"It's not about last year or who's here or who's isn't here," says your head coach. "It's about getting out here and competing and seeing who is here, and that's where we're gonna go."
This has been in the rumble stages for a month or so now, but this is the first mention from an actual reporter in the wild:
— Anwar Richardson (@AnwarRichardson) September 9, 2014
They are "working on dates" that are a decade out, so don't book your plane tickets yet. If this comes to fruition it would be the first games Brandon has booked in the aftermath of Notre Dame's cancellation of the series that come close to the wow factor ND provides.
SPORTS. TALK. RADIO. A somewhat agitated man called into WTKA after the game Saturday night. That guy can get bent with his engineering cracks. If the football team was as good as solar car we'd all have burned out dopamine receptors.
It could be worse! It could be equally as bad. Let's check in with our friends at Texas.
The eloquent Scipio Tex on a hamblasting at the hands of BYU:
Anyone coming into this game expecting a solid or even reasonably functional offense was delusional, but cold reality stings even when you know there's a blizzard outside and you're dressed only in a garter belt and a ball gag leaping from a 3rd story window into a snow bank...
Metaphorically been there, bro. And literally, but let's focus on the metaphorically please.
Meanwhile in MS paint penises. We made Shamepaint, a couple times. This is the one I can put on the blog:
So we're still better than my friend Kit.
That's over I guess. Penn State's sanctions are over as arbitrarily and suddenly as they were imposed. Suddenly free to go to the Pinstripe Bowl, Penn State fans reacted like college students do when given the slightest pretext:
— The Daily Collegian (@DailyCollegian) September 9, 2014
The previous day's Collegian was exactly the same except the headline read ONE DOLLAR TACOS.
So that may explain that. Derrick Green got a lot more carries than De'Veon Smith despite not being at all effective with them. Here is a potential reason why:
@AceAnbender DeVeon Smith is limping pretty bad around campus. No boot or brace, but he's walking like a baby deer.
— Nick McLaren (@xDQ44) September 8, 2014
Here is a list of potential SMU hires I am linking for no particular reason. Michigan's going to have more access than SMU if they need to make a coaching change at the end of the season, but Harbaugh Hail Marys aside the landscape isn't going to look too different than this list of eight candidates to replace June Jones after his sudden resignation. It's heavy on offensive coordinators, with those of Ohio State, Clemson, Baylor, and Oklahoma on the list along with some washed up dudes. (Butch Davis! Rick Neuheisel!) Michigan has a bunch of midlevel head coaches they can grab… it's just that there aren't any.
If you think that's excessively grim, look around the college football landscape for an established, pluckable head coach with a track record that makes you warm and fuzzy. I don't see one. Texas grabbed the best idea out there when they hired Charlie Strong to repair the damage letting Mack Brown hang on way too long caused. Washington picked off Chris Petersen. Penn State got James Franklin. There's nobody at a midlevel BCS program who's an obvious next big thing a la Meyer or Sumlin.
Unless you think Michigan can swoop in on a Texas A&M or Oklahoma State—extremely doubtful—there are virtually no available coaches who finished in the top 25 last year except George O'Leary (hooray!) and Todd Graham (because Todd Graham is always available). David Cutcliffe is 59; Art Briles is 58 (and not leaving).
The best bet outside the HHM may be Craig Bohl, who led NDSU to three consecutive national titles and various upsets of nearby I-A teams. Dual problems: he just got hired by Wyoming and he's 56.
Maybe someone will cut a hot swath of death through some conference or another, but legit A-level hires have track records of performing over expectations over a number of years. With Petersen, Strong, and Franklin off the board the pickings are slim. They get even slimmer if you insist on a coach who runs a program that looks like 1990s Michigan, because fewer and fewer programs do that.
Hail Harbaugh full of grace and all that, then. Or ripping off ten straight wins and going to the Rose Bowl. Either one. Preferably the latter. It could happen!
AT LEAST WE COULD PROBABLY UNFOLD SOME FRIGGIN SHEETS OF CLOTH.
— Tyler Koppes (@TBooty_88) September 7, 2014
Actually, I wonder about that after the Great Card Stunt of 2012, which was not exactly North Korea quality. We are a goatish people, we Michigan fans: hard to lead, prone to irritating bleating, capable of grudgingly eating anything put in front of our face.
This week in People In Charge Of Things Are Just In Charge Of Them. Nothing about what Ray Rice did changed in the last couple days, but once people actually saw him knocking out his wife all of a sudden Rice is gone from the league. NFL officials are either 1) worse than TMZ at getting video, 2) lied to everyone about having saw it, or 3) saw it and thought two games was okay.
This is a comprehensive failure by an idiot. He's an idiot who makes 45 million dollars a year, and he's an idiot because he thinks this makes him untouchable. See Donald Sterling, Dan Snyder, etc. People in charge of things are not necessarily deserving of such a position and their judgments should be questioned, because no one inside these organizations is successfully doing so.
Meanwhile, elite sportswriters are hand-picked PR organs.
Par for the course. Obligatory hot take on the Hoke quote du jour:
'If they're truly fans, they'll believe in these kids ... If they're not, they won't'
See MGoBlog article "Fickle" on this.
It is not the fans' fault that this program is awful to be a fan of. It's not Rich Rodriguez's fault. Anyone who sells their ticket for whatever they can get—currently 60 bucks and dropping from 80 yesterday—is only making a logical decision to not get punched in the soul dong on Saturday.
You are a true fan if you want the team to win a lot. Believing is optional, and right now kind of dumb.
Etc.: Shut up, Jim Delany, it is most definitely not premature to judge the Big Ten. Michigan Monday, hooray. Miami (Not That Miami) is not good. M is a 31.5 point favorite and YOU JUST HAD TO PICK THAT LINE, VEGAS, SERIOUSLY?
Rounding up the exit. Further takes on the end of Michigan's season come from Genuinely Sarcastic:
In three of the last four seasons, Michigan's season has come down to one final shot in the dying moments. That's actually pretty astonishing when you think about it. All the chaos and moving parts of a basketball game, boiling down to one shot on three separate occasions in three separate games. All three involved different circumstances, and a Michigan program at different stages of its evolution.
Sometimes you don't appreciate you have until it's gone. Which is why I am thankful we were able to send off Jordan Morgan on a high note. Morgan is exactly what we want our players to be, tenacious, hard-working, always working to be better, and, oh yeah, a pretty damn good student to boot. To see all of the #ThanksJMo tweets after the game is to know that we didn't lose sight of what was going to end when Stauskas's last shot fell short. We know we're probably also losing some other players, and we'll deal with that when the time comes, but for now, we appreciate what we had, because it was fun. It was just fun.
INDIANAPOLIS — Moments after the game, the sun is low in the sky and Lucas Oil Stadium casts a long shadow across Indianapolis as, inside, Michigan walks off the court for the last time together. Jordan Morgan is first, well before anyone else. Glenn Robinson III gives a quick wave to the crowd and puts his head down. Nik Stauskas is emotionless. Mitch McGary, who was never getting into the game, walks off wearing the uniform his teammates have insisted he wear.
Later, Morgan, held up by his press conference, is one of the last to enter the Michigan locker room. Most of the room is composed except for Zak Irvin, who is emotional in one corner of the room, and for Morgan. He wipes his face with his sleeve and cries in front of the television cameras.
His teammates have said the loss is all the more difficult because it means they’ll never play another game with Morgan. The senior doesn’t know how to respond.
He pauses to wipe his eyes.
“I didn’t expect it to be my last game,” Morgan says.
“It’s over. I don’t know what else to say.”
And Nick Baumgardner:
But while every team in this NCAA tournament, save for one, ends its season with a loss, they don't all end their season without regret.
This Michigan team earned the right to live -- forever -- with a clear conscience.
"You can be mad if you want," Michigan's Jon Horford said. "But if you make guys hit tough shots they don't normally hit.
"Then you shake their hand."
Draft stuff. NBA draft types seem to be in consensus about Michigan's three early entry candidates: Stauskas is out the door, but the other two should return. "Should" and "will" are two very different things, of course. Also, when NBA draft types talk about these things they talk about them from the perspective of the NBA, not the player.
Disclaimers aside, NBA type on Robinson:
Projecting where Robinson could be selected in this year's NBA draft is difficult. His potential is boundless, but his play has been erratic. The scout described his prospective draft position as "all over the board for some people."
He concluded saying Robinson should return to Ann Arbor to "develop some consistency in his game."
A guy the BTN talked to:
Glenn Robinson III
Why he should stay: Should finally emerge as Michigan’s star player. Showed flashes of what people expected as a sophomore, but not consistently. Should look better with Walton having a year under his belt as point guard.
Why he should leave: Teams still like his skill and athleticism. Could flourish enough in workout situations to alleviate NBA concerns.
As I mentioned in the post a couple days ago, Robinson's clear frustration at being forced to play the 4 is something that will weigh on him. This makes Mark Donnal the most important guy on the team from GRIII's perspective. If Mitch returns Donnal is free to play the 4 for basically all of his minutes, and if he's a 25 minute or 30 minute guy that means Robinson's spending almost all of his time on the wing.
As for Mitch, there is almost universal agreement that it would be hard to take the guy in the first round with the questions about his back and relatively thin resume. McGary would have to be confident in his ability to go full McGary in draft camps this month if he was going to make a leap. Anonymous NBA guy:
If he chooses to declare for the draft, McGary's health will be "picked apart in this process" due to an injury classified only as a lower-back condition, according to the scout.
It's clear both Robinson and McGary entered the year planning that this would be their last at Michigan, and that momentum will make deciding to stay more difficult than it otherwise even if it seems like the best idea to return for both.
These days there is no withdrawal, so the dates that matter are April 16th, when the Portsmouth Invitational starts and the 27th, which is the last day to declare. GRIII and McGary will almost certainly decide by the 16th, as Portsmouth is where a lot of first or second round decisions get hashed out.
Also in draft stuff. I'm not sure if this draft blogger the BTN talked to has anything solid or if he's just guessing based on the fact that everyone flees West Lafayette, but here's the hypothetical death knell for Matt Painter's career:
Why he should stay: Showed very little improvement in many ways from freshman to sophomore year. A dominant junior year could make him a first-round pick.
Why he should leave: Skilled big men and shot-blockers are always in demand at the NBA level and Hammons’ development may have stalled at Purdue.
Prediction: Enters Draft
Tom Dienhart also predicted a Hammons departure, FWIW. I know Hammons is a frustrating dude but he's all Purdue has right now.
Other decisions the Big Ten is waiting on include Sam Dekker and (now) Frank Kaminsky at Wisconsin plus Gary Harris and Branden Dawson at MSU. Gary Parrish reported that barring a 180 in the next couple days, Harris is out the door. Dawson is a bit of a surprising name, but he's got financial issues and pretty much is what he is at this point: a 20-minutes-a-game defensive specialist.
MSU is also offering firm handshakes to potential fifth-year players Alex Guana and Russell Byrd. The latter is a little sad, since he had the highest ratio of bark to bite in the Big Ten. From the spectator's position, it's always tough to lose a guy like that.
Freshman talk. Via MGoVideo:
Canteen made a catch! And he's wearing 17. Always enjoy guys wearing oddball numbers I have no association with. Looking forward to Canteen changing it six times over the course of his career.
Wrong move, buddy. Now we're going to try and beat you. Ohio State cockiness increments yearly these days. And one day super super soon they are going to regret it, I tell you. Until then, the prospect of random OSU assistant coaches spouting off about Michigan remains. Ed Warinner:
Ed Warinner: "If you're worried about Wolverine fans, just move to Pasadena. You'll never have to deal with 'em."
— Marcus Hartman (@marcushartman) April 2, 2014
Standard message board banter. Okay. And then:
Warinner on lost playbooks in Michigan: "I heard Brady was upset because he hadn't finished coloring them."
— Marcus Hartman (@marcushartman) April 2, 2014
From the People In Charge Of Things Are Just In Charge Of Them file. Texas has a new athletic director, who is in charge of Texas. He is also an idiot.
He sees Texas as being in a unique position to grow its international brand and said it's essential to use athletics as a platform to tell the university's story.
"They shouldn't be done for junketeering purposes," Patterson said. "They should be done in a fashion that grows the profile and the interest of the university of a broad scale internationally."
Patterson reportedly has expressed interest in playing a nonconference football game in Mexico City. Another possibility Patterson acknowledged Tuesday could be a future sporting event in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
This dude already scheduled a Texas basketball game in China, but will not even consider playing Texas A&M. The goal appears to be pissing off your core fanbase as much as possible. CEO types are just emperors running around naked as the day is long these days, searching for growth at all costs like their department is a publicly traded company.
Also… "junketeering." Just keep shooting bullets into the English language until it topples, guys.
It's on. The Michigan legislature passed a bill allowing Michigan to sell alcohol for that rumored Man U/Real Madrid friendly this summer, which was followed up by an announcement there would be an announcement tomorrow. Expect them to announce a series of announcements about announcements culminating in a soccer game.
|WHAT||Michigan (26-8, 15-3 B1G) vs.
Texas (24-10, 11-7 B12)
|WHEN||5:15 pm Eastern, Saturday|
|LINE||Michigan -4 (KenPom)|
YOU PICKED THE WRONG CANADIAN, RICK BARNES. THE WRONG, WRONG CANADIAN.
Win or go home.
THE LINEUP CARD
Projected starters are in bold:
|G||1||Isaiah Taylor||Fr.||6'1, 170||75%||25%||Very|
|Super quick PG shoots 40% from 2, does not take 3s. Main strength is getting to line.|
|G||3||Javan Felix||So.||5'11, 195||64%||23%||Sort of|
|Volume jump shooter hits 38%/34%. Takes ton of iso two point jumpers.|
|G||2||Demarcus Holland||So.||6'2, 185||74%||16||Very|
|Lots of TOs, miserable FT% for guard, shoots 45% from two.|
|F||10||Jonathan Holmes||Jr.||6'8, 240||54%||24||Sort of|
|Stretch-ish 4 is OREB guy and decent 3 threat. Low min despite high ORTG.|
|C||55||Cameron Ridley||So.||6'9, 285||63%||22||Very|
|Post widebody is rebound machine, draws tons of fouls.|
|F||21||Connor Lammert||So.||6'9, 235||52%||14||Sort of|
|Typical post backup, but does have range to 3. Efficient, but low usage.|
|G||24||Martez Walker||Fr.||6'4, 185||29%||18||Sort of|
|Emerged into 20 min/G backup lately. Decent shooter, no standout skill yet.|
|C||44||Prince Ibeh||So.||6'10, 250||35||16||Very|
|Generic large man.|
Texas is an oddity in the college basketball world, an old-school, throwback two-post outfit that usually has two 6'8+ guys on the court at all times. NCAA teams have increasingly moved away from this paradigm in favor of a smaller, more offensively efficient one, and Texas's stats reflect their interior orientation. They're rebounding monsters who can't shoot.
As far as individual players go, the guy who makes things go is center Cameron Ridley, a Traylor-like post who has his own gravitational pull.
Ridley crushes the boards at both ends and has a top 25 free throw rate. Unfortunately, he's mediocre at best once there (62%) and is only decent from the floor at 55%. He does take care of the ball well for a big guy.
Texas splits its minutes at the four about down the middle between Jonathan Holmes and Connor Lammert. They're similar players statistically, both monsters on the defensive boards and very good on the offensive boards. Both guys have three point range (34% for both) that they don't use very much and shoot decently from two. They're Texas's most effective players at shooting, full stop.
When a post isn't taking a shot it's usually not good news for the Texas offense. Their two high-usage guards are not particularly efficient. Point guard Isaiah Taylor is a flash in the lane but has limited ability to finish once there. He's shooting just 40% on his 327(!) two point attempts, and he has only 19 three point attempts on the year. When he is on, though, he is scary:
He assists, of course, but his A:TO ratio is mediocre at best. Taylor's best asset is his ability to get to the line. That asset is one usually nerfed by Michigan's passivity on defense, but the tradeoff is that Taylor might be getting way better shots than he usually does.
Meanwhile, to envision Felix Javan, strip eight inches off of Zak Irvin and make him shoot 38%/34%. Oh and give him a bunch more assists. But basically short bricklayer Irvin. Only 14% of his shots are at the rim and most of his twos are not assisted; he dribbles himself into two point jumpers. He is Texas's primary three point threat. At 34%, yes.
The third guard, Demarcus Holland, is a really bad offensive player who must be on the floor solely to D up. He shoots 57/45/29 and turns the ball over a ton.
Texas opened the tournament with a dramatic buzzer-beater win over Arizona State in a game that was shockingly efficient for the Horns, which put up a Michigan-like 1.24 PPP thanks to low turnovers and efficient two point shooting. That Holland guy I just trashed had 14 points on 7 shot equivalents, IE the maximum you can acquire without taking a three. He didn't try a three.
Before that game Texas was on a hell of a skid, 3-5 in their last eight with one of the wins over basketball nonentity TCU, and with all but one loss by 9 points. They went 11-7 in a very deep and tough Big 12, though, and boast wins against Iowa State, Baylor (twice), Kansas, and Oklahoma State.
Texas didn't have a lot of high quality opponents in the nonconference slate. They beat autobids Mercer and Stephen F Austin early, lost to BYU on a neutral floor, and go run by MSU at home. Their main selling point a road win against mercurial North Carolina in an 80 possession game.
Texas shoots miserably from everywhere and tries to make up for it by crushing the offensive boards. They also get to the line a fair bit, though they're only 67% there. Texas is relatively uptempo and not particularly efficient when they go uptempo, so that's a push with Michigan's problematic transition D.
Keep it tight and slow. Texas tries to get out in transition because their half court offense is poor. This doesn't go that much better (Texas transtion eFG%: 52%; Michigan: 64%; Michigan halfcourt eFG%: 53%), but the increase in their efficiency is approximately as large as Michigan's increase in efficiency. If Michigan can make this into a shooting contest, the only thing that will save Texas is a blizzard of offensive rebounds.
When in doubt, help. Texas's best three point shooter is mediocre and the rest of the team is hesitant to even launch one. The Horns are in the 300s at taking threes and 251st at hitting them. Texas's bigs have miniscule assist rates. Double the post every time.
Meanwhile, when someone's driving, perimeter players should feel free to sag off most Texas players in an effort to get the driver to pull up and kick it back out or take a floater. Allowing the driver to engage the big is bad news, as a missed shot that draws Morgan or Horford over looks to be as good as an assist against the burly Longhorns.
This may be a situation where a zone can help you out. Tight turnaround, lots of drivers without much shooting, team that couldn't really prep much for you with a 7/10 game looming, coach regarded as a bit of a lightweight… this could be a situation where the 1-3-1 can make a major impact. The threat of the offensive rebound veritably looms, but it's a curveball you can test out some to see if it works. The rarely seen 2-3 also seems like an option if Michigan can't stay in front of Texas's waterbug guards.
Crash the boards a bit yourself. Texas is mediocre at defensive rebounding because their bigs try to block everything. While there's not much hope Michigan can hold Texas off the offensive boards, they can mitigate some of that possession advantage by having Morgan/Horford mitigate that.
THE SECTION WHERE I PREDICT THE SAME THING KENPOM DOES
Michigan by 4.