Minor crisis averted. Butler went with the other guy, not Lavall Jordan. Why is unclear—comfort level I guess since Jordan hasn't been at Butler in a while. And I don't care. Guy who molded Darius Morris and Trey Burke and is going to be a head coach someday soon is still at Michigan. Keep these guys together a couple more years and this thing is established big-time. After that happens I'd actually be in favor of some current assistants heading out to establish themselves an obvious pick when Beilein retires.
Meanwhile, the critical 2014 recruiting class (in which Michigan is actually slugging out high-profile recruitments instead of acquiring stars like Burke, GRIII, and Zak Irvin who were either under the radar or snatched so quickly no one else could get involved) may get a bump from the turnover in Indy.
Butler was widely assumed to be the leader for Indianapolis SF Trevon Bluiett, a top-50-ish player who's been tearing up the AAU circuit this summer. Scout's Brian Snow recently told GBW that he'd be "beyond shocked" if Bluiett didn't end up at Michigan or Butler, and there were a couple of different reports that the Bulldogs had been dropped. Immediately refuted reports…
Scout's Sam Webb, citing Bluiett's father -- Reynardo -- said his son had yet to speak with Miller, claiming Butler was still a player for his son.
…but I'd rather be the team that reports are not being refuted about.
I want one. The Michigan version is… uh… Bo punching out a tree? Fielding Yost riding roughshod over the Vatican? Whatever it is, Brady Hoke should get on the phone with Kliff Kingsbury and get an equivalent in Schembechler Hall:
BUT DOES IT COME IN VELVET
Now I'm envisioning a whole lineup of offensive murals, Pawnee City Hall style. The possibilities. The possibilities.
(Yes, that's Texas trying to Man Up Crab in the background.)
CAP HIM NOW. Messi's doing some sort of thing where he goes around playing charity matches. The most recent was in Chicago, had a Northwestern alum—their all-time leading scorer—on the other team, and, well:
That guy works in finance now. IE: he is not a professional. He's probably just happy he's not playing with a howling wind coming directly off Lake Michigan.
For health and other such items. Taboos now != taboos then.
NUKE URBAN MEYER. I'm a little unclear what's going on with this Aaron Hernandez thing but from what I can make out, Hernandez arrived at Florida straight from an ESPN laboratory in their hometown of Bristol, massive and unformed. After three years at Florida he was a combination of Dexter and Jeffery Dahmer, because Urban Meyer. Therefore Urban Meyer is basically Skynet creating the Terminator and should be bombed from space?
I think I have this straight. It fuzzy, though, because my brain keeps trying to drown itself when it tackles sentences like these:
At Florida, Meyer was the best in the business at winning.
At all costs.
Sadly, though, Aaron Hernandez now stands alongside Tim Tebow as a symbol of his UF program.
At Florida, Tebow was not only a great Gator.
He was Urban Meyer's greatest fumi-Gator.
Can the FCC force Mike Bianchi to change his twitter handle from @BianchiWrites to something that is not a flat-out lie? No? What about the elusive and abstract concept of justice?
If you want a fisk of this abomination, it has been fisked.
On the two for one. Kenpom looks at an array of statistics and concludes that yes, a two-for-one is generally the right move, but I should probably stop shouting "two for one!" at the end of the first half:
The two-for-one is a complicated issue, and it generally doesn’t provide as much benefit as one might think. Like the fouling-up-3 conundrum, if the strategy is executed perfectly, a large benefit is likely. But players aren’t robots, and all of the imperfect acts that can disrupt the strategy eat away at the potential benefit. Assuming the average gain is a fifth of a point, that’s worth slightly less than one percent in terms of win probability at the end of a half. A coach implementing this strategy will win one extra game out of 100 - and that’s out of 100 games where a two-for-one opportunity exists!
I will try to remember to never bring this up again as something that is important. Contrast that effect with the assertion Romer made about going for it on fourth down: you'd win an extra game every other year. Much larger effect there.
Never played the game. As you might imagine, I'm rather sensitive to assertions that you have to have Been In The Arena to comment on sports. This doesn't happen much these days, but a few months I checked my twitter mentions to find a dozen-tweet-long conversation between two BITA meatheads taunting me for not being an athlete and laughing at my assertion that Jordan Kovacs was a better safety than Ernest Shazor. I'm not sure what part of Being In The Arena makes you incapable of watching things and coming to obvious conclusions…
REMEMBER WHEN THIS ISH HAPPENED ALL THE TIME
…but this isn't rocket science, it's just paying attention systematically. Being In The Arena doesn't mean you do that. I mean. Matt Millen.
So yes I found Bill Barnwell's takedown of the player-generated NFL 100 list, which purports to be a ranking of the best guys in the game, delightful:
Only nerds and losers care about statistics, right? If anyone should know about the impact that the league's mauling guards and run-stuffing nose tackles have on the game, it's the guys who play alongside them in the trenches. You win from the lines out!
And yet, somehow, despite there being about three times as many offensive linemen on NFL rosters as there are running backs, there are 12 running backs against just six offensive linemen in the Top 100 Players list. Put it this way: 37.5 percent of the starting running backs in football are considered to be one of the top 100 players in football. That's better than one out of every three. Only 3.75 percent of the starting offensive linemen in football are considered to be one of the top 100 players in football.
That is just one of many, many problems that arise when you ask people unprepared to do something to do it. The Been In The Arena argument is 90% a request to take your thoughtless blather uncritically. NOPE
Etc.: Excellent Bryan Curtis piece on former Michigan baseballer Mike Cervenak, who is in his 15th year(!) in the minors with Toledo. Michigan voted the best uniforms in the Big Ten, which duh. Presumably this is a ranking of the actual uniforms, not the ghost unis from the bowl game. Burke in Utah, is betting favorite to be Rookie of the Year.
Meanwhile in Joe Dumars, signs power forward who can't shoot to play small forward, duplicating strengths, ignoring weaknesses, and setting the Pistons up as—at best—an easy first-round victim. DBB's Mike Payne brings a flamethrower; do not get him mad at you.
Les and Bo standing around, 1989. I'm just posting this for the shorts, really. Seriously, it's almost entirely guys just standing around. In shorts. From 1989.
This thing I am the foremost practitioner of is banned! Of all people, it fell to Barry Alvarez—he of the cancelled Virginia Tech game nigh on the eve of the season—to reveal that the Big Ten is going to dump I-AA opponents posthaste:
“The nonconference schedule in our league is ridiculous,” Alvarez said on WIBA-AM. “It’s not very appealing…
“So we’ve made an agreement that our future games will all be Division I schools. It will not be FCS schools.”
I… actually, I don't care. It does restrict the availability of cupcake games, thereby driving up the costs to schedule MAC folks and the like, but not significantly. If you want to have a walkover, Eastern Michigan's just as piteous as Northern Iowa—significantly moreso, in fact.
This man either gets it or does not get it depending on whether you get it or do not get it. Indiana's athletic director:
“What they like to do is make opportunities available to wear different kinds of uniforms,” Glass told Inside the Hall, “and we’ve had multiple opportunities to wear alternative uniforms, and we’ve respectfully passed on that. … I would never say never, but I think it’s highly unlikely that we’ll be doing that.”
A number of college and pro teams are trying the new jerseys out. We’ve seen schools such as Michigan State and Ohio State wear alternate uniforms in recent weeks.
So why not Indiana?
“The IU men’s basketball uniform is iconic,” Glass said. “I have a poster on my wall that is kind of like a fake group photo of all the All Americans that we’ve had in basketball, and the jerseys, whether its from the 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s or 2000s, pretty much look the same.”
Indiana fans say "thank God" in the comments, because they either get it or do not get it. Kids hate it and Indiana's program will crater on Wednesday as the Hoosiers mass defect to Bill Walton's new Hypercolor State team.
Even more rules changes, these of the on-field variety. It's February, which means something something flowers and the NCAA's annual set of rules changes. These are just proposals at the moment, so don't write your congressman yet.
The flashiest is jacking up the targeting flag. Now it comes with a free ejection, and if it's after halftime a suspension for next week. Also a free review:
To balance out the incidents where a player is unfairly penalized, officiating crews would be allowed to review the hit through video replay. Said the committee, the replay official "must have conclusive evidence that a player should not be ejected to overturn the call on the field."
Sounds a lot like the interminable and pointless elbowing reviews from basketball, except people do get hit with targeting flags at the moment. This will either lead to those calls disappearing again, or a parade of defensive backs making a split-second decision wrong heading to the locker room.
Others are minor cleanups aimed at giving referees an easier time:
- all blocks below the waist are legal if they're in front of a defender, illegal otherwise
- you can't spike the ball with one or two seconds left (presumably an attempt to prevent games where one coach disposes of his headset instantly and the other stages a hunger strike for his last second on the sideline)
- an extra official for Big 12 conference games
- Lane Kiffin and Boise State can't jerk people around by switching numbers or wearing blue on a blue field.
Nothing in those is going to have an impact on your viewing. I thought we'd hear something about repealing the helmet rule, too—seems like forcing a player without a helmet to stop playing is punishment enough. No dice on that one.
Good lord. Northwestern makes the case that their basketball outfit is cursed with low-effort sketchy photoshops and lots and lots of evidence:
Look, I'd do more unfortunate things for Northwestern basketball, butmore freakish unfortunate things happened to Northwestern basketball than happened to the players in that episode of the Simpsons where all the players get into freakish unfortunate accidents.
The Wildcats are now down JerShonn Cobb, Drew Crawford, Sanjay Lumpkin, Chier Ajou, Aaron Liberman, Alex Olah, and Jared Swopshire. A few of those guys are on redshirts and may be in the lineup if Carmody was inclined to waste their final year of eligibility on a team nowhere near the NCAA tourney; even so, that's Angry Blank Hating God territory and some.
This is Darren Rovell's fault, of course.
Bring on the bee people or whatever. Gerry DiNardo might know something about something. Not football, but moving because of football:
I don't think we'll ever play with a 14 team team conference, I think it'll be 16 (by 2014, when Maryland and Rutgers join). And I don't think they're going to go through all this conversation and all this realignment and do it again for just two more schools. Where are they going to come from? Hard to say, but I would guess the footprint would continue to grow southeast, so that would leave me to believe that would be the ACC. When you look at schools institutionally, they'll be schools similar to Maryland and Rutgers. They'll be an academic fit, which I think is important, and appear to be in areas where there's population, and I think those are the similar things that has driven expansion
The Big Ten Too is totally happening you guys. This is why the league is already talking about a ten-game conference schedule.
Nebraska hockey: not happening. Their athletic director just said "nope":
On his monthly appearance on the Husker Sports Network, Nebraska athletic director Shawn Eichorst threw cold water on the idea of the athletic department starting up a division 1 ice hockey program. The only sport Nebraska has any intention of starting is the new sand volleyball program. That's cold water, not the ice that a hockey program would need. A lot of people had hopes that with Eichorst's background at Wisconsin and the Big Ten's expansion into hockey that the Huskers might join the ranks of the division 1 schools with hockey programs. But that doesn't appear to be in the cards at this time.
The vast deserts of Nebraska have long teemed with moppets who have done nothing but play volleyball, so they should be an instant national power in that. If Nebraska isn't inclined to add hockey, I'm not sure who would. I bet it would be a success at Iowa—triangle of hate, good USHL base—but it's tough to find the money, somehow.
Zone read: not dead yet. Michigan will keep it around next year:
"Are we just getting rid of all the zone-reading? No, we're not," Borges said. "We're going to keep some of that stuff in our offense because we have a mobile quarterback, and as long as we have a quarterback that can threaten the defense as a runner, we're going to have bits and pieces of that that we're going to keep.
"Are we going to run him 25 times? That's over. We're not doing that anymore. That was logical, with what we had (in Denard Robinson). but now we want the quarterback to be more of a passer-runner, than a runner-passer."
I hope the end point is somewhere between 25 times and Gardner's ground efforts last year, where on-purpose runs were limited to some goal line rollouts and the occasional draw. I'd like to see Gardner get 6-8 called runs a game to go with whatever he gets on scrambles.
Etc.: Jeff Bridges has a go-to shirt. I'm fine with Michigan not having a member of Andy Staples's all two-star team this time around. It might be a problem that the Big Ten has eight kids on the team. Brief preview of Michigan's 2013 by me at The Saturday Edge. Goodbye, Matt Painter. Kenpom profiled.
Basketball highlights ho.
I vote all of these. A student organization at Illinois is holding a contest to pick a new symbol for the Illini. Whichever one wins will be ignored by the athletic department and consigned to the dustbin of history, and this is a tragedy. A dozen of the entrants would instantly be the best mascot in the universe.
Do you choose Colonel Kernel?
Or Rabid the Squirrel?
Rabid the Squirrel is a possibility for the mascot, but the overall concept is to represent the squirrel, a hardy survivalist being, bravely bears the cold winters, bike and street traffic, and is incredibly quick and graceful. For proof, walk anywhere on campus.
Or The Corn Guy?
The tagline for Corn Guy could be: A corn could be a cute and enthusiastic corn,
who opens his arms and welcomes smart students all over the world. Or a corn could
be a fighting corn, who, in orange skin and blue armor, revealing his muscle, with
fierce look, shows his vigor and is ready for an exciting game. This, is the Corn Guy.
You want something fierce? You want something amazing? You got it all right here. Super strong, super vicious, super I-will-wreck-everything- you-love. Ain't no one wanna mess with this. What, you expecting something cute and fuzzy like a squirrel or a PIECE OF CORN? HELL NO.
THAT'S WHAT'S GOING ON HERE.
It matters not. You cannot go wrong. I vote for them all.
It is the state of Illinois with an Abe Lincoln hat with boxing gloves. Tough, Historic and blatantly Illinois. Hope you like it
I vote for them all.
K-State might be Michigan's best nonconference foe. NC State beat Duke and UNC, sure. Since they've lost to Wake Forest, Maryland, and Virginia. UVA is at least a bubble team; the other two aren't sniffing the tourney. Kansas State on the other hand just did this to Texas:
I got home, made some dinner, and kicked back to relax and watch the Texas game. It was not relaxing. I would have been better off waking up this morning, smashing a few glass bottles on my kitchen floor, opening a can of paint stripper, pouring it on the broken glass, rolling around in the mix of shards and methylene chloride, taking a shower, and calling it a day.
While Texas is real bad this year, Kenpom has them significantly above Wake Forest and the Wildcats beat the Longhorns raw—final was 83-57. They kept it close in their two league losses and are probably going to have 24, 25 wins by Selection Sunday.
I wish I had thought about this. The Hoover Street Rag introduces the Borges-O-Meter, which ranks Al on a Jorge Luis-based scale ranging from Tlön, Uqbar, Orbus Tertius to The Gospel According to Mark. As you can see, Al is currently hanging out at The Lottery Of Bablyon, level six. I would actually swap level six (dubbed "fortunate") with level 5 (On Exactitude in Science, categorized as "precise"). In all other ways this is wonderful.
Yeah, I suppose Cal or Stanford fans probably would have done this, but whatever, they didn't because of a historical quirk that directed Borges (Al Edition) to Michigan instead of their schools.
Viva this fanbase.
[update: now with link!]
Viva this team. Mitch McGary on starting:
Late Tuesday night, an undecided Beilein asked McGary, "What do you feel about tomorrow? I don't know what to do yet. You both practiced well."
McGary responded, "Coach, I've been coming off the bench for two years. I'm cool with coming off the bench."
I'm not sure there's anything we thought McGary would do when he was the #2 recruit in the country that he's not doing despite a massive nose-dive in expectations late.
This is appropriate. Hockey picked up a big, late-blooming defenseman currently plying his trade in the BCHL named Kevin Lohan. As Yost Built mentions, yes, that Lohan: he's a cousin of Lindsay, who may be the spirit totem for this year's outfit. It is possible the third jersey does not display a badly-drawn weasel but is in fact a representation of Linsday Lohan on a bender.
Right now Lohan is insurance against potential departures from Bennett, Trouba, and/or Merrill and may or may not come in next year.
Yost Built also mentions that Mike Spath is reporting that Michigan will use the scholarship money freed by Daniel Milne's departure to go hunting for a goalie, apparently overseas.
Etc.: The Northwestern view of last night. Also found here. First comment: "Trey Burke is good. Holy shit." Burke is about to pass Darius Morris on Michigan's all-time assist list and has Morris's season record for assists squarely in sight. Men's gymnast Syque Caesar sets an NCAA record on the parallel bars. Nieves profiled by the Daily. 7-on-7 leagues examined. Five key plays from NW.
1/30/2013 – Michigan 68, Northwestern 46 – 20-1, 7-1 Big Ten
There was no look-ahead from either Indiana or Michigan last night, or maybe both these teams are too good to let a Purdue or Northwestern hang around even if they're spending most of the night playing mind Tetris. The casualness of both wins left an impression: these teams are that good.
Michigan dissected the Wildcats in a way the final stats don't quite show because that was the slowest game they'd played all year, 53 possessions. They didn't have a turnover until the game was almost three-quarters done and finished with two. Meanwhile, Indiana put up 1.45 points per possession against Purdue, hitting 50% from 2, 48% from three, and 19% from the line, rebounding more than half their misses, and suffering just eight turnovers.
All right then. Let's git it awn.
Photos. Via Bryan Fuller:
A perfect half of a half. I tweeted at halftime that it felt weird that Michigan was only up 15 after blazing the nets the entire time and not committing a turnover, and then I saw UMHoops issue its traditional halftime PPP with Michigan at 1.5(!!!). One division later and the reason the game was vaguely close was obvious: the first half featured an extremely low 24 possessions. If they'd played that well over a normal possession count they would have been more than 20 points clear.
I'm not sure that's possible, because I mean gol' dang. When Stauskas knocked down his third three I got an odd look from the wife because I was waving my hands around and giggling insanely. In retrospect the second-half dropoff was inevitable.
Okay, maybe not inevitable—see Indiana PPP above—but pretty dang close to such. Things that pretty don't last. Northwestern defense, I salute you!
good. good. good. (Fuller)
Trey! Burke had a day more in line with outsized player-of-the-year expectations than his previous outing: 18 points on 11 shots, 8 assists, 1 TO, 2 steals, and even a few rebounds. In this one the long stepback shots were excellent backup plans executed late in the shot-clock (with one exception, IIRC) and he facilitated the rest of the offense beautifully. Northwestern's accommodating defense disclaimers apply; you can't ask for much more from a point guard no matter who they're playing.
Since McGary is getting his McGary minutes and doing his McGary things this section will restrict itself to comparing Horford and Morgan. So let's do that.
I'm of two minds. The downside: Michigan got beat on the boards by a not-very-good Illinois outfit when Morgan went down and in this one they allowed Northwestern to exceed their OREB season average by a couple points.
You'd expect them to be under their average if they're going up against the #12 DREB team nationally, so that indicates something of a swing. Also, in Michigan's first game against the Wildcats Morgan had 13 rebounds, five of them offensive, and M held Northwestern to 25% OREB. That's far, far short of anything definitive; it's all we have to go on statistically and suggests… well, mostly noise. But what is not noise suggests there is some rebounding dropoff.
On the other hand, I'm inclined to exonerate the centers for any OREB issues in this one. Wildcat center Alex Olah had one. A couple went to Northwestern PF-type substance Jared Swopshire, and the rest were from guards.
It didn't seem like Horford was deficient on the boards. The rest of it was unambiguously good: he put up ten points on five shots, hitting 4/5 from the line and blocking three shots. Northwestern shot 47% from two—meh, a bit better than their season average—and only acquired 8 FTs. They're surprisingly good at getting to the line for a team with their athletic limitations, so that's a positive. One of Horford's fouls was a late hedge, which in the context of this team (tons of depth at the five, rarely gets up to seven fouls in a half) is meaningless. He had a couple of nice finishes on the pick and roll.
Eyeballing it, there's not much difference between Horford and Morgan.
BONUS. It was pretty cool to see Morgan in Horford's ear coaching him up at virtually every commercial break. This team, man.
Welp. Let's zoom in on that Wildcat observing Horford's pending layup:
maybe if I point my finger… (Fuller)
McGary minutes, McGary things. It would be McGary who broke a 28-minute streak without a turnover. It would also be McGary who ripped down a third of Michigan's rebounds in just 15 minutes of playing time. It would also also be McGary who flung himself to the floor and backhanded a ball back into play that eventually turned into a Michigan three-pointer.
His main weakness is picking up pug-like…
I spent far too long finding this video. People of the internet: please have higher standards for what qualifies as "insane" or "psycho" behavior from pugs.
…psycho fouls, but since most of those are loose ball/on the floor things they have about the same impact as Horford's hedge foul: none.
Tough day for Tim, or maybe not. Hardaway was 2/8 from inside the arc—not his best day. There were a couple of shots interspersed in those eight that were clearly frustration shots.
I'm okay with that. He only had a couple, and those sorts of "I NEED TO GET IN THE GAME" attempts are inevitable whenever you're a high-usage alpha-dog sort like Michigan wants Hardaway to be. He stepped back after missing those and let the offense run. He picked up three assists and a steal and his burgeoning shut-down defender rep was burnished by holding Reggie Hearn to 7 points on 8 shots with a 0:2 A:TO ratio. I still question that—the announcers brought up the DJ Byrd thing again and I was all like "more than half of DJ Byrd's points against Stauskas were from Indiana". I think he's obviously improved a great deal.
It's a broken record at this point: this year Hardaway contributes in columns other than total points, consistently. When he's crushing people's heads like he did at Minnesota he's an All-American; when he's not he's still a major asset.
He should be prepared to be shut off by Oladipo, though. His improved handle is still not enough to do much against that guy.
now I'll make a dog on the overhead projector (Fuller)
"Not Just A Shooter" Watch. I counted five—we are including slight variants of the sentiment—throughout the course of the evening: one pregame, two in-game, and two in BTN postgame coverage. I think we might make a shirt.
Other Stauskas news. The usual. A game… blouses dunk, a couple of sweet assists, 3/5 from three. The unusual: twice in this game he was singled up one-on-one with a pretty good scorer and dominated the guy. On defense!
Those two possessions were the first I can remember where Stauskas made an impact on the defensive end of the floor, and with Northwestern going 4/19 from three you can't dog the closeouts too much. Stauskas went under some screens against Alex Marcotullio early and paid for it, but the guy puts up 70% of his shots from three and hits 29%—I wouldn't be surprised if that was the gameplan against the guy. Keep your defense balanced and if he hits he hits.
I tell you what: he's not just a shooter. thatsracist.gif.
Light Rob. It has come to my attention that I rarely even bother to talk about GRIII, whether it's here or in the podcast, and this is kind of an incredible thing. I know I cannot contain myself about how exciting Stauskas is as a player, and why not: he's 8th nationally in ORTG as a freshman.
Robinson is sixth. At the end of every game he has somewhere between 12 and 20 points and Michigan has run no plays for him and he's taken about three dribbles to acquire those points and you're just like "oh, right… that incredibly efficient guy." In this one, 13 points on 7 shots. Another day at the office. GRIII's office is at the top of a beanstalk.
Ace reports that the players on the team have nicknamed him "Light Rob" because of that effect when you look at the box score: "oh right, GRIII had a light 20 points." He is shooting 67% from the field and 40% from three. Kind of good.
Unfortunately for GRIII, this in no way translates to skills the NBA finds attractive. Being able to do this is a detriment because sometimes you get stuck in the rafters and have to be fished out at great expense:
Oh well, three more years at Michigan.
Spike doing things. Just four minutes for Albrecht but the thing about the guy is that he'll get those four, five, six minutes and do something with them. In this one he missed an open three—good shot from a good shooter so still counts to the good—and had a lovely push up the floor that turned a situation that did not necessarily look like a developing transition opportunity into an easy bucket.
Like LeVert, Albrecht is not likely to have a huge impact on the big games Michigan is about to embark on. Also like LeVert, he is capable of giving you a play or two that may make the difference. Both were late pickups from nowhere, and if Michigan finishes this year 5 to 1 against there will be at least one play featuring those guys that we'll point to as crucial.
This is John Beilein's Dumars moment. I'm not saying he's going to go out and recruit college versions of Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva at ruinous expense right after this. I am saying that there was a point in time during which Joe Dumars seemed like the smartest GM in the history of the NBA, and that this inevitably faded as his luck regressed to the mean, and that Michigan has just metaphorically traded Chucky Atkins for Rasheed Wallace.
John Beilein is a great, great basketball coach, and possibly an even better identifier of talent. But no amount of skill can guarantee this kind of team. Look at Calipari, sporting another shot-blocking monstrosity at center who will go in the top three picks in the draft. This year he's cruising towards the bubble, not the championship. This is the point at which Beilein seems impossible. Long may it last, but here's your biweekly unnecessary reminder to savor this.