this week in unintentionally grim-sounding recruiting headlines
glenn robinson iii
YES DO IT YES. Oversigning for the win:
— Jeremy Fowler (@JFowlerCBS) March 23, 2014
Knows Nussmeier, started four games for them a year ago, immediately eligible, Michigan has the room, just do it.
Are we sure he's not actually coffee dad? From John Beilein's favorited tweets:
Coffee dad. Also he favorited some random dude talking about his teams' rebounding derogatorily. John Beilein!
Thx to Mich fans for the support this week! Sweet 16 and on to Indy.Thinking about getting a nice Sub tonight. It could get crazy! Go Blue!
— John Beilein (@JohnBeilein) March 23, 2014
…is self-aware. So it's good he's not Skynet.
OH REALLY. Lost in the sea of March Madness last week was one statement from Brady Hoke that will hopefully prevent me from typing yet more spittle-flecked all-caps rants about how fifth year senior starting quarterbacks don't get benched except in the event of catastrophic injury, and sometimes not even then:
He's doing okay, (but) he's not ready to be the starter at Michigan," Hoke said Thursday. "Devin's got the most experience at that job. … But if we were starting today, (Morris) wouldn't be the guy out there."
All right then. That's settled.
"Two weeks from now? We'll see."
And the Crimson sea parted. It's that time of year again, where players either flee or are pushed from the Indiana basketball program. This time it seems more like a mutual flee/push, as two struggling players Indiana probably needs anyway are exiting. Jeremy Hollowell, one of the two large athletic Hoosiers who can't play basketball, is out the door. Austin Etherington is the other departure. Noah Vonleh already announced he's entering the draft.
With Luke Fischer's departure for Marquette in the middle of the season, Indiana has lost every player over 6'8" who saw time except for Hanner Mosquera-Perea. Meanwhile the biggest guy in their recruiting class is a 6'7" small forward.
Is it too late for James Blackmon to decommit again? Asking for a friend.
And then the other red sea parted. OSU takes a major hit with LaQuinton Ross's NBA draft declaration. They've got a terrific recruiting class coming in, and now they're really going to need it. They've lost Ross, who was 30% of their shots, Amedeo Della Valle, Aaron Craft, and Lenzelle Smith from a six seed and first-round exit.
And then everybody in the Big Ten laid out the red carpet. West Virginia shooting guard Eron Harris is transferring closer to home. Home is Indianapolis. Harris averaged 17 points a game as a sophomore, shooting 42% from two and 86% from the line. Scout's Brian Snow says Michigan will be involved($), and lord knows everyone in and around shooting-challenged Indiana will also make a run. Michigan's hoping that "closer to home" really means "away from West Virginia" since 250 versus 350 miles isn't much of a functional difference.
I'm in favor of Michigan trying to grab him. Think of him as a 2015 recruit who only gets two years before he has to go to the NBA, and oh right that just makes him like anyone else who ends up shooting the ball a lot under John Beilein.
Michigan has an open scholarship this year and it would be nice to have a couple of upperclass years to fill in those vacated by Michigan's NBA draft departure. After Harris sits out a year he would be competing on the wing with a senior Caris LeVert—maybe—and a junior Zak Irvin—maybe, along with Kam Chatman and any class of 2015 freshmen. Harris is a proven high-level player who will make a decision well before the 2015 kids will. And he'll have a year to get better under Beilein before he gets back on the court. If you can get him, get him.
Open to a return. Glenn Robinson was as noncommital as everyone is when asked about entering a professional draft, but this is something good to hear:
"There have been times this year when I thought about it and heard a lot of talk and everything," Robinson said. "I just want to make the best decision, the best decision for me, because I want to play this game for a long time. So if I'm not ready, I'm not ready."
While you can't begrudge someone their desire to get paid lots of money for their skill, it does grind my gears a tiny bit when guys leave early without the prospect of a first-round pick waiting. Robinson might have fallen into that boat; it would be really easy to ignore the stuff they're saying about you this year because you were supposed to be a first rounder last year. Hopefully one of these two things happens:
- Robinson annihilates Tokyo as he drags Michigan to a national title
- Robinson plays pretty well and follows the Tim Hardaway Jr model.
Open to stay. Please hold your nose at a reference to a Michael Rosenberg-gathered quote, but it's kind of a big deal:
Jordan is so admired within the program that Alexander, another rising coach, endorses him to be the next head coach at Michigan.
"In my mind, I think he would be a great progression, when and if the time comes, when coach Beilein decides to transition on," Alexander says.
Alexander is 37, and he set a goal for himself to be a head coach by age 40. But he looks at Jordan and thinks of the Michigan football team's defensive coordinator. Says Alexander: "I would be more than willing to be (Jordan's) Greg Mattison. We want to continue to work together. I just think the world of him."
If Jordan and Alexander are both around when Beilein hangs it up, I don't know how you don't give Jordan the job after his work with Morris and Burke and Stauskas and LeVert, plus the recruiting bonafides and possible huge long-term upside. (Beilein is 61, so if he goes another five years you'd be hiring a 39-year old guy who could be around for the next 25 years.) Especially if that would mean Alexander sticks with him.
They've really got to do something about this. Urban Meyer on the packaged play trend and its acceleration:
The second-level zone read has his attention. In the traditional zone read, the quarterback reads the defensive end to dictate whether he'll hand off or run. In this version, the quarterback is reading the linebacker.
“That's going to not disappear,” Meyer says. “It's even in the NFL now. The NFL doesn't give you three yards.”
College does -- as in, officials allow linemen to get up to three yards downfield before a throw. After following up with other coaches on this concept, one popular play is to throw a slant to the open space if the linebacker goes inside to cover the run, knowing linemen are already headed downfield to block.
This has started to become comical. Last year in the Michigan-Air Force game, two Air Force OL had in fact engaged defenders six yards downfield on a pass play without a call. Either get rid of the illegal man downfield rule or enforce it. But pick one.
Etc.: Glasgow's issue was a "driving-related offense," which seems pretty likely to be one particular driving-related offense unless they've got some really strict new rules about using your turn signal.
Derrick Green getting slimmer. Jim Tressel's CV doesn't include anything about sweatervests. Bo bracket. Pistons to chase Izzo because owner is MSU grad. No idea why MSU NBA owners want to wreck their alma mater's program but fine by me.
Um, Texas? You there? [photo via Dustin Johnston/UMHoops]
The scouting report favored Michigan, and this game played to the scouting report.
The Wolverines advanced to the Sweet Sixteen by outshooting Texas considerably, hitting a team NCAA Tournament record 14 of their 28 three-point attempts. The Longhorns connected on less than 40% of their two-pointers, and while they managed to make a second-half surge by overwhelming Michigan on the boards, they simply couldn't keep pace.
After the Longhorns took an early 6-3 lead, Michigan went on a tear, eventually gaining a 30-12 advantage after a Zak Irvin triple—the seventh Wolverine three-pointer in the first 13 minutes. Texas's attempts to push the pace backfired, leading to several open shots for Michigan and a bunch of missed jumpers on the other end. One could only watch agape at the display of offensive firepower:
— Longhorn Network (@LonghornNetwork) March 22, 2014
Said firepower, when combined with a returned aversion to turnovers—Michigan committed just four all game—proved impossible to overcome.
While Texas managed to close the gap to 13 points by halftime, Michigan threatened to blow the game open entirely when the Longhorns opened the second half in a 2-3 zone. Michigan scored eight points in three possessions, with a couple Derrick Walton bombs over the top sandwiched around a Jordan Morgan dunk after gorgeous passing shredded the defense.
Them something strange happened. Rick Barnes called for a slight alteration to the 2-3, shading the backside guard over the middle, and then mixed in a fair amount of 1-3-1. Michigan went without a field goal for nearly six minutes. After Michigan had managed to mitigate Texas's size and rebounding advantage in the first half, the Longhorns dominated the boards in the second, and they pulled within six after an Isaiah Taylor jumper.
That's when Glenn Robinson III made two of the biggest plays of his career, first blowing by Connor Lammert and finishing with an impressive floater, then connecting on a three from the wing on Michigan's next possession to stretch the lead back to 11 with 6:45 to play.
A corner three by Spike Albrecht and a four-point trip after Jordan Morgan drew an intentional foul—while making a basket that was waved off, no less—put the final nails in the coffin. While it took them a while, Michigan eventually took advantage of the holes in the Longhorn zone, and once they did the proceedings were academic.
In addition to Robinson (14 points, 5/10 FG, 5 rebounds) and his second-half heroics, two performances really stood out for Michigan. Nik Stauskas led the team with 17 points on 15 shot equivalents while tying a career high with eight assists; his passing was key in picking apart Texas's zone. Then there was Morgan, who scored 15 (5/7 FG, 7/8 FT), pulled in ten rebounds (5 off.), dished out two assists, and recorded two steals. He limited Cameron Ridley to six points and nine rebounds while giving the Texas behemoth all sorts of trouble with his quickness on the other end.
While Michigan's offensive lull in the second half got a little scary, John Beilein had a response for every one of Rick Barnes's adjustments—yes, this was expected—and it's tough to get worried about the offense when they still managed to score 1.4 points per trip. This was another slow-paced game—just 57 possessions, one more than the Wofford slog—with a score that often belied the comfortable gap between the two teams.
With Duke off the board, Michigan awaits the winner of tomorrow evening's Tennessee/Mercer game. Either way, they've cleared the path for a deep run, and they've already accomplished a lot—did anyone imagine this team moving on to the Sweet Sixteen without much resistance after Mitch McGary went down?
Now, with McGary competing for the role of top cheerleader from the bench, Michigan will be favored to play for a spot in the Final Four regardless of who wins tomorrow. Take a bow, John Beilein.
Michigan didn't earn any style points in their NCAA Tournament victory over Wofford, but those don't really matter this time of year. A substandard offensive performance didn't prevent the Wolverines from advancing with relative ease.
The Terriers certainly helped in that regard, erasing any good that came from hitting 50% of their twos by going just 1-for-19 from beyond the arc despite generating good looks. They played like a 15-seed, and on a night when Michigan sat below one point per possession for much of the second half, that was fortunate.
Nik Stauskas cracked the career 1,000-point barrier with a second-half triple en route to a team-high 15 points on ten shot equivalents. Glenn Robinson had 14, albeit on 14 shots, while adding seven rebounds. Jordan Morgan played the best all-around game of any Wolverine, tallying ten points (4/6 FG), ten boards, two assists, a steal, and a block.
The numbers tell the story here. In a very low-possession game—just 56, a slog even by Big Ten standards—the shooting gap made an enormous difference, one that wasn't so easy to see due to the pace and some uncharacteristic turnovers. With the officials letting the teams play (hooray!), it was all about which team could generate buckets, and Wofford was just as likely to get the ball stuck above the backboard—yes, this happened—as they were to connect from the outside.
Michigan can't hang their hat on this defensive performance; Wofford's inability to make shots was due to their inaccuracy more than anything the Wolverines were doing. By the same token, the offensive performance wasn't as bad as it looked at times. Caris LeVert isn't going to get held to six points very often, and Zak Irvin missed all four of his three-point attempts despite getting some decent looks.*
It wasn't a fun game to watch, and Michigan will need to step it up offensively if they want to make a run in the tournament. After they ran out to a double-digit lead against an overmatched opponent in a somnolent atmosphere, however, the ugliness of this game is at least understandable.
Now the Wolverines await the winner of Texas/ASU, which is happening right now on CBS.
*Admittedly, also some not-so-decent looks.
3/15/2014 – Michigan 72, Ohio State 69 – 25-7, 15-3 Big Ten, BTT Finalists
Sometimes when you're on. Good lord man. This team is capable of sending anyone watching into a fit of giggles as shot after shot splashes down. The general process:
- All right, here we go.
- ON FIAH!
- /giggling fit
As Michigan extended to a 16-point lead early despite Ohio State doing offensive things that are well out of character (IE: making shots), it was giggle fit time. Michigan has previously done this to Nebraska and Illinois in the process of running them out of the building. If they're fortunate enough to make a tourney run at least one win will be reminiscent of the Florida game last year, wherein there is a period of death from above that leaves the other team looking like Dresden.
Welp. I don't know, man. Michigan's defense looked pretty good to me in the mirror universe where Shannon Scott remains Shannon Scott. Scott entered the game a 28% three point shooter and a 38% shooter on two point jumpers. He got zero looks at the rim and yet exited with 18 points on ten shots. Yeah, most of his jumpers were not particularly contested, but there's a reason for that. When Scott elevates for a jumper you have just done a good job as a defense.
The other problem with the defense was a problem with the offense. Steve Kerr mentioned that all of Michigan's seven first half turnovers were live-ball situations. Live-ball turnovers lead to transition, and transition leads to sadness. Michigan failed to push the margin out to crippling levels because of uncharacteristic sloppiness when Ohio State turned up the pressure.
Other than that, the defense did what it wanted to do: protect the rim and live with whatever else happens. OSU just hit shots they usually don't.
Hidden in the terror is a comfortable-ish win. Michigan was 10/19 from the line, well below their season average. Jordan Morgan was the biggest part of that, as he went 2/7. That dropped his season total from 62% to 57%.
Craft. When Craft does something Crafty and wins, there is a collective old white sportswriter dude explosion, and when he does something Crafty and loses, the OWSD collective sighs and shakes their head at a world full of haters. Forde is on it:
For all the many people who hate Aaron Craft, here’s your chance to pile on.
You’re a strange, sad lot. You’ve got issues. Ripping a guy with a 3.9 grade-point average who plays his guts out is a weirdly trendy thing to do for college basketball fans.
But for those disposed to do so, congrats. Today is Bash Aaron Craft Day.
I'm not here to bash Aaron Craft, but let's be clear: he is a role player. He is the apotheosis of the role player, sure, but the reason people get cranky about Aaron Craft is the never-ending hagiography for a guy who is merely a pretty good player.
There is frankly a racial component to this. You don't see people falling all over themselves to hype up Briante Weber, whose VCU team is ranked and headed for about the same seed as OSU thanks in large part to Weber's third consecutive year at the top of the Kenpom steals leaderboard. Or his teammate Shannon Scott, who is also top ten in steals. It's Craft that gets glorified as the underrated gutty gritty leader in a way that is out of proportion to his talent.
That's unfair to the his teammates and Craft himself. I've long defended the guy whenever people try to trash his game (no offense to Derrick Walton, but put Craft on this Michigan team and oh my gawd), but that's because I love guys who can make an impact without using possessions. They need to be put with high-usage guys, though—you know, stars. Craft is not that. But he comes with an avalanche of hype enough to get him on the midseason Wooden list as he leads his team to a 10-8 Big Ten record while taking 15% of OSU's shots.
At its heart, Craft backlash is Forde-and-company backlash. Some of it's misdirected; a lot of it is from 14 year olds; everyone would be much better off if people in the media would just acknowledge that Craft is who he is. GIFs of aairballs are prominent because the media is insistent on pretending Aaron Craft is something other than what he is.
Please be a new meme, please be a new meme, please be a new meme. We've had planking and Bradying and all sorts of ing ings, and now there needs to be an internet full of pictures of clothed people sitting in bathtubs looking hard.
YOU DON'T WANT THIS
Is Glenn On Fire Watch. Another efficient game with 11 points on 9 shot equivalents, and he brought defensive impact with a couple of blocks and three steals. He's still alarmingly light on rebounds.
There is the hint of a recovery in his three point shooting, as well. Over the last four games he's 5/13. Not much to go on for a guy who was at 32% last year and is at 28% this year, sure. Still another data point for those hoping Glenn is this year's tourney Mitch.
Is Stauskas Human Watch. NOPE.
I mean, he does that crossover to three pointer thing.
Death from above watch. Michigan's quest to end the season with five guys shooting 40% from three is very, very close. Walton is at .398, Spike at .390. LeVert has pulled himself a couple points above the line, sitting next to Irvin. Stauskas can't even see 40% unless he's got binoculars.
Seeding business. Most observers from Lunardi to the Bracket Matrix have moved Michigan to the one line after Wisconsin's Big Ten Tourney exit, and a lot of folks are speculating that Michigan may be locked in to that spot no matter what happens today.
Here’s my prediction: Michigan gets the fourth No. 1 seed today regardless of whether it wins or loses the Big Ten title game.
— Gary Parrish (@GaryParrishCBS) March 16, 2014
Seems pretty easy for the committee to have a contingency plan based on the result of the championship game, but in past years it has seemed like they ignore or at least downplay Sunday results.
If Michigan does get that one seed they'll be in the East and acquire a Michigan-friendly Madison Square Garden. In that event I withdraw my Syracuse request, as they're one of the few schools that could overwhelm Michigan's NYC fanbase.
It's pointless to mention this when they're just going to unveil the brackets in a few hours but I started this sentence anyway so I will proceed by mentioning that I am not a huge fan of Lunardi's bracket, which features Oklahoma State as the eight seed, and greatly prefer the GW/Stanford setup presented by Palm.
Another motivation to get that one: Louisville has moved up to the three line on just about everyone's bracket, so a one can't draw the red hot 'Cards until a regional final.
Stop! Have you considered you may not have to do this? [Fuller]
Always something to complain about.
Now that Stauskas has escaped from the Lilliputians and the offense has duly gone back to Brobdingnagian, are there ways to get the defense performing, say, at a top-50 instead of 100-ish level? 75? Or do you think at this point they just are what they are?
Ace: I think the Indiana game, despite the win, rid us of any notion that the defense will have a postseason breakthrough. The Wolverines are who we thought they were: a superlative offensive team with some major defensive issues. Michigan couldn't stay in front of Indiana's guards, failed to get back in transition—including after multiple made baskets—and had to go to the high-risk 1-3-1 for the entire second half to create enough empty possessions to somehow win while giving up a 66.3 eFG%. The Hoosiers entered the game with a 48.0 eFG% in conference play. That's bad, mmmmkay?
So, yeah, the defense is an issue, and projects to be going forward. Michigan was a much better defensive squad last season, and while they gave up a respectable 0.98 ppp in the NCAA Tournament, that figure swells to 1.03 after excising the first weekend. Also, that run featured the unleashing of Mitch McGary, Embodiment of Chaos, and this year's squad doesn't feature anyone with his ability to force turnovers, which proved key in the run to the title game. (Caris LeVert leads this season's squad with a 2.2% steal rate; McGary was at 3.4% last season, Trey Burke at 2.8%.)
With Michigan preparing for a potential three games in three days, followed by a prep week for the tournament that's likely to be geared more towards rest and scouting than working on defensive fundamentals, I don't think they're going to come up with a magical solution to the myriad defensive issues. The offense is capable of carrying this team into the Final Four. That's a good thing, because that will have to be the case if we're going to see a repeat of last year.
[jump…preferably before the shooter does]
Originally, this just contained the McGary "SOON" text until I sent it to Brian:
Brian: first one needs to have like three paragraphs of text from horford about existentialism
Me: I can do that
Me: Taoism work? [link]
MGoBlog, catering to a very specific audience since 2005.
[Hit THE JUMP for Jordan Morgan GIFstravaganza, all the Andrew Dakich reactions fit to GIF, John Beilein technical spectacularr, the pick, and more.]