tony comes here with the reputation of a player who puts numbers up and has a great shot," associate head coach Billy Powers said. "Offensively, we expect Tony to add to his game here. He's a skilled offensive player who has had two good years in the USHL"
"Sam is a defenseman who is not afraid to join the rush," Powers said. "He's got great offensive instincts and we're hoping that he adds some offense at the blue line. We're excited that Sam will have an opportunity to show what he can do early on."
…on the other hand, should compete for spots this fall. The four just announced join Cutler Martin, Dexter Dancs, and Dylan Larkin as incoming freshmen. Chris Heisenberg's listing Werenski as a 2014 recruit, but Michigan likely cannot announce that until he's on campus.
Three years after suffering a gruesome career-ending injury in 2005, former Alabama star Tyrone Prothro wrote a book, Catch & Hold. He wanted to include some action shots from his playing career, but upon contacting a university photographer he learned he'd have to buy the images from the school's website for $10 apiece. So, he didn't include them.
Uh… wow. I bet that's just for a download and doesn't even include redistribution rights. Athletes! Do we have a picture of you? You can use it for free. I would like to thank Kevin Trahan for blowing up the NCAA's constant assertions that "hey, you get stuff!" is anything approximating a legal defense.
Oh man. Ramzy instructs you how not to be an asshole to recruits. I do not want to get on the ol' high horse because I've seen my share of miserable awful things from Michigan fans—we have it just as bad—and the linked piece is a fine, fine intra-fanbase immolation. But… wow.
AIN'T NO REGULATIONS AGAINST CHILD BRIDES AMIRITE
Maybe 95% as bad.
Cool Story, Br-- Wait, That's Legitimately Cool
Michigan pulled in a commitment from four-star NJ OT Grant Newsome yesterday—his commitment post is here if you missed it—and shortly thereafter we learned you don't want to mess with Grant Newsome or anyone related to Grant Newsome:
Grant Newsome has a cool story, too. Dad was secret service during W. Bush presidency. Grant has eaten at the White House w the President
— Tom VanHaaren (@TomVH) June 11, 2014
Nor would you want to mess with his favorite historical figure:
— Steve Lorenz (@TremendousUM) June 11, 2014
Chamberlain was a professor with no formal education in military strategy who nonetheless rose to the rank of brigadier general, earning the Medal of Honor for his heroics at Gettysburg, then receiving the great honor of commanding the Union troops for Robert E. Lee's surrender at Appomattox. He later served four terms as the Governor of Maine. Solid choice, Mr. Newsome.
Fun facts that are actually fun aside, Newsome is now putting on his recruiting hat, per 247's Steve Lorenz ($):
"(Recruiting other players to Michigan) is a role I plan to take head on," he said. "You want to surround yourself with the best players possible, and knowing you can have a hand in that makes me want to do what I can to help get some more top players on board. I think the #1 target for me right away is going to be Chris Clark out of Avon in Connecticut. I think he's a player that would be a great fit at Michigan and I know he's really interested in us. He's going to be the first guy I contact."
In addition to all of this, Newsome is a highly touted offensive tackle with huge upside. Consider me a fan.
no, not this guy. he can stop preaching posthaste.
We've been on the "don't tweet at recruits" warpath for a long time around here, but there no way I can't link Ramzy's evisceration of those who think they're somehow making a difference—or somehow better informed than the coaches—and while he mentions the Dick Costolo incident, most of it is a valiant effort to better his program's fanbase:
Fans of irony will love Jeff's twitter feed which - in addition to all of the assholery - is full of pleas from him to others begging them to stop tweeting at him. [Ed: Jeff deleted his Twitter account shortly after this article was published]
That's because tweeting at strangers and telling them what you would like them to do with their lives is creepy. Always. There are no exceptions to this rule, and those who break it are categorically assholes.
You'll have to click through to see Jeff's remarkable Twitter feed, as well as Ramzy using every possible form of the word "asshole" in truly glorious fashion. There's also a section on how to properly react to verbal commitments. Read the whole damn thing.
Surprise, It's A Running Backs Section
— Tom VanHaaren (@TomVH) June 11, 2014
Four-star FL RB Jacques Patrick took a two-day trip to Ann Arbor this week, striking the pose in Desmond Howard's legacy jersey and receiving a downright understated Fred Jackson-ism, per Sam Webb ($):
“I spent a lot of time with the players just trying to get a certain feel for the place,” said Patrick. “Wilton Speight, Devin Gardner… a lot of them. I (also) spent time with Coach Nuss and Coach Jackson. They showed me a video of what they are going to be doing next year, and a video of what I’ve done in the past. They compared the two and showed me how I could fit in and stuff.”
“(Coach Jackson) said I remind him of (Tim) Biakabutuka.”
I'm not seeing "...but fast," and now I'm a little worried about Freddie Jax, you guys. Patrick added that the Ty Isaac transfer won't affect his opinion of Michigan, and the visit "definitely improved their chances." It's still going to be tough to pluck him from Florida (especially FSU), but this visit moved the needle, at the very least.
With the Sound Mind Sound Body camp underway, a lot of in-state prospects are giving updates on their recruitments, Cass Tech RB Mike Weber included. He told GBW's Josh Newkirk that the change in offensive coordinators made a big difference in his view of Michigan, and for good reason ($):
“When Michigan got the commit of Damian Harris, they kind of stopped recruiting me,” Weber admitted. “I guess that’s what their offense coordinator wanted. So Michigan wasn’t really on me like that. So I wasn’t really interested in Michigan. But when they fired their offensive coordinator and [Coach Nussmeier] came in, he kind of came straight to Cass and told me how he wanted me.
“So I am back on [with Michigan] now.”
Weber also said Michigan will receive one of his official visits. Michigan still lags behind his top three of MSU, OSU, and Wisconsin, but it feels like the gap is narrowing, and with how frequently he's been to campus lately that momentum may continue building.
2015 Linebacker Update
Detroit King OLB Tyriq Thompson has been considered a heavy lean to both Michigan and MSU over the course of his recruitment, and now he's saying the schools are in a dead heat, per 247's Steve Wiltfong ($):
“It’s just hard to say, they’re so, they’re kind of neck and neck,” Thompson said of the two in-state powers.
“Michigan, it’s the legacy, the history. Michigan State it’s the defense, Coach (Mark) Dantonio and the way he focuses on the relationships with the players.”
If one program has a slight edge, it appears to be the Spartans; Thompson stated flat-out they're recruiting him harder than anyone. He plans to decide before his senior season begins, so it's getting to be crunch time if U-M wants to lock up a top-flight prospect who happens to be a Michigan legacy.
Four-star IN OLB Asmar Bilal told Wiltfong that Notre Dame is his team to beat, and he's taking a trip to South Bend with his mother on Thursday; Michigan will get a shot to impress mom and son, as well, as they'll be on campus on June 20th ($):
“Pretty much the same thing with Notre Dame,” Bilal said of what he’s looking forward to at Michigan. “Getting my mom involved and showing here what I’ve seen and seeing more. Coach (Greg) Mattison came down here twice so I want to go up there again. I want to get as much information as I can to further my decision.”
Wiltfong added that Michigan is "likely the biggest challenger" to ND.
Four-star UT OLB Osa Masina told The Wolverine "I still love Michigan," and he's trying to make it back to Ann Arbor for this summer's BBQ at the Big House, but there's also a note at the bottom from the UCLA Rivals site stating the Bruins appear to be the current favorite, and Utah is also a major threat ($). If U-M can't get Masina on campus this summer, I won't be too optimistic about their chances.
Orchard Lake St. Mary's four-star OLB Daelin Hayes talked to Lorenz about his current comfort level with the coaching staff ($):
"I'm talking to Coach Singletary and Coach Jackson about once a week," he said. "I'm just working on building a relationship with their staff. I talk with them about different ways I can try to make myself better, and working on ways to build our relationship. It's just civil, regular talk. I can talk to them like I talk to my coaches at OLSM."
I'd call that a good sign.
The initial Scout 300 for the 2016 class came out this week, and Michigan's lone commit, Erik Swenson, ranks as the #8 offensive tackle and #86 overall prospect. So many prospects with early Michigan interest are on the list that it's best just to click through if you'd like to see where they land. The top-ranked in-state prospect is Hayes, who comes in at #67 overall, one spot behind...
OH OLB Brendan Ferns, brother of Michael, who just pulled in a couple major offers, per Scout's Bill Greene ($):
"Getting Oklahoma and Ohio State within seven days is pretty special, and it's kind of hard to believe," he admitted. "Things are picking up and it's been crazy, but fun for me. I think I'm going to concentrate on basketball the few days with my school team, so I'm going to put recruiting aside for a while."
"I won't be making a decision anytime soon at all, but it will be before my senior season, not my junior season," Ferns stressed.
That last quote is important, as U-M fans have increasingly wondered when Ferns will get an offer, especially as he adds offers from rival programs. There's plenty of time for Michigan to continue evaluating him, and the younger Ferns has said previously that the presence of his brother will be a factor if an offer comes through. Patience, grasshoppers.
2016 four-star OH WR Justin Layne took part in Michigan's basketball camp last weekend—he's still considering both sports for college, though he's leaning towards football—and he told Sam Webb two schools currently stand out for him ($):
Sam Webb: What schools have you offered you scholarships so far besides Michigan?
Justin Layne: “Michigan, Michigan State, Pitt, Miami, Florida and West Virginia.”
Sam Webb: Have any of those schools started sticking out for you yet?
Justin Layne: “Michigan, Michigan State and…that is it for right now.”
A caveat is required: Layne grew up a fan of Ohio State, and if they offer expect them to leap into contention.
Another rising junior from Ohio, St. Ignatius OT Liam Eichenberg, placed Michigan in his top three, per Bill Greene ($):
"I would say Ohio State, Notre Dame and Michigan are my top three right now," he explained. "With Ohio State, it's obviously my home state and I love Coach (Urban) Meyer. It just feels like home for me when I'm here, and I will be coming back here again this summer to visit."
"Michigan has a great program, and (assistant coach) Greg Mattison is a great guy," he stressed. "It feels like family up there, and it's a lot like Ignatius in that regard. I will be at Michigan's camp on June 17."
The Buckeyes are considered the heavy early favorite, but Eichenberg said he's in no hurry to make a decision.
If you missed it, Brandon posted an update last night on U-M's latest 2016 offer, four-star PA TE Naseir Upshur.
Whenever you're feeling down about the football program, repeat this to yourself: At least we're not Florida.
Please be on his birth certificate RT @JimmyDetail: 2016 CB Greedy Williams picked up Texas A&M offer a couple of days ago.
— Andy Staples (@Andy_Staples) June 11, 2014
Sadly, it's not, but that's still the best nickname for a cornerback... ever? Leaning towards ever.
Signing Day: It Happened, I Guess
OFFICIALLY OURS NOW
By the time I was able to get my laptop to start yesterday*, Michigan had already received LOIs from every committed prospect, and Malik McDowell had announced his intention to attend Michigan State. Brandon caught up with all the freshly inked signees on Tuesday night; other than the usual coachspeak-filled presser, there was little else of note to happen on the recruiting front yesterday for the Wolverines.
Of course, there's the McDowell situation, which is a mess. He committed to MSU in a ceremony at Southfield High School. His father attended, though he's still not a big fan of the decision; his mother did not. As of now, McDowell's LOI remains unsigned, and potentially could for a while:
“I’m not legally able to do it because I’m not the custodial parent,” Greg [McDowell, Malik's father] told The Detroit News, noting that Malik is only 17. “[Joya Crowe, Malik's mother] has to sign it and I have to sign it, too. I don’t know when it will happen. Malik has to handle that with his Mom. I’m willing to do whatever my son wants. It’s been a long process and an uneasy process.
“That’s something he’ll have to deal with, because at the end of the day it’s all about him and he has to work it out.”
State's coaches sounded confident that he'll be a Spartan eventually—if worst comes to worst, McDowell doesn't even need a LOI in order to get his scholarship and enroll in the fall, though that leaves MSU in the unenviable position of hoping he sticks to his commitment without any binding document.
Could Michigan potentially get back into his recruitment in the meantime? It's highly unlikely. Malik is obviously intent on going to MSU; if he's forced to compromise with his mother, FSU and OSU are also possibilities—and there's also the matter of whether or not the coaches would want a player who may not really want to be in the program. Usually in these types of situations, the prospect eventually gets his wish, and that's what I expect to happen here.
As for actual newsworthy bits regarding Michigan's commits, there's one worth reprinting: Drake Harris, who missed his senior season with a torn hamstring, is "feeling more and more 100 percent," according to Jeff Hecklinski, and should be healthy for spring practice.
[Hit THE JUMP for a great Bo Schembechler story, Bo Pelini's unusual recruiting methods, lolTimBeckman, actual evidence that tweeting at recruits doesn't work, and more.]