mesmerism! presidential assassinations! circuses on fire!
Michigan 67, Arkansas Pine Bluff 53
Michigan 4-3 (0-0 Big Ten)
Manny Harris and DeShawn Sims must be secret identities of each other or something, because it seems impossible for them to show up at the same time. Today, they took turns with Sims dominating the first half and Harris taking over after the break. Manny may look like the star, since the Wolverines only outscored the Golden Lions in the second frame, but both played a big role.
The defense played a big part as well, sparking much of the second-half offense, and limiting Pine Bluff to just 21 second-half points. "Our offense, I feel, kinda came out of our defense. We got some turnovers, and we got them started. We've just gotta keep pressing, and eventually they're gonna wear down," said Stu Douglass.
The shooting is still awful, with the team making only a quarter of their threes, and finishing with an overall field goal percentage of 42.9%. The reason had very little to do with the shots that were available, either. Running the offense, there were a number of open looks, but the shooters couldn't knock them down. Last year showed that these guys can shoot the ball, and hopefully the slump can end sooner rather than later.
- The rotation is still really thin. I would have liked to see more than 7 guys play double-digit minutes (Douglass and Gibson were the only bench players to earn the distinction). A lack of depth will really hurt this team once Big Ten play rolls around.
- Anthony Wright was... Anthony Wright-y. He was 0-5 from the floor, and looked poor on defense. This time, I guess he had a pretty good excuse, as he missed practice this week for the birth of his daughter.
- LLP was in foul trouble for a while, but I thought he played really well when he was in. A couple big shots started the game, and he looked really active on defense.
- The team still looked like they were suffering through mental lapses and a lack of focus at times. Fortunately, Arkansas Pine Bluff is not a team that's going to make them pay too badly.
- Stu Douglass had some pretty good passes, including a superfluous behind-the-back to Manny on a fastbreak. It was encouraging to see him capable of distributing the ball.
- Shooters passed on a number of open looks. It's not too serious an issue, but I hope it's not a lack of confidence. The only way to break their shooting slump is to keep shooting.
"CJ and David were two great leaders, and for us to fulfill what they did for the team, we have to do collectively." Deshawn Sims, on filling the leadership void on the team.
"Coach said we would play from the inside out today, and we were able to execute the gameplan, and it worked for us in the first half." Deshawn Sims.
"The urgency has to be different from here on out. We can't control the wins and losses, but we definitely control the effort and urgency." Deshawn Sims.
"We were a lot more focused in the second half, especially defensively." Stu Douglass
"Just keep shooting. I feel like I've been talking about it enough, and it's getting a little old. I'm a little upset with myself - I'm very upset with myself." Stu Douglass, on the shooting slump.
"We're trying to go back to the basics now, just hitting the open guy when he's open. We've pretty much restarted. Getting the fundamentals down again, that's what we're working on." Zack Novak
"There were times last year, in the middle of the year, where we didn't look very good either. The last three games, we didn't really look like us, but chemsitry-wise, I think this team could be really good." Zack Novak
"I was trying to be more aggressive, but at the same time I was trying to look for my teammates." Manny Harris, on coming out big after a weak first half.
"It's going to get better. It's still kinda sore, but I can play on it." Manny Harris on his hamstring.
"We'll work it out. It's just how the game's going right now. The good part is we were able to get the win." Manny Harris, on being out of sync with Deshawn Sims.
The Wolverines travel to Utah on Wednesday. The game can be seen at 9:00 Eastern on CBS College Sports.
GBW is reporting that OH S Ray Vinopal has committed to Michigan($). Either that or they just like posting stories titled simply "Ray Vinopal!" Informative update coming.
GURU RATINGS & CHATTER
|2*, #144 S||2*, NR||2*, 68, #254 ATH|
All right… yeah. So Vinopal is a "sleeper" if you want to be kind or a "MAC prospect" if you're not a Michigan fan. But hey, he's basically Ted Ginn!
I saw Vinopal take an end around for a touchdown against MY Irish (St. Vincent St. Mary). The kid is ridiculously fast. He's one of those kids who you get into school and worry about a position later.
I hate to throw the comparison out there, but he reminds me of a shorter Ted Ginn.
Doesn't have the same top end speed IMO, but a very very good football player.
Oh. So, like, a slow Ted Ginn. More, because as long as we're taking a comment from a random Notre Dame message board it might as well be the whole thing:
People forget Ginn was a top cornerback coming out of high school, and switched to WR as a freshman. I could see the same thing with Ray. People will look at his size and say corner, but I think he'd be deadly in the slot and as a returner.
ESPN, for its part, does not reference Ted Ginn in its evaluation of the #254 "athlete" in the country:
Lacks desired length and height as a high-point safety as well. He is an active run defender who will come down and fill hard; provides good secondary support. Shows adequate closing burst and makes solid contact as a tackler with better-than-adequate pop. Overall underneath range and speed is good but he does not fill with great downhill burst and sharp angles; loses outside leverage on the ball at times. … Lacks quick diagnosing and reaction skills which is a concern. Not a guy who projects well playing down over the top of slots in man coverage schemes and feel he could struggle mirroring/breaking down on quicker skill players in space.
That is Jordan Kovacs. I don't know, maybe this evaluation was pre-senior season and he got a lot better, warranting the interest from major programs this fall, but that's the least enthusiastic ESPN scouting report this guy has ever seen.
They aren't encouraging, as Vinopal was a sleeper going into his senior season and despite "interest" from a number of local power programs it doesn't appear that any other than Michigan pulled the trigger. So, the teams beaten out: Bowling Green, Kent State, and Air Force.
For what it's worth, Vinopal claimed that Notre Dame—where he visited for the USC game—and Pitt were considering him after his strong senior year. Wisconsin also might have offered in July or something, but it's unclear.
No senior stats yet but here's his junior year:
After intercepting two passes his sophomore season, the 5-foot-11 and 185-pound Vinopal had another interception his junior season and had three games in which he made over 10 tackles. Vinopal also rushed for 1,112 yards and scored 12 times.
FAKE 40 TIME
How about a spectacularly FAKE combine from Vinopal's freshman year?
Also deserving special mention was freshman ATH Ray Vinopal of Cardinal Mooney in Ohio. At 5-foot-9 ½ and 178-pounds, he had a 28.5-inch vertical, 9-foot broad, 4.45 shuttle, 4.56 40, and 30 reps at 135-pounds.
4.56 40 as a freshman gets four FAKES out of five.
Vinopal is the guy running around with a huge arrow over his head:
And some pass coverage:
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
Well… if you care about recruiting rankings, Vinopal is clearly the least exciting recruit in the class. That ESPN evaluation checks off all the things you don't want to hear about a recruit: small, slow, confused, etc. And on film he really does look like Kovacs. But there's a reason I don't watch recruiting film: I am a blogger. Obviously Michigan and a couple other schools looking at Vinopal thought there was something there, but recruiting rankings are meaningful things and a Brandent Englemon is a best-case scenario here.
That said, sometimes guys fall through the cracks and a lot of successful defenses are built from parts like Tyler Sash and whoever Wisconsin's running out there these days. The odds are against Vinopal, but that's not a guarantee.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
You can write off the renewed Oh S LaTwan Anderson interest: with Vinopal's addition, Michigan has six defensive backs in this class and is primed to add a seventh in FL CB Tony Grimes. More likely, Marvin Robinson will find himself at linebacker before long.
More interesting is the scholarship situation: Vinopal is the 23rd commitment and three guys are expected to commit sooner or later, pushing Michigan over 25 and necessitating someone coming in on a grayshirt if there is no attrition. Vinopal may be that grayshirt candidate, come to think of it. It's clear that Michigan will sign 28 this year with three guys aware that they are candidates to grayshirt if everyone gets in. Vinopal and the two guys currently unqualified are the most likely.
Etc.: Photo gallery of a Mooney blowout has several pictures of Vinopal.
|WHAT||#36/31 Michigan v. Arkansas Pine Bluff|
|WHERE||Ann Arbor, MI|
|WHEN||2:00 PM EST
December 5th, 2009
|THE LINE||No line, junkie|
*Line provided by online sports betting site Sportsbetting.com.
The Wolverines are officially slumping. They have 3 losses in 3 games, at least one of them to inferior competition. The shooting has been bad, the defense has been terrible, and nothing has seemed to go right for the Wolverines.
Last year, they were a much better squad with more space between games, and the hectic travel schedule from the weekend may have given them less time to prepare for Boston College than they would have liked. A pair of off days, both at home, may give the team a little time to recharge the battery, and Pine Bluff isn't exactly Boston College in terms of talent.
DeShawn Sims and the snipers for Michigan really need to get going in this contest, and it might not be too difficult to do. As we'll see in a moment, this is a really bad defensive team.
Arkansas Pine Bluff
The Golden Lions had opened their season with 5 consecutive losses, all of them coming on the road. In fact, they don't play a home game until their 15th contest of the season(!). Colorado and Denver took down Pine Bluff on a road trip through the Centennial State, and the Golden Lions have also fallen in El Paso, Akron, and Tempe.
Guards Savalance Townsend and Terrence Calvin lead Pine Bluff in scoring, and Calvin, a senior point guard, is also the assist leader. 6-8 post man Lebaron Weathers is the key inside presence, tied for third in points per game and leading the Golden Lions in rebounding. Fellow senior Tyree Glass stands 6-7, and gets the third most minutes of any Golden Lion (behind only the two guards).
It's far enough into the year that tempo-free stats might mean something, so here's the first tempo-free breakdown of the season. If you need an explanation of the stats, check out Ken Pomeroy.
|Michigan v. Arkansas Pine Bluff: National Ranks|
|Category||Michigan Rank||Pine Bluff Rank||Advantage|
|Mich eFG% v. PB Def eFG%||260||337||M|
|Mich Def eFG% v. PB eFG%||232||254||M|
|Mich TO% v. PB Def TO%||2||328||MMMM|
|Mich Def TO% v. PB TO%||41||313||MMM|
|Mich OReb% v. PB DReb%||242||1||PPP|
|Mich DReb% v. PB OReb%||326||81||PPP|
|Mich FTR v. PB Opp FTR||295||342||M|
|Mich Opp FTR v. PB FTR||10||133||MM|
|Mich AdjO v. PB AdjD||157||215||M|
|Mich AdjD v. PB AdjO||111||225||MM|
Difference of more than 10 places in the national rankings get a 1-letter advantage, more than 100 gets a 2-letter advantage, more than 200 gets a 3-letter advantage, etc.
So, Pine Bluff is kind of horrible, and they've been horrible against competition that isn't very good itself. The only thing that the Golden Lions are pretty good at is rebounding the ball. This should be highly effective against Michigan, of course, as the Wolverines aren't really known for crashing the boards. Michigan has a huge advantage in nearly every single other category, and if this game is even close, it might be an omen for a long season.
This game may not be the one that gets DeShawn Sims really rolling, as the Golden Lions have multiple players with decent enough size. However, if Michigan chooses to play two big men at once, they'll probably be able to overpower the overmatched Golden Lions. That should open up the three point line, as should the mere fact that the Lions have already given up 30% 3-point shooting to opponents, playing less talented teams than Michigan.
This looks like the type of game that is frustratingly close for a few minutes, before the Wolverines really start to pull away.
On Jared Odrick's odd Big Ten DPOY victory:
Conferences, be they high school or college, have stupid political bylaws that determine all-conference teams (i.e. conference champs get to name 3 players to 1st team, 2 players to second team). The head scratchers like "Odrick: B11DPOTY" are usually negotiated settlements between coaches/SIDs (if you put my player up or vote for my player, i'll vote for yours) or actually written into the bylaws (i.e. your team is first in points against, you get to name B11DPOTY). Normally, those types of things result in a clear shake out. Sometimes when the margins are not obvious or the bylaws don't work out nice...the solutions are political (AKA stupid looking).
P.S. Is there hope for the defense to get better next year? Do you think Lloyd realized how bad the defense was going to be? and got out?
Odrick was just named first-team All America, too. Brandon Graham got jacked, not that there's any surprise in that.
As to the PS questions: yes, but not very good, probably yes he realized things weren't going to go swimmingly once he left, and no, that had nothing to do with his departure.
It seems as though most of the time Denard is in at quarterback, he is deployed in an otherwise empty backfield. This means that he either passes (infrequently) or runs. Any thoughts on why there is rarely a running back in the backfield with him. This means a read option is out the window. You would think that with his speed that this might be an effective attack. Is he having trouble making the reads in practice?
Two possibilities: Denard can't make the reads, or Michigan thinks he'll be more effective with the field more spread out. I don't get it, personally: Rodriguez broke out the zone read with Pat White early in his career.
That lack of zone read, more than anything else, makes me think Robinson is eventually destined to move to a Percy Harvin-esque slash WR/RB role. He's not running a run-crazy version of the base offense, he's running a no-decision, extremely predictable high school offense. Is there any way he advances enough without the benefit of a redshirt year to pass up Forcier or even Gardner, who's plenty familiar with the zone read in high school?
I think the answer to Denard Robinson is to give him a QB package but start the transition in earnest this offseason. Next year it's Tate and you try to redshirt Gardner, using Robinson as an all-purpose player.
Can we/should we take some comfort in looking at Oklahoma this year? They have an entrenched, top-tier coach, who is indisputably good at coaching in a big time conference. I haven’t looked at their roster, but I think its safe to assume they don’t have Michigan’s youth and under-scholarship issues. They were number two preseason, and when their quarterback goes down and have to play a freshmen, they’re 7-5.
(This email started under the premise that OU finished 6-6, which made the comparison better. I just realized that they finished 7-5, and literally crushed almost all the opponents in victory, and were close in every loss.)
Still, is the comparison valid? Take a national title contender, and put in a freshmen qb, and you are now a middling 7-5. Michigan has only freshmen qbs and 10 other glaring problems and ends up 5-7. Isn’t this actually par or slightly above? This whole thing is a full year longer than everyone expected. Last year was a black hole and this past season was year 1.
Well… no. As the emailer noted, despite their crappy record Oklahoma is an entirely different level from Michigan this year. Their peripheral stats show a team that's snakebit. Michigan's show a team that's just bad. We don't need to hack down to complicated statistical measures to do so:
|Pass Efficiency Defense||10||75|
Oklahoma's nonconference schedule included Miami (That Miami) and BYU, a Baby Seal U—Matt Guiterrez alma mater Idaho State—and bad CUSA team Tulsa, so the overall schedule is probably about as challenging as Michigan's. And there is no comparison. Michigan is better at three things: net punting, rushing offense, and kickoff returns. They are vastly worse in all of the big categories.
This is the flipside of pointing to Georgia Tech and declaring that it's easy to show up and contend for a conference championship in year two. Record isn't everything. Michigan's peripherals this year were really, really terrible; they indicate a team that is going to have to put in yet more time rebuilding. Oklahoma's probably going to leap back to BCS quality next year.
Comparisons to other programs who have struggled through mediocre years or other coaches who have struggled through an opening two seasons as poor as that of Rodriguez don't strike me as relevant. Michigan is in the midst of a unique, wrenching transition from 40 years of one thing to something almost, but not quite, entirely unlike tea. They started a walk-on quarterback. Three walk-ons played extensively on defense this year, one of them a freshman starter at safety. There are no meaningful comparisons; we just have to grit our teeth and hope it works out.
I agree with the timeline proposed by the emailer: Michigan is a full year behind schedule because of a combination of things. After the Utah game I said the program was under construction and would be finished in 2010; now that is fanciful. Obviously.
The delightful news keeps coming:
Warren, a third-year junior who led Michigan with 4 interceptions this year, has filed paperwork to ask the NFL's underclass advisory committee for his draft status.
He said Thursday their input will play into his decision, but turning pro is "just something that I believe it's just for me."
"I'm definitely, I'd have to say heavily, I like the chances of me coming out," Warren said at Michigan's annual football bust.
BONUS: Vincent Smith's ACL was torn against Ohio State. He'll miss spring practice and may be touchy going into the fall according to someone close to the situation.
Let's take a position-by-position look at recruits in positions that Michigan still has needs. Yes, they're mostly on defense. For reference, Michigan has 21 current commits, and there's still been no resolution as to whether they can accept more than 25 commitments.
FL OL Torrian Wilson made a surprise commit to Stanford in the summer, but now he will visit Michigan this weekend. I had long assumed his commitment to Stanford was soft, but with no recruiting news until now, I had started to change my mind. It appears as though my faith has been reaffirmed.
In case it wasn't apparent from such events as "5-7," MN OL Seantrel Henderson is no longer considering Michigan.
Thought to be out of consideration for Michigan, MI DT Johnathan Hankins (I've seen his first name spelled about a hundred different ways, with no indication as to which might be right), has finally received his Michigan offer. Despite growing up a Michigan fan, Florida is still his strong leader.
Obviously, Michigan was similarly impressed, but their prolonged evaluation process has them currently trailing in the race for the three-star prospect's services.
"Florida is ahead right now," Hankins told Scout.com. "It was a great place. The players were great and the fans were amazing. The game (against Florida State) was great too. I feel comfortable there. They said I have a chance to play because they are losing defensive tackles. I'd have a chance to start. It's all up to me. After (visiting) Florida, I didn't want to take any more visits, but I rethought that and my coaches wanted me to take all my visits."
He visits Michigan this weekend, and Michigan will have the opportunity to outdo Florida then; there's also a chance that Florida might fill up (or "fill up") before Hankins has an opportunity to commit. He plans to decide before Christmas.
The increase in Hankins interest might be due to a couple other guys falling off, as last week a small Arkansas paper reported TX DT Big Tex Beachum might be solid to Arkansas. He still has not publicly reaffirmed his Arkansas commitment, so on the board he stays. Even The Recruiting Guy's follow-up doesn't have a quote affirming his commitment. FWIW, Sam Webb posted an article on Beachum that involved the words "clears the air($)," a universal signal that the article in question directly contradicts previously-reported information. He's still in play.
Michigan has offered post-grad VA DE David Mackall ($, info in header), who originally committed to Maryland in the class of 2009.
The Wolverines are also the leader for FL DE Clarence Murphy. As Brian noted last week, Sam Webb has talked about a "gut feeling" on WTKA, which generally means a silent commitment.
The biggest possibility for Michigan in the linebacking corps is MD LB/S Josh Furman, who will announce between Michigan and Virginia Tech at the Crab Bowl on December 19.
Both schools have strong academics, both have early playing time as a possibility, and Furman has established strong relationships with both staffs. With so many similarities between the pro
grams, settling on one sounds like a daunting task, but Furman has already done it.
"The location factored into it, along with the environment and the official visit," he explained.
As implied by that quote, a decision has been made and the coaches informed for each school. The location factoring could be interpreted as a bad sign for Michigan, but he did have tons of positive things to say about Michigan following his official visit. If the coaches have been informed, Webb's "gut feeling" is unimpeachable. Furman is putting up gaudy rushing numbers in his senior season, and is a huge prospect for the Wolverines.
CA S Sean Parker still wants to take a Michigan visit. The Wolverines are in a final seven-ish also consisting of PSU, Notre Dame, UCLA, Tennessee, Washington, and USC.
Michigan leads for FL CB Tony Grimes and his teammate, DE Clarence Murphy.
Hollywood Hills defensive back Tony Grimes said he is leaning heavily toward the University of Michigan. When a decision to commit is made, Grimes said he and Hills defensive lineman Clarence Murphy will attend the same school.
"Michigan sticks out for both of us," Grimes said. "There we feel we can come in and play as true freshmen."
As noted above, the two are essentially Michigan locks, assuming the Wolverines stay on them until they announce a decision on Signing Day.
Don't expect FL CB Spencer Boyd to end up at Michigan: he's sticking with Notre Dame. [Editor's note: not so fast! Rivals threw up an image of Boyd in an article header indicating he will take an official this weekend.]
Also: Rivals AMP says Michigan is "re-emerging($)" for OH S Latwan Anderson, but kid goes to Glenville and ain't coming here.]
MI QB Devin Gardner is ready to move on to his college career, after high school ended on a down note with a 27-6 loss to Lowell in the state championship game.
"I can't mourn this,” Gardner said after the loss last Friday. “I start getting ready for my future on Monday - lifting, throwing, watching films and getting better as a quarterback so this will never happen again."
Gardner was in attendance at last night's basketball debacle, and is firm in his commitment to Michigan. He no longer plans to enroll early.
MI RB Austin White is not wavering, despite a lame internet rumor to the contrary last week.
Further commit updates, including All-State team news, will be in next week's Friday Night Lights post.
22 + 3 + er… more = er…
At this point we are operating under the assumption that Michigan can enroll no more than 25 freshmen this fall no matter how many scholarships it has open. This is unfortunate since any attrition is likely to see scholarships go unused again. It also means that Michigan has 22 commitments, three guys who are virtual commitments, zero spots left in the class, and about a dozen other guys they're still recruiting.
The conclusion is inescapable: expect attrition from the current commits. Whether it's a decommit or a gentle suggestion that maybe Player X would be better off in a situation with more opportunities for playing time, the way Michigan is recruiting suggests they're going to end up with a couple more commitments past the three expected ones. This will necessitate some current commits not signing or for Michigan to sign up to 28 with the intention of getting down to 25 by August.
Speculating about who is likely to depart in the former case is rude, but there are a couple of players who are reportedly not qualified yet and if they don't get there soon—ie, after this semester's grades are in—Michigan could be within its rights to say "sorry, but we can't take the chance you might not make it in." Your personal distaste for this sort of thing will vary. Mine is a six out of ten.
Possibilities in the latter case are grayshirting someone or expecting slight academic attrition from the incoming class. Some folks have proposed that MI WR Jeremy Jackson come in as a walk-on with a corresponding bump in Fred Jackson's pay, which is interesting, very definitely against the spirit of the rules, and possibly against the letter of them if Jackson received an official offer letter.
In any case, the next two months figure to be somewhat bumpy.
Dave Birkett of AnnArbor.com interviews a couple of recruiting experts about Michigan's class thus far. Tom Lemming seems to be a bit higher on it than Allen Wallace of Scout. Both agree that it's a solid class, but won't contend with the nation's best. Lemming is very high on Cullen Christian, and both of them really like Gardner, because he's awesome.
Huh. Tom Dienhart's taken his "get anonymous coaches to say bitchy stuff" act on to Rivals, this time breaking down the pending SEC championship game. You probably don't care much about the particulars, but I found this section pretty interesting given that much-loved former Michigan QB coach Scot Loeffler was just put in charge of the Tebow Child:
QUARTERBACK: Our staff thought Tim Tebow has gotten worse as a quarterback from last year to this year. Everyone talks about his mechanics and dropping the football; he drops it lower this year and has worse mechanics. I don't know what it is. He's still making throws and doing some things, but he just doesn't seem comfortable back there. I don't know if it's because of the concussion or what. But teams are making him sit in the pocket longer and throw the football, and sometimes he gets a little skittish back there.
Probably doesn't mean much given Loeffler's extended, wildly successful tenure at Michigan, but I found it interesting.
Is that your final answer? The internet would be a far less chaotic and rumor-stricken place if folks followed one guideline when citing inside information: never link to a place for the first time, or link to a place you've never heard of, because it's got a hot rumor.
Why do I mention this? Because of this:
Brian Kelly will be next Notre Dame football coach
Cincinnati coach to take helm of Fighting Irish, sources reveal to IrishCentral
Brian Kelly will be the next head football coach at the University of Notre Dame, informed sources tell IrishCentral.
The source, who is a well-informed person of influence at Notre Dame, says the Cincinnati coach is the preferred choice for the job, and that he is expected to eventually sign a deal.
Kelly is expected to see out the season with his Bowl Championship Series-bound team, and then report for duty at South Bend.
There is no there there. Kelly is "expected" to "eventually" be the coach by some random guy. By this standard, Michigan is currently coached by Kirk Ferentz, Greg Schiano, and Rich Rodriguez. This site has no track record—it started in March. It talked to one guy who says Kelly is the eventual choice in a month, which in coaching search years is sometime after the Sun engulfs the Earth. And it spreads like wildfire. Why this dubious rumor and not others? Other than the newspaper website template—a rinky-dink version of one—I got nothin'.
Kelly, for his part, was less wishy-washy about staying at Cincinnati on the radio than he was at a press conference yesterday:
“I’m staying, man. I’m staying,” Kelly said on the show. “Why would I go? It’s always about staying, first. First and foremost."
No, I don't believe him either. Unfortunately.
Very modern. Greg Dooley has an interview with Angelique Chengelis up at GBW, and as a guy who runs a college football poll I found this snapshot of the AP poll's assemblage interesting:
MVictors: When you say ‘send in’, do you submit an online form or do you email something in like a Word document or a spreadsheet or something?
Angelique: I just send in an email, ranking the teams 1-25. I have a couple different email addresses that I send it to and that’s what I’ve always done. You’d think it’d be more formal, wouldn’t you?
PREWB! Yes, obligated to mention that after unusual stonewalling on the part of the local police department, eight Spartans were "indefinitely" suspended, including starters BJ Cunningham, Mark Dell, and Chris Rucker for the 2009 Posse Roundup & Engineer/Woman Beatdown. Rucker's a cornerback and in the state of Michigan all members of the secondary not named Woolfolk or Warren are interchangeably horrible, but Cunningham and Dell are excellent receivers. BONUS: there are five more guys yet to be identified—Rob Parker thinks they're all Kirk Cousins.
KJ at The Only Colors wants everyone gone permanently, but that seems steep if the kids in question didn't get violent themselves. They might have tagged along for laughs and saw Glenn Winston go all Grimsrud on them (clip NSF kiddies):
Mark Dell might just have some mechanical engineer's brain all over his car. While you have to expect that when you go anywhere with Winston, I guess, anyone without a prior incident shouldn't necessarily see their career end if the tape shows them to be largely innocent. Hefty suspensions lasting past the Michigan game next year are mandatory, though.
The thing about this thing is: I thought that giving Winston the relative slap on the wrist (essentially a four-game suspension) he got for an act far worse than many that see players drummed out of school entirely—see poor Larry Harrison—was a mistake at the time, as did a lot of other people including Spartan fans. If you want to give Dantonio the benefit of the doubt, fine. Coaches have a lot more information in these situations than we do. I find the irony of his pride before the fall delicious, though, and reserve the right to whoop it up after two years in which Michigan's coach has been portrayed as an inbred hick with no ethics.
Etc.: Phil Brabbs is dyeing his hair blue before it all falls out. DOMINATE. Rivals goes stunningly in depth with a geographic breakdown of recruiting stars and NFL draftees.
12/2/2009 – Michigan 58, Boston College 62 – 3-3
Apparently there was a meeting this offseason and Michigan's three major sports bet each other they could be the most disappointing outfit on campus. Hockey is winning, but narrowly. Assorted thoughts on basketball season so far:
SON OF A BITCH. SON OF A BITCH.
Can We Please Assemble Yost To Point At The 1-3-1 And Call It A Sieve? Holy hopscotching hell. Michigan finally moved away from the disastrous fringe zone defense against Boston College, but before that it had given up enough points to seal Michigan's doom. This comes after the Marquette game, in which the Eagles averaged 1.27(!!!) points per possession, the worst output of the Beilein era, and the Alabama game, which wasn't as bad but lord it wasn't good either.
This isn't even a preparation issue. Marquette and Alabama did not put in special practice time to deal with Michigan when there was a 25% or less chance those teams would play the Wolverines; Michigan just sucks at the 1-3-1. Hard.
If this was football I'd have some amateur but fairly accurate point about scheme; since it's basketball I'm about as mystified as anyone else. The defense wasn't good last year but it wasn't anywhere near this bad and the only difference is replacing a couple walk-ons with Darius Morris. Morris hasn't seemed like the problem so far. Problems: Stu Douglass is a really terrible defender, Manny Harris is lackadaisical himself, and no one got any taller.
…but on the other hand. Morris has given Michigan zero offensively other than some fast break buckets against poor competition. I guess he makes sense in a high-paced transition offense that results from a ton of steals forced by the 1-3-1. Since Michigan is not getting a ton of steals, he's a non-shooter whose main contribution on offense is to pass the ball around the perimeter. Freshman and all that, but right now Stu Douglass is a much better passer and shooter and seems considerably more useful on offense. Is that worth the 3-4 wide open threes he'll give up? This is not a lovely choice.
And now we devolve into talk radio platitudes. Forgive me: I am about to sound like whichever post-Spielman droid is currently Pam Ward's color guy. In multiple ways. Brace yourself.
Doesn't this team look horribly coached? I keep going back to the haunting Manny Harris three against Alabama. With 20 seconds on the shot clock in a tie game with under a minute left, Harris comes over a half-hearted screen from DeShawn Sims and jacks up a three with a hand in his face. It, like 90% of Harris's threes to date, misses, and Alabama comes down for the winning basket after the rebound. Beilein benched Harris and Sims for large portions of the Boston College game, and they deserved it, and the team didn't play much worse. That's about all he can do but good God, by now the upperclass stars on the team shouldn't have to get benched.
Elsewhere in this theory: the 1-3-1 failure and the number of possessions that end with few ideas and few good shot options. Sometimes the dread specter of Amaker offense shows up. This should probably not be happening in year three.
I don't want to overstate the case: obviously I still support Beilein and think he's a good coach who will—has—been the most successful one at Michigan since Tom Goss and Ed Martin crushed the program's will to live. But in the aftermath of the Evan Smotrycz rise, Brundidge commitment and potential acquisition of Casey Prather or Trey Ziegler, I was teetering along the edge of taking back the "Beilein won't ever make Michigan elite" theory offered here earlier… now not so much.
Second: could "leadership" actually be an issue here? Resorting to leadership is the last option around here, but the team seems way, way worse than last year—even when you take things like losing to Iowa and almost doing the same against Indiana—and the only difference is that CJ Lee is running for congress or something and David Merritt is starting the next Nike. Similarly, the hockey team lost Aaron Palushaj but nothing else aside from a couple of gritty grit Gritsteins in Tim Miller and Travis Turnbull and has collapsed to the point where its decades-long tourney streak is in serious doubt.
I usually dismiss heart and leadership and whatnot. I still think this holds in football because football is a bunch of short, complicated bursts of activity. Whatever effect trying really hard has is dwarfed by knowing what the hell to do and doing it right. Aside from the occasional tired defensive linemen, coasting isn't an option. Football is kill or be killed; it has your full attention at all times.
In hockey and basketball, on the other hand, you can sort of do things. You can defend the post with token effort, or lackadaisically close out, or not rotate. You can coast on your forecheck or not backcheck or not finish a check. It's far more possible to give poor effort. So it's conceptually possible to me that gritty heart dirt dog blah blah is actually important, and then you've got two separate teams that are a thousand times worse than they were last year despite personnel situations that should be considerably better but for the absence of Gritzilla. The conclusion, horrifyingly, is that maybe people who like Colin Cowherd aren't always wrong about everything forever.
It's just about over, isn't it? Michigan's put themselves in a position where they've blown virtually all of their winnable quality nonconference games—Creighton doesn't look like it will count—and now must either pull vast upsets against Kansas and/or UConn and maybe also beat Utah to scrape into the tourney with a similar conference record. If they win one of those games they probably have to go 11-7 in the conference to make it, and raise your hand if you think that's likely. Right.
You know, if I ever thought I'd get so much use out of the "i know it's over and oh it never really began but in my heart it was so real" tag, I might have considered another line of work. Like ninja.
Boston College 62, Michigan 58
Michigan 3-3 (0-0 Big Ten)
Buckle down, Michigan hoops fans; it's going to be a long season in Ann Arbor. Not literally, of course, because this doesn't look like a team that will extend its year into the postseason. But long like painful, you see.
At one point in the second half, I tweeted "Holy crap, this looks like an Amaker team." The unfortunate thing is that I wasn't saying it to be mean-spirited, it was just true. Uninspired defensive play and poor decisions offensively made for a highly unentertaining (and ineffective) brand of basketball. Sure the officiating was pretty bad, but I think if the game had been reffed well, Michigan might have just ended up losing by a much wider margin.
As things stand, the 3-point shooting still isn't there. Stu Douglass seems to have lost all confidence, passing up two open looks with less than a couple minutes left in the game, and Michigan still within striking distance. That lack of confidence is the story of the team right now, and they have to break out of this slump (which included a 64% mark from the free throw line) if they want a chance to play for the tournament.
After the disappointment in Orlando, Boston College appeared to be Michigan's lone chance for a signature out-of-conference win. Now the Wolverines face the daunting task of winning in Salt Lake City against Utah or in Lawrence against Kansas for their resume booster. With the way they've performed over the last week, neither looks likely, and coming down with a single win in those two games is looking less and less possible.
Something has to be said, however, for the Wolverines' refusal to give up. It shouldn't take a 15-point deficit in the second half to light a fire under their asses, but at least when they finally started playing the damn game, it was a flash of brilliance. Now, that just needs to be harnessed, and put on display for more than 5 minutes per game.
- Coming out of Orlando, DeShawn Sims was somebody who needed to step up his game. He finished with as many fouls as points (4).
- A hearty cheer for Zack Gibson is in order. He's really developed into someone who can contribute on both ends of the floor, and he kept this team in the game toward the end.
- Manny went 1-6 from 3-point range, and the only make was banked in. He isn't shooting well early in the year, and the way to solve that problem does not involve jacking up contested shots on every other possession.
- As mentioned above, free throw shooting continues to be a problem. At this point in the year "early in the season" can no longer be an excuse. This team has to be better from the stripe. 70% is not good enough, especially for a team that shot over 75% last year.
- Ben Cronin is not ready to contribute against good teams. He made a hustle play, but still doesn't have the athleticism back after his hip surgery.
- Darius Morris had a nightmare game. He turned the ball over more times than he shot it (1 to 0).
- I, too, am shocked that the headline of this post was not used up during the football season.
- The official attendance was over 10,000, but I'll be damned if that's anywhere near accurate. The gold level on both baselines was completely empty.
- Yay for the Big Ten finally winning the ACC Challenge. It's a hollow victory without a Michigan win.
- "This [Boston College] is obviously a pretty good team. Or we're a really bad team." John Beilein, on the team's performance.
- "We're frustrated, but the thing about college basketball is you've got to bounce back." DeShawn Sims, on the three-game losing streak.
- "I think we're losing focus a little bit, and you can't do it. Teams are too good." Zack Novak, on the defensive struggles.
- "Even my first year, I don't think it was this bad shooting-wise." Manny Harris.
Arkansas-Pine Bluff heads to Crisler Arena at 2PM on Saturday. Beat the Golden Lions or whatever.