By Bryan MacKenzie
Remember that roommate in college who you never saw? Like, you knew Pete lived there, and if someone asked you to list your roommates, you would include Pete. Pete's stuff moved around the house from time to time, and every month the check for his share of the utilities was clipped to the fridge. You didn't dislike Pete, necessarily, but you barely ever saw him, and you never hung out together.
Maryland is Pete. Yeah, they're in our conference. We know that. But we have essentially no interaction with them. We have almost no interests in common, and we don't understand their East Coast ways very well. They're always talking about lacrosse and crabs and how The Wire doesn't accurately depict Baltimore. So when we have to interact, we're naturally a little unsure of our social dynamic.
(For the record, Maryland moved in at the same time as Rutgers, but Maryland refuses to admit that they were friends when Rutgers moved in. Rutgers was that roommate who everyone hated. He constantly got in arguments with everyone over the stupidest crap. He was awful at Mario Kart but kept talking shit about it. He smelled bad, and after he used the kitchen it smelled like he'd microwaved a cat.)
Michigan has played five games against Maryland all time. That is fewer matchups than Michigan has had against 32 other teams, including Mount Union, Harvard, and Oberlin. But we're gonna be division-mates for a while, so we need to get used to it. And more importantly, we need to figure out how we relate to each other. Do we develop a indifference-to-their-hatred like we have with Illinois? Maybe a "no YOU have the inferiority complex" tête-à-tête like we have with Sparty? At the moment, I'm leaning towards a "Wait until [football/basketball] season" relationship like we have with Indiana.
From a pure football standpoint, this shouldn't be a terribly close game. S&P+, Sagarin, Vegas, and "I have watched these two teams attempt to football" all suggest Michigan has an advantage in every phase of the game. The Wolverines should be able to move the ball without much issue, and while Maryland's running game is above average, Michigan's defense is designed around stopping spread-to-run teams like this.
The catch, though, is that we don't know what kind of team Maryland is bringing to Ann Arbor. Are they bringing a team that will go gently into that good night, like Penn State and Illinois did? Or will they bring a team hopped up on goofballs who comes out punching, Little Mac-style, like Michigan State or Colorado? Until we know them better, it's hard to say. We don't even have much information about what a "DJ Durkin team" looks like.
There's a good chance Durkin will want to put on good show for his former team, and he certainly has as much insight into Michigan's attack but how much hatred is there for a team he coached for one year, especially when he voluntarily parlayed it into a head coaching gig? My crystal ball says that Maryland puts together a few explosive plays on the ground, but Michigan is just too much and pulls away without much effort. Michigan 38, Maryland 17
by Nick RoUMel
Michigan is in trouble today. I realize they are undefeated, but they have shown vulnerabilities in this young season that can be exploited. Maryland may be new to our conference, but they are a strong team, led by the return of Melo Trimble. After reaching the Sweet Sixteen a year ago, they could be a dark horse contender for the Big Ten title.
[Ed: Don’t be an idiot.] Wait, what? It’s still football season? Sorry, I got mixed up. I went to Michigan’s basketball opener last night with “Punt Classic,” Ken “Sky” Walker, and it was both familiar and strange at the same time. Familiar because it was Crisler Arena; Bob and Judy still sat behind us; a small pop is still $5; and there were a few players I vaguely recalled from last year. But it was also strange because there were all these new guys, like the two guards from Ohio, and the big guy from Onsted with a buzzcut and big ears, and Larry the usher wasn’t in our section anymore.
Then there was the complete mish-mash mind melt, like when they played Bo’s “The Team” speech. Clearly Bo was not talking about the basketball team. If he were he would not have said “you can go into professional football, you can go anywhere you want to play after you leave here.” Because that would have been very confusing to a basketball player. Unless you’re Julius Peppers.
But I digress. What can I say about our sort-of roommate “Pete” from Maryland, that Punt hasn’t already said? You go from not even thinking about Pete, and then one night he comes home at 2:30 AM after the bars close and randomly challenges you to a pull-up contest on the bar that some long ago tenant installed on the bedroom door. And you’re like, this is crazy, Pete; I was just about to go to sleep; but he persists. You do a quiet 16, and he does a lightning fast dozen but then drops to the ground clutching his stomach. And that’s the last you see of Pete, because the next day you wake up and his closet is empty and his dad’s car is pulling out of the driveway while Pete waves forlornly, looking a little green.
I can tell you nothing more of Pete. But I can tell you about Sparty, that cocky kid from that frat that’s always in trouble with the cops and the University administration. Sparty loves to gloat when he’s riding high, but finds a way to blame others when he screws up. He made the Dean’s list the last three years, but this year he’s on academic probation. But he doesn’t talk about that, oh no. Instead he brags that on his last midterm, he got the last two answers right and that proves that he never quits.
-- OK, let me put this parable into plain English. Michigan State was a top ten football team the last three seasons, and preseason top ten this year. How fast and far have they fallen? The best they can do is to claim a moral victory because they only lost at home by nine points to their rival.
Hell, even Pete beat Sparty this year. And Pete’s no stronger now than when he flamed out on that pull-up challenge. Actually he’s even weaker. It’s been a while since you’ve seen him. Now he’s working in tech support for some startup that even he can’t describe what they do. He’s looking a little pasty and he asks if you’re going to finish your doughnut. You finally tell him what you’ve wanted to tell him since he was your roommate in college:
Tell you what, Pete; why don’t we play a little football instead?
Hello. Sorry about that involuntary vacation there. Dumping water on your laptop is not fun, especially when the backup you had on hand for just such an eventuality doesn't boot either. Then I was at Blogs With Balls yesterday, trying to look somewhat official.
I am back now, even if the change in keyboard styles makes me want to die. Nothing makes me angrier than trying to use a keyboard I'm not familiar with. It's like having a stroke, one that suddenly puts punctuation all over the place for no reason. Anyway.
Just another day in the life. Offseason is relative.
Jim Harbaugh gives his version of Drake's album cover, gets RT'd by the First Lady
Anonymous NFL scout strikes again. The woooooorst:
This anonymous scout quote abt OSU's Eli Apple was, um, interesting:"The kid has no life skills. At all. Can't cook" https://t.co/03a8Tn3F6V
— Bruce Feldman (@BruceFeldmanCFB) April 27, 2016
There's about a 90% chance that the dude anonymously slamming Apple's life skills spends most of his life in hotels, has been divorced four times, and hasn't cooked anything more complicated than cereal since the 1970s. Also, this random slam from a guy who doesn't even know Apple appears to be 100% false:
Eli has made me some fire fried chicken and mac and cheese. The source seems to be pretty unreliable
— EzekielElliott#⃣1⃣5⃣ (@EzekielElliott) April 27, 2016
The NFL draft starts tonight so our brief annual spate of anonymous, ludicrous slams of NFL prospects is just about over. Tune in next year, when someone accuses Jourdan Lewis of setting fire to his toaster.
Durkin on Harbaugh. None of this is actually a surprise; it is a confirmation about what life under Harbaugh is like:
CR: I'd imagine your early days at Stanford under Jim Harbaugh were a lot like the early ones at Bowling Green under Meyer. Is that accurate?
Durkin: It was absolute mayhem. It really was.
When I first got there, it was like, oh my gosh. Then you finally spend more time with Jim. The guy is really smart. Extremely smart. Everything is for a reason, but he loves chaos. That's just how he operates. He loves confrontation, chaos, conflict. He doesn't want it to be everyone comfortable, this is the schedule. He just loves throwing a wrench in the works.
So, when you first get there, it's like, what's going on? But it was great. To see someone impose their will, their confidence, their vision on a program, to totally change it—total 180. Stanford was known as a soft, academic, wine-sipping program. Now it's the total opposite. He definitely imposed his will on the place.
This was Bo's approach to the point where he would deliberately stoke fights between his coaches just to see what everyone really thought. Harbaugh runs through a lot of coaches; they generally move on up afterwards, often quickly, because life under Harbaugh is a pressure cooker.
Durkin also relates the one-on-one story we've heard a couple times before:
CR: Let's end with the story of you playing Harbaugh one-on-one at Stanford. What do you remember?
Durkin: It was a random day in the office. We were meeting, talking about something, and he was dribbling a basketball. We were talking about something—recruiting or something—and the conversation somehow got to, "Hey, let's go out and play."
So we went to play one-on-one. First to seven. Great. So we're playing. I went up for a layup or something, he fouled—I mean, hacked me. And I didn't call it. I didn't expect him to call foul. No, we're good. Check up.
Then it became, O.K., if that's not a foul, there are no fouls. So the game went on for—the reason it became epic—it was over an hour-long game. To seven. And people are up there watching. No one wanted to lose, and no one would call a foul. So it was, if the guy got a step on you, chuck him in the back, lose the ball. Nope, no foul. Good, your ball. So it went on. It was well over an hour. A game to seven.
CR: Who won?
Durkin: He won. I let him win in the end. Job security.
I've repeatedly stated that I was skeptical about how good of a DC Durkin actually was after Michigan tailed off against spread teams late, but he's the kind of guy who could be much better as a head coach than a coordinator*. He's already done some good things with Maryland's recruiting.
*[And he's just unproven there, not necessarily bad. Last year was his first truly running his own D after operating under Will Muschamp at Florida and he inherited a ton of talent from the previous guy. It's striking how close the parallels are between 2015 and 2006, which also saw a hotshot new coordinator inherit a bucket of talent, turn his unit into one of the nation's best, and then get annihilated by Ohio State while doing something seemingly nonsensical. With Durkin that was running a safety at 15 yards against a spread to run offense; with Ron English it was trying to cover an NFL first-round WR with Chris Graham.]
Maryland doesn't recruit good and stuff. Excellent data post from Capital News service detailing the futility of Maryland recruiting despite a healthy amount of local talent. It incidentally proves our Mississippi Is A Black Hole Nothing Escapes theory:
That will never cease being a mystery to me.
I do think there are some questionable assumptions the data invites you to take away here because their list of top talent-producing states has Delaware(?!) third and Hawaii fifth. This is correct on a per-capita basis, but why that's relevant to a college trying to fill a recruiting class is unclear. (Delaware is likely that high because of ECA, the controversial magnet school that Freddy Canteen and Brandon Watson attended.)
Incoming Cain? MI SF Jamal Cain got his Michigan offer. Cain, a 2017 kid ranked as a three star by the world, got a bunch of Michigan predictions on his 247 page in the immediate aftermath. It doesn't sound like he'll drop immediately…
"His recruiting is rapidly growing," said Covington, a former player at Oakland, who added that Cain is likely to go through the recruiting process and not commit anywhere until before or duirng his senior year at Cornerstone Prep.
Cain is currently rated as the No. 190 overall played in the 2016 class in the 247 Sports Composite.
…but plans have a tendency to change. Endless Motor has an interview with Cain that is of interest:
EM: Can you tell us a a bit about the basketball presentation?
JC: Coach Beilein showed me film of Tim Hardaway Jr. and Zak Irvin, and said he wanted me to play a similar role at the shooting guard/small forward spots, and that I would be used in that way. Coach Beilein said I could really thrive in that role at UM.
In Trey-Burke-ish basketball recruiting news, Xavier SImpson surges into the top 50 in ESPN's final rankings after an outstanding senior season that saw him win the USA Today POY in the state.
So much for that. JT Compher signs with the Avs and CCM is gone lock, stock, and barrel. When Red returned one of the arguments made in favor of that decision was that CCM was more likely to return—at least portions of it—in Ann Arbor. That obviously did not work out.
With NHL departures now (probably) completed, this is what Michigan's looking at next year. I'm bumping Cutler Martin up to F:
That does not look like a tournament team unless Michigan is better than it's been on defense since Mel left. Michigan loses six of its top seven scorers and gets back only two forwards who were significantly above zero in +/-: Kile and Dancs.
Goodbye Idaho. If only EMU would follow. The Vandals are dropping down to I-AA after getting booted from the Sun Belt, which only admitted them in the first place so they could have a conference championship game. With no conference home and none pending, their only logical move was to drop down and play with the Montanas and North Dakota States of the world. Two things: this apparently won't even save them money…
The athletic department will save money having to fund fewer scholarships (63 as opposed to 85), but a source told CBS Sports that the program will lose money overall.
…and Idaho football costs about 20% as much as EMU's athletic deficit.
While the move enjoys some support in the community, Idaho will lose its FBS branding -- playing at the highest level of college football. Idaho students fund football to the tune of $127 per semester in their tuition payments.
Which is boggling if you think about it. EMU faculty and students just urged the university to drop football, to which the regents said "nah." Eastern's athletic department spending is completely insane:
The study point to an increase in the total full time equivalent athletic staff from 64 in 2006-07 to 85 in 2015-16, doubling staff salaries from $3.2 million to $6.4 million as the department saw 10 more coaching positions and more than 11 "athletic personnel" added during the same time period. During that same time period, the report indicates EMU's entire faculty increased by just 15.78 full-time equivalent personnel.
The arms race at the top of college athletics makes sense because the money's got to go somewhere. Eastern is setting money on fire—its students' money.
Rappists say nice things. I mean, I think they do. Migos on Harbaugh:
"He knows the music," Migos member Offset told TMZ. "He's a real cool playa. He's a playa, man, from the Himalayas."
#wellactually he goes to the Andes mountains, person who was clearly trying to rhyme things.
SBN on the Big Ten's rights situation. This is a point worth considering:
Will coaches freak out if their games aren’t on ESPN?
Yes, and so will administrators throughout the conference. Years ago, when the ACC flirted with leaving ESPN for Fox, some of the conference’s powerful basketball coaches were not shy about voicing their displeasure, believing that the lack of ESPN coverage would hurt their recruiting efforts. It’s too early to know how Big Ten coaches and athletic directors will react. But consider this: When school administrators asked at the recent league meetings if it’s possible for ESPN to get shut out, they were told, “Anything is possible.” One senior official at a Big Ten school said his peers “were scared to death” at the prospect of not having games on ESPN, which could eat into their recruiting.
ESPN's "lowball" offer for half the rights package was easy to pass over. It'll be harder for the Big Ten to extract maximum revenue from the second half without abandoning ESPN entirely, and that's a move everyone is wary of. Well, maybe. I've yet to see the Big Ten do anything other than maximize revenue.
Etc.: MLS to Detroit? If so you have to make them Detroit City and call them "The Rock." This is not negotiable. Profiles of Graham Glasgow and Jourdan Lewis. More on Glasgow's draft status. Jabrill Peppers already being talked about for next year's draft. A CFB commissioner is discussed; seems impractical. Baseball doing well. Holding The Rope on personnel shifts at ESPN.
1/12/2016 – Michigan 70, Maryland 67 – 13-4, 3-1 Big Ten
those people didn't even know us [Bryan Fuller]
This was always going to happen at some point. A marquee win was going to stroll onto the court and get bombed back into the Stone Age by Duncan Robinson and the Enola Gays. Even as the team was getting hammered by various opponents featuring large angry people, I had this faith. (Probably. Shut up.)
They just had to, you know, do it. They had to take the three point shooting and shape it into a win with the other bent and misshapen tools at their disposal. The math had to add up. It had not done that so much this year. But basketball's math is changing.
John Beilein hasn't changed much in the 86 years he's been a college head coach. He will play four, preferably five, people who can shoot three-pointers and try to get away with everything that implies. The 1-3-1 has come and gone but the core has always been the Beilein Long Range Strategic Bombing Initiative.
It's worked. Beilein scrapped his way up the ranks by overachieving everywhere he's ever been. But there was always thought to be a ceiling past which this kind of basketball could not go. Early skeptics noted that Beilein's attention-grabbing tourney runs at West Virginia were paired with mediocre regular seasons. He'd never sniffed a conference title in a major league. Players who could shoot from deep were limited role players. They were Just A Shooters.
The game of basketball has changed, gradually and now radically. With Steph Curry currently redefining what NBA efficiency means as statheads in the background furrow their brows over any shot between the arc and the rim, the zeitgeist has finally come around to the idea that three is more than two.
Meanwhile Beilein has been a whisker away from a national title, a whisker away from another Final Four, and won three Big Ten championships. It's been a little rough so far this year since the post play has been… uh… well…
is there any way to say this diplomatically
if I am not diplomatic will I be arrested
I seem to have been given a choice between being massively dishonest and being banned from speech forever
Also Michigan's recent propensity for injury has bit hard as Spike exited for good and Zak Irvin scuffled through a big chunk of the season during which the fact he was about to miss a three was more obvious than the plot of The Force Awakens. Oh, and Caris Levert has missed three games and counting.
But as ways to play basketball go it seems like people are just now catching up to Beilein. The team is catching up to expectations. Now if we can just get some additional Mitch types in here.
Yesterday they did it. Set aside the bigs going 0/5; they are not members of the backing band here. Robinson and company went 12/24. That's 50%. That is good. That is enough to overcome a lot of things. It's enough to overcome Diamond Stone using 40%(!) of Maryland possessions efficiently, for one.
And it's not a fluke. Muhammad Ali Abdur-Rahkman hit his lone three against Maryland and has joined the club: Michigan has five players hitting 40%+ from three. That does not count Irvin, who seems to be recovered from the back-injury-induced early season funk and is hitting 44% over his last five. They have two players, Walton and Robinson, above 50%.
This deep into the season thoughts that Michigan might reclaim their Burke/Stauskas form have been shelved. But if they can poke their nose inside the line enough to avoid the kind of drought they suffered midway through the second half, they can be a fatally flawed team that goes down in a technicolor blaze of glory.
BULLETS FROM ABOVE
Goddamn, Duncan Robinson. Here are the top ten three point shooters in the country.
Robinson has 42 more attempts than the next-closest guy. The only player I found with significantly more, Oakland's Max Hooper, has 133 and is shooting at a 45% clip.
And is it just me or has he improved defensively? I have not been frustrated by a bunch of blow-bys of late. He seems to be able to stay in front of PF types and is even bothering the occasional person with his length. He's by no means good, but the opposition has stopped targeting him over and over again as the clear weak spot.
Robinson is developing—or probably just displaying—the ability to Not Just Shoot as well. The drive and pretty reverse layup late in the second half was an eye-opener; he's putting up shot fakes and then repositioning as well. He was the alpha dog on Williams two years ago with a diverse all-around game; he should be able to grow into that as he gets more comfortable on a D-I court.
weird face sometimes too [Bryan Fuller]
Derrick Walton is a weird player. Walton is rebounding like a 6'11" guy. His 21.7 DREB rate is almost top 100 nationally. Many of those are of the mansome variety where he launches off both feet and secures a ball a 6'1" guy definitely should not secure. Meanwhile He's hitting 33% of his two-pointers and 53% of his threes.
I am desperately disappointed that Kenpom stopped showing you similar players based on stats*, because what does that spit out for a guy with that DREB rate, assist rate, and shooting profile? Jan Jagla, but good?
*[I assume Pomeroy dumped it because it didn't work, but in this situation that only makes it better. Other possibility: Pomeroy saw Walton's sophomore year and pulled the plug in case his junior year caused his computer to emit smoke and shut down, moaning "why Ken whyyyyyy" as it did.]
Walton is a weird defender. I was very frustrated with him in the Purdue game. He started well and then kept getting beat off the dribble by drives that didn't look like anything other than a meh Purdue guard putting his head down. So of course he comes out against Melo Trimble and crushes him.
didn't go well, could have gone worse [Fuller]
Donnal as the "Evolution of Man" poster. I dunno, man. I assume every Michigan fan had written off Mark Donnal for good. There was certainly a lot of grousing about wasting minutes on him during the cupcake games in December, grousing that I agreed with. And then he got a ton of layups and is… well, he's not good but he is middling with frightening outburst of Mutumbo.
I never thought I would say this but the defensive downgrade when DJ Wilson came in was obvious. Wilson got wreckt on a couple of pick and rolls where he let the PG around him; Donnal got over and cut off penetration. He of course had that sequence towards the end of the first half where he had two spectacular blocks* and looked as surprised as anyone that he had just had two spectacular blocks.
While Diamond Stone more or less had his way with Donnal for much of the day the progress there is undeniable.
*[The first of which caused Tiricio and—ugh—Vitale to rant about how Donnal had committed a foul. Not that I expect Vitale to pay attention to the rules of the game or even the things happening in front of his face, but Donnal "getting [opponent] with the body" was Donnal leaping vertically as opponent rammed into him. That is a major emphasis with the refs this year.]
DJ Wilson is still baking. Clearly very bad in this game, as his brief chunk of playing time in the second half resulted in a 10-2 run for Maryland that he was almost singlehandedly responsible for. Also he floats to the perimeter to shoot threes way too much. But you can see flashes of an effective player in there; he has super-long arms and length, so he gets his hands on a lot of balls and has a future as a shot blocker.
The redshirt was clearly the best idea. He's got a long way to go; he has a very high ceiling.
Speaking of Max Hooper. Hooper has 133 three point attempts that he's hitting at a 45% rate. Pretty good, Max Hooper! How are you doing inside the line?
Wow. Hooper is a junior; in his career he has attempted 11 two-point shots and 344 three.
This has been "Brian and Ace find a freakish basketball player on Kenpom of no interest to you and tell you about it anyway."
1000 South State Street • Ann Arbor, MI • 48109 • [email protected]
OBJECTIVE: Tournament bid.
EDUCATION: Beilein University, Beyond the Arc, MI
AND YOU CAN'T HAVE ONE WITHOUT THE OTHER:
And great shooting by Robinson and Irvin pic.twitter.com/koLqudpxBW
— Bryan Fuller (@FullOfTwitt) January 13, 2016