here's one vote for "John Beilein's head in a Futurama jar"
Here's something to read as you wait for Hand to make you self high-five or send you further into your depressive tailspin.
STEP AWAY FROM THE GROBAN. Okay yeah don't ever talk to a Michigan player about anything but this is a flashback I do not need right now.
Brady Hoke: Fans who want to bash players via social media 'need to get a life'
At least this time there won't be a moronic media backlash against an obviously correct and appropriate sentiment about douchers on the internet who take their frustration out on players. So at least we've got that going for us. Someone make sure that Mike Rosenberg has still been run out of town on a rail. (He what? He got a job where? As a janitor? Oh. Well, the world is a terrible place.)
The Daily has compiled Ace Williams and other 16 year olds having hissy fits at Gardner on Twitter. While it's getting tiresome every time someone points out that racists, idiots, and the 16-year-old-pretending-to-be-Oxford-attending-face-gel-model Ace Williams have access to the internet, yes, all of these people should be shot into the sun. But I think a lot of people should be shot into the sun. I don't think we should put me in charge of the Which People Go On The Rocket Into The Sun committee.
TOP FIVE PEOPLE GOING IN THE ROCKET INTO THE SUN
- Sepp Blatter
- Fred Durst
- Jonathan Franzen
- Whoever popularized quinoa
- Bill Hancock
Q: Where is Al Borges in that line?
Aw man he doesn't deserve to be burned into a crisp. Don't ask me about this in the immediate aftermath of a muffed punt.
Last. Michigan is now dead last in tackles for loss allowed.
This is amazing. For once, your perception that thing X about your team being the greatest or the worst is accurate. Savor this moment. (Forget about all of this immediately using whatever techniques or substances required to do so.)
Stop thinking about that think about this.
if they called it "Bovember" I would be required to do it by law
Steve Sapardanis rates Michigan mustaches of the 1970s. Why didn't I do this instead of the UFR? Because I am dumb. I am beyond dumb. Anyway, here's Sap's greatest mustache of all time:
That's Jon Giesler (1975-78), who is obviously an offensive lineman.
Booing. Michigan Stadium booed during the Nebraska game. I disapprove of this at all times, but at least this time it was blazingly obvious that the fans were booing two runs into the line for nothing that everyone in the stadium knew were coming and would not work. That is coach-directed, and of a different tenor than the stadium-wide hissy fit early in the Rodriguez era. But hey give the media a chance to write a story about it and they will, asking everybody about it about six times. Even, uh…
Obviously, everyone is entitled to their opinion,” [Desmond] Morgan said. “It’s a little bit disappointing, I would say. The guys in this building are the guys in this building. We’re together. We’re not too concerned about the outside influences, whether the fans are up or down.”
…the defense! File under trying too hard.
Resume thinking about misery. So… yeah. "Line Yardage" is a metric that chops out everything over ten yards and relatively discounts yards from 5-10 in an effort to see which offensive lines are doing the best at getting yards under the assumption that most of the stuff after about five yards is not on them.
You're probably thinking that Michigan isn't doing too well in this stat. You are correct.
Worst single-game Line Yardage average in 2013:
1. Michigan (vs. Michigan State): -0.53
2. Oregon State (vs. SDSU): 0.11
3. Michigan (vs. Nebraska): 0.47
4. Miami (vs. Va. Tech): 0.57
5. North Texas (vs. Georgia): 0.58
Georgia State got a better push against Alabama than Michigan got against Nebraska.
That seems un-good. That's appalling, is what that is. Against Nebraska of all teams Michigan checks in with the third worst line yards number of the season, right on the heels of… ahem…
*losing an average of a half yard on actual run plays against MSU once you cut things off at ten yards*
SMELLS LIKE A PANICKED POSSUM
OH IT IS REALLY JUST FOUL
How it's going. The first data on college basketball's fouling crackdown is in. Drumroll…
So scoring is up, but it doesn’t appear there’s much contribution from a change in the way game is played. It’s almost all due simply to more fouls being called in lieu of turnovers forced. Whatever adjustments teams make to avoid committing fouls have yet to take place.
It's ugly out there right now. Hopefully we'll see adjustments and fewer fouls, except in Wisconsin's case, where I hope every single Badger fouls out in the first seven minutes. If you're a Michigan fan or just a fan of basketball that doesn't look like two pigs fighting over an onion, quotes like these are infinitely delicious:
Colorado State coach Larry Eustachy was quoted as pointing out that if someone pays to see Celine Dion in Vegas, she doesn’t foul out at intermission. In an article about the new defensive rules, USA Today quoted coaches, most notably West Virginia’s Bob Huggins, in various states of dismay regarding the changes that make the use of hand-checks, arm-bars and defensive jabs illegal. In a preseason press conference last week, Xavier coach Chris Mack said, “I think they stink.”
And closer to home:
"You're not going to believe what happened," Izzo said on his radio show Wednesday. "I got home last night, and I walked in the house, and my wife was sleeping, so I gave her a kiss on the forehead. A referee blew his whistle and gave me a technical."
A BWAHAHAHAHAHA was heard emanating from the MGoUndergroundLair.
Come on, baby needs a new All-American center's back. The latest on McGary's back, which needs to come back if Michigan is going to go back to the promised land. Back.
“For the first time now he’s done some workouts,” Beilein said. “He’s had more repetitions in practice over the last 10 days. He’s had repetitions and he looks very good and we’re going to continue increasing his repetitions.”
McGary’s on-court workouts are still limited to non-contact, individual work, according to Beilein.
Previously, McGary was essentially limited to shooting drills.
That's… that is still rather alarming. It sounds like there's little chance he comes back full strength for a while yet.
Line revamp #2. Hockey! Hockey. Michigan's putting the lines in a blender again with a bye week to work on business. The new configuration, according to the Daily:
- Di Guiseppe – Copp – Motte
- Guptill – Compher – DeBlois
- Nieves - Lynch - Moffatt
- Selman – Hyman – Allen
#3 is a guess; the article doesn't really mention it. It would be odd to see Lynch center those guys but Michigan has too many scoring wings to put them all on lines with scoring centers. Hypothetically, anyway. Hypothetically, they have scoring wingers. To date they've been sort of scoring.
So far it seems like they just are who they are and will remain so no matter how many lines are thrown in the Cuisinart.
In other news: Racine is ready to come back but Berenson won't name a starter until the weekend and Mike Chiasson will continue playing in place of injured Kevin Lohan.
Old Yost, man. Follow up to that mailbag question about why Yost isn't what Yost was: here's a clip from a 1999 playoff series against Bowling Green that Michigan Hockey Net unearthed.
Bob Gassoff couldn't play hockey worth a damn but he was kind of like a living program-wide hype man. Flip ahead to 4:30 and just see how many people there used to be in the student section. This was before the overhang and before the most recent seat-stripping renovation; in the same space there are probably twice as many people. What did you do, Bill Martin? Why did you kill that so you could put in some seats for boring people who barely show up?
Etc.: If you haven't noticed I've given up on Ace Williams radio silence since yobs like Bill Simonson are citing him as a credible source, this blowing up my inbox and making various players on Michigan having to tell everyone they know they're not transferring. New policy: repeated statements about his lack of credibility.
Daily on Jon Falk. Daily on the long history the NTDP freshmen have with each other. Is Darryl Funk a witch? Here is a Grape Nuts commercial featuring Biggie Munn. Borussia Dortmund is the best, man. John Kryk on the 1973 vote to send OSU to the Rose Bowl.
QUINOA IS TERRIBLE.
2013-14 Preview Coverage
Media Day Wrap: Beilein transcript + interviews with Horford, Morgan, Walton, GRIII
Position Previews: Bigs, Wings, Point Guards
Preview Podcast: With special guest John Gasaway
A Whole Damn Book: A whole damn book
Tonight's Game Info
What: Michigan vs. UMass-Lowell
Where: Crisler Center, Ann Arbor, Michigan
When: 7pm, Friday (Banner raising ceremony at 6:40)
Line: Michigan -25 (KenPom)
TV: Big Ten Digital Network (subcription required)/MGoBlueTV (ditto)
Radio: 950 AM (Detroit), 102.9 FM (Ann Arbor), Sirius Channel 92, MGoBlue stream
UMass-Lowell is making their Division I debut after finishing 15-13 (10-12) as a member of the Northeast-10 (Division II) last year. A full-blown game preview is rather unnecessary.
"If a man will begin with certainties, he shall end in doubts; but if he will be content to begin with doubts he shall end in certainties." — Sir Francis Bacon, The Advancement of Learning
As Michigan opens its season tonight against UMass-Lowell, I'm certain of two things about this team: they're raising a Final Four banner tonight, and they will be good.
The first is indisputable fact, not to mention a significant reason why it's easy to state the second: John Beilein's squad returns eight players (three starters, four more rotation guys) from a team that came within a half of requiring a bigger, fancier banner. Among those are two players garnering preseason All-American consideration, arguably the best shooter in America, a backup point guard who dropped 17 points in the first half of the title game, two experienced big men, and a sophomore oozing so much potential that he forced his way onto the court last year despite appearing malnourished.
On top of that, Michigan boasts one of the best coaching staffs in the country and bring in two top-flight recruits who will contribute immediately, one of whom (PG Derrick Walton) has already secured a starting role. They will be good, even without Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway.
How good depends on a number of factors, however, and for every certainty there is an equal and opposite uncertainty.
Certainty: Mitch McGary is one of the most skilled, impactful centers in college basketball.
Uncertainty: When will he be able to return from his back "condition", and will it hamper him once he returns? (Also: how much do we weigh his tournament run versus his regular-season output?)
Certainty: Glenn Robinson III is an incredible athlete who had an exceptionally efficient freshman season.
Uncertainty: Can Robinson create his own shot, and can he stay so efficient with a bigger role?
Certainty: Beilein will try to play more two-big lineups this year.
Uncertainty: Will this work, especially with all the practice time McGary has missed? With all the talent on the wings, is it even worth trying?
Certainty: Caris LeVert is getting massive practice hype for the second straight year and looks like a potential breakout star as a shooting guard and part-time point.
Uncertainty: Will his practice/exhibition exploits translate to actual production against real opponents this year?
Certainty: Nik Stauskas is a great shooter; also: Not Just A Shooter.
Uncertainty: Can his lethal efficiency as a three-point shooter and pick-and-roll ballhandler continue when he's the team's first or second scoring option?
Certainty: Michigan is starting an extremely talented freshman point guard.
Uncertainty: Michigan is starting an extremely talented freshman point guard.
The list goes on and on*, and I'm okay with this. The uncertainty surrounding the football team this year has largely stemmed from "can this non-functional unit become functional"-type questions. The uncertainty surrounding the basketball team, on the other hand, is more of the "can this good thing become great" variety.
If the pieces all fall into place, Michigan is a national title contender once again. If they don't, this is still a team capable of winning the Big Ten (so long as Michigan State doesn't go full juggernaut, at least), and barring a rash of injuries they'll be a fun team to watch. None of us have any idea what's going to happen; it's still all but guaranteed to be more rewarding than watching this year's football team. Sit back and enjoy Michigan's status as one of the nation's elite programs, one that reloads instead of rebuilds, and savor that banner. We'll worry about certainties another time.
*Will the team's added functional size and experience on the wings equal better defensive performance, for example.
Before I post a partial transcript of John Beilein's press conference, a few player interviews, and photo galleries from both Eric and Bryan, here are my main takeaways from yesterday's basketball media day:
- First and foremost, John Beilein is serious about playing two bigs and having a lot of lineup versatility—this sentiment echoed from Beilein himself down through the players, almost all of whom discussed playing multiple roles in some capacity. Everything from Walton/Spike/Stauskas/GRIII/McGary to LeVert/Stauskas/GRIII/McGary/Morgan is on the table; this team can play small or go very, very big—both Stauskas and LeVert are capable of running the point.
- Mitch McGary's health is a major question mark. Beilein isn't sure if he'll be ready for the first exhibition game—it certainly didn't seem like it—and would only say he's "day-to-day" when asked about a timetable. When asked about the nature of the injury, McGary responded that it wasn't an injury, but a "lower back condition" that the team is being cautious about right now. That's obviously a point of concern, even though McGary maintained that he felt good about where he's at right now and the upcoming season. He's definitely missing critical practice time—Beilein noted that he hasn't had a chance to practice his perimeter defense, a crucial area for improvement if McGary is going to be able to play the four.
- The physical development of the sophomores has been rather remarkable. Glenn Robinson III's improved vertical is getting a lot of attention—yes, he touched 12'3", maxing out Michigan's device for measuring vertical leaps—and similar gains have been made by Nik Stauskas and Caris LeVert. All three look noticeably more muscular; though LeVert is still very much on the skinny side, he's no longer rail-thin, and Stauskas appears capable of playing the three if need be. GRIII, meanwhile, looks the part of an NBA player.
- When asked about their new break-the-huddle mantra this year, Beilein responded that it's simply "champions"—whether that applies to the Puerto Rico Invitational, the ACC/Big Ten Challenge, the Big Ten regular- and post-season crowns, or even loftier goals. Last year's team took the expectations to an entirely new level; it's clear this team is comfortable with that.
For direct quotes from Beilein, player interviews with Jon Horford, Jordan Morgan, and Derrick Walton, and photo galleries from media day, hit the jump.
Michigan opens the season on—[checks
watch smartphone]—oh lord, Tuesday, so it's time to get to this previewin' business. Of course, we already have an entire book dedicated to this, and you should probably check that out, as it goes into far more detail than I'm capable of doing here.
I'm dividing up the team like we did in the book for the positional previews: bigs, wings, and point guards. For the purposes of this preview, I'm considering Glenn Robinson III a wing, though he'll get plenty of run as the nominal power forward when Michigan goes to a smaller, more Beilein-friendly lineup. On that note, let's start with the men up front.
Measurables: 6'10", 255
Base Stats: 19.7 minutes, 7.5 points, 59.8 FG%, 44.2 FT%, 6.3 rebounds
Key Advanced Metrics: 16.0 OR% (10th nationally), 22.4 DR% (86th), 3.9 Blk%, 2.4 Stl%
After Jordan Morgan's ankle injury near the end of the 2012-13 regular season, Mitch McGary ascended from highly-touted freshman energy guy to do-everything future All-American with a remarkable run in the NCAA tournament. McGary averaged 14.3 points and 10.7 rebounds in the Big Dance, dished out six assists (previous career high: two) to break the vaunted Syracuse 2-3 zone in the national semifinal, recorded eight steals in two games against Kansas and Florida, and generally performed like a guy once considered a top-two prospect in his class.
The tournament performance vaulted McGary onto just about every preseason All-American list, often as the first-team center. That's a lot of hype generated largely by a six-game stretch, though McGary—who started his freshman year slow after an injury hampered his conditioning—displayed flashes of greatness from the get-go, pulling down rebounds and forcing turnovers at a very high rate all season.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the big man breakdown, with some bonus '90s rap nostalgia.]
Indeed. Plaque up at Crisler.
Michigan's started preseason practice, looking less skinny or more skinny as appropriate. Stauskas in particular looks a lot more likely to power through contact this year:
YOU ARE DOING A BAD JOB AT DEFENSE, FOREGROUND
Unfortunately, Mitch McGary's got a lower back thing that's limiting him. A big guy getting a nagging old person injury is a thing that turns out to be chronic unfortunately often, but the noises from Beilein about it are encouraging:
"It's been day-to-day, pretty much all fall, and we're moving forward from there," Michigan coach John Beilein said. "I'm very hopeful it'll be gone before too long.
"He's done some on-and-off things this fall."
McGary blew up various skills camps this summer, so whatever it is it's a recent thing.
Soldier on. Michigan does not change its depth chart on the OL. That probably means nothing; FWIW.
Bo's phone call. Mason relates what happened after the 38-35 Buffalo Stampede game in which Minnesota ran rampant on Michigan:
“We ended up basically being able to run the ball against anybody,” Mason said. “When we blew that game against Michigan in ’03, after we had a 21-point lead, my secretary took a call on Monday and said, ‘[Former Michigan coach] Bo Schembechler’s on the phone.’
“I picked up and Bo said, ‘Mason, I never thought I’d see the day when Notre Dame or Ohio State rushed for 424 yards against Michigan, much less Minnesota,’ and then he hung up.”
Bo probably threw in some other words that Mason left out.
Also, Glen Mason's take on what Minnesota's doing is relevant to our current interests:
“There are less moving parts with the read option"
Brace for impact. Michigan is currently a whopping 21 point favorite over Minnesota after opening at 16.5. It is unclear whether that projects turnover margin or final score.
Minnesota did look completely terrible against Iowa, losing 23-7 and barely getting across the line of scrimmage on its 27 rushing attempts. For the game they had 27 yards rushing, 135 passing, and threw two picks. The jury's still out on Iowa's defense, which seems improved but ceded 30 to NIU and 21 to Iowa State; Minnesota looks like a product of its schedule.
Yes, even more so than Michigan does, sheesh. Thus the line cited above.
Meanwhile, across the triangle of hate Iowa fans are feeling rather chipper after matching last year's win total in week 5. Highlights:
Iowa's athletic department has figured out how to use the "upload" button on YouTube
Rudock has some decent wheels; Mike Patrick can be boring about a 74-yard touchdown; Michigan's nose tackles watched this game and said "FINALLY WE WILL BE ON THE FIELD" to themselves.
Jacobi points out that Iowa is actually a slight favorite(!) for this weekend's matchup against Michigan State. Projected final score: 1.
You kickstarted this. Martavious Odoms's thing bears fruit (HA!):
We have brought you low. Michigan instrumental in midseason firing of Paul Pasqualoni. Yes. That is the ticket. Ignore the 41-12 loss to Buffalo behind the curtain. Also in expectation-dampening sad things: Akron loses by lots, Notre Dame loses by lots, Central Michigan loses by lots. I liked this season better three weeks ago.
Why fire Pasqualoni now?
It's all happening.
60 minutes of unnecessarily rough pass interference somewhere else. Actually, various folks are chattering about Michigan State DC Pat Narduzzi taking the UConn job:
Spoke w some coaches re: UConn. Strong feeling among group I spoke w that Pat Narduzzi will get good look.
This tweet gets a hilarious set of responses that are exactly what you'd expect: MSU fans painting the UConn program as a deathtrap and saying things like…
Unless he gets offered a place like Texas I honestly don't see it happening. His kids love it hear and he is very close
The opposite of Indiana. In a not good way. Via Chantel Jennings, the dichotomy of Michigan State in stark relief:
Indiana | Oct. 19
Big Ten rank:
Total offense: No. 1
Total defense: No. 11
Michigan State | Nov. 2
Big Ten rank:
Total offense: No. 11
Total defense: No. 1
Who is State ahead of? Purdue, obviously. Obviously Purdue. Indiana is ahead of Nebraska. Think about that when you consider the depths to which Bo Pelini's defense has sunk. #Kiffin4Nebraska
Etc.: Details of the Harmon exhibit at the Bentley. Boy, do I not care about Michigan's spot in the polls right now. Illinois pounds Miami (Not That Miami). I don't understand this thing about a dog named Jake Butt. The history of Michigan decals.
Sponsor note. You may have noticed HAIL2VICTORS recent diary detailing his Sports Power Weekend for the Notre Dame game. I ran into that dude at Angelo's early that day and he didn't mention he was on an SPW trip, but he was yet to be impressed with the fact that Jared tracked down tickets, a field-level Big House tour, and—the capper—hotel rooms actually in Ann Arbor. I get emails about this. They are piteous emails that I can do nothing about.
If you would like to exchange money for the goods and services of a no-hassle trip to see Michigan do the opposite of whatever they did last weekend, you can grab a bus from NYC or DC to Penn State (UConn's sold out) or grab packages for home games against Nebraska and Ohio State or road games at Northwestern and Iowa. No Stubhub wrangling or sleeping on a piece of cardboard that doesn't even offer a continental breakfast. Also if you're the guy who gets stuck driving, buses are so clutch.
It got over the goal, but there's still cool stuff to acquire. Two hours left.
SKYWRITINGGATEGATE. I am a hopelessly naïve cherub, so I assumed that the "GO BLUE" that people saw over Spartan Stadium hours before MSU curbstomped Youngstown State and Michigan had a near-death experience against Akron was the work of a not-very-creative alum or a rogue skywriting company agent taking matters into his own hands. Alas:
Suzanne Asbury-Oliver, who runs Oregon Aero SkyDancer skywriting with her husband Steve, told MLive the Wolverines' athletic department hired her business to put Michigan slogans into the air above Ann Arbor then East Lansing on Saturday.
The department denies this, stating that locations all over SE Michigan were targeted. I asked twitter and no one saw anything outside of Ann Arbor that hasn't been used by a Spartan alum to make M look stupid while raising money for cancer.
This continues a pattern of behavior from the department where they do something inadvisable and then go into damage control mode. Just in the last couple months we've seen noodle, seat cushion, and field goal net gates. They seem to be sticking by their guns after overselling the student section by 50%, but that's a math problem with one answer so they kind of have to. That, too, looks like a panic move (even if I agree with the principle behind it) since Michigan announced their ticket policy a month before the season, after they'd sold 4,500 tickets under false pretenses.
So either the athletic department knows exactly what it's doing or they have no idea what they're doing. Which of these possibilities is worse is an exercise left to the reader.
A LIST OF THINGS THAT WOULD HAVE BEEN MAYBE WORTH YOUR TIME TO SKYWRITE OVER SPARTAN STADIUM.
- GO STAEE
- WE WANT TERRY
- FIRE IZZO
- WHERE ARE MY PANTS
- HOW DO I LAND
- TREY BURKE STEAL DOT JPG
The worst part about all of this is how boring it is. "GO BLUE" is weak troll game. The only people the athletic department is good at trolling are Michigan fans.
A quainter time. Remember when coverage maps were important? When you play an AAC team on the road at night they become so again. Yellow is saved, blue is watching on ESPN3:
Nebraska, you're in the Big Ten now.
Transfers to make more sense, possibly. After a crapton of bad publicity as some coaches punitively limit their transfers' options, the NCAA finally seems to be moving towards a more reasonable system:
"It would be a situation where a kid would provide notice that he's transferring and wants to talk to these five schools, for example," Kevin Lennon, the NCAA vice president for academic and membership affairs, told ESPN.com. "Schools can't say, we're giving you permission but not to these five schools. It's in the student's control more."
I still think it's reasonable to prevent a kid from transferring to another school in the same conference; other than that, fire away. Coach K suggests to do away with all transfer waivers, because something something something.
I like Mitch McGary.
Hockey schedule. There are a lot of Michigan hockey games on television this year, 28 games to be specific. Excellent for most purposes, but I'm a little concerned that there are four 6:30 home games on Friday and the vast bulk of the rest of them are at 7 PM. A decade ago Michigan standardized its games at 7:35 PM to help attendance. This isn't going to help.
On the other hand, Wisconsin has just 11 games televised this year. Pick your poison.
Etc.: Here is a gent who's been to 504 straight games, dating back to 1971. We'll update basketball recruiting during the bye week, but for now here's UMHoops running down where things stand. Todd McShay ranks Gardner a third-day NFL draft prospect. Hurray? Meanwhile, SI's guy lists Taylor Lewan as a faller because M struggled with Akron, something he had zero to do with.