xkcd. it's funny because SCIENCE okay?
As the Rigelians informed us, basketball it turns out is the universe's favorite sport. Of the trillions of basketball leagues worthy of broadcast, the most incompetent is Lockeceles VI's "Internashunil Assosiation of Basketball Playig and Shoving Sharp Objects Into Our Eyes [sic]," [sic] best known for their ruling that the Targavian Turnips should have to play an entire season hopping on one leg and bent sideways after a local columnist accused the Turnips' frontcourt of not hustling. Fortunately for the players, Targavia was a city entirely made up of chiropractors, so nobody's life was ruined. The season was of course a disaster.
|If the NCAA just claimed the refs were getting too expensive we would have believed it.|
The second most feckless basketball league in the universe is, of course, Earth's "National Collegiate Athletic Association," which recently challenged the IABPSSOIOE[sic]'s title by issuing a one-year (effectively life) suspension to an injured player who tested positive for a recreational, performance-reducing substance that everyone uses.
You may ask what were they smoking at the time, but that would appear rather obvious.
Alas, the burden of picking up the pieces shall fall upon the TV camera crews at Crisler, who must find a way to shoot the games without broadcasting all of those extended middle fingers, and the Michigan Wolverines Basketball team, who'll have to figure out how they're supposed to rebound anything. And it shall fall upon the MGoBloggers to inform you how that will go down:
The cagers are suddenly without a front court. Has Michigan slid back to pack for now or is this all just a setup for the Beilein Little Shooters Magnum Opus? What's your take on Donnal? Can we do this without becoming a study on Bielfeldt anatomy?
I think it's really happening. Mike Babcock-to-Michigan rumors have just been turned up to 11:
Mike Babcock says not worried about negotiating for extension, will either remain coach of Red Wings or be assistant at U of M/ Berenson
— Helene St. James (@HeleneStJames) April 29, 2014
That is quite a statement: "eh, if I don't continue to coach one of the most storied franchises in the NHL I'll just go be Red's assistant." If Michigan sticks to the plan that would be a one-year apprenticeship before the job came open.
Oh really. Paging Captain Renault: Mitch McGary's drug test won't impact his draft stock.
"No, not really, because you know what, probably 70 percent of the league does that (smokes marijuana)," the scout told MLive, speaking on the condition of anonymity.
But what about the spirit of sport, NBA? What about the spirit of sport?
"Appropriate." Matt Hayes walks up to the unionization issue on a tee and takes a Casey-like swing:
So if we’re going to do this; if we’re going to call athletes employees (or whatever you want to call them) and expand benefits and increase their ability to market and make money off themselves, the consequences for violating rules must be swift and appropriate.
Gone are the days where Troy Smith can take $500 from a booster, sit out a bowl game, get reinstated and two years later finish his career by winning the Heisman Trophy.
If you take $500 from a booster now, you lose eligibility. Permanently.
Hayes, prone on the ground, cartoon birds circling his head. The tee, untouched.
The average Troy Smith is still going to get the money, but will not be punished. Ramping up penalties for infractions that 99% of offenders will not get caught for is like throwing people in jail for speeding.
I mean, who cares? Who cares that Troy Smith now has 500 dollars? Level playing field, you say?
Gone are the days of second, third and fourth chances as it relates to— take your pick— arrests (and convictions), academic failure, failed drug tests (performance enhancing or recreational), or any behavior that harms a university’s reputation.
Let me just direct you to the quote above about Mitch McGary. Or, you know, society. The society in which those first time arrests and convictions generally result in probation or diversion so that people can have a second chance. If people were held to the standards Matt Hayes is advocating for newly professional-ish college athletes, unemployment would run around 50% and include Matt Hayes.
Let's goooooo. The News profiles now-critical Mark Donnal, collecting the various encouraging quotes about him that have been dropping in the past couple months:
“He’s definitely displayed a couple of specific skill sets,” Alexander said. “Mark is a tremendous passer, both in traffic and on the perimeter. His shooting range makes him a capable and reliable pick-and-pop jump shooter on the perimeter.
“He has a great face-up game in the post. The thing he discovered through added strength is the ability to rebound the ball in traffic.”
With sufficient three-point range to drag posts out to the perimeter, Michigan's post guys are liable to find shotblockers absent when they get by their guys. It'll be interesting to see what happens Walton and LeVert's shooting percentage at the rim when Donnal is out there providing Beilein his first shooting five since his arrival in Ann Arbor. I'm more concerned about his defense and rebounding—by the end there, Jordan Morgan was in beast mode.
Bacari is at least making the right noises about where he's headed:
“The thing that really excites me as his position coach is that nasty edge that he brings to the table, as well.”
He also has an interesting quote about how at Michigan "you are who you can guard," and the offense takes care of itself. Donnal will start at the five—out of necessity now—and has some ability to move out to the four as he "continues to improve his conditioning and lateral quickness." Given the composition of Michigan's roster the next couple years it doesn't seem like he'll be spending much, if any, time at the 4.
How much thing X irritates coaches, officially. Michigan's defensive grading system seems a little out of whack to me:
Like… forcing a fumble—hit the ballcarrier with enough force to make him drop the ball—is way harder than recovering one—get lucky, fall down. And what counts as a "missed tackle"? Missed tackles come in all shapes and sizes: you can let someone outside of you for a huge gain, which is super super bad, or you can not quite get a guy down but delay him enough that the cavalry rallies to stop him a yard after you would have. I'm guessing that latter probably counts as a tackle and the former gets a CRITICAL ERROR added to it.
Even so, it seems like "missed assignment" is the worst of all possible things. Missed assignments are touchdowns waiting to happen. When I do the UFRs some guy doing something that doesn't make any sense gets a serious downgrade and most of the coach types who have commented seem to agree with that assessment.
But being a coach is always a compromise between what you actually think in your head and what you think is the best way to get 85 guys doing a complicated thing well. See: the entire concept of "coachspeak." Or "Devin Gardner might start."
Just don't advertise it during games. Michigan Stadium is now open for prom:
Michigan Stadium is getting ready for prom season as part of a push to use the home of Wolverines football for more events during the offseason.
About 230 students from Durand High School, about 45 miles northwest of Ann Arbor, will take the field May 10 — the first time the Big House has hosted a prom, The Ann Arbor News reported (http://bit.ly/1mQvHXn ). And Dexter High School's prom is there May 17.
Hooray incremental revenue, as long as incremental revenue is not flogged at my ears during the games. See also: weddings, facebook, twitter, nonrevenue sports.
Everywhere, all the time. Ramzy on Ohio State's version of creating the future is worth your time:
Ohio State does not belong to you. You just happen to work there at this moment - you're stewards for a rich inheritance you're passing along to someone else that no one will ever cash. That's what Ohio State is. You did not build this brand. You can only damage or improve it.
And you should find as many ways as possible to give it away for free. Businesses do this all the time because it gives them a great return and it's terrific exposure for future buyers. Future buyers. This is where we talk about the children who don't have wealthy parents or opportunities to embark on a wallet-crushing fall Saturday in Ohio Stadium.
Also in this genre is a post from Get The Picture, a Georgia blog:
It’s not like money is a problem in Athens. It’s just that there seems to be little thought to spending it in a way that makes the fan base content. I think back to the shameful way North Campus was treated before Michael Adams had his hissy fit and essentially shut down the tailgate experience; much of that could have been resolved with better security, more restroom facilities and a reasonable amount of attention paid to trash removal. None of that is exactly back-breaking from a financial standpoint for a school with Georgia’s resources. It’s just that no one in a position to improve things could be bothered with it. And that’s a story you could repeat in many other ways.
Instead, we’re offered enhanced wi-fi, ever more intrusive piped in music and goofy sideshows like yesterday’s mascot abomination as a solution. But I don’t weigh the prospect of live attendance on the basis of my short-term attention span. The home experience is about greater comfort and convenience. I don’t wait to go to the kitchen for a drink, my bathroom smells nice and I can always find a place to park. This is the lesson I’m afraid McGarity and his AD peers are missing. I want what I got yesterday – a feeling that the money I’m shelling out is somehow being spent to benefit my experience in a way that gives me what I have at home, while making me feel glad I came.
I also recommend the comments, this one in particular:
UGA AA for so long thought that buying a ticket was the only way to gt a good view. Then 27 inch crt color television gave ay to 60′ HD home theaters and the Butts-Mehre suits haven’t yet figured out how to compete without creating something to sell.
Georgia fans are basically the Michigan fans of the SEC and they're experiencing the same things, albeit with less of a swoon with their football program. The comparison they're making here is to the Masters, which is a fantastic example of an organization successfully creating a culture of otherness that makes it in fact special. While that comes with costs—see women and minority membership—they're holding onto their fanbase because they make it feel good to be a fan. I can't say I remember the last thing Michigan did that was a step in that direction.
That reminds me of a thing I think I failed to relate when it happened: before the Nebraska game this year I was walking to my family's tailgate. As I neared the stadium the jumbotron was showing me the previous week's game… against Michigan State. Devin Gardner got annihilated and intercepted and I was like "feels bad, man."
It was the previous week's Not Michigan Replay, it turned out, and I just thought to myself "is there literally no one in the athletic department with the common sense to not show Michigan fans highlights of a game in which they rushed for –48 yards?" People are just in charge of things for no reason.
The ultimate Pandora's Box question. Oh, man. As scaremongering anti-union/reform questions go, this is the best/worst:
Could boosters treat recruiting like the Wild West?
oh no what would that look like
Etc.: Why the O'Bannon case is a duel to the death. At least everyone hates the way the McGary thing went down. More evidence that Michigan's upper reaches are inappropriately secretive. Jordan Morgan report card. Talking with Ricky Doyle. The Big Ten basketball powerhouse.
ludicrous photo illustration of Donnal via the Blade.
I'm trying as hard as I can to not go on a rage bender, so let's just move on to the implications for next year's basketball team. They are not good, obviously, but it is also not the end of the world. John Beilein won a Big Ten title with a 6'4" starting power forward; Michigan will live.
Jon Horford's ever-more inexplicable decision to exit as buckets of playing time beckon leaves Michigan with the following options for tall rebounding folks:
- Mark Donnal. Freshman coming off a redshirt; reputed to be highly skilled perimeter big who certainly could play the 4 in a Beilein offense but now slides down to the five. Has a back-to-the-basket game, not that such things are at all relevant in Ann Arbor. Can be a Pittsnogle pick and pop guy; defense questionable. Supposed to be a below the rim type, though Camp Sanderson has endeavored to change that.
- Ricky Doyle. Gangly three-star freshman out of Florida now standing next to Bacari Alexander in an effort to demonstrate that he's a legit 6'10", Doyle has a decent face up game and is reputed to be your standard hard-working blue-collar rebounder. Freshman bigs, though, are not fifth year senior bigs.
- Max Bielfeldt. If only Bielfeldt's body was as large as his calves. Since they're not, the 6'6"-ish Bielfeldt just gets swallowed by actual posts. The first half of the Big Ten Championship game is the most recent example. Will have a role off the bench against certain matchups.
- Random fifth year guy. Nobody on the radar and Michigan's contingency plan in the event of a McGary exit appears to be Cole Huff, who won't be eligible next year if he does end up transferring in and wouldn't be a post even if he got a waiver.
- Random freshman. See previous bullet: Michigan's late offers have been focused on the wing. If Dawkins or Huff does turn Michigan down they would have a spot to go fishing with. Finding someone this late who is both a fit and able to play basketball is doubtful.
So Michigan's going to have to roll with what they've got, it seems: a 6'9" redshirt freshman and a 6'10" freshman plus Max Bielfeldt.
What about the four?
Irvin is not an ideal option at the 4. [Fuller]
Any thought Donnal would spend significant minutes at the 4 is out the window. Michigan's options there:
- Zak Irvin. Irvin saw the occasional stretch at the four a year ago, always when Robinson was on the bench. It seems doubtful Irvin can provide anything more than a few minutes here and there against a decent matchup, as he's far more wing-shaped than Robinson. His DREB rate was the lowest on the team, yes behind even Spike. That's partially roles and whatnot; I think it's also Zak Irvin not being much of a rebounder. Even a Hardaway-like move there does not make him the best option, which means Michigan's in a different place than they were a few years ago. Also, Irvin is going to be needed at the 3 for about 30 minutes a game.
- Kam Chatman. Chatman measured in at 6'8" at the most recent camo basketball all star debacle, so he'd actually be an improvement over Robinson in the height department despite being widely regarded as a wing player. At around 200 pounds that's understandable. Chatman would probably get beat up worse than Robinson did as a freshman, as he's taller and skinnier—going to be a lot of times he gets shoved under the basket when rebound time kicks in.
- DJ Wilson. Chatman's fellow freshman is the truest stretch four Beilein's brought in during his time at Michigan. Depending on who you listen to and what time they scribbled his weight down, Wilson's either the same 200 pounds Chatman is or a skinny-but-survivable 215 at 6'8" or 6'9". Wilson finally had a healthy high school season and used that to shoot up almost fifty spots in the Rivals rankings.
- Guy who looks suspiciously like Zack Novak wearing a fake beard and stovepipe hat. It could happen.
That seems super young
Yep. For the third straight year, Michigan projects to be one of the youngest teams in the country, with a frontcourt that is handing probably 70 of its 80 minutes to freshmen, has no seniors, and will have only one starter who's even a junior. That junior is almost as young as you can be and still be a junior. Kentucky might be older. For real.
This is not necessarily doom. The last two years Michigan has been 342nd and 330th in Kenpom's experience stat*. This did not matter much: no team in the country collected more NCAA tournament wins than Michigan whilst they were idling at the bottom of the table there.
It is something different to have freshman bigs who are not Mitch McGary, though. Bigs are long-term projects best eased into serious time lest they be overrun. Michigan can and will survive—I see Jane is tweeting out modified Forgot About Dre lyrics, which I second. "Surviving" is not what they did the last couple years, though, and we're probably in for a comedown from the highs of the last couple years.
*[Which is just an average of FR/SO/JR/SR weighted by playing time, so that a senior who plays five minutes a game doesn't throw you all out of whack.]
But I didn't want this to happen
Hey, at least the staggering hypocrisy of the NCAA chasing dudes out of school for an infraction that the legal system treats like whatever dude has a really good rationale behind it.
"Whereas the CSMAS rightly focused on the fact that marijuana and other street drugs are not performance enhancing, the committee also recognizes that the universe of sport is special, and the student-athlete is obliged to embrace the spirit of sport."
I'ma go build a lego Mark Emmert so I can hurl it off a building.
I wonder where fightin' bird guy is today. North Dakota may want to stop playing Frozen Four semifinals. First you've got the Life As A Vole Hunwick game…
…and then last night a Minnesota defenseman with zero goals on the season scored a shorthander with 0.6 seconds left to knock them out. Seriously.
North Dakota won their consolation game in the league playoffs to push Michigan out of the tournament, which I was mad about but maybe I should thank them because I would be waking up in a dumpster today if that had happened to Michigan. I would not feel well.
Minnesota plays Union for the title tomorrow at 7:30. Go Union, if only to see Mark Emmert's head explode. THE CALL IS COMING FROM INSIDE THE HOUSE, MARK.
I mean why would you want to do that. An excellent article on Fox Sports about Derek Mason, former Stanford DC and new guy at Vanderbilt discusses how Mason came to prominence thanks to his ability to adapt to the hurry-up spread offenses that are kind of a big deal when you're in the same division as Oregon. Mason lays out the four things that up tempo does for your offense, and while they're really only three things if you can divide it's a good framework for understand why the spread keeps spreading, Danielson be damned:
1) Defenses get stuck in one call
While defensive coordinators enter a game with a long list of plays, the defenders on the field are often forced to play the same call repeatedly when the ball is being snapped every 14-18 seconds. The middle linebacker often looks to the sideline only to see the defensive signal-caller frantically gesturing to repeat the last call.
2) Defenses don’t get ready in time
Even when defensive players get their play call on time – some defenses will often call two or three plays in advance when facing an up-tempo team – you will often see the defenders unsuccessfully scurrying to get into their proper alignment before the ball is snapped.
3) One-on-one matchups
Tackling a skill player one-on-one in space is one of the most difficult tasks in football. Up-tempo offenses often operate out of a spread scheme that forces defenses to cover the entire width and length of the field, as Mason noted.
4) More snaps per game
I'm not clear on why more snaps are necessarily better, at least insofar as you get more snaps because you're moving faster. More snaps are obviously good because that means you didn't punt; outside of that the only thing I can think of there is that defenders tend to get tired more quickly than offensive players. Substitution patterns certainly indicate that's the case.
I would also add that a high tempo team is more flexible in its approach to the clock: for them slowing it down is a matter of hanging out at the line of scrimmage longer than they usually do. For a team that does not operate in a hurry-up environment, accelerating is considerably more difficult.
Mason's reacted to the above issues by having hybrid players who may not be the best at any one thing but can straddle the line between run support and pass coverage, having simple, quick playcalls, and training their defenders the way Oregon trains offense: relentless pace.
Anyway: Hoke talk about toughness is grating these days because he's content with an offense that doesn't try to make it tough on other people. Toughness is something Michigan has to have because things are being done to them. (It is also grating because Michigan finished dead last in tackles for loss allowed in year three of being a Tough Team that Runs Power.)
Excellent timing. You may find yourself suddenly more interested in this profile of Mark Donnal the Daily published five days ago. He's getting hype; let's hope it pans out.
Donnal’s not sure when exactly it was, just that it came around the middle of the regular season, but he turned a corner. He’d found success against Morgan and Horford enough in practice that he knew he belonged.
“I started to pick up everything, and my game started to come back to me, and I’m getting in the flow of the college game,” Donnal said.
If it wasn’t for the redshirt, Morgan and Horford might have had to worry about their job security.
“He’s becoming a force,” Morgan said. “He’s hard to guard down there in the post, and he’s definitely come a long way.
“Over the past couple months, he’s just become really good. Really dominates, shoots the ball well.”
Donnal is still just 18—he's young, like Caris—and has upside yet to tap.
Brace yourself! Someone at Penn State has been in the photoshop doin' the shrooms.
— Matt Brown (@MattSBN) April 11, 2014
James Franklin being a great recruiter is a kids these days kind of thing.
At least we're not alone. On the one hand, Ohio State has a real spring game with a player draft and opens practices to students, and this makes me sad because it's clear their athletic department doesn't have quite the contempt for their fans that Michigan's does. On the other, they're not immune from Creating The Future either.
Didn't know Ohio State was charging $20 for a scrimmage. Guessing the same dipshit there who tries to seize blog assets came up with that.
— Ramzy Nasrallah (@ramzy) April 11, 2014
On a third, mutant hand, imagine a version of the Michigan spring game that anyone, dipshit or not, could believe was worth 20 dollars. OSU knocked the price down to 5, apparently. I wonder if there are punting drills.
Okay bro. I'll take this shot from a fan of any program but two:
Here's a hard and round number for you: 10 years. That's how long its been since Michigan has won a Big Ten championship. To locate a gap that pronounced in Michigan's storied and (schadenfreude alert) oppressively self-congratulatory history, you have to hearken back to the pre-Schembechler era.
Those programs are Notre Dame and especially—especially—Penn State, which author Michael Weinreb is a fan of. Until Sandusky blew everything all to hell, Penn State was recruiting kids by noting that they'd never been on probation.
Their mantra of "Success With Honor" implies that most places having success don't have honor. Michigan's is just about winning football games. Penn State was stuck so far up its own butt smelling roses that they allowed the worst thing in the history of college football to happen. You might not want to claim Michigan's history is "oppressively self-congratulatory" in that context.
Ok, bro. Get The Picture finds this assertion in Northwestern's appeal to the national NLRB:
Contrary to the Regional Director’s findings, Northwestern scholarship football student-athletes are not “initially sought out, recruited and ultimately granted scholarships because of their athletic prowess on the football field.”
I would have believed this in the 1980s. Nowadays the only school that can claim that with a straight face is Purdue.
Wow. Bursaspor's new stadium is… it's this.
Orson says he'd trade the Swamp for this as long as the interior was searing orange, and… yeah, you'd have to do it. I await Spencer's longform piece on Turkish soccer with bated breath, and not just because I once pretend-managed a Turkish third-division team to the Champions League title despite Turkey's restrictive rules on foreign soccer players. Also because in Turkey things like this happen:
The club switched names with crosstown club Kayseri Erciyesspor in 2004.
YANKEES: "We're sick of being the Yankees. Would you like to be the Yankees?"
METS: "Jolly good. Here's Mr. Met and a legacy of crippling failure."
Also they have doner kebab. They are probably the origin of doner kebab. Go Turkey.
The usual. Kam Chatman is up to #38 on ESPN's final recruit rankings and draws mention as one of their top risers:
Kameron Chatman, Michigan: He’s a classic late bloomer who has continued to improve at a rapid rate and yet very clearly still has his best basketball in front of him. A highly skilled southpaw with excellent size on the wing, Chatman’s frame has now started to fill out at a much more rapid rate, giving him the versatility not just to splash 3s over contesting defenders but also to diversify his offensive game around the rim. He’s also a deceptively good ball handler and very good passer, all of which will be utilized in Michigan’s offensive system. The bottom line is that it was clear he was still trending up, so he jumped 13 spots.
A palpable fit.
Etc.: I'm here for the sex… ual misconduct investigation. Breaking down the best offenses of the Kenpom era. The 1995 Virginia game on the tubes. Basketball would like to add another quality home game to next year's schedule. Magnus on the spring game. Stapleton on Michigan's sophomores-to-be. The state of Michigan basketball.
ROAR [Allison Farrand/Daily]
SHERMAN'D. Congrats to Michigan wrestling, which took down #2 Minnesota over the weekend thanks to a dramatic OT win by heavyweight Adam Coon over Minnesota's two-time defending national champion Tony Nelson. Well done, sirs.
Meanwhile, Dave Brandon captured the most important part of the meet:
— Dave Brandon (@DaveBrandonAD) January 20, 2014
Kudos to you sir on your triumphant victory.
Well… that sounds not ideal. Michigan's been extraordinarily fortunate to have their supposedly-middling recruits blow up into NBA first-rounders (yes even if we assume that John Beilein is a crazy talent evaluation ninja), but also kind of sort of unfortunate that their super good players have been of the variety the NBA covets instead of terrific college players the pros are indifferent to, like McDermott/Payne/Craft/Berggren etc.
You thought Nik Stauskas might be one of those four year awesome guys, but… uh… you've probably seen him play of late. And unless Joe Dumars clones himself and gets himself appointed to every other NBA GM job, chances are the NBA will think he's pretty good. If they do, don't expect Stauskas to pull the McGary. From a recent SI profile on the most swag Canadian:
“He sees the brass ring, like three inches away from his nose,” [father] Paul Stauskas said. “He knows all he has to do is keep his nose to the grindstone for another couple of months, and there’s a really good possibility he might be able to go pro. He’s working really hard to achieve that.”
Can't begrudge the kid, obviously, but a Stauskas departure would leave Michigan a bit thin next year on the wings. Also they would not have Hypothetical Junior Nik Stauskas, which…
The ideal is that the Uber-Loaded 2014 NBA Draft™ convinces Stauskas to return for one more year. I would brace for departure impact if Stauskas keeps doing what he's doing, though.
GRANDPA ASSASSIN. John Beilein's version of the Richard Sherman promo in the aftermath of the Wisconsin win:
"I don't care," the Michigan coach said Monday night, later adding, "It will be a good win if we have a great season." …
"Things that happen during the year, yeah, they’re cool and our guys like them. But where people are rated right now is such a projection. You can beat a team (that is) No. 1 in the country and by the end of the year, they might not even be in the top 25. So did you really beat the No. 1 team in the country?
"Here’s what it is: Any road win, I don’t care if we go to Concordia to play, is a quality, quality win. And (Wisconsin) was a quality win."
A requirement given Michigan's next two games. Me, I'm refreshing Kenpom every five minutes.
Tim Miles is okay by me. Nebraska picked up its first Big Ten win of the season last night, beating Ohio State at home. In the aftermath, Husker coach Tim Miles told BTN that he should probably go jump around during his post-game interview, and then took a selfie with a fan on the court.
Miles also has an entertaining-for-a-coach, actually-him twitter account and a Beilien-esque track record of success at smaller schools that led him to Nebraska. Viva Tim Miles. Viva Nebrasketball.
Lohan come back. Injured Michigan defenseman Kevin Lohan is badly needed with the Wolverines leaking goals and slipping in the pairwise. He should be back soon:
Right now, Lohan says he’s at about 90 percent — while the recovery process has been long and arduous, he’s progressing well ahead of schedule. On Nov. 5, Berenson said the injury was a “worst-case scenario” and that it would take at least three months until the defenseman had a chance to play again.
“He’s doing really well,” Berenson said. “He’s pretty close to going all-out.”
He won't play this weekend's series against MSU; the next week or the week after are targets for a return. Mike Spath reports that when he does come back, only Bennett, Downing, and Sinelli(!) are safe. This says much about the development, or lack thereof, from Clare and Serville.
“If you look at John over the years, he’s one of the best coaches of our generation,” said McCaffery, who will bring Iowa to the Crisler Center on Wednesday. “And the numbers bear that out. He’s going to stick with his style of play. They play a certain way. They can beat you in halfcourt, they can beat you in transition, they’re going to guard you.
"His offense is really sound, it’s not easy to guard and he’s going to plug the people into those positions and he’s going to go to those guys."
Meanwhile, Beilein provided an informative update on what's going on with redshirting Mark Donnal:
"He’s increased his strength a great deal. He’s probably like Horford or Morgan as far as a rebounder. Great hands. But he’s so much stronger than he was. He’s country strong anyhow, I mean he’s strong. He’s gaining weight. The one thing he has, which I’m looking forward to coaching, is he can really shoot the ball. He can really pass the ball. When you have big men who can do that, it can really open up your offense. But this was absolutely the right decision, because in all the other things freshmen go through — learning the offense but most importantly, defense — he needed this year to develop.”
Donnal will be Beilein's first post-type substance at Michigan who might resemble Kevin Pittsnogle in any way whatsoever. Will be interesting to see how that works with Michigan's current style of offense, which I assume isn't going away even if Stauskas exits since LeVert and Walton can pick up the pick and roll burden without issue.
Etc: Stauskas on the Journey. Wyatt Shallman shaved his head to look more like a kid at Mott. Michigan much better at offense, worse at defense without McGary, correlation is not causation. Michigan continues to dominate the USA's ice dancing program. Looking at Iowa's success.
U-M can get by with three options at center (all photos by Bryan Fuller/MGoBlog)
As we welcome in the new year, we've moved on from fretting about the 2013 football team to ... fretting about the 2013-14 basketball team. There's good reason for this, of course, with Mitch McGary's season almost certainly over due to his upcoming back surgery. Your hoops mailbag questions reflect this, as all but one are related to the impact of McGary's absence in one way or another. Without further ado, here's a very McGary-centric mailbag.
@AceAnbender Where to Mitch's minutes go percentage-wise between Irvin, Morgan, and Horford?
— Bry Mac (@Bry_Mac) December 31, 2013
John Beilein announced this week that—at least for now—he's sticking with Jordan Morgan as the starting center and Jon Horford coming off the bench. I don't think McGary's absence will affect the minutes of Zak Irvin very much, if at all; he might see an increase in minutes, but that will be due to his in-season progression as opposed to any need for him to play the four, as Max Bielfeldt and Glenn Robinson III can pick up much of the slack there.
As for how the minutes will be distributed, we already have an idea thanks to the four games McGary has missed so far this season. In the first two games of the year, Horford started and played 22-24 minutes while Morgan added 12-15, with Bielfeldt getting 4-6 minutes of mostly garbage time. The split between Horford and Morgan has reversed in the last two games; Morgan played 22 and 24 minutes against Stanford and Holy Cross, respectively. While Horford only played six minutes against the Cardinal, that's because he picked up five fouls in that span, opening up a few more minutes for Bielfeldt to see the floor.
For the time being, I expect Beilein to go with a 25/15 split between Morgan and Horford, with Bielfeldt picking up a few minutes here and there at both the four and the five. The wild card here is foul trouble: Horford currently averages 4.7 fouls per 40 minutes, while Morgan is at a whopping 6.6 (the change in charge calls has really hurt him defensively). Bielfeldt got 12 minutes against Stanford. Notably, freshman big Mark Donnal didn't see any time despite all three bigs being in foul trouble in that game, which brings me to the next question...
@AceAnbender also, any chance of burning Donnal's redshirt due to need for bigs?
— Morris Fabbri (@MoMoneyMoFabbri) December 31, 2013
I don't think this is going to happen unless another big man misses extended time. Donnal is a lean stretch four at 6'9", 230 pounds, and unlike Caris LeVert last year there isn't a mountain of practice hype to suggest he'll force his way onto the court despite the need to add bulk. Between Morgan, Horford, Bielfeldt, GRIII, and Irvin, the Wolverines have plenty of options when it comes to filling minutes at the four and the five; I don't see the benefit of burning Donnal's redshirt just so he can fill in for a few minutes from time to time.
— Kyle Rosenbaum (@Gkm13) December 31, 2013
This entirely ignores the best aspect of McGary's game: his ability to induce chaos. Despite playing through injury this year, he's currently ranked 29th nationally in steal rate, which not only foils opponent possessions but usually gets Michigan into the fast break, where they're much more effective than in their halfcourt offense. Neither Horford nor Morgan provides that threat, and while Horford has proven to be as good—if not better—at blocking shots than McGary, Morgan is a relative non-factor in that regard.
He's also a superlative offensive rebounder, ranking 83rd in that regard, though Horford and Morgan actually have slightly higher rebound rates on that end—we'll see if that holds with increased minutes. On the other end, while Horford is just about equal with McGary when it comes to defensive rebounding, there's a big dropoff to Morgan, who's posted just a 15.9 DReb% in comparison to 25.4% for McGary and 24.6% for Horford.
Also, McGary has easily the best chemistry with Michigan's perimeter players on the pick and roll, especially Nik Stauskas and Spike Albrecht. Horford is inconsistent when it comes to setting a good screen, while Morgan—as we've seen for four years—has trouble catching entry passes cleanly and finishing strong at the rim. McGary's passing acumen—especially when Michigan faces zone defenses—will also be missed; his assist rate is around double those of the other two bigs. Beilein's offense may not run through the post; that doesn't mean it won't suffer without McGary.
@AceAnbender odds Mitch comes back next year? Doing so could boost his draft stock, but he might feel urgency to get paid.
— Dan Roehrig (@DanRareEgg) December 31, 2013
This is going to be a very tough call for McGary; he turns 22 in June, old for a rising junior, and if he was guaranteed a first-round spot I don't think there's any question he'd turn pro. That's in seroius doubt at this point, however. Even before the injury, ESPN's Chad Ford had dropped McGary down to the #24 spot on his big board ($). In the immediate aftermath of the injury, ESPN's Jeff Goodman got this quote from an NBA general manager:
"He should have left," one NBA general manager told ESPN.com. "Now he's a borderline first-rounder. He would have been a lock last season."
The latest NBADraftNet mock has McGary going as the seventh pick of the second round. Barring a pretty miraculous recovery, McGary isn't going to have a chance to raise his stock before it's time to declare for the draft, and I believe he'll come back if he's projected as a second-round pick—unlike first-rounders, those players don't get guaranteed contracts, and a strong junior season from McGary could easily vault him back into the first round.
Alright, let's do one non-McGary question since this is getting rather depressing.
— Gustavo Adventure (@colintj) December 31, 2013
It's certainly a viable lineup, especially on the defensive end, as LeVert is currently the best player on the team at defending opposing point guards, in my opinion (with a freshman and a 5'10" guy as his competition, I don't think I'm going out on a limb here). Beilein has talked about going to this lineup more often as a situational defensive lineup at the end of games and I'm in full support of this.
15 minutes a game of this, however, might be a bit much. While LeVert is great at taking care of the ball, his assist rate (14.8%) is well below Derrick Walton's (19.5%), way below Spike Albrecht's (27.7%), and even trailing Nik Stauskas (18.0%). When LeVert is running the offense, it often devolves into him dribbling the air out of the ball in isolation situations; while he's getting pretty good at getting buckets out of those plays, that's not a very sustainable way to run an offense.
That said, Beilein's offense doesn't really require a traditional point guard, and between Stauskas and LeVert there are two solid creators off the dribble when Michigan goes big. If they can get the offense to run more smoothly when LeVert initiates the play, this lineup could very well turn into Michigan's best—that's a big if, though, and deemphasizing the point guards could hamper Walton's development.