[Left and right: Patrick Barron; middle: Eric Upchurch]
Nik Stauskas, with his ability to make almost any shot a good one, made the game look easy. Trey Burke, with his varied and lethal methods for creating offense, made the game look easy, not to mention beautiful.
Nothing about this season's iteration of Michigan basketball felt easy. It's shown in the pictures, in which seemingly every layup attempt required a Herculean feat of strength and body control just to get the ball on the backboard. It's shown in the statistics; according to KenPom, 10.3% of Michigan's two-point attempts were blocked, a mark worse than all but 13 major-conference programs. It's shown in the despairing comments as the offense ground to a halt against Notre Dame before VJ Beachem delivered the coup de grâce to 2015-16 Michigan.
And that's on the good side of the court. Stopping the opponent has never seemed simple under John Beilein, especially the last few years. The flaws on defense have only been magnified as the offense has gone from historically great to merely good. Every flailing layup attempt swatted into photographers' row didn't just serve as a painful reminder of the team's scoring limitations, but also what they lacked on the other end.
[Hit THE JUMP for feelingsball.]
Jay Paterno and saying things: a terrible combination. On this day we remember the Salem Witch Trials on twitter.
Despite years passing-many recent events remind us that in many ways human nature is little changed from the time of the Salem Witch Trials
— Jay Paterno (@JayPaterno) September 22, 2015
This is the reason the reaction gif was invented. There is no combination of words that can adequately express the feeling reading this tweet produced in me. The Germans probably have a word for a paralyzing combination of horror and laughter induced by a stunningly wrong decision or statement.
/scans German dictionary
So this tweet filled me with klinsmann.
BONUS: hoo boy if you like terrible things, the tweet thread is your jam.
I am filled with klinsmann by this tweet as well. The Colts are in play!
Is there a dollar figure for which Jim Harbaugh would leave Michigan for the Colts after one year, and would Jim Irsay offer it?
— ProFootballTalk (@ProFootballTalk) September 22, 2015
This offseason is going to be awesome as every NFL reporter insists Jim Harbaugh is a candidate for every open job in the league. Harbaugh for the Colts. Harbaugh for the Lions. Harbaugh for league president. Harbaugh for assistant Ravens janitor.
Harbaugh might leave someday, but only after he's done something that allows him to do so saying he's done his job. And after his experience with San Francisco's little Napoleon my bet is he picks the place where he's the most important crazy person around.
Just Dayton and Michigan. Kyle Flood might coach most of college basketball.
The Harbump. Via Brendan Quinn:
According to the most up-to-date numbers provided to MLive by Dunn, Michigan's overall season ticket sales have risen from 79,014 in 2014 to 89,614 in 2015, a difference of 10,600 seats.
A big chunk of that comes from 7k extra students, which is pretty amazing. That section is 60% larger than it was a year ago. I wonder what it would have looked like without the drastic changes wrought by the Glorious Revolution. Hint: bad.
There was a chunk of complaining about student attendance against UNLV, but to me it looked pretty full after kickoff. Students tend to cram down; you didn't see the empty pockets in other sections solely because other folks spread out when given the room to do so.
A problem that 'Bama wants to address. It's no surprise that Alabama fans are peeved about ineligible men downfield in the aftermath of the Ole Miss game. I share that peevishness. Despite the fact that illegal men downfield is a "point of emphasis" this year, the biggest game of the early season sees a flagrant example of it go uncalled.
You get three yards in college but just one in the NFL, and you'll never guess the one weird trick RBR would like to impose on college football:
Personally, I think this rule change should be revisited. College offenses already have more latitude than their NFL counterparts on passes thrown behind the line of scrimmage - in college, linemen may drift as far as they like on the snap in these situations, while in the NFL they must stay within their one-yard window until the pass is released - so the only real effect of the rule change would be to require the pass to be delivered in the backfield. This makes sense, as the linebackers are given a fighting chance to rally to the football after it is caught and prevent a big gain. Assuming that such a rule change is a non-starter, and that better enforcement is the goal, the best solution would be to somehow incorporate instant replay.
I would like to see what the game looks like with an effectively implemented three-yard rule first. But since that seems impossible it might be better to do away with the rule altogether and just call offensive pass interference on any lineman who hits or impedes anyone other than a defensive lineman on a pass play beyond the line of scrimmage. That might be more enforceable—and the penalty would be much stiffer.
(A side note: do not title your post that is intended to be serious "A Modest Proposal.")
He was tranquilized shortly thereafter. Nik Stauskas wandered onto a local news set.
— Jennifer Mota (@motajen) September 22, 2015
A Canadian one, I'm guessing.
Ibi Watson video. He can dunk.
Rutgers. I hate it when stupid things happen during the season because I can't write one act plays about them. The Kyle Flood thing is magnificently stupid. I'd rather look at football, but barely. If this happened in the offseason… well it probably still would have gotten drowned out by all the Harbaugh stuff, but I would have gotten around to it quicker.
Anyway. EDSBS surveys the wreckage and pulls out the nine dumbest things about the grade pressure scandal:
1. Kyle Flood Wants You To Know He's Breaking The Rules On Purpose
When Kyle Flood first reached out to this unnamed professor, he did so from his personal email account. It was entirely possible that he did so on accident, perhaps sending the email from his phone without realizing which account it was coming from. Of course, it was also possible he did so to purposefully avoid New Jersey's Open Public Records Act.
Great news! Now we don't have to wonder which one it was. This is one of the dumbest things I've ever seen committed to a permanent electronic record. It's like leaving a knife in your carry on bag at the airport with a note that says "LOL I KNOW THIS ISN'T COOL BUT WHATEVER."
That is not even the worst one.
On the bright side, Flood is much better at hiding his inner Tim Beckman than Tim Beckman. You would never know Flood is barely capable of dressing himself based on his press conferences.
Are Rutgers blogs considering who their new coach should be yet?
Oh, well done. On The Banks is the most competent thing about Rutgers athletics by some distance.
This is blunt. Utah basketball coach Larry Krystkowiak gave some sort of lecture recently; in it he broke the omerta surrounding basketball recruiting:
"Did you know," Larry Krystkowiak asked in his Montana drawl, leaning over his lectern, "that there's a lot of cheating in college basketball?"
His earnest delivery prompted some chuckles among the audience of roughly 40 people. But Utah's men's basketball coach wasn't going to leave it hanging without telling a story. He asked two compliance officials if he could venture on.
The tale: He was once recruiting a top-level player, and the player (or his representatives) called Krystkowiak in the middle of the night. They told Krystkowiak the recruit's transcript would cost the Utes $50,000, and "it'll probably cost you $50,000 more to sign him."
Follow the recruits and you'll find the money. Again, all Michigan fans should be in favor of the NCAA paying players outright. Michigan has piles of money. They do not use it in this way.
BYU's walking wounded. BYU NT Travis Tuiloma is a big deal for the Cougars, and he went down in the same game Taysom Hill did. At the time he was expected to be out 4-6 weeks, but Bronco Mendenhall is making noises like he may be available this weekend:
Nose tackle Travis Tuiloma (knee) is also questionable for the Michigan game, a development that didn't seem likely when doctors said he'd be out 4-6 weeks after the Nebraska game.
"This will be a great week [for Tuiloma to come back] because we will see power [runs] about 5,000 times," Mendenhall said, having previously noted that the Wolverines under new coach Jim Harbaugh look like Stanford when Harbaugh was there.
That would be literally and metaphorically huge for BYU. Tuiloma is going to be in the NFL next year and they run a 3-4; he's the centerpiece of their D.
Etc.: Bo's steakhouse was a thing. Ian Bunting profiled. Falk on Harbaugh. We'll have an excerpt of his new book during the bye week, BTW. Jon Baxter with the fire tweet. Harbaugh wants to meet the pope. Leonard Fournette is living Bowser. Film Focus. Guards doing better.
AHHHH PLAY FOR MICHIGAN
Ex-Harbaugh staffer: 'A great white shark, mouth open, staring at you'
That's from a longer profile he wrote in May on the often-inscrutable Harbaugh. I referenced this yesterday, but whenever these things happen I think about a Nietzsche quote despite never having read any Nietzsche. You see, there was this science-fiction Civ game called Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri and when you got one of the techs it always said this at you:
Man is a rope, tied between beast and overman—a rope over an abyss. A dangerous across, a dangerous on-the-way, a dangerous looking-back, a dangerous shuddering and stopping. What is great in man is that he is a bridge and not an end: what can be loved in man is that he is an overture and a going under. I love those who do not know how to live, for they are those who cross over.
-- Friedrich Nietzsche ,"Thus Spoke Zarathustra"
Pretentious! But sometimes Harbaugh does not know how to live, like when he's on a national radio show and the preening show host starts in by asking him if he's ever soft. The vision of masculinity presented by Cowherd is so disorienting to him that his mind goes blank in terror*.
The good news is that Harbaugh can now enact the Thought Control government form. So he's got that going for him.
*[Just as I recoil at the arrogant bro-dom presented by Jim Rome.]
More Harbaugh. Face time in the 1993 Rose Bowl.
Doesn't say much there, either.
Yes, please. The NCAA may be slightly loosening its tie when it comes to the NBA draft:
Under the proposal, which was a coordinated effort by the NCAA, the National Association of Basketball Coaches and the NBA, underclassmen would be allowed to attend the Chicago pre-draft combine in May, get evaluated by team personnel and given a true reading on their draft status. The players would then be able to decide if they wanted to stay in the draft or return to school. They couldn't sign with an agent, though.
The current draft rules don't allow a player to return to college once he officially declares for the NBA draft. The NBA would still have an early entry deadline of late April and an official withdrawal date of 10 days before the draft, as per the collective bargaining agreement. But the NCAA would then have its own withdrawal date moved up from the week after the Final Four to sometime in mid-to-late May.
That last sentence is confusingly worded and should be "moved back". This is progress of a sort—the kind of progress that takes you back to about eight years ago when this was the standard. College coaches hated it because they didn't know who would go and who would stay when the late signing period—which also starts about week after the Final Four—began. So they changed it. Now they might change it back.
Anything that acknowledges the reality of the NBA and NFL is a good change. This one is a bit half-hearted, and it seems like it's flirting with disaster to make this change without delaying the late signing period. Kid signs, other kid decides to return: whoops. You know that's going to happen.
The best solution here is draft and follow.
Exposure to price. When people start talking about the inevitable cable unbundling that is coming, they often make this calculation: if only X percent of people would get ESPN and ESPN costs Y amount of money, then ESPN is going to cost Y * (1 / X) dollars. That's a lot of dollars! Bet you don't want unbundling now! An example:
So you'd think a standalone ESPN app, with all their channels, would cost around the same [as Netflix, Hulu, HBO, etc.]. As Lee Corso would say, not so fast. ESPN's perceived value and what the network actually needs to sustain their business model are vastly different.
One industry source I spoke to believes ESPN would have to charge sports fans at least $30 a month for an a la carte version of the networks to offset lost cable subscriber fees and advertising. MoffettNathanson Research believes Disney would have to charge $36.30 a month for ESPN to achieve the same level of reach it enjoys today.
At this point, we've reached a similar structure to European television. Channels such as Sky Sports, which carries popular properties like the English Premiere League, are not part of the basic service and run at $40 a month for the family of networks. Sky Sports even offers "day passes" for roughly $15. While hardcore American sports fans can justify similar prices here in the States, casual fans will balk and just catch the big event games on over-the-air networks.
But as taxi drivers and music labels and newspapers have found out, the internet tends to erode comfortable perches from which you can rake in piles of dough. ESPN has the advantage of still being a monopoly, but if the product was the only reason you could charge Y dollars you would not be able to get every song ever made for ten dollars a month.
The existence of Sling TV, which has ESPN and ESPN 2 and 18 other channels besides, for 20 bucks, is plenty of evidence that ESPN cannot reach that price point—and probably will not even try. Sky is a very different business model because the thing that is by far their main attraction, soccer, is virtually ad-free. You get some signage in the stadium, shirt sponsors, and halftime when everyone goes to the bathroom and gets a snack. That's it. The prime reason American sports keep spiraling in value (and can no longer fit in their assigned time slots) is that they are much more amenable to commercial breaks. Sky is trying to maximize its revenue; ESPN's attempt to maximize its revenue is going to come in much lower because 1) Americans are going to balk at the 40 dollar price and 2) advertisers want the eyeballs ESPN can deliver so very badly.
ESPN is currently subsidized by a lot of people who do not care about sports. When the internet is television, that goes away—and it does not necessarily get replaced one for one.
This is why adding Maryland and especially Rutgers was folly. In the near future the only people who get the Big Ten Network are going to be people interested in the Big Ten. They will no longer be able to snatch a dollar from the pocket of every cable subscriber in New Jersey who is a Tulane man. This is going to happen in ten years, at which point whatever short-term revenue gain will be spent, Jim Delany will have his bonus, and the Big Ten will be stuck with a couple of teams nobody cares about.
[HT: Get The Picture.]
Sauce relocates. Nik Stauskas is traded to the 76ers for… uh… stuff?
Many in Philadelphia wanted Stauskas last year. Now, 12 months later, Hinkie got him, a 1st rd pick, and 2 pick swaps for basically nothing.
— Derek Bodner (@DerekBodnerNBA) July 2, 2015
Stauskas had a rough first year in the NBA in a terrible situation, but that's awful quick to give up on a guy and dump him with some terrible contracts in exchange for cap space. Like the Pistons giving away a first round pick to be done with Ben Gordon, the main "asset" Sacramento acquired was the ability to not have Carl Landry on their cap any more. So they could go sign more free agents. Someone try to rip the face off the Kings GM just in case it's Joe Dumars.
Only incompetent Germans. Louisville's new helmet is… this…
Which I kind of like for an Arena League team. Of the future. Playing a life and death game against octopus space nazis.
Here is a conveniently-timed article titled "Adidas: Sports Apparel Laughingstock."
The old recruiting ghost story. Willie Williams has been revisited. It is a funny and sad story, one that you've probably heard before. Apropos of little, here is former Florida Gator on his trip to Penn State:
As if that story wasn’t juicy enough, Crowder spoke of his visit to Penn State as a recruit, which was “the worst.”
“They sit me in a room with two bottles of Mad Dog 20/20 Banana Red,” Crowder said. “They say ‘drink these, we’re gonna go out.’ Okay, I get all feeling good. We walk out of the door, go down two doors and go back into an apartment and it’s four big white girls sitting there and me. Big ole white girls. Talkin’ about 250.”
Crowder no doubt said his decision was all about the academics.
Here's this! It is a show featuring a bunch of Michigan guys, one a former walk-on QB under Moeller, and an mgoshirt.
It appears it is still looking for a home. If you are a TV executive, adopt it maybe.
Etc.: Here is a good thing about the buddha-fication of David Foster Wallace. Akron built a stadium. It's not going well. Warde Manuel($) is a name to watch for Hackett replacement. Bring Your Champions, They're Our Meat on the NBA Draft.
I didn't know this was a thing. The NBA kids these days and their "popcorning."
— Nik Stauskas (@NStauskas11) April 14, 2015
That is Nik Stauskas splayed upon the counter in his popcorn-covered home. Urban Dictionary doesn't know what "popcorning" is (top result: "One of the ways a guinea pig shows his/her excitement/affection") and neither do I. Apparently it has something to do with the fact that Stauskas doesn't drive?
I feel like everything about Stauskas's NBA career has gone through the same filter that created "Sauce Castillo."
A brief essay on Sauce Castillo. It was a tweet at first, with a picture to verify. It took off as these things do, and then the Kings stepped in wholeheartedly. They had a friggin' Sauce Castillo night.
This is probably a good idea for the Kings. They are on top of what is happening on The Social Media and provide some intrigue for an early April game played by a team currently 38 games back of the Warriors. (But seven ahead of the Lakers!) They sold some merch, I imagine. A brief survey of the Kings organization shows a marketing savvy that's a bit of a shock for someone focused on colleges that are doing it right if they aren't shooting themselves in the foot monthly. The Kings are the future, when people at the top of organizations actually understand the internet and act accordingly.
And that's a little sad. A few years ago Sauce Castillo would have been a mark of something… probably that you read Bethlehem Shoals and are the kind of NBA obsessive who needs to find similarly-minded groups of proto-marxist revolutionary cells. Now Sauce Castillo is joyously accepted by the organization at large and thus destroyed.
Man I feel like an old man in Portland complaining that Sleater-Kinney's latest album ruins their entire career right now. But it is kind of a thing: there is a lot of value in defining yourself as a separate, weirder in-group in a mass of fans. MLS and the ever-shifting power struggle between various USMNT supporter's groups do a good job of this; the rest of American sports doesn't.
That will have to come from elsewhere in the Kingsfuture when every mildly diverting tweet is swiftly assimilated by the entertainment Borg.
LeVert update. Holding pattern for Michigan but one in which the arrows continue to point the right way. Chad Ford's advocating a return:
He should return. His draft stock was trending down before he was injured. Not sure he'd be a first rounder if he declared. He'd need excellent workouts.
Among underclassmen at LeVert's positions -- shooting guard and small forward -- to declare early are Kentucky's Devin Booker and Aaron Harrison, Arizona's Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Kansas' Kelly Oubre, Wisconsin's Sam Dekker, Florida's Michael Frazier II, Eastern Washington's Tyler Harvery, Georgia State's R.J. Hunter, Houston's Jherrod Stiggers, Florida State's Aaron Thomas, North Carolina's J.P. Tokoto and UNLV's Rashad Vaughn.
Other wings expected to declare for the draft include Duke's Justise Winslow and Arizona's Stanley Johnson. Mario Hezonja, a 6-foot-7 small forward from Croatia, is also a projected lottery pick.
"Jherrod Stiggers" is a spectacular name.
Let's maybe hold off on that for one sec. After his commitment, Matt Falcon takes a cue from the Lawrence Marshall playbook:
Right now, he says he's focused on three-star receiver Dez Fitzpatrick and four-star defensive lineman Khalid Kareem.
His pitch to them both is pretty simple.
"The best players in the state play for Michigan," Falcon says. "I'm trying to recruit names in the state and trying to get them to join the family."
I mean, continue to do that. Just expect MSUThaBest2009 to be on your case as you do so.
Hello: Samuelssons. I don't have to tell you this is a hockey recruiting bullet, do I? You just saw "Samuelssons" and assumed we were talking about some Swedes, be they from Sweden or relocated.
Well done, reader: Michigan hockey has secured commitments from depressingly young hockey players once again. This time they are the sons of former NHL defenseman Kjell Samuelsson. The older one, Matthias, is a defenseman. Over The Boards scouts:
RE: Samuelsson, Big 00 D at 6'2 190, strong lower body, imposes will with leverage. Has a hard shot and piles up SOG. Soft hands in own end.
— Mark Bilotta (@mbilotta) April 13, 2015
He is… uh… 14 and his dad is 6'7" so I would expect him to be very large indeed by the time he reaches campus. Luke Samuelsson, his brother, also committed as a 2018 forward. I haven't been able to find anything on him yet, as you might expect in this age range.
Meanwhile in draft hijinks. Not much in the way of intrigue in this year's OHL draft; Michigan's commitments that far out are generally already signed up with the NTDP. There weren't any unpleasant surprises this year. Michael Pastujov, the younger brother of NTDP-er Nick Pastujov, was drafted by Saginaw in the fourth round on a flier. Michael was projected as a top pick—possibly the top pick—in the draft and slid significantly because of concerns over his commitment. Saginaw is not noted as a team that snipes random Americans.
Toronto-based forward Quinn Hughes, also projected as a top ten pick, slid to the third round. Hughes has dual citizenship and is already committed to the NTDP; his father also works in an NHL front office so they're well aware of the pros and cons of each route. Josh Norris went in the sixth round to Niagara.
How does the seemingly imminent retirement of Red Berenson play into these recruitments? I don't know. Michigan has to be telling these kids that it's unlikely Red is around in 2018, so the far-future ones seem somehow more secure than those who might be making decisions in a year or two. I expect there's some attrition when the change is made; how much is hard to tell.
[Ed-Seth: Reminder what this is since it's been on hiatus: Jamiemac of Just Cover Blog and the MGoPodcast was dragged out of quasi-retirement to give us an odds-angle view of relevance to you, and Draft Kings offered to to sponsor it, and puts up a fantasy game to commune in so you can use sports knowledge to win currency of relevance to you.]
THIS WEEK'S GAME: NOT JUST SHOOTING
Well you can kinda-sorta have him back. You can draft Nik Stauskas on your Draft Kings fantasy squad. In fact the Sacramento rookie is only $3,400, like half of the mean.
Not saying you should draft him since McLemore played Wednesday and is holding onto his starting spot for now. I also noticed they got Jamal Crawford at an unreasonable $5,400—that's got to be a combination of his playoff run and holding off new daddy J.J. Redick in the preseason. The points system favors guys who take more shots behind the arc and those who get multiple double digit stats, not just shootersDRINK!
(No Burke/McGary/THJ/GR3 this week because they all play on Saturday)
-$30,000 prize pool.
- First place wins $5,000
- $2 entry fee (FREE with fist deposit).
- Top 4,000 are paid.
- Starts on Friday, October, 31st at 7:00 EST
- Salary Cap Style Drafting. $50,000 to select 8 spots
- Roster Format: 1 PG, 1 SG, 1 SF, 1 PF, 1 C, 1 G, 1 F and 1 Util.
- First time depositors at DraftKings receive a 100% bonus up to $600
Take the link.
THIS WEEK'S CHALK: A PLACE WHERE MICHIGAN-INDIANA MEANS SOMETHING
There is a place where Michigan has a three-game winning streak over Ohio State. Where they have won six of nine against Michigan State. Where the Wolverines are defending Big Ten Champions. This place has hardwood flooring.
On January 27, 2011, Zack Novak’s aneurysm of leadership burst, Stuart Douglass swished a decisive 3-pointer, and Michigan upset the 11-point favorite MSU Spartans at the Breslin Center. Big 10 Basketball has not been the same since.
[After the jump: journey to Jamie Mac's Big Ten basketball preview, a place where Michigan regularly beats the spread]