Not so crazy
this week in unintentionally grim-sounding recruiting headlines
1/22/2014 – Michigan 75, Iowa 67 – 14-4, 6-0 Big Ten
If this was a miss, it was his only one. [Bryan Fuller]
Jordan Morgan is old. Not human old. He is ZZ Top Beard old. He's columns about Richard Sherman old. He's archeology old. He's Seven Nation Army old. He has shale and fossilized invertebrates and a layer of iridium in him.
You think I am exaggerating for effect. I am not. Jordan Morgan committed to Michigan on December 18th, 2007. This is what Jordan Morgan and Miley Cyrus looked like then.
Michigan had not been to the NCAA tournament since Robert Traylor was around.
Jordan Morgan is older than the sea. It is not out of the question that Jordan Morgan impacting the earth was the genesis of life itself.
Morgan was in fact the first guy John Beilein recruited to Michigan who wasn't a late scramble pickup.
Ben Cronin and Stu Douglass preceded him chronologically but were in the 2008 transitional class that, like most transitional classes, gave off the aura of "random tall passerby, here is a scholarship." Douglass was pirated from Harvard, Cronin from… hey, a Beilein offer at West Virginia. When those guys signed on Beilein was looking for bodies he could mold.
Morgan was not one of those guys. Morgan was recruited way early, on purpose. He committed three months before Zack Novak did. Remember Zack Novak? Guy with the bulging forehead comprised entirely of veins and leadership who had a pathological inability to not try his hardest at everything he'd ever considered doing? Guy who is now two years gone from the program? Yeah. That guy. Morgan beat him to the punch by three months.
Jordan Morgan is a million years old. This is how old Jordan Morgan is: Michigan sucked at basketball when he signed up.
This is no longer the case. (Someone tell the official site.) Last night, Michigan went toe to toe with a top ten opponent and came out on top… again. Since Novak's Aneurysm of Leadership, Michigan is 39-14 in the Big Ten. Morgan played 24 minutes in that game, because he is 1,000 years old.
And yes, Michigan's stormed through the last three years of Big Ten basketball on the shoulders of NBA first-rounders past and future. This latest victory was largely thanks to Nik Stauskas playing like a guy Joe Dumars will gleefully pass over in the upcoming NBA draft. (If he even gets an opportunity to do so.) But underneath Stauskas's very obvious boggling efficiency there are other boggling efficiencies to consider.
Historically, the Jordan Morgan prediction matrix has been a simple one. If he is playing against a guy approximately his size, he will have a good game. If he is playing against a seven-footer or guy who plays like one by jumping real high, he will be invisible save for good positional defense. That matrix has been taking efficient shot after efficient shot in this Big Ten season; yesterday it finally toppled over.
Here is Morgan's stat line from Michigan's game against the biggest team in the conference: 5/6 from 12, 2/3 from the line, 12 points, 7 rebounds, 2 offensive rebounds by guys he is checking. He kept Horford stapled to the bench, and it wasn't anything Horford (eight minutes, 3 rebounds, 0 FGA, 0 TO) was doing. He was just the best option. The matrix is collapsed in a heap like a security guard around a Michigan State quarterback recruit.
At some point it doesn't matter if Morgan's shots are largely provided on platters by Stauskas, LeVert, and company. Bunnies get missed. Sometimes dunks fly right back out of the basket. Large gentlemen deposit your shot into the stands. I think that point has been reached, because I was checking out Aaron White's numbers and found something familiar in them. If you've been around this site for a while you know that Aaron White is an MGoBlog fave-rave, because he is maniacally, spectacularly efficient. Well…
White's usage numbers are higher, but not by that much. The only guy who's putting up more points per shot attempt is one Ethan Wragge, who you may remember from such games as…
Ethan Wragge at the half: 24 points, 0 dribbles
— Jordan Sperber (@hoopvision68) January 21, 2014
Creighton: avoid at all costs.
It would be something if Morgan had his numbers as a jumping jack who can fling things in the basket from above it, like Glenn Robinson III. Since he is not, it is something else. You'd say it's impossible for a below-the-rim guy like Morgan to be so ruthless except for the numbers staring you in the face.
71%. It's there, on paper, looking back at you just as confused as you are. I am not supposed to be this large, it whispers. Tell me there is a theoretical maximum. Please. Yes, Jordan Morgan shooting percentage, yes. You will not grow and grow until you engulf the state and then the nation. It is axiomatically impossible. This is good for both you and the Big Ten, because without that there's no telling what the combination of Stauskas, Beilein, and Morgan might end up at. It might be a number so big it could describe Morgan's metaphorical age.
The imposition of style. Over the past few years there have been teams that try to speed Michigan up or turn them over or press them and they've all failed. Add Iowa to that list. Here's quite a stat in an eight-point Michigan win: Michigan had 12 fast break points to Iowa's 4.
Meanwhile. 66 possessions is a little faster than Michigan generally goes… and way, way off Iowa's normal tempo. That is a comprehensive win.
And they didn't sacrifice offensive rebounds. It seemed like the boards were going to be a major sore spot both pregame and in the first eight minutes as Melsahn Basabe went nuts, but by the end of the game Iowa had been battled to a standstill. Both teams had 10 OREBs; Michigan had one additional opportunity to grab one. Shutting off transition and still grabbing 30% of available offensive boards is quite a trick.
Spike! Dang, man. 35 minutes with Walton sidelined with the flu, and the results are seven points, three boards, seven assists, four steals, and zero turnovers. The second-half steals were all quickly converted into fast-break points and two of them broke up attempted Iowa fast breaks themselves; in particular, the clean swipe that led to an Irvin transition three to push Michigan's lead back to seven was a play that should come with an exclamation point in the box score. That was a five point swing and about 3.5 of those were Spike's, with the remainder going to Irvin.
Michigan was fortunate that Walton was sidelined for a game against a point guard Spike could check. Mike Gesell is just not a volume shooter. Even so, Michigan probably came out better than the expected in that matchup: Gesell was just two of four from the floor with two assists and a turnover.
I don't think anyone has any illusions that Spike is going to be able to guard Appling without fire raining from the sky, so it'll be important to get Walton back for Saturday. Travis Trice does play 18 minutes a game, though, and Albrecht can deal with him.
Yet another of Stauskas's 34 bricks on the night [Fuller]
Stauskas. Crushingly disappointing performance from a player who will never live up to his potential and SHOULD DEFINITELY BE IGNORED BY THE NBA FOR AT LEAST ONE MORE YEAR.
are they gone, the scouts?
So… yeah… wow. That ball-on-a-string assist where he crossed White over twice and then plunged through two help defenders before feeding Morgan was a bittersweet symphony right there. Hooray: that guy plays for Michigan. Oh no: he's not going to be around much longer.
Might as well ride him as long as you can. At this point it's barely worth mentioning that he was ludicrously efficient except when left wide open from his favorite spot in the world. 26 points on 17 shot attempts, five assists, and I'll-take-it defense against Aaron White. Nik Stauskas.
It is going to be really disappointing when Michigan finally finds itself without an alpha dog who can drive them through tough moments, but what a run: Morris, Burke, Stauskas. The series of defiant lip curlers who have passed through Ann Arbor of late is amazing.
What do we think of Iowa's three point defense now? On the one hand, Michigan was only 8 of 27. On the other, did it really seem like Iowa had much of anything to do with that? They got some hands in faces but no more or less than any other team and it seemed like Michigan was mostly hitting the hard ones and missing the easy ones, Stauskas in particular.
Aside from late-clock chucks, most three pointers are the same catch and shoot quality, and I don't think Iowa has anything special to them that prevents opponents from hitting from deep.
Warming up. Zak Irvin returned from deep freeze to provide a much-needed shooting spark in the second half, hitting 3 of 7 from three and even venturing inside the line for a transition bucket. We have photographic evidence.
A palpable two pointer [Fuller]
His usefulness was much more obvious against a team like Iowa that gives up a bunch of threes; previously he was forced to sit in the corner with a guy on him against Wisconsin, et al.
At least he's there, forcing people to check him. Have you seen an Indiana game this year? It's ugly. The only guy who can shoot at all is Yogi Ferrell, and he's their main creator. The result is a lot of possessions where opponents pack the paint with impunity and the second-worst offense in the league.
I don't know what it is with both Indiana teams, but they've apparently decided to stop recruiting shooters. You're in Indiana! You can't throw a basketball without knocking over a 5'11" white dude who does nothing but hit 45% from deep for four years. You should take advantage of this opportunity instead of recruiting gentlemen who give themselves a self-high-five when they hit the backboard.
Late subs. I was confused late when Beilein kept swapping Morgan for Horford on made second free throws, and then it became apparent: by switching the centers, Michigan gave themselves plenty of time to get set defensively so Iowa could not get the whisper of a transition chance afterwards.
Not so crazy
Beilein calmly making great late game decisions.
You win the Internet-for-a-day!
Brian this might be one of your best write ups, laughing the entire way through.
This line pushed it over the top
"The matrix is collapsed in a heap like a security guard around a Michigan State quarterback recruit"
Wasn't sure whether to consider that line in poor taste or hilarious.
I was the exact same way felt bad for laughing about it.
The late subs thing has been something of a Beilein staple I think. Not that other coaches dont use that tactic, but late in close games, Beilein almost always seems to be making a substitution on that second FT.
Prediction: Walton will be the next go-to guy.
Could be. I think he needs to develop more of a game off the dribble, though.
Sounds like what we said last year about a certain Canadian freshman...
Stauskas showed plenty of signs of that last year (hence the "not just a shooter" meme)....not sure Irvin has shown that quite yet.
Irvin got the "not just a shooter" treatment last night though, for reasons I can't make any sense of. He is, in fact, just a shooter at this stage.
I'm thinking it will be LeVert. If he puts in the same amount of work he did last summer and puts on another 15 lbs he has the handle to become the main scoring threat on offense.
And we'll still look at him and say "how the hell did HE gain 40+ pounds? He still looks so skinny."
I agree. He has been maddenly inconsistent this year, but he has definitely shown flashes. If he can make the same leap he did this past summer I think we will have a solid go-to guy for two years.
He's definitely another possibility. I picked Walton because 1) as the PG he'll have the ball in his hands to start things off and 2) he showed already at Nebraska that he has no fear in crunch time.
Do people really think hes going early? I would be shocked if he left after this year. Hes a projected second rounder and does not look NBA ready. Sure, he's playing good ball but I wouldn't be surprised if he's still a four year player.
I highly doubt he is a four year player I always said since he came here he was a 3 year player. But if this is how he plays the rest of the year, Im not sure he isnt gone this year.
But the idea of having a squad that brings everyone back except morgan and GRIII is very exciting if McGary and Stauskas return.
I'd say a team with a core of JRs Stauskas and Levert + SOs Irvin and Walton has enough firepower to compete in the Big Ten next year, even if McGary does leave.
It does but man McGary would put that over the top.
I don't think he's a four year player but maybe he decides to stick around one more year if he's firmly in the second round. I'm not really sure why he wouldn't be projected in the first round but if he is he should go. If he's projected as a second rounder then he and McGary should stick around next year, win a national championship, and then be lottery picks coming off of one of the best teams in recent memory.
Anyway at this point I'm trying not to think about next year and just enjoy what we have now.
Understand basketball very well, but why wouldn't Stauskus be a first round lottery pick? The kid can shoot from any point on the floor. Can handle the ball (better than Tim Hardaway in College to my ameture eyes) while driving the lane. And has vision and smarts to both attack the basket and dish when driving. I know his defense could improve, but it seems like a lot of NBA teams would love to have a scoring threat like him, and deal with the fact that he is only a marginal defender.
I'd love to see him next year in the maize and blue, but I just don't see what part of his game would significantly improve between this year and next year.
I don't think he's really strong enough yet. That's the only reason I could see him staying another year. If he puts on another ten pounds, look out.
a tall shooting guard that can drain it from anywhere and make his own shot off the dribble? what would he gain by sticking around? time to work on his defense?
i think he's long gone.
projects Stauskas going at 1st round at #20 overall ahead of GR3 and McGary and quickly rising.
Could very well see Nik, GR3 and Mitch all declare for the draft after this season. With Nik's apparent desire to go to NBA asap, this could be it for Nik.
and there seems to be game to game improvement over the course of this year as he gains confidence. I think he's gone. I'm not sure if he will start immediately, but I'd take a chance based on his heart and determination to go along with threes raining from the sky. But then I'm not Joe Dumars.
Great article Brian. I laughed through the whole thing.
He is a Corver clone but plays at a big school. He will be gone. And good for him. He's earned it.
...at his current production, he won't improve his stock by returning....
He's white and good at basketball. Get over it.
I have no other plausible explanation for why you wouldn't be surprised if he's a 4 year player. That is insanity.
This is his last year playing college ball - enjoy it.
Nerding-out hard with today's writeup, love it.
Iowa's full court press was terrifying. Then again, with that kind of length, they could be pretty good with a Syracuse 2-3 zone as well.
re: the streak ending, did anyone see Stauskas coming as this year's version, really? Who is to say someone else won't ascend the throne next year?
You have proven once again what a great writer you are.
I remember watching Morgan play against my high school team back in the day and walking away trying to justify why or how he would be a good player at Michigan, and I had nothing. I thought last year he topped out at an average/just below average player, but he has taken his game to a new level this year.
They Might Be Giants FTW.
John Henry came out 20 years ago. Now I feel old.
...i'm no basketball genius, but getting to the offensive glass while while slowing down the transition game seems impossible, and serves as yet another reason to kneel at the altar of beilein. at this point, you could tell me just about anything about this program and i'd believe it.
i wouldn't trade john beilein for anyone in the country. i'm not even kidding.
He absolutely is one of the very best tactitians in the game. That seems without question. Throw in his ability to identify and develop talent and beyond all that, what a great representative he is of the school (could you ever imagine him embarrassing UM in any way?) and he really is the perfect coach for us.
Morgan's so old.....
......he played with Cazzie.
......he actually built the House that Cazzie Built
......he was buddies with Fritz Crisler
If Beilein and co. can get LeVert performing with consistency, this team has the tools to push anyone in the B1G on the road. I am starting to think that Walton(Spike)/Stauskas/GRIII/Irvin/Morgan is the optimal line-up, with prolonged minutes for LeVert (again if he can get it together), Spike(Walton) and Horford. Eight deep did it against 11-deep Iowa, which was just awesome.
has the confidence to be the next go-to guy...but that has been an issue at times this year...hopefully not so much next year.
but he improved from last year to this year. He just needs to bulk up 10-15 lbs. There are several times where he doesn't have the upper body strength to withstand body blow when he drives to the hoops. Hopefully, that'll change next year. He is expected to be the alpha dog next year with potentially 3 players declaring for the draft.
Next year projected lineup:
Still small, but I expect Chatman, Donnal and Biefeldt/Doyle to see PT. Wilson is the wildcard. If he's good enough, he'll play the PF position.
I wouldn't count out Stauskas coming back. Next years draft class is really good. And I'm sure teams will start game planing more and more to stop him. If that doesn't slow him down then yeah he'll be gone.
next year draft is really good every year. If Nik gets a hint that he's a 1st rounder, he's gone IMO. Ditto with GR3 and McGary. McGary could be gone for different reasons not related to draft stock.
Stauskas potentially leaving is also a good thing that would be 5 nba players in two years potentially going in the first round. And some of them weren't even highly recruited by the UK and Dukes of CBB. Great for recruiting. JB>> Izzo.
it has to be good for recruiting. JB doesn't send player to NBA meme should be dead since last year, right? I know some still use it, but with Trey and THJ getting drafted at 1st round has to help his cause.
That's not true at all. Last year's draft was considered extremely weak, next year's draft is considered to be one of the best of all time. That is why Nik is less likely to be considered a 1st rounder, because there are so many people considered to be 'sure things' in the next draft while Nik is only just now coming on people's radars.
Worth pointing out that that 39-14 record since the Leadership Aneurysm is the best record in the conference in that span
is an amazing stat. Shows excellence and consistency from year to year.
Love the TMBG reference, Brian!