[Ed-Ace: As we begin to look to the next year of Michigan basketball, this is very much worth a front-page bump.]
Livers is an impressive passer from the top of the key. [Bryan Fuller]
As we look toward the future of basketball with the departures of Derrick Walton and Zak Irvin, I figured now would be a good time to examine one of our 17 incoming recruits in Isaiah Livers in the context of scouting/analysis as opposed to highlights.
This is similar to what I provide for college coaches in terms of depth, but perhaps not volume (this is a 2 game sample size from state playoffs, would likely provide coaches 4).
I broke this 4:23 clip into 4 segments:
a) Shooting - beginning to 1:14 mark
b) Ballhandling/Passing/Creating in Half Court - 1:15 to 2:58 mark
c) Post Offense - 2:59 to 3:50 mark
d) Transition Offense - 3:51 to end
3 point shooting numbers
Raw Numbers: 5/10 for 50%
Off the Catch: 2/5 for 40%
Off the Dribble: 3/3 for 100%
Off the Handoff Going Right: 0/1
Off the Jabstep/Isolation: 0/1
Midrange shooting numbers
Raw Numbers: 2/3 for 67%
Off the Dribble: 2/3 for 67%
Mechanics - True jumpshot with good elevation. Good mechanics on shot overall, but displays a slight kick in his legs at times that makes taking a balanced shot difficult. Good upper body mechanics, but release point is a bit late, causing shot to lack enough arch at times.
Off the catch - good shooter off the catch, difficult to block his shot based on elevation in conjunction with height/length. Will usually take a quality shot off the catch with a good chance of connecting
Off the Dribble - excellent shooter off the dribble going left. His ability to hit a stepback jumpshot off 1-2 dribbles from either midrange or 3 rates among the very best in the country for prospects of his size. Not as fluid as a shooter going right (common to many right hand prospects).
BALLHANDLING/PASSING/CREATING IN HALF COURT
Average to above average ballhandler for a prospect of his size. His dribble is hard enough to control the ball without threat of losing it when he has space to operate. His head is often down when he dribbles against pressure defense though, mitigating his ability to create for others because he doesn't see the entire floor. Doesn't have good enough first step acceleration to create separation off the dribble against guards/wings in a straight line. Doesn't display ability to change direction with the basketball when his defender beats him to the spot or helpside defense cuts off his initial straight line. Does not get all the way to the rim off the dribble based on lack of accelertaion and change of direction ballhandling. Prefers to go left with much more volume because that is where he is comfortable getting off his shots. Can get off his own shot going left off 1-2 dribbles. Not a real turnover risk when handling because he generally kicks the ball out when defender cuts him off or helpside cuts off drive after 2 dribbles. Not a high volume isolation/pick and roll prospect off the dribble at this point in his development in half court settings.
Very good passer from the top of the key and the free throw line area when he has space to operate and see the floor for a prospect of his size. Does a great job of leading teammates to open areas and gaps where they are in position to score. Better passer from stagnant position as opposed to off the dribble because his head is up and he can see over the top of the defense based on his size/height. Off the dribble, he is almost strictly a kick-out type prospect as opposed to a creator that will find bigs for easy dumpoffs once the helpside defense commits. Doesn't see the floor as well off the dribble. Would likely thrive as a passer at the FT line area against a 2-3 zone.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the offensive scouting report and a link to its defensive counterpart.]
We're back after a basketball-induced hiatus, and oh lord so many tabs. Some of this might be dated for recruitniks.
Hello pending for Myles Sims?
via Brandon Brown
Michigan has moved into what appears to be a strong lead for GA CB Myles Sims, fielding crystal balls from both local analysts and Lorenz. Brandon Brown also asserts that Michigan leads; it's a good sign that he got a bunch of photos from the Sims family, one of which is above. Sims's parents were both GM engineers so they've got a connection to the state.
The 6'3" Sims is "perhaps THE top overall target" at cornerback per Lorenz; he recently attended a camp in Atlanta and performed well:
Atlanta (Ga.) Westlake cornerback Myles Sims was the quickest defensive back at the event and he has a huge wingspan. Michigan looks like the team to beat.
Webb attended this camp and provides a more comprehensive scouting report:
6'3, 179 and really fluid. You wonder if kids as long as him are coordinated, if they have loose hips. The answer for Sims is yes, all of the above. He showed ability to break on the ball exceptionally well. Has really good football and ball speed, a really good jumpball guy. Wants to be a corner and looks like he could play it at the college level.
Webb also reports that 1) Sims plans a return trip to Ann Arbor this spring and 2) he wants to commit within a month. That would be Michigan, then.
If Sims really is a change-of-direction guy at 6'3" he's quite a find. Michigan could have two of those guys on the roster next year with tall-ass shuttle maven Benjamin St-Juste in the 2017 class.
Random mid-March visit weekends turn out to be important
Since recruitin's hiatus, Michigan's hosted number of high-priority targets. Amongst them is MI OL Ryan Hayes, the #1 prospect in the state. Hayes told Steve Lorenz that Michigan made a "big move" with him:
"Michigan definitely made a move," Hayes told Wolverine247 on Sunday night. "A big move. The visit blew me away for sure. I had never been to Ann Arbor or on Michigan's campus and it really, really exceeded my expectations."
He further reports that Hayes is thinking about moving up his timeline, which is usually good for the school that got the most recent visit. He's got an MSU visit coming up but the real competition appears to be Notre Dame, which has been a thorn in Michigan's side despite going 4-8.
4.5* NY TE Jeremy Ruckert, the #1 TE in the 2018 class, is closing in on a decision that many expected would be Ohio State. A visit to Ann Arbor may swing that. Lorenz reports that it's the "full expectation" that this is a battle between Good and Evil with everyone else on the outside looking in. Ruckert apparently doesn't talk to anyone, but Scout's Brian Dohn caught up with his coach. This sounds relatively encouraging:
So, when will Ruckert decide?
"He will know more once he gets back from Michigan," Lombard said. "I think that will give him more of a clear-cut answer. I know he wants to visit there. He was already there, but I know he wanted to give Michigan one more look."
Ohio State "definitely" led before that visit per Lorenz but a return visit to Michigan that could finalize his recruitment sounds like he's torn and trying to decide, hopefully by watching lots of Michigan TE film.
4* OH WR L'Christian Smith, a gentleman in the Funchess mold, was on campus two weekends ago. Michigan secured an official down the road per Lorenz, but I wouldn't get your hopes up too much here. He took an official to OSU this weekend and has another one scheduled in April. Kentucky somehow leads on Smith's crystal ball with 9 of 10 picks, all of which will be flipped elsewhere in the near future.
OH LB Dallas Gant is apparently the only guy on Michigan's board at LB right now; he was supposed to come in either last weekend or next and without any reports about him in my tabs I imagine that the visit is still in the future. Michigan was a little slow to offer Gant but they've picked it up significantly.
Lorenz reports that Michigan did well with FL OL Verdis Brown, who's from Chicago by way of IMG, and is now a major factor. Ohio State is the main competition.
Michigan leads for 3* FL S Sammy Faustin, per Marich, after a recent unofficial. Unclear if he is a take at this point. The other schools he's reporting offers from are in the Iowa State-Purdue-Virginia range. There were a number of kids who popped up in the last class, seemed on the verge of a commit, and then faded away. Not sayin', just sayin'.
No oars for you
Mayfield is presumably on the left
MI OL Jalen Mayfield decommitted from Minnesota shortly after receiving a Michigan offer; unsurprisingly he is now expected to end up in Michigan's class sooner rather than later. Lorenz reports that he is a take and that the Gopher staff believes he'll complete the flip process sooner rather than later.
OTOH, Brice Marich caught up with Mayfield himself; Mayfield told him that he won't be making a decision until the end of the summer. He also confirmed Michigan leads. The timeline is likely moot. Mayfield got an MSU offer before his Minnesota commitment, so the Spartans are not a factor. Going 3-9 will do that.
We've crystal balled Mayfield to Michigan because obviously.
Playing from behind for Thompson-Robinson
NV QB Dorian Thompson-Robinson and NV TE Brevin Jordan have an upcoming unofficial to Michigan in a couple weeks that appears to be Michigan's last shot at convincing them Ann Arbor is the place for them. UCLA lurks, with Webb asserting that he thinks the Bruins lead for both. UCLA is "trending" for DTR per Wiltfong.
Meanwhile, FL QB Joe Milton—also known as "the rest of the QB board"—picked up a Florida offer and is fielding crystal balls to the Gators. Milton has scheduled an Spring Game visit, though, and Michigan's doing pretty well with kids when they get them on campus. Have to think Harbaugh's quarterback whisperer pitch will be intriguing to any QB with an offer.
Well... whose fault is that?
Various and sundry schools are pursuing NJ S Shayne Simon, Michigan amongst them. He talks to Partridge "a lot" and relates that Michigan expects 14 guys to get drafted this year. He says positive things about a half dozen schools in this article, and then at the end an old beau appears to say some things:
Tennessee recently started showing interest in Simon, whose contact is former Michigan coach and Vols defensive line coach Brady Hoke.
"Where he's been at in terms of Michigan, and how he recruited Jabrill Peppers there, is (significant)," Simon said. "We've been talking lately about how they are on the up-and-up, and how football down there is different. They have whole different mindset down there, and just playing that competition is something that is intriguing."
If Tennessee, the "champions of life" school, has a whole additional level of intensity than Brady Hoke has known that rather explains why his Michigan teams degraded into self-poopin' protoplasm over the course of his tenure.
FWIW, Lorenz put in a CB for Simon to Michigan as they continue a "relentless pursuit."
Lists are narrowing, as they do
Many and they are debatably useful so here are some bullets:
- Michigan is top three for TX CB Gemon Green with in-state schools TCU and Texas; they've also offered Green's twin brother German. Gemon is a 3.5* on the composite ranked just inside the top 400. German is a generic three star at the moment. Why the discrepancy? German tore his ACL about a year ago. Newkirk asserts that the twins are a package deal, as they so often are. Michigan offering both should be looked at as a sign of seriousness.
- 4* FL OL Curtis Dunlap put Michigan in his top five along with Florida, OU, Arkansas, and Georgia. Dunlap is at IMG and has talked Michigan up a bit early in his recruitment.
- 5* CA WR Amon-Ra St Brown appears to have a loose top five of M, ND, Stanford, Cal, and Ohio State. (One of these schools is not like the others.) He's got brothers at ND and Stanford; he positively describes Harbaugh as "stern."
- Per Lorenz, 4* FL TE Will Mallory's loose top four consists of M, Georgia, Clemson, and Miami. Family ties are still projected to win out.
Webb reports that GA LB Otis Reese plans on taking various visits and has already been to Georgia. Michigan is on the docket "in the coming weeks," so I wouldn't look at this as the prelude to an inevitable decommit like Kai-Leon Herbert, especially with Aubrey Solomon in Ann Arbor. Webb:
He was out in his Maize and Blue cleats and gloves and was answering questions from numerous recruits about what Michigan is like.
I'd imagine some of these are team trips, as one does. Moving Reese decommit DEFCON from 5 to 4, but still relatively unconcerned.
IN OL Emil Ekiyor is probably at DEECON 3 right now after telling reporters that he hadn't actually had much contact with the staff recently. That's changed:
“I have been in a lot more contact with the staff,” Ekiyor confirmed. “I have been talking with Coach (Jim) Harbaugh lately and Coach (Tim) Drevno has been talking to me a lot, so our relationship is pretty good right now."
He's trying to set up another visit to campus, but he has three "locked in" officials so will remain a soft commit for much of the recruiting cycle. Those visits are to Alabama, Michigan, and Florida State.
Grudging 2019 section
MI CB Marvin Grant picked up Iowa and Michigan offers in short succession, which likely indicates he will be a four-star type when it comes time to decide these things for the 2019 class. Grant is at King, which has sent cornerbacks to Michigan in each of the last two classes; Trieu says Michigan is in a "GREAT" position early in a very strong in-state class.
Lorenz confirms a Steve Wiltfong report that Michigan leads for 4.5* KY DE Stephon Herron Jr after his recent unofficial.
5* GA LB Owen Pappoe is set to take an unofficial to Michigan next month. Guess who the coaching staff is comparing him to? You get zero guesses. You are still correct:
“[Partridge] talks to me every other week,” he mentioned. “He says they want to use me like they did Jabrill (Peppers).”
Michigan also offered IMG RB Noah Cain, the #1 RB in the 2019 class.
Trieu reports that MI OL Marquan McCall will be at the spring game; once thought to be a Michigan slam dunk, he's now a guy they'll have to "fight for." There is an absolute ton of quality OL in the state this year.
Offer out to 4* MO DE/DT Ronnie Perkins, says he's interested and "can't wait to meet" Harbaugh so a visit seems likely. Similar stuff with 4* TX DE Jarell Cherry: offer, no list, vague visit plans. Ditto 3* FL RB Jashaun Corbin and AL RB Asa Martin: offer, interest, etc.
4.5* FL OL William Barnes is another new offer but he's got a slightly less vague visit plan, "maybe this month" and if not by the summer. Barnes is from Apopka, which is Jeremy Gallon's high school alma mater.
GA CB Chris Smith will visit in a couple days.
CA QB and USC commit Matt Corral says he'll "probably" take officials to Michigan and Alabama. Expectations remain low. Lorenz calls this a "very, very uphill battle." Similar situation with CA QB Cameron Rising, an Oklahoma commit.
Adding Greg Frey to the coaching staff has allowed Drevno to more fully take on the role of offensive coordinator
Pep Hamilton and Drevno have a nigh telepathic connection thanks to their days coaching together at Stanford
Donovan Peoples-Jones appears to be everything he was advertised as being; Drevno said that with DPJ, “…there’s no letdown, man.”
Grant Newsome is not practicing yet
When asked about Grant Perry, Drevno said it’s an internal matter and didn’t elaborate further
Everyone is being rotated through different spots to find the best five (and the best fit) on the offensive line
Drevno praised Cesar Ruiz’s rapid processing of information and his ability to quickly get off the ball and to the second level
You’ve got a lot of new guys. What’s your impression through the first day of spring?
“Really good. They worked really hard. They’ve done a nice job in the classroom the last couple days. Like we’ve said, just in terms of the winter condition there’s some very athletic guys that we’ve recruited, especially at the wide receiver position and other places on the offense, so it’s been really good.”
The football classroom?
“Yeah, the football classroom in terms of just the last couple days we’ve met and it’s been good. And they carried it over into today, which is really nice to see just them doing it at a high level. They learn fast and can fix problems.”
Is Mason [Cole] going to be practicing at multiple spots to make sure you get the right fit as far as tackle and center goes?
“Yeah, we’re rotating guys through there and we’ll see who the best five guys are.”
[Hit THE JUMP for more]
We Couldn’t Have One Without the Other
1. Post Mortem, Tourney Thoughts
starts against 1:00
Jack Stack broke Ace’s will to be wakeful. Oregon’s plan was to leave Michigan’s shooters so wide open from three we’d get confused and miss: congratulations you found our weakness. Also turnovers went the other way from normal, and we vastly underestimated Jordan Bell. Are we happy or sad about Oregon depantsing Kansas?
2. Basketball Beyond
starts at 20:02
A run through the roster for 2017-’18 by position, and we do it from 1 to 5 even though it makes way more sense for next year’s team to reverse that. X as Darius Morris, Brooks comes Nova-approved, RAHK all night long, Mathews is a wild card, Robinson is what he is, Ibi is probably another year away, DJ has a DJ-like understudy coming in, and if Moe is Louisville Moe all year he’ll drive us back to the 16. Also: theories on bigs development, and developments in the B1G.
3. Gimmicky Top Five: The Best Player in the NFL (That you can draft out of Michigan next month?)
starts at 53:00
Michigan’s entire starting defense isn’t eligible for the NFL Draft because McCray is still around. But that still leaves plenty of players to choose from, plus Jake Butt, in deciding who will be the best five pros out of—deep breath here—Glasgow, Godin, Wormley, Taco, Gedeon, D.Hill, D.Thomas, Peppers, Stribling, Jourdan, Kalis, Braden, Mags, Butt, Darboh, Chesson, and Deveon Smith. Did I forget anyone?
4. Ace’s Aceless Hockey Podcast
starts at 1:08:10
We welcome special guests Anthony Ciatti (@Ciatti) and our hockey beatwriter/otherjobdoer David Nasternak (@NastyIsland) to discuss how this was, by Corsi, the worst Michigan hockey team ever and ungh it was so unbelievably bad yuck blech argh. Oh right and options to replace Red, which don’t include any Red Wings but do include the two best hockey coaches in the country, AND Mel.
“Koroleva Ne Pomerla”—The Ukrainians
(cover of “The Queen is Dead” by The Smiths)
- “Oxford Comma”—Vampire Weekend
- “Forever for Her is Over for Me”—White Stripes
- “Across 110th Street”
THE USUAL LINKS
- Brown thinks Gary and Hurst are the best Anchor-3T combo in the nation
- Mike Wroblewski was talked up as a guy who knows the scheme so well that he makes calls for not only his but other position groups; Brown has to tell him to let other guys make their calls, a first in his career
- Current combatants at Peppers’s vacated VIPER spot: Khaleke Hudson, Jordan Glasgow, Josh Metellus
- Hill and Long have first dibs on the corner spots, but the plan is to let everyone compete and see what happens
- On the defense’s youth: “I’d rather be talented and young than not, than the alternative; have a bunch of veterans and you’re going, oh my god, what am I gonna do?”
- Devin Bush is flipping between Mike and Will. Brown feels like he’s got three guys for two positions between McCray, Wroblewski, and Bush
“How are you guys?”
Good, how are you?
“Glad to be coaching ball, that’s all I know. Good first day. Guys worked hard, really did. The youth on our team…you know, you can look at it and say ‘Oh, we got a long way to go,’ which we do, but it’s just such an energizing feeling when you go out there and you’re actually walking off the field going ‘Damn, we functioned pretty well today.’ So, you know, excited about it.
“It’s a good group, but kind of an interesting blend. So there’s enough guys that have been around that will demand execution and demand effort and energy that I feel like we’ll be in great shape.”
Some of the guys at Pro Day today, Taco and Chris [Wormley], were saying that they think this defensive line group is maybe more athletic than the group that’s departed. Is that fair?
“I think with Rashan and Mo Hurst…I have to tilt my head back and think for a minute. [He really is tilting his head back.] I don’t know, I’m not sure there’s a better tandem Anchor-tackle in the country. I’m very confident with Bryan [Mone]—here’s the key: we played eight guys last year. Four are gone, but we’ve got a first team with Bryan Mone—and Chase Winovich is such a better player.
“I think back—I did a bad thing yesterday. I went back and watched practice #3 of spring last year. Hooooly moly. What was that? We’re just so different, and those first four guys are really, they’re setting the tone. We’ve got some youth there that I’m very excited about. I thought Donovan Jeter, his raw ability today, thought he showed some really good signs, which is good.
“The Sam-Mike-Will thing: getting Mike McCray back. (W)robo, Mike Wroblewski, there’s another guy where I’m watching him in practice last year [and] just can’t even believe it’s the same guy. You talk about a self-made football player, but a guy who knows it all. Here’s—I’ve never had to do this before. He’s telling the secondary, making their on-rights and lefts call, he’s making the tight call, he’s making the detach call for the outside linebacker and it’s finally like, ‘Hey Robo, you need to shut up and let those guys make those calls themselves.’ ‘Oh yeah, Coach, yeah, yeah, yeah.’ That’s how well he knows the scheme. So him and Devin Bush and Mike McCray. Furbush was good.
“We got Uche goin’ at Sam and Khaleke Hudson was our VIPER today. Arrows up; really excited about him. Glasgow was a VIPER today and that young secondary, Lavert Hill, David Long, Josh Metellus, Tyree—Tyree Kinnel has just quietly done a nice job.
“So, we’ll see. There’s a lot of youth there. St. Juste, he’ll be an interesting guy as we move forward. Ambry Thomas, again, another interesting guy. J’Marick Woods and Jaylen Kelly-Powell, all those guys are good players. The nice thing is I don’t think there’s a lot of guys that are misplaced. They’re in the right place in terms of their level of competition.”
[After THE JUMP: on the concept of the VIPER and an excellent, in-depth response to criticisms of Peppers’ game]
I guess he really really didn't want to play fullback [Eric Upchurch]
Per Sam Webb, Kingston Davis is set to transfer.
— Sam Webb (@SamWebb77) March 24, 2017
Davis got a few carries early last year before an apparent redshirt. Meanwhile the quick emergence of Chris Evans and Kareem Walker navigating some rocky early waters makes the depth chart look tough indeed for anyone in the same class, as Davis was.
With Davis's transfer, the expected departure of Shelton Johnson would bring Michigan down to 85 before spring practice. That means no fifth years are potential cuts even if everyone else sticks it out.
3/23/2017 – Michigan 68, Oregon 69 – 26-12, season over
There are few things more haunting in sports than coming up on the short end of a bonafide one-point basketball game. There are so many points and so many opportunities to get two more or prevent two more that it is impossible not to inventory all the slight tweaks in the universe that could have gotten you one step closer to the promised land, or at least destruction at the hands of Kansas.
The wide open DJ Wilson layup and two Duncan Robinson threes that were halfway down stand out in this regard. So too does the late Oregon free throw miss that Wilson couldn't box out on. And then there is the blizzard of threes that did not go halfway down, for reasons.
Oregon's approach seemed to be "leave Michigan blitheringly wide open from three and see what happens." Michigan took more threes than twos, and if any of them seemed unreasonable it was only in aggregate. There will be some complaints about Michigan launching early in the shot clock, but the vast majority of Michigan's 31 attempts from behind the arc were preceded by my inner monologue—and sometimes the external one, too—yelling "shoot that." A couple of ugly ones should have been rhythm catch and shoot opportunities that Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman and Mo Wagner, collectively 0-8 in this game, passed up on to dribble themselves into worse shots.
This is certainly a way to play against a John Beilein team. Usually it's a way to get your face melted off. The shattered corpse of Oklahoma State basketball would like a word at this point. That word is "aaaargh."
Michigan hit a respectable 11 of 31—36 percent. This was not enough. It was not enough even though they won the style contest on defense. Oregon only got up 10 transition shots, which they did poorly on. A third of their shots were the two point jumpers Michigan strives to force and Oregon is very bad at. They hit 25%.
If you'd told me all the peripheral numbers from this game beforehand I'd have taken it in a hot second. I would not have believed you if you'd told me that despite those numbers Michigan's offense would look like a hamster searching for a wheel for big chunks of the game.
Dana Altman's combination of the half-ass press a bunch of teams run now that the shot clock is down to 30 and 40% matchup zone got Michigan off balance. A plan to punish the incessant switching by replicating the second half against Louisville ended up with some poor Wagner shots and turnovers; Wagner spent the last ten minutes on the bench in favor of Duncan Robinson, who seemingly couldn't guard anyone on the floor.
The game was just... off. With virtually every ticket in the sweaty palms of Kansas fans the arena was near-empty at tipoff and dead throughout. That gave a tense, taught game an unfortunate NBA D-League or NCAA hockey regional vibe, and while I don't think that caused the ugly game it certainly reinforced it. It was weirdly muted for one of the most important games of the college basketball season.
It was ugly to the point where a final score close to 70 for both teams is unexpected. Michigan perpetually felt eight points behind and suddenly they were in the lead with two minutes left, sort of like the Oklahoma State and Louisville games. And then.
In the aftermath you're left grasping at opportunities spurned, at whatever air eddies pushed this ball a micron away from a good-enough trajectory, at this breakdown or that breakdown that would go almost entirely unremarked upon if not for the fact that Oregon had N and Michigan had N –1.
An inch; a point; it's been a year of almosts for Michigan athletics.
Rather satisfying all the same. Losing a one-point Sweet Sixteen game is no shame. It's a hard thing to do, winning basketball games against good teams. Michigan picked up a banner, got a measure of Louisville revenge, and was amongst the best teams in the country for a full half season. Over the full span they finished 20th on Kenpom.
This wasn't a return to the Burke/Stauskas years but it was a solid top 25 season.
The Walton; the Irvin. I pulled the "Zak Irvin is happening" tag out of mothballs for this game because he was happening, man. His late surge as he re-found his excellent-third-banana level was such that everybody had to stop complaining about him. This is a monumental internet accomplishment. He held Michigan in this game, hit tough late-clock shots, and was clearly on another level from Duncan Robinson as he checked Oregon's perimeter guys.
Building on that? Obviously much hinges on the return of Wilson and Wagner. I'd guess with their tough final games and the super deep draft—DX has Caleb Swanigan 30th!—both will return for another year of that sweet Beilein development. Both guys are potential lottery picks if they continue to improve at a decent clip. Right now there are sufficient questions that they'd be borderline first rounders.
If Michigan does not have any unexpected departures you're looking at something like:
- Xavier Simpson/Eli Brooks
- MAAR/Jordan Poole
- Charles Matthews/Duncan Robinson
- DJ Wilson/Isaiah Livers
- Mo Wagner/Jon Teske/Austin Davis
Michigan does have an open scholarship they could use on either Mo Bamba—uh not likely—or one of the late risers they've done so well with; there are also a number of intriguing transfer options. Since Brooks and Poole may not be impact freshmen, an immediately eligible backcourt scorer would be real nice. You've probably heard about faintly ludicrous Chippewa Marcus Keene and his 37% usage. Keene shot 82/51/37 on incredible volume and had an excellent assist rate on a bad MAC team that was nonetheless 56th in offensive efficiency.
There's also New Mexico guard Elijah Brown, another 30%+ usage player with decent efficiency. His three point shooting fell off this year but he was near 40% a year ago (on 226 attempts); he gets to the line and his excellent FT shooting implies that his rough two point percentages are more about his situation than his talent.
Or Michigan could go the Matthews route again and attempt to acquire the services of blue-blood transfer Chase Jeter, who's leaving Duke after two injury-plagued years. Jeter is a 6'10" post and would have to sit out, so he's not an ideal fit for the roster. I'd still poke around there because the rate of big washout is so high. You can't count on both Teske and Davis being around in two years. See: all of college basketball.
Tourney coverage complaint. There are way too many fouls that don't get replays to check on them. DJ Wilson's second was a potentially dubious call on which a second look would have been very helpful; instead nothing.
Also in complaints: I have no idea how anyone can listen to Reggie Miller and think "I should pay this person to do this thing."
44 minutes. Yes, a lot of it is dated now.
Still Ira in for Sam, who’s in a place with better meat right now.
- First weekend recap: Michigan beat Louisville two points at a time. Weekend vs. very tough teams showed what a Beilein offense can be when all five guys are firing.
- Beilein now versus when he got here: totally different offense, totally different defense. Moe is the first 5 who can shoot that B’s had since Pittsnoggle and that one guy the year after Pittsnoggle.
- The rest of the tourney: Big Ten has acquitted itself well, the refs not so much.
- Nerd-out on the seeding: advocating better metrics but don’t make it all about advanced stats either. Right now they’re just using RPI, which is bad.
- Oregon preview: Almost as up-tempo as Oklahoma State—don’t let them take a three! Vegas takes into account the loss of Boucher and the fact that Michigan is playing like a 2-seed.
- Kansas in case: Bill Self-destruction in March is a thing, but Kansas has some ATHs. Ira makes a good argument that we’d rather face them than Purdue?
- Rundown of the rest: Who do you like for the Final Four?
- Spring Football! Brian points out which guys he wants to hear nice things about.
You can catch the entire episode on Michigan Insider's podcast stream on Audioboom.
THE USUAL LINKS
The final shots. [Joseph Dressler]
In the movie script, that shot goes in.
Michigan hadn't played their best game—far from it—but Derrick Walton nevertheless had a clean look to send the Wolverines to the Elite Eight and keep this magical run going. With time about to expire, Walton cleared out space, rose, and fired. His shot caught iron. Walton clutched his head, likely feeling the same combination of surprise and dismay as the rest of us.
"I had a good look at the basket and it just didn't drop for me," Walton said.
This is not a movie script.
In a disjointed game, Michigan's seniors fought valiantly to the finish. Walton shook off a hard fall on his elbow in the first half to finish with a game-high 20 points on 6-for-10 shooting, five rebounds, and eight assists. Zak Irvin poured in 19, going 8-of-14 from the field, pulled down eight rebounds, and played lockdown defense on Oregon star Dillon Brooks, who needed 13 shots to score 12 points. In the last five minutes, the two combined for three go-ahead shots, and Walton added a nasty fadeaway jumper to give the Wolverines a three-point lead with 2:02 left.
They could not get a fourth. Instead, Oregon's two best players on the night made the plays in winning time. Jordan Bell, a force in the paint all evening, put back a missed free throw to get the Ducks within one after Walton's jumper. After Walton couldn't get a tough layup to fall, Tyler Dorsey got a step on Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman and finished at the rim for what were ultimately the final points of the game.
Michigan would get two more shots to win. DJ Wilson's three-pointer with 46 seconds remaining was well off the mark. After Dylan Ennis missed another free throw with 15 seconds to play, Oregon surprisingly chose to give only one of their three remaining fouls to give, allowing Walton to get that final look. It fell short.
"I've seen him make that shot thousands of times, so I had confidence in him knocking it down," said Irvin. "It looked good from my angle. No one else on this team that we wanted taking that shot. He's been on a run and he's such a great player. I'm proud of him."
Jordan Bell made play after play in the paint. [Dressler]
From the start, this didn't feel like Michigan's night. The Wolverines went just 11-for-28 in the first half, and while they only trailed by two at the break, it could've easily been worse. Wilson sat for much of the half with foul trouble. Oregon's guards repeatedly blew by Michigan defenders. Dorsey sunk three of his four first-half three-point attempts. Walton grinded out 11 points and seven assists by halftime, keeping his team within striking distance. With Wilson set to get back on the court, the hope was Michigan could find their groove.
It never quite clicked. Moe Wagner barely played in the second half and finished the night with only seven points on 3-for-10 shooting. Abdur-Rahkman all but disappeared, tallying more turnovers (3) than points (2). Duncan Robinson's eight points weren't enough to offset his defensive shortcomings. While Wilson hit four three-pointers, he didn't get a bucket inside the arc as Bell dominated the paint; his missed second-half layup will stay with him for a while.
While tonight wasn't their night, this team can hold their heads high. Walton and Irvin battled to the bitter end, and this season will ultimately be remembered far more for the remarkable highs of the last month than tonight's low. When it mattered the most, this team galvanized around its leaders, and the most difficult part of tonight is knowing we won't get to see them all play together again.
"It's the tightest bunch I've been around in all my years of playing basketball," said Walton. "Just a very selfless group. I had the joy of being a part of it and being one of the leaders. Like I said, I wish we could have more games to play together because I think a couple minutes throughout the game we didn't show the type of team we were becoming and overall just thank them for allowing me to be part of such a great team."
"We're very close-knit, playing our best basketball and didn't want the season to end," said Irvin. "This team had a lot of great memories. We battled through adversity and just a team that I will always remember."
He's not alone.
— Alejandro Zúñiga (@ByAZuniga) March 20, 2017
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