the just released schedules were a flat-out statement that the B10 doesn't believe SOS will matter in playoff selection
12/18/2010 – Michigan 69, Oakland 51 – 9-2
This doesn't happen so much anymore, but back in the day there was a point in the lifetime of any Windows installation at which the operating system was so loaded with cruft that the only thing to do was take it out back, shoot it in the head, and reinstall. During this process there was always a moment when the computer reminded you in all caps that you were about to shoot it in the head.
The moment when you hit "Y" was always slightly* thrilling. At that time you had to beat your head against extended memory to get Master of Magic to play—there was always a chance your brilliant reinstall plot would end with you banging your head against the case screaming vile things about Bill Gates's parentage. But if things worked out you'd be able to open your word processor without it automatically typing "I hate you and you are stupid."**
Watching this year's basketball team is like sitting in front of a blue screen that asks you if you'd like to format C:. Last offseason John Beilein saw that prompt and hit "Y," and how. This was not entirely voluntary, since DeShawn Sims had run out of eligibility and Manny Harris tolerance for college, but Beilein also lost Anthony Wright and Laval Lucas-Perry to smaller schools in the area—seemingly by his choice, not theirs—and fired his entire coaching staff.
As a result Michigan entered the year without five of the nine players Kenpom had individual stats for last year. Only one—seldom-used freshman Matt Vogrich—used enough possessions to escape the "limited roles" dungeon. Here's what the very bottom of Kenpom's "height and other stuff" shows when you order by average experience:
Anyone who had coached the straggling returners and a couple of redshirt freshmen was out the door as well. An entirely new coaching staff started burning up twitter with exclamation points, installing a man-to-man defense, and trying to get three pointers to fall. The Big Ten was projected to be brutal, with Michigan a speed bump. This was to be a year of banging the head upon the case without even much hope that it would amount to anything.
Eleven games in, Michigan has essentially completed the nonconference schedule. A game against 1-9 Bryant remains and Michigan bizarrely takes on Kansas in early January, but we've gotten all the information we're going to get before Michigan's brutal Welcome To The Big Ten And Kansas stretch (all numbers Kenpom):
- Dec 28: #11 Purdue
- Jan 2: #74 Penn State
- Jan 5: #9 @ Wisconsin
- Jan 9: #2 Kansas
- Jan 12: #3 Ohio State
That still looks like pain, but after three bludgeonings of okay teams and one stirring comeback against Tommy Amaker's Ivy League favorites the chance Michigan swipes one of those uphill battles is something less than infinitesimal. They'll be worth watching, at least. The stretch after that is littered with teams from 15 to 81, with just two forays back into the top ten after, and with Kenpom wavering between 7-11 and 8-10 for the league record both math and your lying eyes suggest this is an NIT team.
So that's weird. Weirder still is how this is being accomplished: with fierce man to man defense. After shutting down Keith Benson Michigan is now 16th in defense, and we're getting to the point where you can't wave away the results as small sample size against poor competition. UMHoops:
Michigan’s defense held Oakland – a team that has already faced West Virginia, Purdue, Illinois, Michigan State, and Tennessee – to their worst offensive output of the season. I’ve been hesitant to believe that Michigan’s defense is the real deal, because making bad teams look terrible only goes so far, but right now there’s no denying that Michigan is playing great defense.
On one particular possession on Saturday, Michigan did so well over 35 seconds that the crowd rose to its feet like the hockey team had just killed off a 5-on-3 power play. With the offense still bombing away from 3 (sixteenth nationally) despite not making any of them (253rd), the primary difference between this year and last year is a switch-mad man-to-man that is totally unlike anything Beilein's ever put on the court before.
That, the complete lack of seniors, and the expectation the team's best player returns. We're about to hit the stretch in the format process where the drive makes horrible noises and bad sectors pop up, but the path from here to the point where our word processor loves us again is far clearer than it was two months ago. This, too, is slightly thrilling.
*(very, very slightly)
**(Things like this actually used to happen. They were called macro viruses and I managed to get one back in the day when I shared a spreadsheet with a lab partner. I don't remember exactly what the cryptic message was, but whenever I opened Word it would type a bunch of stuff, delete it, and then type something else that might have been "ferret" but is probably just me misremembering things.)
The All-Seeing Eye. You know it's a good game when the thing that makes you wince in the second half is when the other team goes on a run to cut the lead from 20 to 10 because the all-seeing Eye of Kenpom will disapprove. Fouling and whatnot pushed Michigan's final margin out to 18, and the Great Eye is pleased—Michigan has run itself from triple digits after the UTEP game to 52nd. They've cleared Penn State and Iowa and are in a virtual dead heat with #50 Northwestern, #51 Minnesota, and #54 Indiana for the title of Sixth Best Team In The Big Ten According To Ken Pomeroy.
As far as tourney resumes go, Michigan is clearly behind Minnesota and their wins over UNC and WVU but well ahead of Northwestern (one decent win against GT and that's all) and Indiana (best win over Wright State). If the Big Ten is destined for seven bids, the last one seems up for grabs with Michigan in the conversation. I don't think the BT is going to get seven mostly because none of the three teams after Minnesota has a nonconference win that would cause the committee to sit up and notice, but Michigan could be vaguely on the bubble late this year.
Put this in your pocket. Illinois suffered a demoralizing loss to their version of Oakland, barfing up a 57-54 stinker against Illinois-Chicago. The difference is UIC isn't secretly pretty good—they're 5-7 and have already lost to Akron, Illinois State, Central Michigan, and other less than awesome teams. Here's a reason why:
When UIC took the 1-3-1 zone against us, we looked lost, and since we were unable to shoot ourselves out of it, we were flailing.
Well, then. Michigan plays the Illini only once and that's in the middle of February, so maybe this won't have a huge impact. But if Michigan pulls the 1-3-1 out against Illinois remember this post.
(Side note: Central Michigan is completely awful despite having what must be the most talented player in the MAC. Trey Zeigler and company are 2-8 and just got obliterated by Detroit. This is depressing but from the Zeiglers' perspective the only thing keeping dad around is the presence of his son so the decision makes sense.)
Doubling down. Michigan doubled Benson the instant he got the ball, which was new. They hadn't helped out their center all year even when Harvard's counterpart was tearing Morgan up; in this game they forced turnovers and kickouts from Benson all day. Morgan held up pretty well with the help.
Infectious coaching. Beilein must have gotten a tiny thrill after Jon Horford gave up an and-one to Benson in the first half when both Zack Novak and Darius Morris went over to him to demonstrate what he did wrong on the play. Novak even provided helpful "arms straight up" versus "whatever you were doing, freshman" pantomimes.
I know how you feel. The UMHoops game preview said "expect a lot more zone" and I thought "that's a really good thing to put in the preview because it's probably going to be true" and then the only zone we saw was a single possession of 1-3-1 at the end of the first half.
How Darius Morris makes the defense go. Thanks to their huge point guard, Michigan's perimeter rotation of Morris, Novak, Douglass, Hardaway, and Vogrich is all about the same size, which allows them to switch relentlessly on all screens, which goes a long way towards making up for a lack of quickness from the pastier guys in the rotation, which means teams get few opportunities to drive the lane because there's always a dude right in front of them.
Michigan's defense is now Wisconsin's: built on never fouling you, never blocking your shots, never stealing the ball, but forcing you into a wide array of not-very-good shots. Michigan is 10th in three point D, 57th in two point D, 11th in FTA/FGA, 14th in eFG%, and well down the list when it comes to forcing turnovers and getting blocks. Instead of leaving their feet they get in spots to take charges and get their hands in the air.
It's the exact opposite of the 1-3-1, which might make the 1-3-1 pretty effective if they 1) figure out how to use it, and 2) deploy it as a change up.
UMHoops game recap. Beilein on guarding Benson. The Wolverine Blog talks about the defense. Morgan fluff from the News. Five Key Plays from UMHoops features this assist, which wasn't key but it was awesome:
There is a shaky but extant torrent.
Photos from MGoBlue.com
The Michigan basketball team has continued to roll in games held anywhere other than Atlantic City. Darius Morris and Jordan Morgan are showing that they're a force to be reckoned with. Stu Douglass is sniping away from distance, as Tim Hardaway Jr. has cooled down a bit. Expectations for this Wolverine squad have been revised (slightly) upward - it's looking like a potential NIT team.
Michigan 75, Utah 64. Michigan 7-2.
The game against Utah was as thorough a beatdown as I can remember Michigan putting on any decent team in the past couple years. With the help of a couple early calls against the Utes, Jordan Morgan held a couple decent big men - even if Foster doesn't have much offensive production, he's still six freakin' inches taller than Morgan - in check. The game was never really as close as the 75-64 score makes it seem.
Darius Morris continued to show that he's improved by leaps and bounds since last year (partially due to the departures of Manny Harris and DeShawn Sims giving him a higher usage rate). His only turnover was a failed alley-oop attempt to Jon Horford that Beilein attributes to Horford. He added 10 assists and 4 steals to go along with his 19 points on 57.7 eFG%.
Nobody else jumps off the page statistically, though Stu Douglass's 0/4 night from three is a letdown considering how hot he'd been shooting the ball. Matt Vogrich seems to have found his shooting stroke over the past few games, and he's been getting more minutes accordingly.
|Individuals v. Utah|
Speaking of Vogrich, he had a massively impressive performances in plus/minus (see the full chart at right). Of course, Darius Morris is killin' it, as he was +14 in a game that the team won by 11, meaning the Wolverines were -3 in the 2:21 he wasn't on the court. Tim Hardaway's up-and-down night is evidenced by his 0.
Using only one game of data means there's plenty of noise. For example, Jon Horford would have been higher had he not been on the court in the stretch late in the game when Michigan was content to let Utah chip away at a massive lead. Despite not accomplishing much on the scoresheet, Horford had something of a breakout performance.
If you want to see the data, and individual lineup effectiveness, you can check out the spreadsheet. Before Michigan enters conference play, I'll put together a total non-conference (minus Kansas) table with the minutes played and plus/minus of individuals and lineups. The most effective lineup against the Utes was Morris-Douglass-Vogrich-Novak-McLimans, which was +9 in 3:18. The most used lineup was Morris-Douglass-Hardaway-Novak-Horford, which played 7:49 and finished -3. Most of that came late in the game, as mentioned above.
NC Central Recap
Michigan 64, NC Central 44. Michigan 8-2.
As Brian pointed out on Twitter last night, as ugly as the game was, it fell right in line with Ken Pomeroy's score prediction. Coming in, I had hoped the Wolverines would finally bludgeon an overmatched opponent, but they kept up their habit of playing down to the competition, especially in the first half. The Wolverines were bombing away from three, even when it wasn't the smartest play at the time, and they could have attacked the rim (especially on the break). In the second half, they made smarter plays, got hotter from outside, and took advantage of NC Central's curious move away from the zone that had stifled Michigan's offense in the first half.
Darius Morris and Jon Horford were the stars of the show for Michigan, as Darius had 12 points to lead Michigan, along with 3 assists and a steal to only one turnover, and Jon was just a missed free throw and a rebound away from his first career double-double. As the season goes on, you'll see more of Horford as he learns the game and develops physically. Thus far, he's made the most of his opportunities.
With Michigan's offense struggling early in the game, I was surprised to see McLimans come in as the first big off the bench rather than Horford, and also that Beilein didn't try to get Vogrich into the game sooner, as he'd been hot from the field (though that decision was apparently the correct one, as Matt was 0/3).
At the end of the day, Michigan played poorly against a bad opponent, and was still able to basically meet expectations. Take the win, and move on to the next one. Up next, the Wolverines face Oakland noon Saturday in Crisler Arena. The Golden Grizzlies are hot off a road upset of #7 Tennessee, so Michigan certainly can't play this poorly and come away with a good result. OU preview drops Friday.
Part the Second of the basketball preview. Previously: Media Day
Not to be one of those schools that looks at its football team headed to a weak bowl or worse in November and says "Hey, basketball," but...
Though the Europe trip accelerated the learning process for a young Michigan team, this is still a squad whose elder statesmen (and only players with experience at all) equal two juniors and a sophomore.
Darius Morris - So.
Darius took on a big role for this Michigan team as a true freshman last year, splitting point guard duties with Stu Douglass. Morris, like many freshmen (aside from the one-and-done types), came into college with a lot to learn, and struggled through some growing pains last year. He showed flashes of brilliance, and if he can play with a calm demeanor (and maybe shoot a little better) a second-year leap is in order.
He had an 84/51assist/turnover ratio, and if that improves in his second season, the improvement from the floor is bonus. He finished shooting 52.34 eFG% last year. Like everyone else was dismal from behind the arc. Michigan's coaches have praised the improvement of his shot during the offseason, saying Darius put in the work to become more consistent. Beilein has said that he doesn't need to be a shooter, just a guy who can make defenses pay if they don't play him right.
Morris's stats on the Europe trip don't inspire confidence, unfortunately. He finished with an eFG of 29.41% and made only a third of his free throws. Without making excuses there are mitigating factors, such as the 24-second clock leaving Michigan's offense scrambling to get off a shot - that burden falls primarily on the point guard - and playing against teams that have been together for more than 10 practices, are a few years older, etc. That sample size is small.
Stu Douglass - Jr.
Stu played much of last year at the point guard position, which he didn't play in high school. He had some success but the move probably contributed to his struggles shooting. He did find a surprising ability to defend a lot of very good players, particularly in the Big Ten.
He had a dismal 45.37 eFG% despite being Michigan's most effective 3-point shooter among regular contributors at 32.9%. That means he was just plain bad from inside the arc, partially a product of playing point guard for the first time (and being saddled with some last-second plays against the shot clock, like Morris was in Europe).
This season, Stu will again have to play some point guard in place of Darius Morris, but will hopefully spend more at his more natural 2-guard position. His shooting might improve accordingly, which could make him a very real threat from outside the arc. If his stats in Europe are any indication, his three-point shot may be on the upswing. He shot 40% from behind the arc, 46.67% after the first game.
Tim Hardaway Jr. - Fr.
Hardaway has been a pleasant surprise since he set foot on campus in July. The son of the former NBA guard doesn't have the same crossover dribble that made his father famous, but he's a good shooter who led the Wolverines in scoring on their trip to Europe at a 57.35 eFG%.
For the Wolverines to exceed (low) pre-season expectations, Hardaway will have to continue his strong performances to date, and keep up his scoring and all-around production. He was second on the squad in rebounding, fourth in assists, and amongst the PT leaders in Europe.
Zack Novak - Jr.
The contributions of Zack Novak over the past two years have been admirable, as he's mostly played out of position at the 4, guarding guys who are at least half a foot taller than him. With a bit of frontcourt depth on the team, he may finally be able to play at a more natural position.
A position change for Novak means his production will be a bit of a question mark. Over the past couple of seasons, Beilein has attributed Novak's shooting troubles to getting worn out on the defensive end of the floor. With that no longer an issue, he could develop into a solid offensive player and secondary option.
We already know Zack's going to be tough on both ends of the floor, and he has underrated athleticism. He was already pulling down decent rebounding numbers while being boxed out by much bigger players.
Matt Vogrich - So.
Vogrich came into Michigan as a pure shooter, and Wolverine fans though something along the lines of "a 6-4 white guy who can shoot the hell out of the ball: a perfect John Beilein recruit!" But it was clear from the start that Vogrich didn't have a college-ready body, and he struggled enough defensively that he only averaged a couple minutes a game in 30 appearances.
A shooter he is though, as he nailed 39% of his 28 3-pointers a season ago, and ended up with a 53.57 eFG%. After a year of conditioning and practice time, he should be more physically able to handle playing both sides of the court at this level, and should be a major contributor this season.
In Europe, Matt started every game, averaging over 20 minutes a game. He made the most of that time, shooting 72 eFG%, and leading the team in... rebounds? If he continues to do that over the course of the season, it probably means Michigan is getting killed on the glass. If he's got a 72 eFG% Michigan's blazing from outside, though.
Colton Christian - Fr.
We don't know a whole lot about Christian outside of his recruiting profile because he was limited in pre-Europe practice by an injured hamstring that kept him out of all the games across the pond. He's a primarily defensive player with good athleticism and an improving offensive game. He will split time with Smotrycz at the four, with only occasional appearances at that spot from Novak.
Evan Smotrycz - Fr.
Michigan got in on Smotrycz (mnenomic: Shoot More On The Run You Cocaine Zombie) before the recruiting services though of him as a hot commodity, but they came around by Signing Day, He eventually landed at four stars, and Rivals' #59 player nationally. In Europe, he was the team's fifth-leading scorer on an eFG of 40.38%. He's a big player, and has the athleticism to be a scorer, but from what I saw in summer practices he's still got some learning to do to become a true post threat, especially in a physical league like the Big Ten (unlike in football, the distinction is accurate in basketball).
Blake McLimans - Fr.
As pointed out by Dylan at UMHoops, McLimans is one of the oldest freshmen in the nation, with a year of prep school and a redshirt under his belt. He should be ready to contribute physically (though he had trouble with sprint drills in summer practices), and the question is whether his lack of on-court experience will hinder him.
Among the centers, he's the best shooter, which should give him a leg up on a John Beilein team. He got the most playing time in Europe, getting all four starts. He's also the most experienced, which is scary because at right is the closest thing I have to an action shot of him.
Jordan Morgan - Fr.
A decent recruit coming out of high school, Jordan Morgan's career-to-date has been sidetracked by one injury after another (he redshirted as a true freshman last year). He told me at media day that he's finally healthy, and ready to contribute. He's the most traditional post player of Michigan's centers, and likely the best rebounder.
In Europe, Jordan shot the ball very well (I assume mostly easy finishes under the basket), but didn't attempt a single three-pointer.
Jon Horford - Fr.
Horford was a project coming out of high school, albeit one with decent skill and bloodlines (you may have heard of his father Tito or brother Al). He is need of some physical development and skill work before being ready to play. Michigan probably won't have the luxury of redshirting him, and the coaching staff has talked up his willingness to put in the work in order to improve, so he should be able to get some minutes. They'll probably be the least of the three.
I don't intend to insult Josh Bartelstein, Corey Person, and Eso Akunne by including them in their own separate, branded category, but if the Wolverines are forced to rely on these guys as much more than practice players this season, it means something has gone David Cone wrong.
They'll all get a few minutes here and there to rest the rotation players, and may even have a few moments in the spotlight, but their primary duty will be preparing the other guys in practice. Combined, they averaged less than two minutes on the court per games last season.
Michigan has gained a basketball commitment from MI PF Jon Horford. He's a 2010 prospect, and the younger brother of erstwhile Michigan commit, former Florida Gator, and current Atlanta Hawk Al Horford.
|3*, #42 PF||3*, NR PF||88, #76 PF|
ESPN has two evaluations of him, just over two years apart:
December, 2007: He's a good low post scorer that really works the glass. He has great hands and keeps working hard to improve. He's a good, but not great athlete that seems to grow an inch every 4-5 months. He has a long wing span which helps him be a very good shot blocker. His range extends to 15 feet at this point, but he has a thin frame and he must add strength. His brother Al was solid at the same stage and with hard work, ended up a two-time National Champ and NBA Lottery pick. Jon is on the same path.
The note that Al Horford was similarly limited in high school is very encouraging. And...
February, 2010: Jon is a multi dimensional power forward. He can operate in the paint or score from the high post. That is probably one of his best attributes, his versatility. Inside Jon is solid on the block. He has decent post moves and is a good rebounder inside due to his solid basketball IQ. He understands blocking out and using his body inside. He scores mostly off garbage inside (dump offs and put backs) he is best facing the basket. He can shoot with range out to 16 or 17 feet. He is a solid defender inside though not an avid shot blocker. He is not quite the athlete that his brother was at the same stage. He will be a very solid player at the collegiate level.
The more recent evaluation is significantly less "OMG HE RULZ" than the first, but it is still highly positive. That doesn't jibe with various reports that Horford's something of a project. Another recurring theme in Horford evaluations: he's thin:
Jon Horford. He definitely looked like a player -- and the Gators were all over him. He's about 6-9, but thinner than his older brother.
Dylan checked him out in person:
He moves well for a big man and looks very comfortable in the post. Despite being double teamed he had a couple nice spin moves when he got the ball cleanly on the box. He also showed very nice touch finishing around the hoop. He also did a very good job passing out of double teams and finding open shooters (even if they weren’t making shots)...
But at the end of the day he just doesn’t “wow” you like you would expect a high-major big man to. He got ripped of several rebounds and doesn’t appear to be a tremendous shot blocker, despite being the tallest player on the court. He is very slender from the mid-section down and had to pull up his shorts after about every play. Horford’s shooting form is also screwy and will certainly get some attention once he is playing for a division 1 coach.
So did Calvin, also of UMHoops:
The first thing you have to say about Horford, and something Dylan mentioned, is that there isn’t much of a “wow” factor. He’s extremely skinny (think a taller Manny Harris, but with slimmer shoulders), which means there aren’t any points in the game when he can just move somebody out of his way. Every offensive move is a finesse move–which isn’t to say they’re bad moves, that’s just the kind of player he is. He has a nice quick drop step and he knows how to use his pivot foot in that way that seems like it should be traveling but definitely isn’t and it’s just a good move. He has great touch around the basket and is an exceptional finisher given his frame. He is also a very, very good passer. Horford was double-teamed almost every time he touched the ball, and he almost always found the open man. Very good instincts on offense.
Rivals evaluated him:
Horford is long (a legit 6-8 plus) but skinny, and will need some hours in the weight room before he moves on to the next level. He's got great hands, however, a nice touch around the basket and outstanding work ethic on both ends of the floor. Henton took advantage of Horford's lack of strength to bully his way to the rim a few times, getting Horford into early foul trouble (two fouls in the first half).
He went to his right hand on all three occasions - twice he'd have had it easier if he could have used his left, and probably would have finished despite being fouled.
Where he was most impressive was passing out of the post... He runs the floor well... Horford's young supporting cast isn't all that talented, making him the obvious focus of defenses, but he's supportive and doesn't try to force it...
I've heard his height is a little overstated, and he might be closer to 6-7 than 6-9. He's just a high schooler though, so he might still be growing (especially with his NBA bloodlines). The positives: he's skilled, an exceptional passer, and assuming he can put on some weight, a legit post prospect.
As recently as last summer, he wasn't really on Michigan's radar, but he got an offer around December ($), and named Michigan his leader shortly thereafter. But then, like, actually got offered at the beginning of this month (made official when he visited this week). At that time, it was "almost sure" he would pick the Wolverines ($, info in header). He picked the Wolverines over Cal and Providence. Alabama showed some interest, but no word on if they offered. Michigan State showed some interest, especially late, but I'm not sure if they ever offered.
So what do the offers mean? He's certainly not a top-top prospect (which the recruiting rankings show as well), nor is he an instant-impact type. The Kentuckys of the world were coming a-callin'.
As mentioned above, Horford was by far the best player on Grand Ledge, which meant that he got the ball a lot, but also drew the attention of opposing defenses.
He averaged about 21 points and 13 rebounds per game, according to umgoblog.com.
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
Though he's not an instant-impact player, Horford may be forced into a bit of action as a true freshman, since he, Jordan Morgan, Blake McLimans, and fellow freshman Evan "Metrics" Smotrycz will be the only Wolverines taller than 6-4. With Morgan coming off yet another injury and surgery, Horford might have to be ready to go. With his noted lack of strength, that doesn't bode well for a big freshman season. He'll likely get spot minutes to give a rest to Michigan's other options in the post (of which Blake McLimans might be the only healthy bigman - and eve he is more of a power forward), if he plays at all.
Assuming he's able to put his body together in the weight room, he'll be able to contribute in subsequent years. If he grows a little more (his dad, Tito, is 7-1, and brother Al is 6-10), that goes double. He's a skilled big man who just needs to develop a bit before he can be a major contributor to a Big Ten squad. Unless he makes huge strides, he probably is a 4-5 year player.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
Scholarship breakdown time:
|2010-11 Michigan Roster|
|Tim Hardaway Jr.||1-2|
** Cronin's basketball career is likely over. I've included him on the chart in the event of a miracle recovery.
That's 12 guys, which means if Cronin gets healthy and Manny stays, Michigan has room for one more prospect, and would have one scholarship to give out for the 2011 recruiting class. That scholarship would go to Trey Zeigler, or if Michigan can't reel him in, Isaiah Sykes.
More likely, Cronin is no longer a factor, opening up an additional scholarship, and pushing the number to two. Would Michigan take both Zeigler and Sykes, or bank on of the spots for next year's class? I wouldn't be surprised if Michigan took both, assuming they could land them.
Manny is on the fence about his senior year, and most reports have him likely leaving. The Wolverines probably don't have three more prospects on the table that they'd want to take in this class, so they would bank Manny's scholarship for the 2011 class. If they filled all three hypothetical slots in this scenario, they would have a grand total of zero scholarships for 2011.
Most likely scenario: Cronin and Manny are both gone, Michigan takes however many of Zeigler and Sykes they can land, and has two scholarships available for 2011. For next season, those scholarships will go to a couple walkons.
For future reference. Returning starters is always a handy 10,000 foot metric for projecting a college football season and Phil Steele has helpfully assembled a comprehensive list. The Big Ten:
Theoooooo! I want this to happen so bad:
A name to watch in Michigan's search for a linebackers coach: Central Florida DC Dave Huxtable.
Yes, it is for the dumb reason. Rudy. Vanessa.
Rodriguez mentioned during his impromptu halftime presser that he expects to have a linebackers coach within a week of signing day. This seems to point to Huxtable as a strong possibility since there'd be no reason to wait on scooping up an unemployed guy like former South Florida and Clemson DC/LB coach David Blackwell. However, Rodriguez has temporarily deputized recruiting coordinator Chris Singletary so he can go on the road and this is reason enough to wait.
Huxtable seems like a good choice. He's been the DC at USF for two years and before that was the linebackers coach for four years. Conference USA is a tough place to get a read on opponents since sometimes you get bombed by a BCS power through no fault of your own, but the conference stats are impressive:
Last season , the squad ranked first in Conference USA in three categories - rushing defense, pass efficiency defense and tackles for loss. UCF recorded 8.62 tackles for loss per game, which ranked third in the country. The Knights were second in the league in total defense, holding foes to just 333.75 yards a contest.
In 2009, UCF was 4th(!) nationally in rush defense, sixth in sacks, and 13th in TFLs but the pass defense dropped off a cliff—83rd in efficiency and sixth in the conference. The end result wasn't terrible. UCF ended up 48th in scoring D despite getting bombed by BCS schools Miami, Texas, and Rutgers.
The most heavily scouted Grand Ledge-Jackson game of all time. With multiple scouting reports out there that go out of their way to say that MI C Jon Horford doesn't wow you, it's safe to say he kid is not a monster recruit. And he's a half-foot taller than anyone on Jackson's team, so those guys are all future chemists.
That does not stop the indefatigable local bloggers and e-journalists from descending on the Grand Ledge-Jackson game in droves. UMHoops was there. So was AnnArbor.com. We have what may be a first: redundant free third-party-generated highlight film of a three-star recruit.
Brave new world, this. As for Horford, he remains a skinny guy who people compare to Courtney Sims. Is that a compliment? Well… sort of:
He has a nice quick drop step and he knows how to use his pivot foot in that way that seems like it should be traveling but definitely isn’t and it’s just a good move. He has great touch around the basket and is an exceptional finisher given his frame. He is also a very, very good passer. Horford was double-teamed almost every time he touched the ball, and he almost always found the open man. Very good instincts on offense.
He's paying the most attention to Michigan and Providence because they're paying the most attention to him:
“Michigan and Providence are probably the two following me the closest,” Horford said. “I show them a lot of respect because they show me respect.”
How many Providence new media folk were at your latest game, Mr. Horford? The choice is clear. (If the answer is three I'm going to be super pissed.)
PREWB! Eric Lacy calls for Oren Wilson and Myles White, the two Spartans who played in the Alamo Bowl and hid their involvement in the PREWB, to get the gate for "making a mockery" of Dantonio's standards. It's about as firebreathing as newspapers get. Sample sentence:
White, 19, also has shown plenty of immaturity and unwillingness to fully disclose his reprehensible actions.
If Dantonio follows through as suggested, the body count from the incident would be up to eight. Will he? White has to be on his final chance after two previous incidents; Wilson hasn't been in trouble before and might get off with a serious suspension. In any case, it was dumb. There's video of this. They're going to figure out you were involved eventually.
Annual item. The annual DocSat defense of the recruiting-industrial complex in handy chart form:
…and there are many useful players who end up short of All-American status. Here's betting an evaluation of all-conference teams shows a similar distribution.
Please don't go. Manny Harris's broken jumper has bumped him off NBADraft.net's 2010 projections entirely; he now shows up as a 2011 player. UMHoops talked with Aran Smith of said site and got a take on whether or not Manny is NBA ready and if he'll return for a senior season:
Harris is one of the best college shooting guard in the country, but scouts question his ability to hit outside shots. He’s not an overwhelming athlete and doesn’t do anything well enough to offset his subpar outside shooting. He’ll have a chance to get drafted, but scouts are no longer mentioning him as a potential first rounder.
I am on the fence on him leaving this year. Harris could be reaching that point where leaving could be in his best interest. He has to weigh the benefits of earning a degree or whether he feels ready to take his game to the next level.
Harris returning would obviously be a huge plus for Michigan, and getting drafted in the second round is worse than being a free agent. If he spends the entire offseason working on his shooting and takes a step forward as a senior, maybe he could get that life-changing guaranteed contract. Or he could just leave now.
DeShawn Sims is an NBA tweener, BTW, with a long and fruitful career in Europe ahead of him, which sounds about right.
Etc.: FL S Rashad Knight commits to Rutgers. The Tulsa World breaks down where D-I players hail from. Michigan is pretty eh, unsurprisingly. (HT: Doctor Saturday.) Apparently the Manny Harris suspension was not a fight.
Sitebulletin. By "back" I meant loosely back, obviously. I am still not back in Ann Arbor and the resulting social obligations make the writing a difficult thing to carve out time for. I will be in a car for a big chunk of prime posting time tomorrow so Thursday will be the first day I'll have an opportunity to have a normal obsessive day.
In the meantime…
GLI tonight! And it's not on TV! The steady erosion of college hockey's profile in the metro Detroit area continued unabated. The only GLI game that will be on TV this year is the final. So you might as well go if you're in the area. Yost Built has ten things about RPI, Michigan's opening opponent. The Engineers—woot—are a .500 ECAC team that has a couple nice wins but has also lost six of its last eight. Michigan should be (slightly) favored.
Something unprecedented is going down today, by the way: Michigan is actually getting helped out by the World Junior Championships. For the first time since I've followed college hockey Michigan has its entire roster and plays a team that is missing someone, as RPI freshman Jerry D'Amigo is on the USA team. Pounding Michigan forward Chris Brown is not, and he seems peeved.
Michigan Tech has resumed being utterly terrible (3-14) after a few decent years, so State is the likely opponent should Michigan make the final. The News also has a preview.
It could happen. Seriously. Because you are an American in good standing who did not go to USC, you want to see the Trojans get the wrong end of the NCAA's jabbin' stick for the litany of transgressions ranging from Reggie Bush to OJ Mayo to Joe McKnight. The NCAA already folded its Mayo investigation into the Bush one and may have just caught a major break in that case:
A state appellate court affirmed Monday that an ongoing lawsuit against Reggie Bush (pictured above) does not have to go to confidential arbitration, opening the way for attorneys to question Bush and USC Coach Pete Carroll about whether the running back received improper benefits while playing for the Trojans.
Michigan got hammered on the Ed Martin stuff when the feds got involved because of Martin's gambling stuff; here Reggie Bush will be deposed about something he probably doesn't care much about. (Carroll will probably play dumb no matter the consequences.) May Bush become a Webber-level pariah to the six USC fans that still care about the Trojans when they go .500 after the NCAA finds a lack of institutional control.
Yes, yes, I know I shouldn't get your hopes up. Or mine.
New name. With Ben Cronin looking increasingly like a very large and slow butler to a creepy family and two center-type people graduating this year, Michigan find itself in serious need of an actual post player going forward. Blake McLimans and Evan Smotrcyz are true Beilein fours, 6'9"-6'10" wing forwards who are 1-3-1 nightmares and can play post defense on a power forward in a crunch. They are not centers. That leaves freshman Jordan Morgan, who's redshirting, as the only reasonable option next year if Cronin's questionable health does not improve.
So… yeah, Michigan can give two more scholarships in 2010 if they want and with Casey Prather off the board and Trey Zeigler getting attention from schools like Duke it might be time to look at some new folk. One of them is Jon Horford, the younger brother of current Atlanta Hawk Al Horford. The elder Horford was briefly a Tommy Amaker commit before heading to Florida and becoming the third pick in the NBA draft. The internets were (and are still) rife with payoff rumors in the aftermath of that recruitment, but the younger Horford is a much less highly sought recruit.
He's been having an excellent senior year, though, and UMHoops says that he's maintaining a leader similar to the one his brother had earlier:
Regarding his recruitment, it appears that Jon still has one school on top ($): Michigan. Michigan seems ready to take a big man (Horford) as well as Zeigler in the class of 2010 if they both want to come. Looking at the roster composition right now, it’s hard to fault a decision like this.
Michigan may also pick up Jordan Dumars after he transfers from South Florida; presumably this would be as a walk-on since the elder Dumars may have a couple of nickels to rub together. Michigan isn't in a position to offer a scholarship to a kid like Dumars, who was a two-star recruit who barely cracked 10 PPG as a senior in high school.
Donation machine. Braylon Edwards may never shed the dropsies he had at Michigan but he does shed money in fantastic and productive ways:
The Wolverines' former star wide receiver and '04 team MVP is three years into a five-year funding plan that amounts to $500,000 in endowed scholarships at his alma mater -- $80,000 annually for the football program and a pair of $10,000 academic scholarships for bright and needy students from inner-city Detroit.
That article is all about athletic endowments and wanders away from Michigan after discussing Edwards's donation and the 130 athletic scholarships that are covered by the endowment. Only three other football players have provided enough in the way of donations to cover a scholarship: James Hall, Curtis Greer, and Jim Mandich. That list seems short. Surely Tom Brady can afford the scratch now, right?
Now the only thing is getting someone to wear the #1 so Edwards's scholarship can be tangibly used. Roy Roundtree?
Etc.: TSN asked the blog folks to post about their defining moments of the decade. Mine, unfortunately, is The Horror. I did make a totally awesome comparison to Lord of the Rings, though. Andy Staples digs deeper into the Trail photos for another excellent article. Dave Kindred writes unreasonably nice things about me. The WLA hates faulty recruiting math just as much as I do.