HOCKEYBEAR IS—AW, HAMBURGERS THAT'S NEXT WEEK
|WHAT||You vs A Weekend Without Michigan Sporting Events|
|WHERE||The Depths Of Your Existential Dread, Pancreas, TX|
|WHEN||An irritatingly persistent feeling that serves as a preview for the Long Dark after the Frozen Four|
|THE LINE||Existential Dread -7|
|TELEVISION||Versus (Versus will televise anything)|
Flipping Through The Channels, Finding Nothing But Clippers Games
(And the Final Four, I guess)
Record. 10-10, 5-5 in conference. Everything this weekend is a nondescript defensive battle between teams too bad to be exciting and too good to be interesting. Both teams wear grey, and Ricky Davis is nowhere in sight.
Previous meetings. Last summer this was a merciful end. The prospect of being required to watch nothing except half-full NBA arenas that double as Ambien for their attendees was sweet relief after football and basketball imploded and hockey only narrowly avoided doing so.
Dangermen. You're really going to want to watch out for old baseball/football/hockey cards (17-27-44), especially that Tim Cheveldae rookie card you thought was going to be worth thousands by now. They will remind you of a time when even bits of cardboard with pictures of people on them were endlessly fascinating. Remembering this could lead into other reveries, like the first time you saw a boob on pay cable, that can only go downhill from there.
Goalie and defense and whatnot. Alcohol, probably. Hang on to the "previous meetings" factoid. It will help to remember that the alternative to feeling lost and alone after relevant sporting events cease is feeling like that all the time. Wait, that doesn't help at all.
Special teams. Their power play is better than Michigan's, I tell you what!
You Versus The Dread Sports Distracts You From
Good luck with that, buddy. You may even find yourself bowling. You hate bowling.
Scandals are pretty much sports too. Jim Tressel, man.
When in doubt.
HOCKEYBEAR IS GO ANYWAY
The Big Picture
Next Thursday and, God willing, Saturday are the Frozen Four. The methadone of spring practice and the spring game-type-substance will provide a gentle glide path into May, but at that point you're just waiting for September. Prepare.
These updates are a little late, but I tried to space everything out so it wasn't all one big bombardment. Here are two more updates from last week's junior day visit from Minnesota OL Jonah Pirsig and Ohio TE AJ Williams.
6'9", 300 lbs.
Blue Earth, Minnesota
Yes, Jonah is 6-foot-9 and he's from a place called Blue Earth. [Ed: Next time Tom talks to him I'll have him ask if he's got a pet ox and has been bewilderingly located in East Lansing of late.] Pirsig has racked up some big time offers--Auburn, Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, MSU, Ohio State, and Wisconsin to name a few. He took in Ann Arbor this past weekend and got a chance to talk with his potential position coach.
Right away we had a meeting with Coach Funk. We didn't watch tape or anything, but he gave me some history of the coaching staff and what he's done with offensive linemen. He went over the depth chart and his coaching style. He said they'll be running pro style but they're going to still run Denard. I think I definitely fit in that offense. Coach Hoke was talking with my dad and me. We didn't talk much about football, just about random stuff like two guys.
Pirsig came up on a off practice day so they weren't able to watch any actual coaching. That may not have been a negative though as it gave him more time to interact with the coaches.
We went in the Big House and it was pretty overwhelming walking out on the field. They gave us some facts and told us that they're planning on adding about 10,000 seats eventually. We got a tour of the locker room and the training room. I think this visit helped Michigan because I was just talking to the coaches, and now I can put faces and personalities to the name.
Jonah said he wants to narrow things down pretty soon, but he's not exactly sure when that will happen. Like he said, this visit helped Michigan but I have a feeling they still have work to do.
6'6", 260 lbs.
Williams has put together a nice offer list himself with Boston College, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, MSU, NC State, and WVU among the programs interested. AJ journeyed up to Ann Arbor with his father and both seemed to like what they saw.
It was great. I love the facilities and the way the coaches welcomed us in. I went with my dad and he loved it too. He loved how the coaches showed me how I would fit in and how they were honest about everything.
Williams was also up on a non practicing day, but there's always plenty of things to see and people to talk to.
We talked to Coach Hoke and he is a great guy. I love how cool he is with just talking about life and how it's not all about football. He was having a good talk with my dad. I would say this trip was a solid 9, and it helped Michigan.
This visit really seemed to make an impression on both AJ and his dad. He's not sure when he'll make his final decision, but he said it will be either before his football season or before his basketball season next year. After this visit Michigan has put themselves in good position.
Epic fark. There is a Jim Tressel Signing Things fark thread at TigerDroppings featuring frequent contributions from LSUFreek. There's an excessive quantity of lolbewbs but there are also gems like this:
Try to get that out of your head within the next decade.
Refinements. Frequent diarist the_white_tiger has started up his blog, Maize Colored Glasses, and one of his first posts is a refinement of the polynomial graphs purveyed on The Only Colors that show performance trends over the conference season. TWT increased the polynomial count—this allows more "turns" in the graph—and normalized for opponent performance.
Michigan's result won't surprise you but the way they got there might:
There might have been a very slight uptick in the offense; the defense got massively better. The really really high yellow spot on the graph was that Indiana blowout. Horrible team given many points == ugly. From there the turnaround was gradual improvement. I linked one of John Gasaway's "Tuesday Truths" column around the middle of the conference season to point out that Michigan was dead last in defense; the year-end numbers TWT is using show them squarely middle of the road (sixth).
My favorite other graph is Minnesota's:
There should be a vertical line at game seven labeled "Al Nolen explodes, season goes with it."
Burlon status. Brandon Burlon is tentatively expected to play at next weekend's Frozen Four:
After not being able to eat solid foods last week, losing close to 20 pounds and as a result having to sit out during the regional round of the playoffs. Brandon Burlon skated at Monday and Tuesday’s practices. He said he’s regaining the weight steadily.
Burlon said he expects to play next weekend, but a final determination has not been made.
Twenty pounds seems a little sensational. In any case, getting Burlon back would be huge as Michigan goes up against a Sioux team featuring the best—or, from Michigan's perspective, worst—aspects of the UNO and CC teams they beat to reach St. Paul. Like CC, they have a lights out top line. Hobey lock Matt Frattin is coring at a nearly goal-per-game pace. Like UNO, they have scoring depth. Six forwards have at least 13 goals, a couple more have eight, and two defensemen are putting up Moffie-like numbers. Getting Burlon back gives Michigan the defensive depth to match UND's forward depth.
Hypothetically, anyway. I've been looking at their stats for the past five minutes and feeling deeply unhappy.
The only lawyer in America. Someone on the board linked to an article about a lawyer discussing what's going down at Ohio State and if they can expect more than the wrist slap they've given themselves, and I just knew in my bones we were about to get a quote from…
“If I was representing a coach in that similar situation, I would advise my client to expect not only a show-cause order assessed against him or her, but also significant individual penalties that may cause their employer, which is the university, to either terminate their employment or some other significant employment action,” said Michael L. Buckner, of Pompano Beach, Fla., whose law firm specializes in representing schools and individuals before the NCAA. “I’d tell them they should be prepared for that.“
I like him so much more when he's producing alarmist soundbites about other teams.
Buckner-issued proclamations about Michigan's NCAA foofaraw turned out to be just that but media framing had a lot to do with that—see this article titled "Avoiding show-cause order a must for Michigan, Rodriguez" from Dave Birkett that has Buckner explaining that show-cause is bad, mmmkay, despite the fact that no one thought it was even vaguely plausible once the hype about the initial article was replaced by a general sense that it was crap. In that article Buckner has this to say:
“Michigan would have to make sure that Coach Rodriguez follows the show-cause order,” Buckner said. “If he’s found to have committed the failure to monitor, issued a show-cause order, and then he goes to West Virginia … and if he’s found to have failed to monitor in that case, than a show-cause order can be enhanced significantly."
Buckner said Michigan must “provide as much evidence as (it) can to defend Coach Rodriguez so that (it) can eliminate that failure to monitor allegation.”
“Whether or not you can actually do that” remains to be seen, he said.
There's a big gap between "if, if, if" in the latter article—it did turn out Michigan had enough to eliminate the failure to monitor allegation, for all the good that did for Rodriguez's employment prospects—and "expect not only a show cause but significant individual penalties."
FWIW, that's a Bruce Hooley article. Hooley's the guy who went ape on the radio about this whole thing and is apparently going whole hog in an effort to become a guy who makes money by being hated. He's not exactly unbiased.
BONUS: Eleven Warriors is totally right that Stanley McClover claiming he got cash from OSU and MSU isn't going to amount to anything, but I loved to imagine an Ohio State fan who was one of the legion saying "I remember when he decommitted, not surprised there was some funny business going on there" watching the HBO special and going from smug to outraged in the space of an anecdote.
BONUS BONUS: Tressel situation "totally unacceptable," OSU president says!
Oregon State president Ed Ray was executive vice president and provost at Ohio State in 2001, and had input into the hiring of Tressel. He’s now chairman of the NCAA executive committee, and told Rachel Bachman of The Oregonian that “this whole episode to me is beyond the pale. It’s totally unacceptable. I’m pretty disappointed and startled by it all.”
Goddammit, Sporting News headline writers. I hate you so much.
BONUS BONUS BONUS: Is it possible to see Rich Rodriguez these days and not think he's constantly fighting the urge to kill everyone in the room?
Three years ago I was a broken thumb away from a national championship game. I was a hero. I invented the spread offense.
Now everyone in two states hates me and thinks I'm retarded. A month ago I interviewed my replacement—who walked into Denard Robinson and Jim Tressel making my fake NCAA violations look like the Nobel Peace Prize—on television. Right this instant I'm staring at Jason Whitlock, surrounded by men in suits. Jason Whitlock. Suits. Whitlocksuits. whssiiisisfi
FFFFFUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU /goes Falling Down on universe
"It is not often that you have to stare the death of your basketball program in the face". Matt Painter's flirtation with Missouri was an earth-shaking event for Purdue fans. For confirmation a quick check of the first two pages at Hammer and Rails will suffice. Open letter: check. Open thread soaring well past a thousand comments: check. Bolded quote: check. Wholesale demolition of your entire athletic department:
Check. The answer is pretty much "yes"; contained within the link is a more comprehensive explosion of an athletic department than you'll find anywhere. IU fans should bookmark it for future e-peen wars. It incidentally makes you go "whoah" halfway through:
Total Number of Big Ten Championships as of spring 2009:
Ohio State 185
Michigan State 81
Penn State 50
Nebraska 0 (obviously)
Michigan has a lot of sports and has been around a lot of years but holy crap, man. That doesn't even include hockey.
And now for a completely different tangent on Painter. I've been annoyed at Braves & Birds' theory that the Big Ten has been disappointing in football because it hires losers like Ron Zook and nuts like Tim Brewster over actual football coaches. Lately I'm just annoyed it's right. It's hard to dispute after the latest round of hires from the Richest Conference In The Universe is MAC and Mountain West guys with iffy records. None of these guys are Bobby Petrino.
Painter has been wildly successful. Missouri is locked into an abusive relationship with Texas and would have punched a swan to get into the Big Ten this summer. Their TV contract sucks. They have little cachet outside their home state. They do not have a network that drops by every once in a while to drop off a new diamond boat. If Purdue had been too cheap to keep him that would have been a stunning indictment of Purdue, and I think that would have bled over into the entire mentality of a conference that really expects people to call its conferences "Legends and Leaders."
As it is the fact that it was even close is a mild indictment.
[Ed: bump for Masters.]
For the last year and a half, one of the most exciting collegiate golfers in the Big Ten Conference has been Michigan Golf Team captain Lion Kim. In a little more than a week, Lion Kim is going to be, for at least for the month of April of 2011, the most famous Michigan athlete on Earth: as the reigning United States Amateur Public Links champion, Lion has been invited to play in the 2011 Masters Tournament at the Augusta National Golf Club. He will be watched by a billion viewers on the Masters' worldwide telecast, and untold millions in his birthplace of South Korea.
Lion was born in Seoul, Korea and emigrated to the United States with his parents when he was barely a year old, first living in New Jersey where his father operated a New York area business, and then to Lake Mary, Fla., where he worked seriously on his competitive golf game before accepting a golf scholarship to the University of Michigan.
In the summer of 2009, the Michigan golf team barely qualified for the NCAA Division I Golf Championships to be held at the Inverness Golf Club in Toledo, the historic site of numerous USGA and
The 2009 NCAA D-I Championships marked a sea change for collegiate golf; a new/retro format involved team-match play with teams grouped into brackets as in the NCAA basketball brackets. (For non-golfers, “match play” is where two golfers play against each other, counting whether each hole is won or lost. The Ryder Cup is a well-known team-match play format. “Medal play,” on the other hand, is the format that most
The 2009 NCAA Golf Championship also marked a turning point for Lion Kim and the Michigan Golf Team. After having barely qualified, they proceeded to go to the semi-finals, including a thrilling victory over a highly-ranked
From then on, Lion Kim has become one of the best players in college golf. He qualified for almost every major amateur event last summer, and in five grueling North Carolina July days at the Bryan Park Golf Course in Greensboro, Lion Kim won the United States Amateur Public Links Championship. By tradition every year, the USAPL winner, as well as the United States Amateur finalists and the winner of the British Amateur, are all invited to the Masters Tournament at Augusta.
I spoke to Lion last year; he was gracious to talk for a while as he was practicing for the Western Amateur at the Skokie Golf Club just outside of Chicago. At that time, he was looking back with satisfaction on his Masters-qualifying win in the
AP: Lion Kim clinches his final match in the USAPL, 6 and 5.
Section 1: Lion Kim welcome to MGoBlog and thank you so much for taking some time to talk with us while you’re playing in the Western Amateur.
Lion Kim: Yeah, no problem.
S1: First of all congratulations on the US Amateur Public Links, but also congratulations for what really now has been a great run for you for going on for a little bit more than a year now. How does it feel to be a national champion?
LK: You know, obviously it is an amazing feeling; never did I think this summer that I would win one of the biggest Amateur golf tournaments in the world. Not just in the US but one of the amateur tournaments around the world and I just feel very honored to be named a national champion and at the same time it’s very humbling because I realize that, you know, with this success obviously there is going to be some expectations now, and I enjoy those types of pressures and am really looking forward for the challenge ahead of me.
S1: Your own game, Lion, seems to have gone to a new level, at the same time that the Michigan Golf Team’s collective game has gone to a new level starting back last year at the NCAA’s at Inverness. Can you talk about that stretch of time for us?
LK: Well, yeah, I mean since then I obviously gained a lot of confidence at NCAA’s and but you know overall just, I gained so much confidence in Michigan Golf Program and the coaches and in my teammates and obviously what we were able to do at Inverness Golf Club was amazing but at the same time, honestly in my opinion I was not really surprised because I knew our team was really capable of accomplishing big things like that and ever since then you know I personally gained a lot of confidence through that experience and I just knew actually that week that I am a good player and I really start to believe in myself and ever since then I just kept working hard and am just very lucky that all of my hard work paid off at the US Public Links Championship because obviously with that win, you know, I get some cool invites to
S1: Yeah it is going to be a very, very cool year for you coming up. Any particular memories from your time at Inverness? I was there, and I happened to be standing next to Bronson Burgoon when he hit that gap wedge shot on the last hole of the last match which was pretty exciting. What are your memories of Inverness?
LK: I guess I mean it is tough not to pick my shot on 17 to close out the deal against
S1: Yeah. How did it feel to play in that new NCAA format at Inverness?
LK: Well very exciting obviously. You know in match play, anything can happen and to be honest with you, we were a good team that year but we weren’t a great team and
S1: Jack Nicklaus was very excited about that format and he thinks it is a great thing for college golf. He thinks it is a great thing for young golfers that want to be better golfers to get that experience in match play.
LK: Yeah I mean, I definitely agree with Mr. Nicklaus. I think that if you become a good match play player, if you’re a great match play player, it really means that not only are you a good golfer but you are just mentally tough because in match play you just really have to be tough because how I like to think of the match play is when I see our opponent plays good, you just need to play great. And if your opponent plays great, you’ve just got to play phenomenal golf. There is nothing to it, you got to do whatever it takes to beat your opponent and you know, you just have to answer. That is the type of attitude I have in match play and again going back to what Mr. Nicklaus said, it makes you a better player I think, when you play a lot of match play events.
S1: Yeah. Did you meet him when you were down there at Inverness?
LK: Yes, I was very lucky enough to meet him at the player’s dinner and I also actually have a picture that I took with him at the player’s dinner and it is hanging up on my wall, the picture is hanging up on my wall in my home in New Jersey. A very special moment.
S1: Fantastic thing, to get a picture with him. Well you’ll never forget that. I have my own picture of me caddying for him in 1973 when I was a 17 year old and he was at the peak of his powers then. At that time he was a few years younger than Tiger Woods is right now, so yeah you will love that picture forever. But I will tell you, Jack Nicklaus is a Buckeye through and through.
LK: Yeah I understood that. That is why it made it sweeter to even go up to him and say that I am Lion Kim and I play for the University of Michigan and he almost did not want to take a picture with me, but obviously he is a great man and it was just a fun thing I got from a little rivalry feeling between Ohio State and Michigan.
S1: Yeah, what is it like playing Ohio State in golf matches?
LK: You know obviously, it does not get as intense as it does in football. But we all know that Ohio State and Michigan have the best college rivalry. Maybe, in my opinion, the best rivalry in sports period. I mean it is just a fierce rivalry, but in golf, I mean Ohio State knows that they want to beat us really bad and same with us we want to beat them very bad. But at the end of the day know that we are friends and will be a gentleman and shake their hands, whatever the result is.
S1: We hear a lot about recruiting in football and basketball, but talk to us a little bit about recruiting in golf and about your own recruiting.
LK: Yeah, well you know I am a guy from Florida and everybody asked me why would I go to Michigan, going up north to play golf. You know when people or my buddies ask me that question, I say look -- plain and simple Jack Nicklaus went to Ohio State, Luke Donald went to Northwestern, Steve Stricker went to Illinois and I could go on and name all of these great players that have played school up in the Midwest or just north and you know I tell them that weather really should not be a factor and I understand golf is an outdoor sport but you know if you are really dedicated to the game and if you are really passionate you are going to find a way to improve no matter what the weather is like. That is the attitude that I have and since my first American home had been in New Jersey, I have seen the weather before and it was not really a surprise for me when I came up to Michigan.
S1: So, Joey Garber is coming down to Ann Arbor from Petoskey, he is really having a great summer too. He is out there in Chicago with you right now for the Western Am, right?
LK: Yes he is.
S1: And you have got one other teammate that has made the field at the Western?
LK: Actually there are four of us; including me and Joey, there is also Matt Thompson and Jack Schultz.
S1: (Laughs.) That’s good; you calling Joey your teammate already.
Yes. (Laughs.) Right; he is, yes!
S1: Joey is having a really good summer. I am not sure; did he qualify as an alternate for USAmateur qualifying?
LK: Yeah, he is the second alternate right now. I think he just fell a couple of shots short to make it. But he is an alternate, he still has hope.
S1: So, you're exempt for the USAmateur by virtue of your great win in the Public Links. You did not have to go through qualifying, right?
LK: After my win I actually called the US AM the following day and said I am scheduled to play in my qualifier in a week and I said, you know I am guessing I am exempt, and they said yes you are exempt and we will just take your name off of the qualifying list and the lady was really nice and she said you are already set and no worries about showing up to your qualifying time. Which was a good feeling because a lot of guys over the summer really, even no matter how bad, or how poorly they were playing in the summer I think every college kid’s goal in the summer really is to at least to play in the US Amateur. So, it is always in the back of our minds; Am qualifying. But for me luckily I won’t have to qualify for a couple of years.
S1: Well for those that are not quite as tuned to it as you and I might be, the USAmateur is obviously the premier national championship for amateur golfers but in the exact same breath you would mention the USAmateur Public Links Championship which you won this year.
S1: The Public Links is kind of interesting because it was started specifically by the USGA to provide a championship for players that weren’t members of private golf clubs.
S1: And honestly I will tell you Lion; before this interview with you I had never before seen the questionnaire form that you have to fill out for the Public Links. And they really do ask all of those questions about whether you are a member at a private club.
LK: Yeah, and you know what is funny is that they even call to make sure, they even call a club just to make sure that you are really not a member. The first year I qualified to apply for the Public Links, I sent in my application, got all of my travel arrangements ready and then someone from the USGA called me up and said, “Lion unfortunately you are not eligible to play in the Public Links yet because you did not get rid of your [Florida golf club] membership ahead of time...” What I learned then was that you have to go a full year without being a golf club member. And I had gotten rid of my club membership in high school because I was going away for college and obviously it would be a waste of money to spend the monthly payment when I am not going to be there for the majority of the year. So my dad figured well if I am not going to be there, then why bother paying all of this money. So we got rid of it. But yeah, it had been less than a year before that application. I mean they have some really strict rules, you know, they said you will be eligible for the next year, but not that year. So you’re right; they are very strict about that.
S1: Yeah, it is a really interesting thing. I do not know if you were aware of it, but the origination of the United States Amateur Public Links came about way back I think in the 1920s as a result of a guy from Detroit, it was James Standish who was later a President of the USGA and a member at the Country Club of Detroit who had the idea to start the Amateur Public Links; it is his name that is on the trophy. You will have to look at your trophy to see if you see his name there.
LK: (Laughs.) Really, okay.
AP: Lion Kim, holding the Standish Trophy following his USAPL win.
S1: So there is a nice little Detroit connection there for the Amateur Public Links, he would sure be proud to see a guy from the University of Michigan win it...
Yeah, so as a result of your win at the Public Links you are going to Augusta.
LK: Ha, yes, that is the plan. I did not get my official invitation yet, but that is usually the tradition, I think when you do win the USGA, Public Links or US, you get invited to the Masters.
S1: I think you will get your invitation in about February.
LK: Haha. Okay.
S1: They will mail it to you and obviously your Masters Invitation is probably going to go into a frame and go into your office someday.
LK: Yeah, I will definitely frame it for sure.
S1: Yes. So, tell me have you ever been to Augusta?
LK: No I haven’t. I have never even been to a practice round, never been to anywhere close to Augusta, the City of Augusta, period. So I am really looking forward to it. I plan on playing a practice round maybe in October. I look forward to going down there.
S1: Well I think that they will welcome you and they will be very, very happy to have you down there and you will get to see the Crow’s Nest.
LK: Yeah, hopefully. I think all the Amateurs get to stay at the Crow’s Nest so yeah I am looking forward to that too.
S1: So tell me who is going to caddy for you?
LK: I am not really sure yet. I mean, I have been asking a lot of my friends who have played there in the past and to be honest with you I am getting two kinds of advice. Some say you should take your dad or friend or a coach. Some people say you need to take a local caddy. But right now, I am not sure yet. I have not really made my decision. Obviously I will make my decision leading up to it, but I have a lot of time to really think about it. So, I am not really sure yet to tell you the truth.
S1: Sure, well when you go down there for a practice round, you may get a chance to meet some of the local caddies and they will surely be interested in you.
LK: Yeah, right, hopefully.
S1: You cannot believe how hilly it is. You just never see it on television. It just doesn’t show up on a two-dimensional television screen. The whole thing is on a big side hill from the clubhouse at the top of the hill going all the way down to the 12th green and 13th tee, which is the lowest part of the property down there by the Rae’s Creek. But the extent and the severity of the hills are just absolutely amazing. You have no idea, no appreciation until you see it live. So, it will be fun to go down there and see it for the first time.
LK: Hmm, yeah, really looking forward to it, very excited to see it.
S1: Well when you won the Amateur Public Links the first thing everyone was trying to think of was whether you would be the first University of Michigan team player to play in the tournament and as far as I have been able to tell, you are the first U of M student that will ever be a Masters’ participant. But there have been some other Michigan guys that have played in it over the years. As far as I can tell the last Michigan alum who played in it was John Schroeder back in the 1970s and 80s. Before that you have to go back to the 1930s when Chuck Koscis and John Fisher played in it as amateurs then.
LK: Yep, definitely heard of Chuck Koscis for sure.
S1: Yeah, great iron player.
LK: Yes, that is what I heard.
S1: So, equipment-wise, when you go down to Augusta you are going to have to play by the new groove rules. Is that going to require you to change out anything in your bag?
LK: Ah yeah; probably my wedges. I know for sure my current wedges do not confirm with the new rule [The
S1: That is exactly right.
LK: Yeah, so I think that equipment-wise I think that my wedges will be the only clubs in my bag that I would have to switch out. But you know what, I think that I could get used to [tour-conforming wedges] very quickly. I have always practiced and played a couple rounds with the conforming groove and I did not really see a whole lot of difference. So, it should not be a whole lot of transition for me.
S1: Does Coach [Andrew] Sapp help you guys with equipment?
LK: Yes, Coach Sapp does and also fortunately for me, before I got to college I had a relationship with Titleist, so they have been helping me out since high school and even throughout right now. So, Titleist is the club that I usually play with. I found a new Taylor Made driver that was something different that I have played with for a couple months, but I am pretty sure that I will have Titleist driver in my bag leading up to the Masters.
If you get a chance to talk to talk [former Assistant] Coach Doug [Gross] he will tell you how many equipment changes I have gone through in my Michigan career. He thinks that I have probably gone through about 18 drivers since I have been in school. That is quite a bit.
S1: Sure. The new Titleist drivers are very cool; they are finally going to an adjustable hosel sleeve design which is going to make it a lot more fun, a lot easier to work with. I think the tendency with all of the Titleist drivers that you have been using in the past is that with the way that the hosel bore was set so deep -- that bore-through design -- it sort of ate up a lot of the tip on the shaft and kind of, kind of changed the way that shafts felt.
S1: Well, lets do the lightning round here. I am going to ask you just a few fun questions, give me your fast answer, okay?
S1: Alright; your favorite place on the Michigan Campus, other than the golf course?
LK: Ahhh, Academic Center.
S1: (Laughs.) That’s a good start, Lion.
S1: Your favorite place to play golf anywhere?
LK: Ahh, I would have to go with Cypress Point in California.
S1: Oh, really you played there?
LK: Yeah, Coach Sapp and one of the Michigan alums, Tony Ridder, [he of the Knight-Ridder newspaper family] he invited the team to play at Pebble Beach, Cypress Point, San Francisco Golf Club and Spyglass.
LK: Yeah, we got to play some really nice tracks while we were down there. Beautiful, beautiful scenery.
S1: That’s nice. San Francisco Golf Club is seriously nice, too.
LK: Yeah, very nice, right.
Tony Ridder (far left) with the Michigan Golf Team and Coach Sapp (far right) on the first tee at Pebble Beach Golf Links. (Lion Kim 3rd from right.)
S1: Okay, back to the lightning round. Your favorite website?
S1: What is on your Ipod?
LK: Korean music. The majority of them are all Korean music.
S1: That’s cool. What is the weirdest thing in your golf bag?
LK: So you warned me about this question, so I have been thinking about that, it is actually my baby oil --
S1: Oh, wait, I know that. That’s not so weird.
LK: (Laughter.) Haha, okay.
S1: I know that; you put baby oil on the finish of your Scotty Cameron putter. (Laughter.)
LK: Yes, correct, correct, it will rust.
S1: I have an old Scotty Cameron Oil Can Laguna, I have to put baby oil on that one as well.
LK: (Laughter.) Oh yeah, okay. Man you know a lot of stuff.
S1: (Laughter.) Well that is just the way that we take care of them, right?
LK: That’s right. (More laughs.)
S1: Well Lion Kim, thank you so much for taking time while you are in the middle of a competitive week. We are all wishing you luck in the Western Am, which is one of the great amateur tournaments in the Country and we wish you success in the US Amateur out there in Chambers Bay and we send you sincere congratulations and the pride of everybody at Michigan on winning the US Amateur Public Links and being Michigan’s National Champion in 2010.
LK: Thank you SO much. Thank you. It is very exciting and I feel very honored to always represent the block M everywhere I go, so it is an amazing feeling to be a National Champion of the year.
S1: Well, fantastic! Lion Kim Go Blue!
LK: Go Blue!
Lion Kim introduced at Michigan Stadium, September 18, 2010:
Eating Babies PK Sweeping Michigan State
I'm on a streak of "complicated solution to thing that may not be a problem" posts, but here's another one: the Big Ten is moving to a division-less basketball system in which you play four teams once and seven teams twice. This will prompt complaints about schedule balance similar to those launched when the Big Ten played only 16 conference games*. That setup saw four "one-plays" and six home-and-home teams and often saw one team competing for a league title have an obviously smoother road than their competitors; this is almost as bad. Now that Michigan basketball competing for a Big Ten title no longer seems completely laughable, this is IMPORTANT.
Let's not make these one-plays random. Let's divide the Big Ten into four groups based on record, like so:
#1: Ohio State, Wisconsin, Purdue
#2: Michigan, Illinois, Michigan State
#3: Penn State, Nebraska, Northwestern
#4: Minnesota, Iowa, Indiana
Now pick one team from each group you're not in. Those are three of your four one-offs. The fourth is a bit trickier: pair up two teams in each group; those are one-plays and done. The leftovers from 1 and 2 and 3 and 4 are also one-plays.
Basketball teams vary from year to year but there's a strong correlation from one year to the next when it comes to record; this system would significantly mitigate situations where one title contender has a big edge in schedule over another.
As a bonus, you could try to protect certain rivalries without having them explicitly guaranteed—pair Purdue with Iowa, not Indiana, and Michigan with Illinois, not Michigan State. I'm with everyone else who thinks not having protected rivalries is dumb. Here's a way to have almost-protected rivalries without doing too much to unbalance schedules.
*[Going to 18 and dumping two guarantee games was widely supposed to be an effort to get the BTN more and better content, and now they're breaking the deadlock in western hockey conferences and getting Michigan out of their chintzy we-can't-host-here-and-we-employ-Mark-Wilkins situation. As a bonus, the extraordinarily annoying Minnesota fans on USCHO are livid. Go BTN.]
Scheme installation: "Originally, I wanted to get all of it in. And I'm not going to say spring has been a success or not a success based on how many defensive calls we have in." They have scaled that back a bit to make sure the players fully grasp each scheme before moving on. "Their grasp of the defense probably hasn't been as fast as I thought it would be, but their want-to and their desire to do it has been really good." Even though installation is going slowly, "There is no disappointment whatsoever in me. I get excited and more enthused every day we meet." They get to mold the players into what they want to see, and the players are all excited to learn.
Talent: "I'm really encouraged by the attitude and the 'want-to' of the guys that we're working with." There hasn't been any moping or negative attitudes, guys come in wanting to learn. When the coaches make corrections, the players demonstrate those by the next day. The entire D has tons of work to do on basic techniques. "But I would have said that about any time I've had, unless they're perfect with their technique, I'm not satisfied." First step, punch, etc. - all the basic techniques need work.
Brady Hoke is hands-off in determining D schemes, though he's a defensive coach. He works with the SAM linebackers. "Its not Greg Mattison's defense. It's the Michigan defense." All defensive coaches can bring ideas. "It's the Michigan defense and we all have input."
It's great if the O score quickly: "I hope we score in 3 plays every time they're out there. Because our job is going to be to get off the field in three plays." As long as the offense isn't turning the ball over, they'll help the defense. The defense earns their own rest by getting off the field on third downs. "Your job is to do what you're supposed to do on third down to get off the field." They have started installing the nickel/3rd down package, because stopping third downs is so crucial.
Talked with Urban Meyer yesterday. They knew each other at Notre Dame, and Mattison was defensive coordinator at Florida for a while. "He's a great head coach and a great friend."
Michigan's coaches don't believe in supplements, but if players do what Wellman says, they'll grow. They want every player to get as big and strong as they can without sacrificing speed.
On wearing his Michigan 1997 Rose Bowl ring - "I use that as a reminder of how excited I am to be here." He made his son get it from the house in Mishawaka immediately when he took the Michigan job. "That was a special team and our goal is to get more of those."
Big Ten Divisions - "I love the conference playoff." It provides incentive to play for something on top of a bowl game. "That championship playoff game is bigger than any bowl will ever be." Aside from playing for a National Championship, it doesn't get any bigger than a conference Championship game. He learned that coaching in Atlanta with the Gators.
Denard - "If the darn kid would throw the ball rather than run all the time. Anyone can scramble (laughing)." He can make your defense pay if they aren't disciplined, no matter what D is called.
Standouts: "Mike Martin, obviously." He's already had success at Michigan, but he still comes to practice like a rookie hungry to learn. Craig Roh has shown some signs of wanting to improve and be more physical, Jibreel Black can be an explosive guy. "All the guys have had their good moments." They aren't executing perfectly, but all of them can realistically hear "you're still in the mix to be a good football player here. Now you've just gotta keep going."
Campbell is coming off the football better at times, but not always. Quinton Washington "has been neck and neck with [Will Campbell]... When you see Quinton Washington and Will Campbell battling for a position, that says 'great, because now we can roll them.' Because I believe in that, and I always have." Will Heininger has stepped up, and can rotate with Jake Ryan. Jibreel Black looks as good as Craig Roh on some days.
DL has to be a strength of the D "You can't have a great defense unless you have a really good defensive line." In the next 9 practices, they'll find out whether their defensive line can reach that standard. Going forward, they'll recruit great defensive linemen because the philosophy is to have good defensive line play.
Kenny Demens is out with shoulder injury. He's probably most experienced LB. He's looked good in no-contact drills, is picking up the scheme. Returning linebackers haven't played a lot of minutes in games, and definitely not in the new scheme.
A lot of the experienced guys have mostly blitzed, now they need to learn run/pass reads, take pass drops, know who to cover, etc. ILBs will always be interchangeable positions. WLB and MLB can always play both.
"Mike Jones has shown some great improvement from where he was Day 1." Isaiah Bell wasn't moving well on the first day, but now that he understands the D a bit better, he's able to move faster.
"The one guy probably that has improved the most and I have really become excited about him is Cam Gordon. I've really got high hopes for him." He's playing SAM backer, and has a chance to be good. "Has a tremendous attitude." He has safety athleticism, just need to get bigger. "Cam's a really long way away, but as a coach you see things in a young man you say 'this guy really could be one of those really good players some day.'" He's battling guys much bigger than him right now, and they want him to get as big as he can while still being able to run.
"I've been pleased for the most part with that group... I hate to name [individual] guys because you're leaving somebody out, but that position to me has done a pretty good job." There's more carry-over for those guys from the previous scheme. Carvin Jonson has has some good days. Thomas Gordon has done a good job. "The one thing [Thomas Gordon] has done is he's now working at the nickel position for us, which is a real credit to him, because it shows he can go from playing safety to all the adjustments that have to be done at that position."
On missing Woolfolk and Floyd - "It's difficult if we were playing a game today, but I tend to look at it as a positive." Those guys have already shown they can play, and younger players get to develop, and improve depth.
Right now, the safeties have to be able to pay both spots.
Marvin Robinson has had class during one of the in-week practice days. He's starting to understand the defense and make plays. "He's got the range, and he's got the ability to run, and he hits." Now he just need to learn the schemes.
Courtney Avery - "He's another one of those secondary guys that I think is really improved. He's working extremely hard with Kurt [Mallory]."
One of the main points of optimism around these parts when it comes to the basketball team is its youth. Young players are usually not so efficient, usually not so safe with the ball, and teams featuring swaths of them usually don't play very well unless they're about to get some Final Fours vacated up in here.
Earlier this year I made the case that when people point to the ill-fated '09 team as a reason to rein your excitement in they weren't necessarily wrong, but they weren't necessarily right, either. Citing a Big Ten Geeks study that showed going from freshman to sophomore results in more improvement than going from a sophomore to senior, I pointed out how absurdly young Michigan was in not only minutes but in usage:
In 2009 freshmen played 31% of Michigan's minutes. This year it's 44%.
What's more, the second and third highest usage guys on the team are freshmen who play at least 60% of minutes. In 2009 Douglass and Novak had low usage and Laval Lucas-Perry was a mid-year transfer who only played 33.% of Michigan's minutes. The percentage of possessions used by freshman this year is vastly higher. Two years ago: 26%. Now: 45%.
Now that the season's over we've got a bit of an issue, though: Tim Hardaway did not have an average freshman year, nor did Jordan Morgan. We can expect Generic Freshman to improve a lot, but what about Incredible Freshman? The threat of regression to the mean looms.
The guys at Big Ten Geeks were kind enough to provide the raw data that they used for that study and I've set about whittling it down. My first thought was that I would chart freshman and sophomore ORtgs and throw together a polynomial trendline that would probably show guys who start off with a bang like Hardaway and Morgan improve a lot less than guys like Adreian Payne, the hyped MSU freshman who struggled to an 89.5 ORtg—horrible—in about nine minutes a game this year, because of regression and getting better quickly etc etc. That didn't come off because the data is a giant hairball.
Next idea: let's whittle down the data set to freshmen with profiles similar to Michigan's freshman trio and see what happened as sophomores. The Geeks study looks at minutes, ORtg, shot%, eFG%, and TO% from players who entered BCS conferences from 2000 to 2005. Only conference games are considered, which is fine for the Geeks' refinement of a vast lump of data but maybe not so good when we're looking at individual players on which we don't have a ton of info. I'm using the entire freshman seasons for Hardaway, Morgan, and Smotrycz; I'll point out conference numbers for each.
Tim Hardaway, Jr.
These guys* are in Hardaway's range: I probably don't have to tell you about Butler, Sweetney, or Pittsnogle. Darius Rice actually sat out his freshman year as a non-qualifier; he was Miami's star player for the entirety of his career. Rickert was kind of a headcase, entered the NBA draft after his sophomore year, got punched by Kevin Garnett, and became an Australasian National Basketball League All Star. James had an explosive freshman year but turned into Bracey Wright afterwards and eventually didn't get drafted. Bruce is from Australia (seriously) and his career, like his toilet, went in reverse: he was awesome as a freshman but his minutes, points, an efficiency steadily declined over the course of his career, or at least would have if he didn't shoot 33% on twos as a sophomore despite being a 40% three point shooter. What happened? Well, Baylor almost got the death penalty because their coach covered up a murder. Baylor's nonconference schedule was cancelled. So… yeah. That's kind of an outlier. Let's drop him. What happened to the guys in the range as sophomores? Here's a table. I bolded improvements. On the whole they shot more but less effectively, turned it over slightly less, and played slightly more. Individually, James collapsed and Rickert turned into Dion Harris (apparently except punchable). Rice ended up treading water. Pittsnogle was a heroic, heroic shooter to keep up his 53.6(!) eFG rate while launching almost a third(!) of WVU shots when he was on the floor but didn't even start. Someone should ask Beilein how he could have played a guy who shot 50% from 2 and 43% from 3 less than 20 minutes a game in 2005-06. Butler and Sweetney took major steps forward, especially Butler. Butler was off to the lottery; Sweetney stuck around, then got drafted in the top ten. Tim Hardaway's freshman season was ridiculous, and as a bouncy 6'5" wing forward his closet comparable on the list is Caron Butler. Unfortunately, Michigan can't expect him to do what Butler did—that leap in production is Morris-like and obviously an outlier—and his cohort ran in place as sophomores, losing efficiency but taking more of the load. His late-season improvement suggests he's already better than his full year numbers indicate, though, and while he can't add many minutes he can maintain his shooting over the course of the season and become more of an assist guy as he develops a drive to the bucket. *[Ed: The dataset included Carl Landry, a JUCO transfer, and former UGA guard Ezra Williams. I dropped Landry for obvious reasons and after looking Williams up on the internet I think there's an error somewhere. ESPN shows no games for him; Statsheet shows a 42% FG shooter who shot 30% from 3 and had 2 assists per game, so his shiny ORtg seems improbable. The dataset also shows Williams dropping ORtg at the same time Statsheet says he went from a 30% three point shooter to 40% while nearly doubling his attempts. Not sure if that's a data error or just an amazingly strong effect from dropping nonconference games; either way I think his individual case is not representative. He was a good, not great, college player FWIW.] Morgan doesn't narrow down the dataset quite as extensively but he's not far off. His parameters: >50% minutes, ORtg between 106 and 112, Shot% between 18 and 22. Results: a list of 13 players featuring Dee Brown, Devin Harris, Rajon Rondo, Courtney Sims, Josh Shipp, Ryan Gomes, and some guy named Williams who played for UNC I'm pretty sure is named Jawad but can't be certain. The average player on the list was awesome in college. Morgan crushed all of them in eFG% save Colorado C, McDonald's All-American, and eventual first round pick David Harrison. This is a tribute to Beilein, Morgan, and especially Darius Morris. We've got some more names here so let's narrow it down to forward/center types. We'll add in an average for all 13 players as well. Those guys: You know all about Sims and his infuriating career. As a sophomore his TO% shot from a bad 17.5 to an impossible 25.5; he only played half the available minutes each year. He'd end up randomly dominating four games every year, then disappearing for long stretches. Harrison's massive eFG% regression was all but inevitable after he put up a 66.1 as a freshman. He bounced back to near-freshman numbers the next year and ended up a late first round pick. Bass blew up, left for the draft, and went at the top of the second round. Gomes got better, then just kept getting better. After going 0 for 3 from three in his first two years at Providence he was a 38% three-point shooter as a senior. He was drafted at the tail end of the second round but stuck in the NBA; he's now a Clipper. He's averaged about 12 points a game the last few years. These are all very good college players (and Courtney Sims), but I think we all know a significant chunk of Morgan's production would not exist if he wasn't running the pick and roll with Darius Morris. His cohort ran in place and the posts actually took a small step back. Harrison's eFG% change is a bit ominous, since he's the only player on the list with a number anywhere near Morgan's insane 63%. Smotrycz drops to a 96 ORtg—one spot worse than Douglass—in conference play. I thought Smotrycz's relatively pedestrian numbers would bring a flood of candidates but when you look for guys with between 35 and 55 percent of minutes, an ORtg between 96 and 102, and a shot percentage between 21 and 25 you only get eight players. There are ten that popped up but I chucked out a couple of JUCO transfers for obvious reasons. One, former FSU guard Monte Cummings, was in the army, served a tour of duty in Bosnia, and then hit FSU at 24. He's now in the Finnish league but got in some trouble for weed. He has a more interesting life than you do. Anway, this is a less notable group of names but the good news is they collectively blew up as sophomores: (Only Ray and Gee were above 100 as freshmen here, so the numbers are biased towards the lower end of the range—even if you take Smotrycz's conference numbers this is a pretty fair comparison.) So that's a bunch of guys who got insanely better, Gee, and one guy (Inman) who took to Facebook to accuse his former head coach of "cook[ing] a steak of turmoil" for ruining his senior year, seemingly because he can't play basketball. It's probably not realistic to expect Smotrycz to see all of the vast improvement his cohort did because I'm betting all of the players above played on teams that lost players in the offseason. If Darius Morris does what it seems the world expects him to that won't be the case at Michigan and Smotrycz isn't suddenly going to be logging 85% of Michigan's minutes. However, there's no reason he can't be significantly more efficient even if he's coming off the bench. Caron Butler, Jordan Morgan, and Josh Childress The freshmen == improvement meme gets a little sketchy once you get into the rarefied air Morgan and Hardaway reside in. Both of their cohorts essentially didn't improve at all. They didn't get worse—increased usage is naturally paired with decreased ORtg—but each leap into the stratosphere was coupled with one guy treading water and one guy regressing badly. Michigan fans who watched the two guys play all year know who is who in that situation. Morgan is probably going to tread water. His offense is dependent on other players, his eFG% already massive, and his athleticism is just okay. He's likely to regress to the mean in his shooting and while he'll cut down on the turnovers* and up other bits of his game all that adds up to pretty much the same guy. His improvement will have to come on the defensive end (read: STOP FOULING). Hardaway, on the other hand, exists in even more rarefied air if you look at the tougher conference schedule. His three point shooting streak extends over the second, tougher half of an entire frickin' year and he's got the physical ability to dominate his position, unlike Morgan. Also his dad is Tim Hardaway. As for Smotrycz, everyone's giving him an owlish look and hoping he spends the offseason sleeping in the gym so he can be the guy he was supposed to be after he blew up on the AAU circuit two summers ago. His cohort saw three people turn into All-American-type players, three people get a lot better and two guys regress. Split the difference and Michigan should be able to expect efficiency out of him similar to what they got out of Hardaway this year, albeit at considerably reduced usage. Josh Childress is a bit much, but of Michigan's three freshmen he's the most likely to look like a different player next year. *[Of course Courtney Sims is the lone significant exception to this rule. Argh.]
just the posts
These guys* are in Hardaway's range:
I probably don't have to tell you about Butler, Sweetney, or Pittsnogle. Darius Rice actually sat out his freshman year as a non-qualifier; he was Miami's star player for the entirety of his career. Rickert was kind of a headcase, entered the NBA draft after his sophomore year, got punched by Kevin Garnett, and became an Australasian National Basketball League All Star. James had an explosive freshman year but turned into Bracey Wright afterwards and eventually didn't get drafted.
Bruce is from Australia (seriously) and his career, like his toilet, went in reverse: he was awesome as a freshman but his minutes, points, an efficiency steadily declined over the course of his career, or at least would have if he didn't shoot 33% on twos as a sophomore despite being a 40% three point shooter. What happened? Well, Baylor almost got the death penalty because their coach covered up a murder. Baylor's nonconference schedule was cancelled. So… yeah. That's kind of an outlier. Let's drop him.
What happened to the guys in the range as sophomores? Here's a table. I bolded improvements.
On the whole they shot more but less effectively, turned it over slightly less, and played slightly more. Individually, James collapsed and Rickert turned into Dion Harris (apparently except punchable). Rice ended up treading water.
Pittsnogle was a heroic, heroic shooter to keep up his 53.6(!) eFG rate while launching almost a third(!) of WVU shots when he was on the floor but didn't even start. Someone should ask Beilein how he could have played a guy who shot 50% from 2 and 43% from 3 less than 20 minutes a game in 2005-06. Butler and Sweetney took major steps forward, especially Butler. Butler was off to the lottery; Sweetney stuck around, then got drafted in the top ten.
Tim Hardaway's freshman season was ridiculous, and as a bouncy 6'5" wing forward his closet comparable on the list is Caron Butler. Unfortunately, Michigan can't expect him to do what Butler did—that leap in production is Morris-like and obviously an outlier—and his cohort ran in place as sophomores, losing efficiency but taking more of the load. His late-season improvement suggests he's already better than his full year numbers indicate, though, and while he can't add many minutes he can maintain his shooting over the course of the season and become more of an assist guy as he develops a drive to the bucket.
*[Ed: The dataset included Carl Landry, a JUCO transfer, and former UGA guard Ezra Williams. I dropped Landry for obvious reasons and after looking Williams up on the internet I think there's an error somewhere. ESPN shows no games for him; Statsheet shows a 42% FG shooter who shot 30% from 3 and had 2 assists per game, so his shiny ORtg seems improbable. The dataset also shows Williams dropping ORtg at the same time Statsheet says he went from a 30% three point shooter to 40% while nearly doubling his attempts. Not sure if that's a data error or just an amazingly strong effect from dropping nonconference games; either way I think his individual case is not representative. He was a good, not great, college player FWIW.]
Morgan doesn't narrow down the dataset quite as extensively but he's not far off. His parameters: >50% minutes, ORtg between 106 and 112, Shot% between 18 and 22. Results: a list of 13 players featuring Dee Brown, Devin Harris, Rajon Rondo, Courtney Sims, Josh Shipp, Ryan Gomes, and some guy named Williams who played for UNC I'm pretty sure is named Jawad but can't be certain. The average player on the list was awesome in college. Morgan crushed all of them in eFG% save Colorado C, McDonald's All-American, and eventual first round pick David Harrison. This is a tribute to Beilein, Morgan, and especially Darius Morris.
We've got some more names here so let's narrow it down to forward/center types. We'll add in an average for all 13 players as well. Those guys:
You know all about Sims and his infuriating career. As a sophomore his TO% shot from a bad 17.5 to an impossible 25.5; he only played half the available minutes each year. He'd end up randomly dominating four games every year, then disappearing for long stretches.
Harrison's massive eFG% regression was all but inevitable after he put up a 66.1 as a freshman. He bounced back to near-freshman numbers the next year and ended up a late first round pick. Bass blew up, left for the draft, and went at the top of the second round. Gomes got better, then just kept getting better. After going 0 for 3 from three in his first two years at Providence he was a 38% three-point shooter as a senior. He was drafted at the tail end of the second round but stuck in the NBA; he's now a Clipper. He's averaged about 12 points a game the last few years.
These are all very good college players (and Courtney Sims), but I think we all know a significant chunk of Morgan's production would not exist if he wasn't running the pick and roll with Darius Morris. His cohort ran in place and the posts actually took a small step back. Harrison's eFG% change is a bit ominous, since he's the only player on the list with a number anywhere near Morgan's insane 63%.
Smotrycz drops to a 96 ORtg—one spot worse than Douglass—in conference play.
I thought Smotrycz's relatively pedestrian numbers would bring a flood of candidates but when you look for guys with between 35 and 55 percent of minutes, an ORtg between 96 and 102, and a shot percentage between 21 and 25 you only get eight players.
There are ten that popped up but I chucked out a couple of JUCO transfers for obvious reasons. One, former FSU guard Monte Cummings, was in the army, served a tour of duty in Bosnia, and then hit FSU at 24. He's now in the Finnish league but got in some trouble for weed. He has a more interesting life than you do.
Anway, this is a less notable group of names but the good news is they collectively blew up as sophomores:
(Only Ray and Gee were above 100 as freshmen here, so the numbers are biased towards the lower end of the range—even if you take Smotrycz's conference numbers this is a pretty fair comparison.)
So that's a bunch of guys who got insanely better, Gee, and one guy (Inman) who took to Facebook to accuse his former head coach of "cook[ing] a steak of turmoil" for ruining his senior year, seemingly because he can't play basketball.
It's probably not realistic to expect Smotrycz to see all of the vast improvement his cohort did because I'm betting all of the players above played on teams that lost players in the offseason. If Darius Morris does what it seems the world expects him to that won't be the case at Michigan and Smotrycz isn't suddenly going to be logging 85% of Michigan's minutes. However, there's no reason he can't be significantly more efficient even if he's coming off the bench.
Caron Butler, Jordan Morgan, and Josh Childress
The freshmen == improvement meme gets a little sketchy once you get into the rarefied air Morgan and Hardaway reside in. Both of their cohorts essentially didn't improve at all. They didn't get worse—increased usage is naturally paired with decreased ORtg—but each leap into the stratosphere was coupled with one guy treading water and one guy regressing badly.
Michigan fans who watched the two guys play all year know who is who in that situation. Morgan is probably going to tread water. His offense is dependent on other players, his eFG% already massive, and his athleticism is just okay. He's likely to regress to the mean in his shooting and while he'll cut down on the turnovers* and up other bits of his game all that adds up to pretty much the same guy. His improvement will have to come on the defensive end (read: STOP FOULING).
Hardaway, on the other hand, exists in even more rarefied air if you look at the tougher conference schedule. His three point shooting streak extends over the second, tougher half of an entire frickin' year and he's got the physical ability to dominate his position, unlike Morgan. Also his dad is Tim Hardaway.
As for Smotrycz, everyone's giving him an owlish look and hoping he spends the offseason sleeping in the gym so he can be the guy he was supposed to be after he blew up on the AAU circuit two summers ago. His cohort saw three people turn into All-American-type players, three people get a lot better and two guys regress. Split the difference and Michigan should be able to expect efficiency out of him similar to what they got out of Hardaway this year, albeit at considerably reduced usage. Josh Childress is a bit much, but of Michigan's three freshmen he's the most likely to look like a different player next year.
*[Of course Courtney Sims is the lone significant exception to this rule. Argh.]
Ben Braden and Caleb Stacey Go Blue
MI OL Ben Braden kicked off the Wolverines' 2012 recruiting class with a bang. Tom talked to his high school coach, Ralph Munger, about the commitment:
[I]n the last couple weeks he was just really excited about Michigan. After today I could see why, he really feels comfortable there. He connected, he looked at the educational opportunities, the football opportunities, and he felt that was the place he could call home.
Although there wasn't a lot of info on him for the Hello post, that has changed in a hurry. First, an e-mail I received from another coach in West Michigan:
I can tell you that Braden is every bit of 6'6"--he is massive. Ralph Munger absolutely loves the kid. Watching him in one-on-one drills, I would say that he is still a little raw in terms of pass blocking; however, as a run blocker, he is dominating.
As a wing-t offensive lineman, it's understandable that he hasn't put in a ton of work pass blocking. That is borne out by the video that Scout posted upon his commitment. Allen Trieu also says that Braden is probably near the 3/4-star borderline early in the process. With a strong senior season (without Cincinnati-bound Parker Ehinger on the other bookend), it's possible he'll move up the rankings. Allen's (free) write-up has some details on Braden's abilities. Ben's also a former hockey player(!). Local fluff.
The night after Braden's commitment, OH OL Caleb Stacey made it a quick #2 by pulling the trigger on a trip to Ann Arbor. Tom talked with his position coach about what type of player Michigan is getting:
Caleb's strengths: 1) Football Knowledge/Coachability
2) His weight room strength/Physical play
3) He excels against great players
4) His footwork
5) His ability to pull
6) Pass Pro
Needs to Work On:
1) Second Level
2) Pad Level
There's a lot more detail on all of those points, so click through for the full details. Mike Dyer covers Stacey's commitment in the Cincinnati area, confirming that Caleb is a future guard at Michigan, though (as is the case with many great high school linemen) he's a left tackle for Oak Hills. Caleb wants to study pre-med, and eventually become an anesthesiologist. Slacker.
Weekend visitor MI TE Ron Thompson told recruiting sites that he may not wait much longer to make a decision ($, info in header). If he picks a schools soon, chances are it's Michigan.
MI DT Matt Godin was on campus yet again over the weekend, and is "about to get serious" ($, info in header). Could he be getting close to a Michigan commitment as well?
OH LB Kaleb Ringer still holds Michigan #1 ($, info in header), and he not only visited Ann Arbor Saturday, but planned to visit practice yesterday - though I didn't see him there in the limited media availability. He plans to announce a commitment on April 15th. [Ed: He's also taken to hashtagging Ann Arbor as "#MyFutureHome" on twitter, so... yeah, that's probably a good sign.]
Tom spoke with OH LB Joe Bolden following his Thursday visit to Ann Arbor. Unsurprisingly, he was impressed with Michigan's coaching staff and facilities, so where do the Wolverines stand in his recruitment?
I was definitely impressed by this visit. Michigan is definitely up there on the list overall. I haven't narrowed anything down yet, I just know that Michigan is up there.
Mike Dyer drops some MSM fluff on Bolden just in time for his Michigan visit:
"Colleges are always looking for sure things like Joe Bolden to recruit," Porter said. "A leader on the field and a great student in the classroom really removes any doubt of what kind of person you are getting. Bolden can take over games on defense because he can get all over the field to make plays." ...
"He has such a passion for the game," [Colerain Athletic Director] Dan said of his son. "He is the kind of kid on a Saturday night when other kids are trying to find out what's going on - him and his friends are getting pizza and watching a string of college football games. He loves the game that much."
Sounds like not only a high-character guy, but somebody who's passionate about the game, as well.
MNOL Jonah Pirsig is "feeling good about Michigan" after visiting last week ($, info in header).
MI LB Royce Jenkins-Stone was on campus over the weekend.
Another recent visitor, IN DT Sheldon Day was the subject of Sam Webb'smost recent recruiting column:
"I think he is one of the most explosive guys you'll see," said [Warren Central coach John] Hart. "That's what everybody says -- he explodes off the football. I'm not saying he is Warren Sapp, but he brings a lot of same characteristics to the high school game as Warren Sapp. Lots of times he is unblockable. His motor never stops."
Scout analyst Allen Trieu praises his athleticism, and says Sheldon will likely start out as a 4-star prospect. Day doesn't have a decision timeframe, but says when he does make a choice, Academics will be a key consideration.
OH DE Chris Wormley enjoyed himself at Michigan over the weekend. He plans to decide during the summer or after his high school season.
MI DE Mario Ojemudia and TE Devin Funchess - the less-heralded members of the Farmington Hill Harrison trio - visited Ann Arbor over the weekend and Ojemudia gave some lukewarm quotes to Tom. He plans to decide over the summer.
NY CB Wayne Morgan picked up a Michigan offer on his weekend visit.
Tom got a visit reaction from KY QB Zeke Pike. He wants to make his choice in the next couple months, and says Michigan will be in contention until the end.
Recruiting fluff on OH DE Ifeadi Odenigbo includes his current favorites:
“I can’t really say a have a top five because I am just really blessed and I never thought I would be in this situation,” the junior claimed. “Right now I am looking at Northwestern, Ohio State, Stanford and Notre Dame, but it is going to change when I start visiting schools like Michigan, Michigan State and Illinois.”
No word on when a potentially eye-opening visit to Ann Arbor might take place.
CA DT Ellis McCarthy has a Michigan offer ($).
AZ ON Andrus Peat mentions Michigan and says he doesn't have any favorites.
Michigan offered PA RB Drew Harris ($, info in header).
OH RB Bri'Onte Dunn may consider Michigan - even though he's currently committed to the Buckeyes ($, info in header).
Michigan has offered TX FB EJ Fatu.
Penn State is "making progress" with PA DE Noah Spence. GA WR JaQuay Williams holds a Michigan offer, but is not mentioning the Wolverines. IN QB Aloyis Gray grew up a Michigan fan. OH TE AJ Williams likes Brady Hoke ($, info in header). Keep an eye on MI OL Robert Riche ($, info in header). IL OL Jordan Diamond will visit Ann Arbor for the spring game,as will MI CB Terry Richardson.
WI RB Vonte Jackson picked Wisconsin.
IN OL Sid Anvoots seemed unlikely to get a Michigan offer, so it's no big loss that he has committed to Louisville.
GA DT Jafar Mann committed to Florida.
MA LB Camren Williams committed to Penn State. This was a little surprising, because he had just visited Michigan and was talking about how he couldn't wait to get back.
Working Way, Way Ahead
Those who were concerned about Michigan's slow start to the 2012 recruiting class will undoubtedly be pleased to hear that Michigan has already sent out an offer to 2012 MI QB Shane Morris ($, info in header). Morris is expected to be a top QB in the class.
Cass Tech DT David Dawson is already taking visits to Michigan ($, info in header).
Recruiting guru Jim Stefani breaks down some Michigan targets from the next couple classes, including Braylon Edwards's younger brother and the sons of a few past Michigan greats.
You'll know this by the third word but this is a guest post from Johnny of RBUAS, who just popped up and was like "I've got this thing." Here it is.
He came from the internet, just like the rest of them. He was in California in barren gymnasiums, making no-look passes from half court with the audacity of someone who thought he’d be the best one there back when the bus was still idling in the parking lot waiting to depart, even though sometimes he wasn’t.
He was at Michigan last year when it was bad and was supposed to be good and when it wasn’t his team because it wasn’t really anyone’s team. And this year when he stewarded a sinking raft that became a submarine lurking just below the water’s surface.
And he was there in Charlotte with eight seconds left, clapping for the ball with enough intensity to turn carbon to diamonds between his hands. Not out of routine or even because it could be no one else but because he knew exactly where he was going and that he needed to get on with it. He needed only the ball and a chance and pursued it with the sort of maniacal focus that ends with you pulling your head inside your shirt completely when you miss because it is dark in there and calm, or at least calmer than the disorienting, vertiginous return to a reality you thought you had transcended in those brilliant moments.
It was a miss that leaves with it a haunting memory; seconds that play on a loop until you fall asleep and then you see them in your dreams. But sometimes they manifest themselves in the type of theatrical vindication accompanied by a montage and a soaring, orchestral soundtrack or at least a bodacious new haircut. I think, at least.
It's technically over but let's call this an interlude.
I think it was sometime in 2006 but all that matters is that it was years after everything happened that they said didn’t happen. Chris Webber was on The Best Damn Sports Show talking to John Salley and some men with spectacularly gelled hair who had never played basketball professionally. And then Jalen Rose appeared on screen via satellite.
Jalen and Chris existed then as they do now: in an impenetrable nebula with other wealthy people who build bowling alleys in Welsh castles and fill the moats with virgin blood and ride around on hover boards sipping Pterodactyl bone marrow straight from fossils. They were exactly where they told each other they would be.
They were there and I knew that they were there because I could see their bodies, and yet they were still mostly back in Jalen’s Dodge Shadow in jackets that were too big; half baffled that they’d made it, half amused that it had been so easy.
Chris said these things:
“Jay had old, beat up shoes, with holes in ‘em, that he would sit around cleaning with a toothbrush and white shoe polish.”
“You’d get a pizza card every day for five days … but me and Jalen would eat the same pizza, save (the cards), so the next week we could get like 15 pizzas.”
“When we were down to UCLA by 20 at halftime, Jalen came in, and Juwan said something, I might have cried, coach Fisher ain’t say nothing, and we walked right back out on the court.”
“Jalen had a green Dodge Shadow that had no back seat because all it had was speakers in the back, that one of his boys hooked up that probably was going to catch the whole car on fire, and all we would listen to was Scarface.”
“It was the best time of my life.”
When they were in that car they were in orbit, in a way, twisting the world in their palms like a tiny stone they’d found floating on their way to another galaxy. They were there and I think, sort of, they always have been.
Jalen told Bill Simmons, “When media members came into the locker room and they hear that kind of music, they’re looking at us like we’re from another planet.”
In some ways they were. Grotesquely fascinating and, in their most thrilling moments, frighteningly unstoppable. Five kids synchronize to create a monster the country struggles to interpret, let alone fathom. They can only stand and watch and listen to the noise and feel the ground shake beneath them. They were a marauding death squad worthy of a theme song and an action figure, shooting apples off each other’s heads once the curtain was drawn.
And so you can pull the banners down; burn them in an open field while orphans sing hymns around the flame. It happened. Something was there and it sort of isn’t anymore but mostly it is, like getting a tattoo of her name removed after she left you and then really left you. Bubbly, mangled flesh where a life once was. It’s gone except that you never forget the times you opened the door and she was there, just standing there, looking at you, waiting for you to let her in.
Brian’s frustration with Webber is not at all irrational. But I never knew them as something that grew, or simply emerged, and then broke everyone’s heart. I know them only filtered through the tumult and deification. Part of why I’m so capable of appreciating the Fab Five is specifically because I’m so detached. I know them through VHS recordings, retrospectives, and ultimately a reputation not so much for capturing the zeitgeist but for chewing it up and spitting it out unmistakably altered. They existed, somehow, and so that is enough for me. They are a geological force, a museum exhibit, an alien cadaver cryogenically frozen in a remote military base to be studied and dissected. It won nothing except everything that actually matters.
It is like someone saying, “So tell me what it was like when you got electricity.” This is what I know because it has always been. Long ago it was dark when the sun went down and now I plug two metal prongs into a wall and can watch infomercials on a colorful rectangle. Only rather than a lab coat they were wearing black socks and an air of magnetic irreverence. I know only what they became.
This is not that team; it is not any team and I have no idea what it will be and for that reason I love it. It is not peculiar or compellingly flawed or even one of Beilein’s self-effacing, limitation embracing West Virginia teams. It is just a thing that is constantly turning into another thing and we see it happen in Jon Horford moving through the lane in what seems like a single step and in laser-precise backdoor bounce passes. In Tim Hardaway Jr. launching three pointers undaunted by distance or obstruction, knowing only of a force that overcomes his entire body and having no desire to suppress it, and a confidence that builds like a tidal wave in the distance and leaves in its wake snapped umbrellas and a 900-win coach’s emasculated smile after barely managing to make it out of there alive.
It is a team at once starkly pragmatic and gleefully ambitious, a kid posing in the mirror in its dad’s fatigues from Vietnam when no one’s home. It is proud and quietly defiant; it is something where things shouldn’t be. If the Fab Five was a seismic force capable of shifting the earth on its axis, this is a plant growing from the fractured pavement.
They came from the internet, obscure aside from their lineage and some of them, for a time, with hair like members of 60’s British rock bands. They are here now and they will be here and I am watching it happen.
Johnny used to write stuff like this at RBUAS before everything became too depressing. He met Lloyd Carr once because Carr liked what he wrote.
Photo from under-construction Crisler Arena. I already covered yesterday's most pressing issue, the potential early NBA entry of Darius Morris. The rest of John Beilein's post-season talk follows. If you're interested in the video, UMHoops has you covered.
Though the expectations for the 2009-10 team didn't pay off, this team has handled some increased expectations, even just over the course of the season. "We focus on just us getting better," rather than worry about expectations. "It's the ones that sort of sit back and rest on their laurels that won't get better."
On the drop-off in 2009-10: "I think most of us were part of that. Whether you're an incoming recruit - they were a part of that - and they know stories about it. So we don't have to talk too much about it, and I don't think we should beat them over the head about it."
Talkin' 'Bout Practice?
The team gets 8 hours of instruction time once the season ends. Yesterday, they did the fourth hour of practice, and the last one in Crisler Arena before the facility is closed until next fall. During those 8 hours, a lot of the time is spent showing the players the offseason practice routine the coaches want them to practice.
The coaches give players a written "shell" practice plan, and also instructional DVDs that demonstrate some of the drills. In terms of individual development, the next 5 months "are an important time for us. What our guys are going to do when the coaches aren't watching anymore." Stu went to a private facility last offseason to work on his game, and the coaches encourage the other players to get private instruction.
"We've got a bunch of self-starters, and you just never know how much they're going to improve. I think you saw that with Darius over the summer." It's hard to pinpoint any individual player to make a big step forward in the offseason. It all depends on how hard they work on their own. "I think when Tim Hardaway Jr. goes home and sees Tim Hardaway Sr., they'd be in the gym within hours, because Tim Sr. was in the gym for hours."
"What we're really working on right now is making sure that we have the option to just not go to four guards and play that way." It sounds like they're trying to develop more 4/5 players so that Novak is more free to play the 2 instead of guarding the likes of Bill Cole from Illinois. [Ed: or Trevor Mbakwe.]
"The competition level is gonna be very high, because we're going from 10 scholarship players to could-be 13 scholarship players."
Teams like Butler are good to observe playing in the Final Four, because they show how far a good team concept can take you. "But we're still the University of Michigan, and we love what the large University in a BCS conference can also bring to our recruiting."
There are no specific team goals for next year. Just like every year, they start out wanting to be in the top 6 in the conference (since those are usually the tournament teams), and then to win the Big Ten Championship once you reach that level.
The coaching staff is fielding calls from a lot of interested recruits, with the success on the court. "We feel positive momentum." The Player Development Center and Crisler renovations (pictured at right) are going to be a boost for recruiting, but more importantly for the team's practice. "We can practice any time that we want to, they can practice any time that they want to that fits their schedule in their free time." The new facility also allows the coaches to drill more concepts at once, and film everything, etc.
[Note: Max Bielfeldt wasn't mentioned by Beilein, I assume because they hadn't received his official LOI by yesterday's conference]
The incoming players are given a similar voluntary practice plan to the returning players. "We can only give them... 'these are some of the ways to improve as a player.'" Both Burke and Brundidge are going to enroll in summer term, and be here in June.
Trey Burke - "He truly is a point guard, he truly runs his team. He really has great pace to him, and his quickness is exceptional." He will add quickness to the roster - which Beilein talked about lacking several times this year.
Carlton Brundidge is also a quick player, and excels in ball-screen situations. He played well for a great high school program, "but I'm really looking forward to putting him in the Michigan program as well."
Darius had to play a lot of minutes this year, and adding these two guys will give the team more options to give him some rest. Zack and Stu will also get an opportunity to play a little less and get some rest. They want freshmen who want to compete right away for playing time.
Next Year's Schedule
Playing in the Maui Invitational, they'll have the opportunity to play three high-level opponents, and the ACC/Big Ten Challenge should give a solid opportunity for a home game (though there's a chance they may have to switch and play away).
"Now we're looking at several opportunities to do what we've done in the past with the Kansas, with the UConns, with the UCLAs." There's also an away game at Oakland already planned.
They're trying to line up the guarantee games right now, and trying to fill in to get a good strength of schedule. "I think we have understood what the committee is looking for."
This following item doesn't come from Beilein's conference, but it also relates to next year's schedule: The new 12-team Big Ten will feature seven 2-plays and four 1-plays, with the 1-plays from last year (for Michigan, that's Illinois and Purdue) guaranteed to be 2-plays this upcoming season. There are no protected rivalries, so there's a chance Michigan and Michigan State only play once.