Patrick Hruby is doing God's work.
Welcome to College Football Blood Bowl. Warhammer 40k is generally too dorky even for me, but if you're vaguely familiar with their science fiction orc-dwarf-elf-demon football spinoff "Blood Bowl"* something is probably nagging you about those CoFoPoff** logos. This is why:
Spikes coming out of a ball.
BONUS: is it bad that I wasn't sure which logo Seth was talking about when he said one of them looked like, er, the other end zone, if you know what I mean?
CONSPIRACY THEORY BONUS: all of their images are coming from ESPN's CDN.
*[Yeah, seriously. 40K is what happens when you put all science fiction and fantasy races/tropes into a blender. As I said: too dorky even for me.]
**[I can't call something "College Football Playoff" you guys.]
Surveyin'. Michael Rothstein annually polls the outgoing seniors about things both important and not so much*. Getting unvarnished opinions on breakout players and the like is always interesting. Your predicted breakout player is Gardner, with Gallon trailing some ways back. It sounds like they're doing everything possible to extend that insane 1300-yard pace($) Gallon was on with Gardner as his QB:
"I got two. Devin and Jeremy Gallon, by far. The way they came in during the offseason, they do things people probably wouldn't expect. The way Devin is throwing the ball now. I told Gallon, if you look at the stats, he [Gallon] had 100 [receiving yards] against Alabama, a hundred-something against South Carolina. Nobody in the Big Ten can stop you two next year."
"Jeremy Gallon and Devin Gardner. They are both hard workers. When we were sleeping during the summer on Saturdays, they were up, throwing the ball. They are a great combination together and both competitive and both smart players."
Meanwhile, Willie Henry is the surprise pick as your best redshirted freshmen, albeit more narrowly. Braden, Chesson, and Jeremy Clark follow. Henry also got a breakout player vote.
"This is going just off observation, but Willie Henry. He's a guy I went up against every day in practice, didn't get to play this year but a really, really talented kid. I'd venture to say as talented as some of the guys I played against this year. There is huge potential there and I feel he can have a great career at Michigan."
He's called "strong an ox" and "an animal." Motor is brought up as an issue. Henry certainly looked the part at the spring game, albeit mostly on the sidelines.
Part II is also interesting($). Anon on Funk:
"He's extremely thorough and he watches a play and throughout that play, he can see what all five offensive linemen did. It's crazy and I don't know how he can do it but just watching a play live, he understands and has the vision to see what happened the entire play. I don't know if he would be the best coach to manage all the bureaucratic stuff that comes with being a head coach, but he knows football as well as anybody."
*[The annual bitching about the liberals in Ann Arbor is hilarious. You can probably figure out which offensive linemen are the ones carrying that grudge.]
Bad pun. No, this isn't about Moe Ways, it's about Adreian Payne, who is still on the fence about his NBA decision two days before the deadline. I think he should go if only because I'm sick of always thinking I've misspelled his name and being correct about that 75% of the time. Also, without Payne MSU's frontcourt next year looks like this: Alex Guana, Kenny Kaminski, Matt Costello. His departure would be kind of a big deal.
The word from every source close to Payne is that it's "50-50" he returns to Michigan State.
MSU is amongst the favorites with him and in a second-tier pack without. I don't know, I look at a 6'10" guy who can jump as high as GRIII and has just found three point range and I'm taking him in the 20s. I mean, if Robinson was going to be #15 or whatever with an efficient 13% usage rate, Payne's at 20%, shoots 84/58/38 and boards extensively. Oh and he's four inches taller. GTFO! It's for your own good!
Mark Donnal talking. With UMHoops. Projected role:
What do the coaches have you working on this summer?
“I’ve been working on pick-and-pop. That’s one of the things they said me and Derrick would probably be doing — a lot of pick-and-roll, pick-and-pop sets like that. I’ve just been working on my mid-range jumpshot, my post moves, my hook shots both right and left. Those are the main things I’ve been working on.”
Donnal has some nice post skills and can shoot out to three point range. Athleticism is the main concern with him. Most people, including me, have been projecting a redshirt just because Michigan is pretty stocked at the 4 and 5 this season. Donnal is the sort of guy who probably won't be high on NBA radars no matter how good he is in college, so the idea of a fifth year there is appealing. But as we saw this year, if you've got a guy who can give you minutes as you go deep into the tournament you've got to play him.
Hello/goodbye Rutledge? Mike Spath reported that Jared Rutledge would take a year in the USHL for extra seasoning; Rutledge told the Daily he was sticking around; Spath said that was not the case. Yost Built has more details on an odd situation.
One guy who's not coming in for sure: Bryson Cianfrone. Spath reports($) he'll reclassify to 2014. Smart move for a guy who has talent but struggled with the level of competition in the USHL this year. Michigan has plenty of depth at forward this year, too.
Making friends. Winning hearts and minds. I actually agree with Mark Emmert when he says opposition to the recruiting deregulation he slammed through is the following:
“[The] counting of phone calls and text messages and emails … is frankly crazy,” Emmert told a group of bowl executives. “Literally, you have to hire someone to count your cell phone calls and to look at your phone records.”
… At least 75 Division I members had to weigh in by March 20 to force an override vote of the legislation. Emmert blamed football coaches for the pushback saying, “it's insane.”
It's just that maybe a guy invariably described as "embattled" should maybe seem a little less unhinged, is all. More hinges. Less waving around.
Etc.: Zak smack attack get back you don't want that. Pitt football players busted with 20 bags of heroin! That'll wrap up the Fulmer Cup in April. Dave Brandon says the idea he would run for Senate is "silly." SILLY LIKE A FOX.
Tents fingers. The initial returns on Michigan's 2013 basketball recruiting class's AAU season continue to be positive—very positive to some. ESPN's just revamped its class rankings and 2013 looks a lot like 2012:
- PG Derrick Walton, a "true point guard" who has "an excellent feel for the game" and a "tight handle" rises to the #39 player in the class.
- SF Zak Irvin checks in at #61. "Has really good length and a great D-I basketball body," he can also shoot. Lots.
- C Mark Donnal also rises significantly and is now the #65 player to ESPN. He's "ever-improving."
Target Reggie Cameron, a 6'7" stretch four reportedly shooting over 50% from three so far this summer, is #67.
So over two classes Michigan's only non-four-star sorts are the point guard acquired as part of the Trey Burke panic and late riser Caris LeVert. The other six guys (and counting): hyped. I think we can put the last shovelful of dirt on concerns about Beilein's recruiting.
EVERYONE DO EVERYTHING ALL AT ONCE. Two things about the rapidly-morphing future of college football. One: I may owe Patrick Vint an apology after I scoffed at the idea that Jim Delany had a master plan behind his long, uncomfortable hug with the Rose Bowl. Now that the Big 12 and SEC have partnered up to provide a slow-cooked-pork version of the Rose, guess who's coming to dinner?
"I'd say before Friday that idea of a plus-one didn't have much traction, but I think the announcement on Friday's a game-changer," Scott said. "We're pretty far down the path on four-team playoff options, but given the very positive reaction to what the SEC and Big 12 have done, it's possible that (a plus-one) could get some traction."
The Sydney Poiter of playoff options: dignified, old-fashioned, and scary to Spencer Tracy. If they do go to the true plus one system, Vint is basically right and the two champs vs champs games are almost de facto semifinals.
Would this qualify as a diabolical master plan deployed by Jim Delany? I guess you're playing the Pac-12 champ for a spot most years but I'm not sure a steady diet of USC/Oregon/someone else every once in a while is much better than a true four team playoff. After all, the Big Ten's record in the Rose Bowl is horrible. Locking ourselves into it doesn't do much for the conference's title hopes. Sort of locking the Big East and ACC out is not a huge benefit.
If I had to bet I'd still put my chips on a true four-team playoff but I clearly have no idea what the thought processes these guys are using are like.
The second thing. The Big 12-SEC announcement threw college football into yet another realignment tizzy, this one focused on the Big 12 raiding the ACC for most of its prominent football programs. Florida State, Miami, and Clemson are most frequently mentioned. FSU started it, Texas scoffed at it, Virginia Tech denies everything, but now everybody's talking about it and the inevitable Death Star conferences that will emerge.
I still don't know how a 16-team conference even works. The SEC's gone to 14 and this has been enough for Steve Spurrier to invent (and Les Miles to back) the idea cross-division games shouldn't count in the standings. That takes the metaphorical "two conferences with a scheduling agreement" line I've dropped whenever this comes up and makes it literal. The Big Ten equivalent would see the Michigan-Ohio State game have no bearing on the Big Ten title. It's a nonconference game, an exhibition. It's either that or realign the two into the same division. There just aren't enough games to make 16 teams work without doing away (or all but doing away) with nonconference games entirely.
If that was the endgame, I'd be for it. Or if people got creative and implemented either dynamic scheduling—which may be the origin of this blog's "I come up with an incredibly complicated solution to something that may not be a problem" tag—or a relegation system*. The endgame that the current college football people can think up… not so much.
*[The linked post is for 14 teams and is really complicated and (BONUS) mathematically impossible. So don't take it too seriously. A 16 team relegation system could look like a bunch of things, but most likely is groups of eight playing a full round-robin with the eighth conference game either eliminated or given over to a play-in/play-out system.
I do still like the dynamic scheduling a lot, FWIW, but not knowing two thirds of your conference schedule before the season is tough.]
In other expansion news no one cares about. Luke Winn breaks out the graphs to show the relative strength of the new world of basketball conferences. The Big Ten is untouched but a couple conferences get hammered:
Even in this hypothetical world where Pitt and Syracuse are in the ACC, the Big Ten is still the #1 conference by some distance the past couple years.
Ohhhhhh. NHL commissioner Gary Bettman:
“To have imagined that the event would be this spectacular, particularly when you’re there, to imagine that we would own New Year’s Day, which used to be for college football, nobody could have imagined it.”
There was no college football on NYD last year because it was a Sunday, but… is he wrong? Yeah, probably. But the very idea of having another very popular sporting event on New Year's Day would have been inconceivable ten years ago. Now it's not that hard to compete with Northwestern-Vandy, or whatever.
Etc.: Buy Smart Football's book. They'll serve beer at the hockey game not featuring Michigan at Michigan Stadium. Softball lost last night; will try to stay alive at 4:30 on ESPNU. I'm disappointed Bob Gassoff isn't in this picture.
Epic triple point. It happened.
Y'all better get over there.
Hype video. With a historical bent.
The format. The Big Ten announced the first four years of their hockey playoffs will be the single-elimination, neutral-site plan that symbolizes college hockey boldly forging a new path into… oh right, same old stuff.
At least the worst-case scenario was narrowly avoided. The tournament will only be on the far west edge of the conference half the time. The rest of the time it'll be at the Joe, or wherever the Wings happen to be playing.
It will surprise no one that I think this is kind of dumb. The Big Ten is going to get five games in one weekend when they could have set it up to get 10-15 over three. Unless these things are crazy-popular sellouts with separate tickets for each games—and they won't be—the Big Ten's taking in less revenue so they can play fewer games. But high school tournaments are a go, so there's that.
The other format. Teddy Greenstein has some bad news for fans of home games in a college football non-playoff event:
So what is most likely to happen?
Sorry, Big Ten fans, but Delany's "home game" model is on life support. It makes sense in that it would boost the regular season by rewarding the top two in the rankings. And it would eliminate the sham of another LSU-Ohio State national title game in the "neutral" setting of New Orleans.
So what's the problem?
Aside from SEC teams not wanting to play in Ann Arbor or Columbus in late December, it's logistics. Many schools won't have the infrastructure then because they're on holiday break. Stadium size would be an issue with schools such as Cincinnati (35,100), TCU (50,000) and Oregon (53,800). If there's a playoff, officials will want to maximize revenue by selling hospitality and luxury suites. And, besides, most fans love going to bowl games in places like New Orleans and Glendale, Ariz. Delany cited the comfort of the fans when he helped choose a neutral site (Indianapolis) for the Big Ten title game.
"Logistics" is of course a laughable excuse, as is citing Cincinnati's stadium size as a hurdle. Cincinnati? Seriously? But Greenstein is forced to repeat what people tell him, so that's what people are telling him. Woo back to back travel weeks making it even dumber for Big Ten teams.
Crack down. TOC picture-pages one of Michigan State's many, many successful outside overload run plays from last year's game. The motion guy at top of your screen…
…isn't even needed by the end of the play:
As they say in showbusiness, if you want daddy to stop drinking, stop doing that. The first step in doing that is getting those linebackers shifted over to the strength of the formation. Here Hawthorne (near) gets clubbed and Demens (far) has no shot.
More detail at TOC; dealing with these outside runs is priority #2 for Michigan this year. #1 is, of course, not letting two linebackers fly up the middle of the field untouched on 10 snaps.
The AAU deluge begins. In terms of recruiting service rankings, the next three or four months will be more important than any others for Michigan's three 2013 basketball commits, The summer before your senior year is when the pencil of early rankings turns quickly to pen. One of those weird erasable pens, but pen.
MI PG Derrick Walton is off to a good start in Las Vegas. Rivals's Eric Bossi:
Michigan has itself another nice point guard on the way in Derrick Walton. The four star point guard runs his team and has a burst off the dribble that allows him to get into the lane and make plays with regularity. He's also a communicator, plays hard and will ultimately be a very good replacement/complement to Trey Burke.
Dave Telep also chimed in with some Walton praise, adding a similar "no Burke, no problem" view.
As for Donnal, he is also playing at a high level:
Michigan has got themselves a good one in Mark Donnal. The 6-foot-9 big man is a smart and productive player who has a serious competitive streak in him. His footwork is outstanding and he’s a good athlete who can finish through contact.
Scout's Evan Daniels called him "physical and talented" and "much improved" on the twitter. Athleticism is the issue that might keep him from flying up recruiting rankings; in any case he'll be a great fit with Beilein.
Zak Irvin is at the Nike Spring Showdown, where he led his team to a 6-0 record:
The intensity level of play increased when bracket play began on Sunday and Irvin’s play rose to the occasion. He struggled shooting the ball in his first Sunday game, but found other ways to make an impact. He commanded the ball, frequently playing point guard, and he sparked a crucial run by facilitating and getting his teammates easy baskets. With his team facing its only adversity of the tournament against Team D-Rose, Irvin became a better vocal leader. He displayed a calm demeanor and elevated his game as the moment grew.
He didn’t take long to get over his poor shooting performance, scoring a game-high 25 points, leading his team to a one-point overtime victory over the Illinois Wolves later in playoff action. He caught fire and was scoring in a variety of ways – establishing himself as the best player on the floor and everyone in attendance took notice.
Michigan is poking around numerous guys for the 2013 and 2014 classes; UMHoops has the details. Sam Webb has recently mentioned that Michigan continues to look for a grad-year transfer who will be eligible this fall, but no names yet except a guy who decided to stick at Xavier. There is a four year 2012 guy on the radar, though…
Possibly not done yet. As broken by Sam Webb($), Michigan is looking at OHIO(!!!) decommit Caris Levert, a rail-thin 6'5" shooting guard who opened up his recruitment in the wake of John Groce's move to Illinios. Levert appears to have had a monster senior year and has multiple Big Ten schools after him now, including Groce's new home at Illinois, Iowa, Purdue, and of course Michigan. Dayton is also in the running.
He saved his best performance for the state playoffs, getting top billing($) in ESPN author John Stovall's evaluation:
Caris Levert (Pickerington, Ohio/Pickerington Central)
2012, SG, 6-5, 185 pounds
He is one of the most improved players in Ohio. He was a 5-9 guard as a freshman and has continued to grow physically and from a talent standpoint. Caris is very good off the dribble, has the ability to create his own shot and has a chance to be a special talent at the next level if he continues to improve.
He was named the JJHuddle player of the year, an award with a damn good track record:
JJHuddle Ohio Player of the Year
Caris Levert (6’4.5/Sr.)- Pickerington Central
*Levert led Pickerington Central to the school’s first boy’s basketball state championship with a 45-40 win over Toledo Whitmer in the Division I title tilt. Levert scored 20 of his team's 45 points in the championship game including 11-straight in a pivotal third period and playing all 32 minutes. The Ohio University commit averaged nearly 19 points per game throughout his outstanding senior campaign. Coming into the year, Levert may not have been a household name, but his name is in the mind’s of many following this past tournament run along with a more than stellar regular season. Levert became the type of player capable of getting a bucket whenever the Tigers needed one. There were less than a handful of players in Ohio capable of doing so and the lengthy bundle of talent was at his best in big games. Levert shot slightly over 53 percent from the field and 41.5 percent from three-point range along grabbing 3.4 rebounds and swiping 3.4 steals per contest.
JJHuddle Players of the Year
2012: Caris Levert, Pickerington Central (Ohio)
2011: Trey Burke, Northland (Michigan)
2010: Jared Sullinger, Northland (Ohio State)
2009: Jared Sullinger, Northland (Ohio State)
2008: William Buford, Toledo Libbey (Ohio State) & B.J. Mullens, Canal Winchester (Ohio State/Charlotte Bobcats)
2007: Jon Diebler, Upper Sandusky (Ohio State)
While it's not a great year for Ohio talent—the only OH players in the Rivals 150 are UL commit Terry Rozier (#80) and MSU commit Kenny Kaminski (#113)—he sounds legit. Ohio does have a top 50 junior in OSU commit Marc Loving who Levert beat out.
No idea where he's leaning yet. He is a teammate of Taco Charlton, so Michigan will have a guy in his ear. Obviously they like Levert quite a bit more than new OSU commit Amedeo Della Valle; hopefully Michigan's sudden cancellation of his trip indicates they've got the inside track here. UMHoops has a bit more on Lavert's game plus some 2013 and 2014 notes.
We named the dog Indiana. Nick Baumgardner reveals the source of Spike Albrecht's odd nickname:
"I've been watching Zack Novak play since the first grade," Albrecht recalls. "He was tough back then, too."
No longer a first grader, and no longer the little kid whose obsession with constantly wearing baseball cleats earned him the nickname "Spike," the undersized Indiana-born point guard is ready to do whatever it takes to make an impact in Ann Arbor.
Just like Novak.
Wait… um… math. If Spike Albrecht is currently in fifth grade I think we've got ourselves a steal here.
The spokesman said that when a player opts to transfer from Michigan -- as Smotrycz, Carlton Brundidge and Colton Christian did last month -- it's Beilein's preference that the player not choose a Big Ten school or a program that Michigan has on its schedule over the next two years.
That's his preference.
However, it's not a policy, the spokesman said. And it's not a hard and fast rule.
The spokesman said that should a situation arise where a transfer student shows a strong desire to attend a school Michigan has scheduled down the road, then Beilein would be open to having a discussion about the situation, and would not be absolutely opposed to allowing the transfer to occur before the discussion took place.
Meanwhile, the Big Ten transfer rule has changed. Previously, you could not be on scholarship at all. Now you can, but you lose the year of eligibility you would otherwise retain by not playing. The upshot is anyone who hasn't redshirted has a powerful incentive to transfer out of the conference, but anyone who has may as well go to Purdue or wherever because it doesn't make a difference.
It will still be extremely difficult to get a release to a conference school unless Lloyd Carr thinks you belong at OSU, though. That's one restriction I don't have a problem with. If transferring player X can't find a suitable home outside of his current conference that's more on him than on anyone else.
Etc.: A Lion Eye takes stock of where the Illini sit going into fall in a two-parter considering offense and defense. Offense might have some issues at tackle, where two redshirt sophomores are backed up by redshirt freshman, and running back. Defense seems sunny in places that aren't the secondary. Brandon "hopeful" that band will make it to Dallas, undoubtedly with someone else's money. Andy Staples with this year's edition of "recruiting rankings are valid."
Mike Martin bombs the GERGfense as "backyard defense" and says that Bruce Tall didn't know anything about coaching defensive line. Let's all have arguments about RR again!
Yesterday's rapture of three players and near-rapture of Trey Burke takes Michigan from set on players for years to scramble mode. Even if Burke returns—
—Michigan has two open scholarships for now or 2013 and a third that could go to a grad-year transfer. Options? There are some.
Amedeo Della Valle
The 6'5" combo guard from Italy out of Findlay Prep in Nevada. Michigan made his top five despite not officially offering and Beilein's checking him out in person today. He's not ranked highly but has offers from Arizona, Ohio State, and Gonzaga, three of the other teams in his top five. (Texas A&M is the other team. They are not good at basketball.) He's not highly ranked but if he's actually got offers from those three teams and UCLA, UConn, and USC he's a best-case scenario as far as talent Michigan can add to the roster.
Is he a point guard? He thinks so.
Della Valle is a natural point guard, but with Dominic Artis and Nigel Williams-Goss entrenched in the Findlay backcourt, he’s been playing out of position a bit. Moreover, with Bennett injured, Della Valle has been defending bigger players.
It’s given him the chance to demonstrate his versatility.
“I can play the one and the two,” Della Valle said. “I can defend combo guards.”
Della Valle is taking his time with a decision, and said he will likely choose a school until April. There are no favorites, and no other visits planned just yet.
“I want to play right away,” he said. “I also want a great coach. And style of play is important.”
I get the vibe Michigan is in strong position with Della Valle but am simultaneously suspicious of my instinct. There was a random guy on the Rivals board saying he had some inside info and Michigan would get him if they pushed hard. So that's totally solid.
Albrecht is the kid with the ball.
That's not a protest sign directed at a Swiss alderman, it's a person. Sam Webb mentioned a point guard from Indiana spending a prep year in the same league Stauskas and McGary are in; though he didn't mention a name Albrecht fits the profile and is undoubtedly the player in question.
Albrecht is from Crown Point, Indiana—the heart of Michigan recruiting—and a former member of the SYF AAU squad that has provided Michigan with Glenn Robinson III and Mitch McGary. He took a post-grad year in an effort to get a major scholarship. He's still looking for one. He put up 23 points in the prep school AAA championship game after defeating Mitch McGary's heavily favored Brewster squad (link is to full game) and was named the tourney MVP. He's got a couple kids going to D-I schools on his team (Vermont, Harvard, Dartmouth) but still seems to be his team's go-to guy. As of October Albrecht was getting interest from Vermont and MAC schools; he's not rated and is variously listed anywhere from 5'11" to 6'2", with the shorter end of that scale being more realistic.
He is not large but does seem to have the wild double-clutch reverse layup game that you have to have if you're going to be a guy that size playing college basketball. We'd be totally boned if we had to start him next year and he's not likely to beat out Derrick Walton but he might be a solid rotation guy.
BONUS: his team is nicknamed the "Hoggers."
Random High Profile Uncommitted Dude
There are some uncommitted fellows with four stars at various recruiting services but with none of them listing Michigan it's doubtful they can get seriously involved. It is distantly possible they could hop on a guy like Darrick Wood, who is #104 at Rivals, plays at a New England prep school, and only shows an offer from St. John's… a school he already decommitted from. That is a name I picked off a list and nothing else.
With coach-firing season comes potential defections. Illinois has jettisoned Bruce Weber and will not reload with Shaka Smart. Could Michigan pirate one of their recruits? They do have a three-star PG named Michael Orris out of Crete-Monee (also the high school of LaQuon Treadwell). As of a couple weeks ago this was his status($):
"Absolutely," Orris said, when asked if he still planned to suit up for the Orange and Blue next season. "It changes a lot because (Weber) was the man that recruited me, someone I developed an amazing relationship with, but I've signed a letter of intent to Illinois. As of now, that's where I'm going."
It's a longshot, but not completely off the table. Illinois also has an unranked 6-foot shooting guard with one other offer from North Dakota State committed as a preferred walk-on. He's not likely to draw interest.
Nebraska also dumped its coach recently, and unlike Illinois they've got a number of commits. Unfortunately, none are geographically proximate and most are JUCOs. They do have a 5'8" three-star PG out of Kansas City and a 6'4" shooting guard out of Kansas. No one has gotten an "I'm still committed" quote.
This is also the category in which grad-year transfers might be explored. I have no idea if there's a Brandon Wood out there for Michigan this year, but if there is Michigan should take him without blinking. FWIW, UConn's Alex Oriakhi has announced he will transfer and will be immediately eligible as long as UConn's APR-related suspension is upheld. Unfortunately he's a 6'9" center who Michigan doesn't really need.
If Burke returns Michigan doesn't really need anything except maybe a backup point. They could bank a scholarship or two and try to add to their 2013 class with a Bo Ziegler or other guys. It's about 90% likely that Michigan does not fill both slots, I'd say.
Since he'll have to sit out a year, Trey Ziegler counts as air, BTW. Not that it seems like there's anything going on there.
Let's Feel Better About Things
Man, is Mark Donnal going to be a tough matchup in Beilein's offense.
Love the skill level, and he seems like he's got decent athleticism. Also, Derrick Walton is gooooood.
Do you think Coach Beilein wasn't selective enough in the 2013 class, seeing that none of the recruits are in the top 50, and one of them is outside the top 100?
At this point Beilein has earned the benefit of the doubt when it comes to jumping on recruits early. When he grabbed Glenn Robinson III he was an unranked three-star; he is going to finish his high school career with five stars on Rivals and won't be far off on Scout. Nick Stauskas has broken into the top 100 on all sites as well; I think he'll be a fantastic two-guard for Michigan. Last year Beilein won a recruiting battle with Cincinnati for PSU decommit Trey Burke. The year before he grabbed Smotrycz before his profile blew up and was higher on Tim Hardaway Jr than anyone else. Beilein's evaluation skills are clearly a notch above the field.
So there's that. Beilein's taken a lot of lightly-regarded three stars who happen to blow up either before or after they hit Ann Arbor. Michigan's 2013 class may be in the process of doing that. Derrick Walton just went for 47 in a playoff game; Zak Irvin has had a strong high school season. I'm guessing those guys are more likely to move up than down, though Scout's Brian Snow doesn't seem like he's going to budge on Irvin just yet.
Even if those guys aren't in line for some of the meteoric rises we've seen Michigan recruits have, they don't have to get bumped much to be on par with 2012. Irvin's on the edge of the top 50 on Rivals and Walton is 87. They're starting out with more rep than Robinson or Stauskas, more rep than three of MSU's four 2012 commits.
As for Donnal, I don't care as much what the ratings say about him because it's at that five spot that Michigan is so divergent from a conventional team. Donnal has an extremely high skill level that makes him a great fit for Michigan. Hypothetical athletic limitations—which may or may not be a big deal for a post who just finished his junior year of high school—make him the #124 player in a nationwide ranking; in Beilein's eyes you can bet he's a lot higher.
When Carlton Brundidge, a guy who still has a lot of time to turn into a useful player, is the best case for a Beilein recruiting miss* attempting to criticize his 2013 class is like shooting a guy wearing six bulletproof vests.
*[I don't think anyone expected post-signing-day pickup Colton Christian to be anything other than what he is; jury is out on Bielfeldt. Beilein is making a lot of encouraging noises about him. #pleasebelikedraymondgreen
Also, a large number of Beilein recruits that went elsewhere have gone on to agonizingly good careers elsewhere: Kyle Kuric, Kevin Pangos, Klay Thompson, etc. Hell, Green was supposedly about to commit to Michigan before Izzo swooped in on him.]
A follow-up from the Michigan Today story featuring the "athletic colors" and the "official colors" that were so divergent:
After reading about university colors on MGoBlog, I thought you find find some additional information of interest.
An Ann Arbor News article from November 29, 1998, "Hue-ing the line: True blue, maize ways" follows up on the Fall 1996 Michigan Today story "Which Maize? Which Blue?" The 1912 official color color samples (housed at the Bentley Historical Library) were tested in 1997 with spectrophotometers by X-Rite (a company in Grandville, Michigan founded by Rufus Teesdale a Michigan graduate).
According to the Ann Arbor News article, the spectrophotometer readings were converted to printing instructions noting that the numbers "were tweaked a bit to account for some fading of the ribbons since 1912."
The spectrophotometer readings of the 1912 official color samples were:
MAIZE: 9 cyan, 28 magenta, 59 yellow, 0 black
BLUE: 93 cyan, 76 magenta, 24 yellow, 2 black
The 1912 report on the official colors reads a lot like current complaints about color, "In short, the blue color, which is the one longest associated with the University, starting with a shade almost as dark as "navy blue" has gradually weakened until it has the hint known as "baby blue." the maize, likewise, has faded to correspond, and is now an expressionless pale yellow. So delicate have the colors become, that they have not only lost their original character, but are ineffective in decorations, and useless to the Athletic association, which has been forced to employ colors entirely different from those which recent graduates regard as University colors. It is only necessary to see the diversity of the banners which are displayed in the store windows to realize the confusion which exists."
Every time I bring this up I'm pleasantly surprised by how seriously people take this. Again, I've heard that the athletic department would like to move away from the kind of yellow that gets us mentioned in the same breath with the Sounders and Oregon when SI writers are bagging on these babies:
I hope they come with sirens, ladders, and hoses
Let there come a day when Roy Roundtree is wearing sunglasses in Crisler just to look cool instead of prevent retina damage.
On Michigan's late game success.
You mentioned that you don't buy into the "grit" factor as a possible explanation into their 13-5 record given the difference in efficiency margin. I agree that Eckstein-adjectives don't rationalize the difference but I was curious if there is any game experience stats out there that could help.
I know that UM is still young in terms of overall team experience but there's no question in my mind that Novak and Douglas' four years of relevant playing time contributes to that record despite the efficiency. I would also think that having Morgan and Hardaway being second year starters adds to that explanation given the relative short time periods that excellent teams have their players for before they leave for the draft.
I don't know how you would measure it but is there anything that quantifies the experience of the players actually playing minutes in the game. Having two starters that have played significant time over four years has to be somewhat rare in the Big 10's upper tier.
Kenpom does have an experience measure that adjusts for minutes played. Michigan is 209th of 345 with an average of 1.54 years of experience. This is a massive improvement on last year when they were 335th*.
As for Michigan's super-experienced dudes, Michigan's two is better than OSU's one (Buford) and MSU's one (Green; Thornton has not seen a lot of time in his career), but Green has a usage of 28%, Buford 23%. Stu and Zack are around 15% each. Their involvement in the offense summed about equals Green's.
Meanwhile when I think clutch late-game performances, I think Trey Burke putting it as high off the glass as possible against OSU and hitting free throw after free throw. This blog has a tag about Burke's clutch play even though it tries not to believe in clutch. That's a freshman.
So I cannot agree with your police work here when poor Northwestern is so much more experienced (89th), relies two massive-usage upperclassmen, and endured maximum epic pain in all late game situations this year. BOOM REVERSE ANECDOTE'D.
In the face of the post-Merrit/Lee implosion I'm a convert to the gritty winning winners bit, but I think that's equally useful at all times during a game, in practice, etc., not especially at the end of a game.
*[BONUS KENPOM STATISTICAL OUTLIER: Michigan gets 17% of their minutes from its bench. That is 343rd(!) nationally. The only teams more reliant on their starters are Siena, a 14-17 MAAC team, and Youngstown State, a 16-15 Horizon League team.
Oddly enough, having few bench minutes is much less of a problem than having a ton. Alabama is the most bench-heavy team in the tournament at #45 and they are up there involuntarily after two starters were suspended midseason. #60 Kansas State is the first team on the list that seems to have voluntarily played its bench a lot. Life's better at the bottom: 14 teams in the 300s in this category (ie, a third of them) made the tourney, including S16 seeds Kansas, Kentucky, Missouri, Wisconsin, Louisville, and Michigan.]
Other basketball takes. Grantland* oddly dispatched a guy to cover the Michigan-Northwestern game. He comes back with an impression of Ann Arbor clearly derived from the rims clanging so loud it sounds like a Gary, Indiana, steel mill before it closed in 1979, but once he gets past the grim midwesternness of it all it's a good piece:
. In the post, Smotrycz and Novak get rough with Shurna, putting their bodies into him, bumping him off the ball, and generally making him fight for every inch. Shurna hates this physicality, hates it viscerally and philosophically and every other way you can hate something. More often than not, he casts a look at the referee, hoping for a foul call, before retreating to the perimeter. He'll finish the game with 21 points, but after his second jumper of the half, with 19 long minutes remaining, he's scored all but four of that total. The rest of the game is a vanishing act.
I still think whenever Beilein ends up with an open scholarship late he should scour Northwestern's commitments for whoever their totally rad guy is going to be. That seems preferable to snatching Colton Christian away from low majors.
Holdin' the Rope credits Denard in the headline and provides a link to the Novak dunk that brought down the house during Michigan's 10-0 second half run:
Re: Denard, A half-dozen Michigan football players including Roy Roundree and Denard held court in the student section after they were honored for winning the Sugar Bowl. One thing you can say about Michigan football: they are not too cool for school.
HTR also dubs freshman NU PG Dave Sobolewski "Sobocop" in an attempt to insult him for prompting the Morgan tech. This will certainly backfire and cause Northwestern fans to admiringly dub him that for the rest of his career. Sippin' On Purple, make this happen.
*[Grantland pays Brian Phillips and Chris Brown money to write about sports. I'm not hearing criticism of it even if it runs some dumb stuff. That's easy enough to ignore; the good bits are very good. VIVA LOS SIMMONS.]
Donnal update. Even Jordan Morgan is impressed by this stat:
Perhaps no one on the team has bought in to the new approach more than Mark Donnal, the 6-9 junior who is already committed to the University of Michigan. The league's top post player is averaging a team-high 20.4 points and 8.7 rebounds after averaging 15 points and seven boards last season.
Donnal, who probably receives more double-teams near the basket than any other player in the NLL, is sinking 79 percent of his shots from the field, as well as from the foul line.
Big guys in high school usually tower over opponents and can just oaf their way to easy buckets, but if you've seen any video of Donnal you know he's unusually skilled for a 6'9" post type. He's Pittsnogalian.
That sounds like an adjective from a lost chapter of Gulliver's Travels featuring a race of lovable, enormous tattooed weirdos. It's a keeper, that is.
CSB midterms. The NHL's Central Scouting Bureau has released their midseason rankings, which are the first to put a number on prospects rather than a vague letter. Voila:
#9 Jacob Trouba
#28 Phil Di Giuseppe (freshman)
#31 Boo Nieves
#82 Alex Kile (2013)
#157 Connor Carrick
#175 Justin Selman
Incoming goalie Jared Rutledge is the #36 goalie, which would mean he's not getting drafted. Daniel Milne and future Rutledge backup Steve Racine are the only draft-eligible recruits not listed.
Trouba is the top-ranked American. A CSB scout on him:
“Jacob has offensive skills and he really does defend well. You can just tell by how he plays in all areas of the ice that he’s a big kid who skates really well, he loves to jump into the play and has confidence because he knows his skating can get him back, so he rarely gets caught out of position. He’s going to be someone people are going to talk about; we’ve known about him for a couple years and he’s not disappointing this year.”
Remember that these are North American skater rankings only; Europeans and goalies will push these folks down. Those are mid-second-round ratings for PDG and Nieves, not late first.
WCH calls out Connor Carrick as notably under-ranked; if that's true Michigan will definitely have five draftees with Selman a potential sixth. Kile is a surprise. One: I didn't know he was draft eligible this year. Two: he's got 7-8-15 in 29 games with the Green Bay Gamblers of the USHL, which is a far cry from the 38, 35, 30, 29 you see at the top of their scoring charts. He's kind of big at 6-foot, 195, but not the kind of big that gets you drafted above your skill level by the NHL.
Meanwhile in the odious machinations of junior hockey magnates. Nieves's rights were traded in the deadline flurry. This is never good, but Nieves has reconfirmed that he has no interest in the OHL:
Nieves was traded to Saginaw, which isn't any closer to home than Michigan or notorious for shelling out under the table payments. Also if he was going to leave he had an opportunity before signing up for another year of prep hockey with Matt Herr. Usually when a player committed to college changes his mind it's the year before he's scheduled to arrive. Only the specter of competing against Shawn Hunwick is sufficient motivation to ditch when college is around the corner.
Meanwhile in things you'd do for a dollar. Rumor is the Winter Classic is headed to Michigan in the near future, and not just the state:
Multiple sources told Yahoo! Sports this week that the NHL is in advanced discussions with the University of Michigan about holding the 2013 Winter Classic in Ann Arbor.
One source, who spoke on a condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to speak on the matter, said Michigan athletic director Dave Brandon wasn't initially sold on the idea of the NHL hosting an outdoor game at Michigan Stadium. But over a matter of a couple of weeks, the source said "something happened to make it go from looking like it could happen to [a point where] it probably will."
No doubt long deliberations with a man dressed in a curly fries outfit eventually led to the breakthrough. Would Dave Brandon threaten to break Michigan's own attendance record and hopelessly conflict a ton of people when Michigan inevitably plays a bowl game on the same day? Yes. The curly fries are very convincing, and there is at least one dollar in it.
Guh. I only talk about coaches who coach for Michigan unless I need to give Tony Gibson minus even more of the points:
The previous CB coach, Gibson, who I believe also is joining the Arizona staff, wasn't big on technique, at least not when he was a WVU. Players have stated that he would tell them, "just get to the spot." Lockwood came in and changed that, and with that change came nice strides of improvement in the cornerbacks.
Unfortunately, the spot was ten yards away from the receiver.
Etc.: The university's policy of exorbitant FOIA fees is an embarrassment. Roundtree's looking for a bigger role next year. BC Interruption is feeling the MGoPlayoff. Horford may be able to return this year. Silver lining if he can't: the ensuing redshirt will give some separation between Michigan's bigs, three of whom may leave in the same year if McGary is two-and-out. UMHoops picture pages a bunch of out of bounds plays.