Might have been the greatest non-2011-Ohio-State-Football-Game pre-bullets-intros that Brian has ever written. Well done... Well done.
this week in unintentionally grim-sounding recruiting headlines
3/1/2014 – Michigan 66, Minnesota 56 – 21-7, 13-3, guaranteed share of Big Ten title
He moved it with his mind [Eric Upchurch]
Let us recalibrate ourselves.
I'm 34. Growing up, it was expected that Michigan won things. In football. And therefore in everything else, because football is everything except at, like, Kansas. (Kansas hired Charlie Weis on purpose. Basketball focus is kind of a disease.) That bled into other things, and then success was expected. This Is Michigan.
Success is still expected, in rhetoric and increasingly anachronistic Michigan-directed hate from fanbases around the Big Ten. Rivalry things I get. I don't get Iowa being livid about everything after taking five of six because of Bo, basically. Even after the key thing was eminently humbled, the new guy came in saying This Is Michigan, and yours truly and everyone else ate it up.
But the reality is that Michigan is in an increasingly demographically unfavored situation, waiting until water scarcity and global warming drives the people back into its bosom. Reputation and momentum worked in tandem to forestall the impact of these trends, and then: kaboom. First basketball, then football, and then sort of but pretty much hockey.
The dominion of Michigan is increasingly hard to see sustained. There is a lot of money and fanbase and these things should keep them above middling; Michigan fans expect any program fielded to be mentioned in the same breath with the elites. We are ill prepared to deal with anything but, what with infinite bowl streak that still defines our self-perception. 13 years into the post-Cooper era at OSU and it still feels like a cruel surprise.
Here's the thing.
Birthright fandom kind of sucks. You expect thing X and you must have thing X and anything slightly short of thing X is terrible. Being around OSU fans talking epic crap about every slightly deficient player on their team is both revelatory and probably a glimpse into what I thought in the immediate vicinity of 1997. See Kentucky basketball.
Hoping not to die is more fun. Ask an MSU fan about this, in re: Rose Bowl.
These things are inevitable historical trends that catch entire fanbases up and cannot be resisted. Success begets the expectation of more of that. What I am saying is that Michigan is now a hope-not-to-die set of programs with a birthright fanbase. We should recalibrate ourselves, for good fun.
When Michigan hired John Beilein they hadn't been to an NCAA tournament since 1998, when Robert Traylor and Louis Bullock were team leaders. The year before, Maurice Taylor joined those gentlemen on a team that didn't make it at all; Taylor left for the NBA draft, where the Knicks drafted him because they are the Knicks. He tooled around the NBA for a decade, shooting long twos and flinching from any loose ball that came within three feet of him.
John Beilein hates no one and makes self-depreciating jokes about subs being crazy and brings in Novaks and Burkes and Stauskases and Morgans. It is in fact cute when he loses his mind at the latest refereeing outrage he's been exposed to, even as it seems to get results these days.
He picks out random post-grad point guards from Indiana and leads them to double-digit A:TO ratios, and even when Michigan does happen to have a pile of NBA players on their roster it's by accident and development. Nobody's rushing to give these gentlemen shoe contracts until Beilein (and Alexander and Meyer and Jordan) reconfigure them.
This is one thing. This is a good thing. I supported Beilein's hire because I thought his floor was what he would do at West Virginia and Richmond and wherever he'd ever been, bringing in guys who would outperform recruiting expectations and enter many NCAA tournaments as the team you don't want as a Sweet 16 seed.
Then there is the other thing. Beilein won a Big Ten title with Novak as his power forward, and went to the championship game the next year on the back of a Penn State decommit and an NBA legacy no one really seemed to want. And this year, down both of those first-round draft picks he and his assistants identified and developed, down the one super-blue-chip recruit Beilein has ever acquired, Michigan won the Big Ten. They are just about a lock to win it outright for the first time in almost 30 years.
I know you are inclined because of that drought, and I think I probably don't have to tell many people this thing, but I kind of have to tell myself. This is not normal. This is not something that can be expected. This is not Michigan, not in that sense.
It seems to be Michigan. And the Michigan it posits is a different, bizarre, wondrous thing. Not because of anything inherent. There are places better able to recruit with athletic departments better at creating an environment. This has nothing to do with institutional momentum, because there was none. This is whole cloth, from which they've made three banners in three years. And counting.
This is not This Is Michigan. This is better.
Randomness is random. Very frustrating start from behind the line as Michigan goes 2/12 on mostly high quality looks (there were a couple Stauskas jacks that were tough). Irvin in particular went 0/3 on three must-take shots. But things evened out with a hot streak that saw Michigan finish the game at 39%, just about on their season average.
I was about to start rage-shaking about another impossibly slow offensive start when Michigan kicked it into gear. So there's that.
GRIII doin' things. Figures that as soon as I say Robinson should basically never take anyone off the bounce he starts doing that rather effectively. He drove to the lane and dumped a pass off to Morgan for an and-one. I was all like "urk?" Then he drove Buggs to the baseline and set up Stauskas for the triple in Stauskas/LeVert Corner, and I was like "guuuurk?"
That is real progress. He's had three assists in consecutive games, a feat he only achieved once before this year, against Penn State, and he's generated at least a few of his own shots. It's still a work in progress, as the frustrating turnovers when he brings the ball up indicate, but at least the last four games (averaging 6/9 from two) provide a indication of that progress stuff.
And then there were the usual GRIII-is-destroying-Tokyo things. He re-enacted his game winner against Purdue and brought the house down on 1) a Stauskas alley oop and 2) a bang bang bang transition oop that had me waving myself with an elaborate hat and moaning "mercy!"
I do think he needs to have more impact on the boards on both ends. The OREB/putback after Minnesota had closed in the second half was awesome; it reinforced his ability in that department and the unfortunate rarity of things like that. He's got close to the same athleticism Braden Dawson does (Dawson is thicker) but is nowhere near Dawson's spectacular 13.2 OREB rate.
The zoom in. Ace pointed out that if you zoom in on one of Eric's GRIII-destroys-Tokyo images you get magic:
This contains the Horford/McGary dichotomy, the bench mob going off, Andrew Dakich like crane-kicking a dude, and John Beilein reacting exactly how I did, with a sort of stiff "okay hurray GET BACK ON DEFENSE."
Long twos! Argh! I don't mind a long two with 12 or 10 or 8 seconds on the shot clock. Once the clock gets much under that people start overplaying the shot you have to take, and your chances of finding something super is not great. Even 15 is tolerable. 25 sends me into conniption fits, especially against one of the worst defenses in the Big Ten, and it certainly seemed like Michigan was taking a ton of 'em.
That Stauskas aggressiveness thing does lead to a bunch of questionable shots, and I'm okay with it when the payoff is 3 points at like a 30 or 35 percent rate, two at a 35 or 40 percent rate drives me nuuuuuuts.
The elbow jumpers are fine, the threes are fine, it's just those shots a step inside the line that make me hear Bo Ryan cackling in the background.
Turned that off. Morgan and Horford got beat up a bit early as Elliot Eliason went 4/5 and got another layup that Horford had to foul on (he missed both FTs). And then Eliason ceased existing. Major credit to Morgan for preventing entry passes and ripping down several critical MANBOUNDS late.
Morgan didn't get many opportunities on the offensive end, partially because he had a rough game catching passes and the occasional offensive rebound, but the brief second-half section where Horford came in and got crushed by Mo Walker hammered home how well Morgan was cutting off the things Minnesota was trying to do inside. I am slightly worried that there will be a chemistry breakdown next year without him even if McGary comes back, and while that's probably an irrational fear borne of recent Merritt/Lee and Glendening departures, it is real.
Title chance update! Secured. Win @ Illinois or against Indiana and it's outright.
Seed update. The three seed is now unanimous amongst serious prognosticators. Algorithmic source Crashing The Dance was the last holdout, as it still has Creighton and Iowa State ahead of M, items which do not seem true to humans with good track records. Michigan's chance at a 2 is pretty slim, though. They are not likely to pass Syracuse or Duke, Villanova would have to drop some unexpected games, and Wisconsin is hard to pass with their wins over Florida and UVA. If only Michigan could have gotten six more points against Charlotte and Arizona they'd probably be a one, but alas and alack.
Might have been the greatest non-2011-Ohio-State-Football-Game pre-bullets-intros that Brian has ever written. Well done... Well done.
The intro was a bit of a downer for me. I don't agree about our basketball/hockey declines having to do with demographic trends - I think we're in perfectly fine shape from a recruiting standpoint in both. The Midwest produces a ton of talent in both sports.
Our problem in basketball was that we had a scandal and a couple of mediocre coaches (and generally neglected the program and let facilities go to rot). Our problem in hockey seems to be, sadly, that our legendary coach has hung on too long.
I enjoyed the rest of the article though.
Detroit produces as much D1 ready basketball talent as it once did I don't think we can't help you.
The demographic trends also relate to everyone and their brother being equals in facilities. Michigan once had a great advantage in that category, even to a degree in basketball.
Now everyone has the latest and greatest and the financial backing to continue to have the latest and greatest. The arms race is no longer heavily tilted in Michigan's favor.
Detroit is one city. It's not the entire state. The state still has 10 million people and there's millions more just outside in the neighboring states, where we've done a lot of recruiting.
If the state of Michigan's demographics are so bad, making it hard to compete, how do you explain the state's two B1G programs combining for 11 Final Fours, two national championships and 10 B1G championships over the past 25 years?
In just the past five years, our state's two schools have won a combined five B1G titles and have been to three Final Fours. Competitive disadvantage?
I thought the intro was great, and generally spot-on. However, I think you are right that the fates of basketball and football (don't know enough about hockey) should be evaluated separately. I don't see any reason why Michigan cannot have a consistently great basketball program. I wish I could say the same for football, but surprising everyone is a lot of fun.
Yeah, I don't think I buy the claim that demographic changes are fundamentally reshaping college sports over such a short period.
At the very least, it's an extremely complicated question. For example, much of the demographic change has to do with Hispanic and Asian immigration. But are those kids playing high school football at high rates (and shortly after getting to the country, in many cases)?
I think it's a "sounds good" argument that's easy to throw out there but requires a lot more thinking/explanation before I'll really believe it. Geography-based recruiting advantages might be shifting, but I'm much more inclined to believe it's because of things like:
The demography argument feels like more correlation than causation to me.
insightful, with an informed perspective reflecting true facts about.... #thefuture:
"the reality is that Michigan is in an increasingly demographically unfavored situation, waiting until water scarcity and global warming drives the people back into its bosom."
This is (New) Michigan.
In Beilein we trust.
Let our asses recalibrate ourselves.
I be 34. Growin up, dat shiznit was expected dat Michigan won thangs. In footbizzle. Kick dat shit! And therefore up in every last muthafuckin thang else, cuz footbizzle is every last muthafuckin thang except at, like, Kansas. (Kansas hired Charlie Weis on purpose. Basketbizzle focus is kind of a gangbangin' finger-lickin' disease.) That bled tha fuck into other thangs, n' then success was expected. Y'all KNOW dat shit, muthafucka! This type'a shiznit happens all tha time. This Is Michigan.
Yo, success is still expected, up in rhetoric n' mo' n' mo' n' mo' anachronistic Michigan-pimped up don't give a fuck bout from fanbases round tha Big Ten. I aint talkin' bout chicken n' gravy biatch. Rivalry thangs I get. I don't git Iowa bein livid bout every last muthafuckin thang afta takin five of six cuz of Bo, basically. Even afta tha key thang was eminently humbled, tha freshly smoked up muthafucka came up in sayin This Is Michigan, n' yours truly n' any suckas ate it up.
demographics are destiny... In college football they're not. Oregon is good. Alabama is good. Oklahoma is good. These states don't boast tons of HS talent or big populations in general. They are regionally strong for FB recruiting, but they also have lots of 1st rate competion. We get to share a large swath of the country with ND and Ohio (and now maybe Sparty...we'll see). It seems there are 3 legs to a winning program, 2 very important and 1 pretty damn important. 1) recruit - we are doing this in spite of our bad finish to this most recent cycle. Lots of our guys in teh last 3 years had offers from the elite programs. 2) coaching - We'll see. I have faith in what Hoke is doing, but I understand the legitimacy of opposing points of view. 3) Roster maintenance - keeping kids eligible, oversigning, grayshirting, use of JUCOs as immediate fill-ins. We don't do this well and I'm proud we don't, but there's nothing about demographics preventing our becoming an elite program again.
Just do a quick search of any recruiting database.
Plus Alabama over-signs and has an evil genius as its head coach.
but it doesn't compare to TX, CA or FL... Based on your/rival's "3 star" numbers they have about 50% more talent than we do... the demographics don't explain the (majority of the) success. They are recruiting nationally in a very effective manner. Any team outside of TX, CA and FL will have to if they want to be elite.
Between levitating Stauskus and levitating GRIII. The Dakich Can-Can Dance decided it.
I am too old to recalibrate I think. I'd rather just pretend this is a transition period until Michigan is good at football again, however long that might take.
...I lived in a delusional Matrix of Michigan (football) superiority-in-waiting until this year's Spartina game. 2012's losing streak stopper unfortunately allowed me to continue in this world until this year's MSU clash forced me to swallow the red pill: my eyes are open.
Not to pay for the same real estate twice, but MSU looks more competent in every aspect of football infrastructure except, well, their actual physical infrastructure which is that trash heap of a stade. For some reason, that was as soul-crushing a defeat at any in my life as a student or alum.
That shouldn't be proxy for every UofM athletic program, because things are looking good as far as trajectory of programs go. But football is the alpha and omega...and it is as grim as I can remember in quite some time (obvi to everyone on this board).
That's what I miss most about him. Guarding bigs better than anyone on the floor
10/10, will read again.
Dude can flat-out coach. I be like dang.
WIN THE TITLE!!!
That was some crazy good writing, Brian. Wow.
That dunk, though.
I still be like, "AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH"
Often, my fiance yells at me for being "SO LOUD" when I'm watching sports. For this alley-oop, there was no criticisms, just "AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH"
If only Michigan could have gotten six more points against Charlotte and Arizona they'd probably be a one, but alas and alack.
Considering how I (and many others) thought the season was lost around the time we were 6-4 and we found McGary was out for the rest of the year
Since then, we've gone 15-3 with a clean sweep of OSU and MSU (and many of us had conceded a likely sweeping by MSU in the preseason), a shared Big Ten title at minimum, and we're discussing how close we were to a 1-seed. Beilein is a wizard
Yeah, and we also got some narrow wins thanks to the rim finally working in our favor unlike last year (the close win at Nebraska and the buzzer beater against Purdue)
Michigan Basketball is awesome and Global Warming. Two things currently music to my cold, maize and blue ears!!
Yay Big Ten champs!
Yay for temps in the 30's one of these days!
Granted, Novak was 6'4" and actually playing power forward, but Stauskas is a sneaky good post defender when pressed on the block. He does a great job getting position and maintaining verticality and had a great defensive sequence on a switch in this game.
Three seed even if we win the B10 tourney?
If they win 5 more games, I gotta believe they're a 2 seed.
Michigan has a better resume right now than Duke. Something that is being missed with a lot of these bracketologists is the weight that the commitee gives to road wins and for this reason Michigan will be seeded higher than what is commonly expected. Duke basically has beaten no one on the road at all, and has fewer top-50 wins than Michigan. Throw in the fact that UM is the champion of a top 2 conference and I just can't see Duke being seeded above them.
As nice as a 1-seed would be (and the fact we're even talking this is incredible), I actually would prefer that we are never a 1-seed. I have been around for too many awful things since 2007 and I never want to have us in the position to be the first 1-seed to, you know...
When they hang the banner(s) (hopefully) will they just have Glenn Robinson III jump up and pin them there? Because based on a couple of dunks and rebounds I really think that is a viable option.
I wish I could downvote a front page post. Maybe Brian is right, maybe he is not, every program goes through a down period, the same Alabama he thinks we can't be mentioned with was pretty bad before saban showed up, we had back to back top 5 recruiting classes, just pulled in the #2 player in the country from jersey, probably lead for a top ten player in the 2015 class but yeah we are dead and can never be good again. Are we going to finish top ten 10 out of the next 15 years? Of course not because nobody will. College sports are different than they were when Bo was coach, more than like 50 schools actually try now so things have changed, but to believe we aren't still an elite program is being purposefully negative.
Did you read the post?
I did. And Brian's argument that basketball and hockey are fighting an uphill battle on recruiting grounds makes no sense. Basketball is still an urban and northern game. The weather that facilitates football in the south works to their disadvantage when it comes to organized basketball. Kids ain't got shit else to do in the winter in the north except for playing basketball. I don't know a lot about hockey, but I can't imagine there has been ANY shift in the demographics of where kids come from to play D1 hockey. Also, haven't there been several diaries about the demographics argument being basically a MSM creation?
by embodying "birthright fandom" in his comment?
I was annoyed that Brian felt the need to write a majority of the post on a down note to talk about a big ten title but that is my problem not his, I get that. I think there is a level between where Brian is at and truly elite, florida state has had 4 seasons with 7 or less wins in the last decade, michigan has had 5, things can change in a hurry with a couple good seasons. Of course that is not gauranteed to happen, but the big ten doesn't look like it will be all that good at football overall for the next few year so if we get 9+ wins 3 out of the next 4 with a big ten title one of those years everything will look different and I don't think that asking for that is all that crazy.
Are we going to finish top ten 10 out of the next 15 years? Of course not because nobody will. College sports are different than they were when Bo was coach.
Since 2000 (a 14-year span), two teams (Oklahoma and OSU) have finished in the top ten in the final AP poll nine times, and each had a close call for a tenth top-ten finish (OK finished 11 in '06, OSU finished 12 in 2013). Another team (USC) has finished in the top ten eight times since 2000, and two others (Texas and Alabama) have seven top-ten finishes since 2000 (with Texas having three additional close calls, finishing 12 (in '00), 12 (in '03) and 13 (in '06)). So it appears that "elite" status, under your definition, is still achievable in the post-Bo era.
I'm not saying we are on that level, I'm saying we can be, and shouldn't have the same expectations as state, or if you want to take the rivalry part out we shouldnt have the same expectations as wisconsin.
Since 2000 Alabama also went 3-8, 7-5. 10-3. 4-9. 6-6, 10-2, 6-7, and 7-6 ( from 2000-2007). They have been absurd under Saban and you can't expect what they have done the last 5 years to happen all that frequently but it just proves that stretches of mediocraty can happen to every program, Alabams 90's were similar to ours.
Why yes I did. In the post Brian equated us to a level below elite a level inlcuding teams like michigan state in terms of success we should expect. When I judge programs I think I'll look at a sample size of the last 20 years, anything longer doesn't really matter but anything less could represent a hot streak rather than an actualy sign of a program. To me for a program to be elite over a 20 year period they should average at least 9-10 wins, finish in the top 10 at least 5 times (probably should be higher than that, lets go with 8 as a random number) be in the running for a national championship i.e. top 5 at least three times and finish in the top 25 at least 13-15 out of the 20 years.
If you look at the last 20 years ( I started in '93 so actually 21 years but I don't feel like doing it again) Michigan has averaged 9 wins on the nose, state 7, michigan has a national championship, state does not, michigan has 5 big ten championships, state has 2, I couldn't find an easy way to check top 25's and top 10's sorry.
My point is that sure, have the past 20 years been as good for michigan as they have been for ohio state or other teams? No, it hasn't been. But have we gotten to the point that we are realistically on the same level as michigan state in terms of what we should actually expect? No, that is not true either.
At the end of the day I consider a season with 10+ wins to be successful (obviously if you are pre-season number 1 that could be different but on average) In the last 20 years michigan has had 7 years of 10+ win seasons. Over that same period state has done it 4 times, ohio state 14 times, alabama has done it 10 times, Oregon 9,USC 8, and I'm bored looking things up. Is Michigan high on the list? No. Michigan is not the premier program in college football. but we also aren't michigan state either and we shouldn't have the same expectation, especially since the last 6 years have been the worst 6 of the last 20 for us.
The point of the post, to me, was not to make an empirical statement about whether Michigan truly qualifies as an "elite" program, such that "birthright fandom" would be justified. I read this post as directed at the Michigan fan, not the state of Michigan athletics, suggesting that we might want to liberate ourselves from "birthright fandom" even if that could be justified nowadays, as it was in the past. I don't get how several folks find this post "depressing" -- could be some confirmation bias at work here.
I guess we have a difference of opinion, no fan should ever expect what alabama is doing now or what usc did in the early 2000's. But expecting to get to at least 9 wins 3 out of every 5 years isn't crazy and is what I expect. That's a big difference between just being happy whenver something good happens, though that is the much healthier way to follow sports, so that part is good at least.
Even if Michigan loses the last two games (unlikely) and MSU wins out for a "share" of the title, no one other than Sparty slappies will consider them a champion because Michigan beat them twice. Still, though, I don't want the title shared obviously. I'd rather beat Indiana if we can only win one of the next two, but clearly winning one game is all that matters at this point.
Unfortunately, no one but Michigan and MSU fans will really remember what happened in the 2013-2014 after a few years. The records will just say "MSU: 2014 Big Ten Champions" for the rest of time. Let's just club Illinois and end that possibility forever
Geez, depressing introduction. But some things are facts. A couple of my thoughts:
In conclusion, yeah the demographics are changing. Yeah, both programs have faltered. But there's no good reason that Michigan can't be a contender in every sport.
I have fallen victim to this when I was younger. I had the expectation that Michigan should be winning championships every single year and because of that it's made the Michigan Ohio rivalry hell for me when the streak was going on. When or if Michigan gets back to its winning ways in football, I just like others will feel a lot more humble than I did in the past. I would very much appreciate a big 10 championship. Just like I do now for the basketball team.