the season has truly begun now
1. ESTABLISH TERRY FOSTER AS UNRELIABLE.
lament: the Detroit News has fancifully stuffed its entire archives behind a paywall. Anything over seven days old is only available if you decide to pay for it, and the day I pay to access a Terry Foster column is the day Terry Foster is right about anything.
Terry Foster does not care if the things he says are true or even remotely supported by the facts. I don't know if he just makes things up wholesale -- such an act requires creativity -- or just steals them from 16 year old punks posting on a Pistons board. This post from a couple years ago contains a classic example of Foster at his nadir. In brief, it discusses this nugget from Foster's short-lived blogspot enterprise:
Rumors are circulating that the Pistons might break up their starting five by trading Rasheed Wallace to the Chicago Bulls for center Tyson Chandler and forward Andres Nocioni.
This "rumor" circulated primarily on a couple internet message boards because some 16-year old kid threw it up there:
Jayborne23 posted on 8/23/2005 9:53:28 PM
HOLY S***, WAS I RIGHT?
Is Sheed for Chandler and Nocioni a real deal? Cause I sincerely made that s*** up. That hoopsworld article mentioned it. WHAT THE F***?
The whole totally awesome and enlightening series of events was chronicled in the aforementioned post.
B. CURRENT EVENTS
For a more recent example, here are these statements from Foster's Detroit News "blog," which isn't behind a fanciful paywall:
I've got bad news. As it stands now Amaker will return as Michigan coach for the 2007-08 season no matter what. That is the word from the inside. ...
And before you fire arrows at Athletic Director Bill Martin, save it. It is not his call. This is from school president Mary Sue Coleman who loves the Amaker family and what it represents. ...
If he stays it will show once again Michigan is not serious about basketball. [note this for later]
I was listening to one of the talk shows on the way over and they were talking about this being a must-win game for Michigan to make the tournament and for Tommy Amaker to keep his job as head coach.
I'm telling you that this guy is not going to lose his job. It is something I've been screaming from the roof tops for weeks. He is here for at least one more season although I admit he will be on probation next season when he returns
Remember that history has proven that Foster's "insiders" are sometimes kids in My Chemical Romance t-shirts in Wixom. On March 13th, he reiterates:
I believe most people in the Michigan Athletic Department believe Amaker is a bad fit here and would like to move in a different direction. But it is not their decision. I also believe Athletic Director Bill Martin would like to find a new coach.
The problem is Coleman is not convinced, even though folks are trying to convince her Amaker is not the guy. Based on that I believe Amaker is returning next season.
The next post on the situation is an artfully phrased lie about how much Michigan is willing to pay its next basketball coach, citing Amaker's base salary as a mere 165,000 when anyone who spends as much time around sports as he does knows that most contracts are structured like that and a simple check would have revealed that Amaker was making 700k plus a deferred compensation fund of 900k. Note also the baseless assertion the the "university lied to him" about a practice facility:
If youve read this blog you know Ive always believed that Amaker would keep his job. I base that primarily on the fact that Michigan President Mary Sue Coleman does not want to fire Amaker. She believes he is what is right about college basketball. He handles himself well. He cleaned up some messes that Michigan created and he has not made a public stink that the university lied to him.
Here is the issue. If you fire Amaker who can Michigan get who is better? Now there are a number of high profile coaches who are better. But here is the problem. Michigan does not want to pay much more than the $165,000 base salary Amaker is making. So tell me who the Wolverines can lure for that kind of money? Ive always believed Amaker should be fired. But I sat and thought about this. Until Michigan is willing to do the things it takes to become a winner, what is the point?
Amaker's fired the next damn day, but does this dissuade Foster from his crackpot theories about the power struggle going on within the department? No. He also throws out three names for the coaching search, only of whom (Todd Lickliter) was a reasonable candidate. The others are Tom Crean, who showed up in Foster's Sunday column (dissected here) as an example of how Michigan wasn't going to get a coach because they only want to pay 200k and Crean cost 1.5 million -- Beilein's contract is for a whopping 200k less than that -- and Bruce Pearl, neither of whom was ever mentioned again by anyone remotely connected to the search:
President Mary Sue Coleman did not want to fire Tommy Amaker as basketball coach. Athletic Director Bill Martin did. But Martin gave Coleman an ultimatum. Martin told Coleman that if she would not allow him to fire Amaker that he wanted to walk. Coleman felt pressure from Martin, but in the past week she began feeling pressure from the public too and it caused her to buckle and go against her initial instinct.
Michigan also wants to talk to Tennessee Coach Bruce Pearl and Marquette's Tom Crean. The problem is they are out of Michigan's price range. To get these men Michigan must make a huge commitment on salary and promise them a practice facility and upgrades to Crisler. They made the same promise to Amaker. But he did not get it in writing and the school never delivered.
For the record, Bill Martin on the coaching search:
Q: What this your call?
Martin: It was entirely my call.
Q: Did other people at the university offer input?
Martin: Only if I sought input and I sought very little.
Is it possible Martin is lying? Yes, though I think he'd have little reason to. Far more probable is that Foster ran across an extremely convincing high school freshman from Warren.
2. THE NIMROD AND THE DAMAGE DONE
A. Establish the source of the racially-tinged accusation that Beilein will not recruit inner city kids.
On March 28th, a full week after Chris Balas at the Wolverine -- who kicked everyone's ass on the search by the way, the Ann Arbor News was the only group even close -- had disclosed Michigan's pursuit of Beilein to Rivals subscribers and via diffusion the entire Michigan internet, Foster finally wakes up. Even though he's breaking nothing, he manages to puff himself up like he's the real inside guy:
I'm telling you WVA coach John Beilein is the guy University of Michigan Athletic Director Bill Martin has on the top of his list. Beilein is a Michigan man. More importantly Beilein is a Martin man. This is exactly the type of coach Martin wants. He is a good on court coach, has a nice personality and will embrace our community which is very important. He'd promote the program and make sure Michigan's block M is out in the community way more than it is now in high school basketball gyms.
Here is what Martin is banking on. He is banking on Beilein's X's and O's being far superior than those of fired coach Tommy Amaker although his recruiting won't measure up. He is sacrificing players for strategy. It might work in Michigan will be a threat more days than not. I am not quite sure it makes the Wolverines perennial threats to win the Big Ten. However, that is not the issue here. The main issue is simply to make Michigan a threat and that is what Beilein can do.
A whopping three days later he's got his pet theory about Detroit and Flint.
One is the $2.5 million buy out West Virginia insists on taking and the second is Beilein won't be interested in recruiting Detroit and Flint heavily. He wants his own players and is willing to get lesser and coach them up. That means the big-name talent for the most part will continue to go elsewhere.
Please note the distinction between "he won't be able to" and "won't be interested in" recruiting Detroit and Flint. He repeats this assertion on his radio show over and over again, once claiming that one of his assistants told one of "his guys" -- probably the My Chemical Romance one, that guy knows his shit --at the Final Four. This leaks into a sort of conventional stupidity amongst the media. People like Pat Caputo, who are very, very stupid and unattractive and hate Michigan, lap it up. Media members who don't push it to the limit bring it up during his first press conference in order for him to dispel it, thus lending the accusation a patina of credibility when he has to address it like this is a real concern and not the cracked-out speculation of an idiot looking for attention.
And for the record, Beilein on the specific charge:
Condescending laughter and then "that's ludicrous." Because it is ludicrous... but somehow because a guy who has proven time and again he has no idea what he's talking about brings it up on the media platform Satan -- it can only be Satan -- has seen fit to offer him, he's forced to answer these ridiculous questions. And like it or not, every time Beilein misses out on a kid from Detroit or Flint or Saginaw (and he's going to miss on basically all of them next year since he probably only has one or two scholarships available) this refrain will pop up. It's a meme now and it has a life of its own that will serve to damage Michigan basketball until Beilein proves himself beyond the shadow of a doubt. It's a drag on the program that the media is so outright negative about it.
B. WE DON'T HAVE TO TAKE IT
It would be one thing if this was a supportable claim, but it is not. Foster's pattern is to grandly state that the "word from the inside" is one thing and then have that word turn out to be totally wrong. He has a track record of throwing things out without support that turn out to be wrong. Most likely he is just making stuff up or pulling rumors from the internet or contacting his dubious sources after they get out of trigonometry. In any case, the is a harm to the Michigan program and should not be tolerated by the university.
C. BRIEF CLARIFICATION.
If Foster was an actual journalist who dug up some NCAA violations that harmed the Michigan program and Michigan retaliated, that would be wrong. Uncovering the truth, even hard truths, is what journalism is supposed to be. But Foster is the farthest thing from a journalist. He uncovers nothing, supports nothing, and provides nothing other than stupidity. This isn't about journalism. It's about assholes.
3. ENCOURAGE ATHLETIC DEPARTMENT TO SHOW SOME COJONES
A major problem with Michigan's relationship with the Detroit media can be traced back to Bo and his Fort Knox philosophy about access. Michigan is widely regarded as one of the toughest athletic departments anywhere to get access to -- poor Johnny at RBUAS couldn't even get a Hart interview for an upcoming Michigan annual I'm editing -- and so there's little harm in ripping away at it, because it's not like they're going to give you less access. There has to be some carrot here -- more open practices, more player access -- in exchange for the stick: refusing any and all media credentials to any outlet that gives Foster so much as a dime. The Michigan athletic department should not stand for irresponsible, negative rumormongers who seek to profit by damaging its programs. (I, on the other hand, am a rumormonger who seeks only to huggle the Michigan athletic department in all its huggly snuggly places, and I don't get any access anyway.)
At the same time, they should create some compelling opportunities for access at other places: The Wolverine, the Free Press, etc., and then just wait. Is one man who can barely write the language worth it? Probably not. There was a time when Michigan needed the local media for attention as much as the local media needed them, but that time has passed. Then when Foster is gone, sculpt a bust of his head and stick it on a pike in front of Schembechler Hall.
Update 4/5: Linked to article on PA WR Vaughn Carraway. Black Shoe Diaries now has a recruiting board of his own; it thinks we lead for him. Bumped MI WR Fred Smith to green. Linked to article on PA LB Shane Hayle; not in top six but he hasn't really narrowed it. Added CA QB Dayne Crist. Downgraded WA DE Kavario Middleton to red; nasty Scout article. Added TX DE Kapron Lewis-Moore, MI TE Tyler Hoover, OH TE Kevin Koger, AZ RB Covaughn Deboskie. Removed MN LB Sam Maresh (Minnesota), PA RB Cameron Saddler (lack of mutual interest).
Editorial Opinion: Vaughn Carraway had an interesting offer list until recently: Michigan and UConn. Penn State joining that group makes it less weird and provides Michigan with some actual competition for Carraway's services. We must like him quite a bit to send him an offer with a number of other guys saying all the right things about Michigan, Texas' Darryl Stonum most prominently.
Carson Butler's dismissal makes tight end a high priority for this class; new to the board are a couple prospects who seem like good bets to end up at Michigan when it's all said and done. Hoover's an instate guy from Novi who has Michigan, Michigan State, and Northwestern-Duke-Vandy type offers; Koger's from Ohio, yes, but Toledo, Ohio, where Michigan fans are common. OSU and Michigan have offered.
Shayne Hale looks like another linebacker who's looking elsewhere and Kavario Middleton is a Washington defensive end who was tenuously listing us but now looks like he's going to stay on the West Coast. I haven't dropped them off the board yet but sooner or later they figure to.
...unlike Michigan's other internet offerings, M's Quicktime stream works. John Beilein's first PC as Michigan head coach is ongoing. I'll liveblog it.
Update: Impressed with the caliber of kid already on the team -- good sign for his offense getting ramped up to speed?
Has called everyone on the team to date, couldn't get ahold of Ron Coleman because he was STUDYING HIS ASS OFF. Got in contact with Manny's mom, Kelvin's dad, left a couple messages for Legion's mom.
II: "I love Princeton, it's a great university... [but] that's like saying you understand Japanese if you understand Chinese."
"There's been years we threw it inside and threw it inside because that was the best way to win. There's been years we jack up threes because it's the best way to win. When you come from my background, you have to be versatile."
III: "We want a family situation, unselfish players who love to play together." Wants a team integrated with the student body, more praise for Tommy's ability to get really nice guys.
How important is recruiting the state of Michigan? "It's going to be huge. ... You'll find I'm very hands-on with that. I want kids to grow up here in the state of Michigan dreaming of wearing the Maize and Blue." Blah MSU... "We'll be recruiting Michigan very hard as long as I'm the coach."
Has recruited a number of Michigan kids over the course of his career.
PSL? Has recruited there at Cansisus but hasn't had any recent ties in the state.
Facilities? Beautiful locker room, beautiful film room... wouldn't want to walk in to Crisler and try to win. Maize Rage noted as a distinctive feature.
Practice facility? General mutterings about the future, didn't offer anything concrete.
[I hate the way these questions go. Where is the "do you plan to continue with the 1-3-1 if you get the sort of athletes who can play tough man-to-man?"]
More facilities follow up, no concrete plan.
Some media twat asks about "two big shadows": Michigan football and MSU basketball. Beilein dismisses media twat, notes national championship, academics, recruiting grounds, praises Izzo and the football program, etc.
Recruiting questions? "I recruit great players. ...This is a hotbed for recruiting, I don't expect it to be a problem."
Conversations with recruits? Dodges it, basically. Manny Harris is one of ten(!) kids; Beilein one of nine(!!!).
Timeline for a tournament appearance or Big Ten championship? Beilein declines to hang himself on his first day on the job, thank you very much.
Buyout? "The University of Michigan has nothing to do with my buyout. My lawyers and WVU are working on it." !!!
IV: Not talking about the system yet, just doing shooting and ballhandling and passing. Only has four hours with these guys before the summer. Has to have self-motivated teams. Threatens that guys who slack off will become "very familiar with the track." Says will teach kids to fish.
Bringing his assistants? Maybe maybe not. Up in the air. Seems like he's leaving the door open for a Detroit recruiting guy.
Last stop? "I hope so... after what we've just gone through, I hope so."
V: WTF? Some guy tries to spin his postseason success at WVA as "pressure to make the national tournament." Beilein says "with how much I'm getting paid, there should be pressure." Nice. Says he's confident and isn't bothered by pressure after 32 years coaching. Thought it was 29?
Next question along the same lines, answer another re-iteration of Michigan's awesomeness. Again brings up recruiting Michigan.
Says Martin waited until after the season ended to contact him, good.
[OMG stop asking about "buzz" and garbage like that. Ask about how he gets guys so wide open from three. Ask about the 1-3-1. Ask about something not retarded.]
Does some media sucking-up after a kind of an irrelevant question. Good? Kowtow? Dunno.
Part of his job to go out and get the money, Lebowski, for a practice facility. "It's not just about what out of bounds play we're going to run." (Although when it is? Wide open, baby!)
What was your career goal, your life goal? "To have a team in the top 20 traditionally, pretty much what we've done in the past years at West Virginia. I've coached my son, I've been to the elite eight... you think 'is this it'? ...And I've never been so charged up."
"In '75 I thought to myself 'I can't do this for a living'. I was physically sick at a JV basketball game."
Talks about his "two guard" set where he puts out two point guards. "Necessity is the mother of invention ... it's an old saying, but it's the truth."
Were you bothered by this process? The whole thing is very difficult. Surprisingly heartfelt response. Then he gets off a Dana Altman zinger: "I will not be returning to Morgantown this afternoon and saying 'I'm going back.'"
I'll keep my streak of headlines without a Beilein pun intact in honor of Big Ten Wonk, which shuffles off this mortal coil today.
New Michigan basketball coach John Beilein will be paid $1.3 million per season, as part of a six-year contract he signed with the university today, according to a source with direct knowledge of the deal.
The salary has a $200,000 annual base, with $1.1 million in other compensation from various sources, including speaking engagements and television and radio deals. There are a series of bonuses for advancing to the NCAA Tournament, including $150,000 for winning the national championship.
The contract doesn't include any language about Beilein's $2.5 million buyout with West Virginia and the source said Michigan won't be responsible for the sum.
When Beilein retires in ten years after fourteen national titles, Terry Foster will write a column citing Beilein's $200k base and claim that Michigan won't pay a competitive salary for their new coach. God willing, he will show it to the editor of paper at the junior high school he's teaching gym at and will be laughed out of the office.
The last paragraph is interesting. Is Beilein really paying the entire buyout himself? That would make his contract worth less than one million per year over its duration and would mean that Beilein is taking far less money at Michigan than he was offered at West Virginia. Some WVA fans are claiming that very thing. Maybe a donor stepped forth to wave it away.
I called him "Corky" once, and even he realizes that Terry Foster has Down's Syndrome. Jim Carty calls out Foster's idiocy, though he doesn't drop his name:
At some point during Wednesday's press conference at the University of Michigan, new basketball coach John Beilein is going to be asked whether he'll shy away from recruiting Detroit and Flint.
It's a silly question, of course.
Seriously, what basketball coach wouldn't recruit talent-rich areas in their own backyard?
I have no idea. Also... why is Beilein coming to Michigan? West Virginia made him an offer of nearly $1.4 million earlier this week. If it was about the money he'd still be in West Virginia. Beilein wants to win a national championship and he thinks he's got a better chance of that at Michigan. Why? Recruiting. And Michigan's main recruiting advantage is Detroit.
Carty's also got a killer quote from Dave Telep:
You'd be hard-pressed to find anyone in America who sees more basketball, or knows more about college basketball recruiting, than Telep. The North Carolina-based Scout.com recruiting analyst has seen Legion play dozens, if not hundreds of times. He knows Beilein's system and recruiting tendencies as well.
So, is the sharp-shooting Legion a match with Beilein's system?
"Are you kidding me?" Telep said via phone Tuesday, laughing. "It would be difficult to draw up a system that's going to get Alex Legion more great looks at the basket. John Beilein will be better for him than he could ever fathom."
Open looks! Think of the looks! Rumors are flying about Legion formally requesting to be let out of his LOI, but the Free Press talked to him and it appears he'll meet with Beilein before deciding:
But at least one of Michigan's incoming players is doing research on Beilein.
Recruit Alex Legion said he asked around about Beilein's offense at the Roundball Classic in Chicago this morning. Legion said he was encouraged by what he heard. But he said he still wants to meet the coach â€” eventually â€” and make a decision personally, not based on what he's told by others.
I want Dave Telep in that room.
Dance. Maize 'n' Brew has a hefty post of its own worth checking out. One note:
On the other side of the coin was the enthusiatic response of Reed "Thank God It's Not Dusty" Baker. (this kid needs a nickname, please help me.)
Reed Baker has a nickname. It is "Rainmaker." As in "Reed Baker, Rainmaker."
New Michigan head coach John Beilein is known primarily for one thing: the 1-3-1 zone. And three pointers. New Michigan head coach John Beilein is known primarily for two things: the 1-3-1 zone and three-pointers. And backdoor layups. I'll start again.
New Michigan head coach John Beilein is known primarily for three things: the 1-3-1 zone, three pointers, backdoor layups and an almost fanatical devotion to the colors blue and yellow. Amongst the many things new Michigan head coach John Beilein is known for are the 1-3-1 zone, three-pointers, backdoor layups, and an almost fanatical devotion to the colors blue and yellow.
This is where the youtube link goes.
Anyway. Beilein's bizarre 1-3-1 zone is virtually unheard of in big time college basketball. It's a favorite pregame topic of coaches and reporters in the same way Purdue's pass-wacky spread offense was before every team in the country started running it. And it's coming to a team near you.
As you might expect, it deploys one player at the top of the key, three players lined up across the court a few feet closer to the basket, and one unfortunate soul who is tasked with "running the baseline," a hellish duty that requires a quick, hopefully lanky defender to sprint from one end of the floor to the other whenever the ball is reversed (which is frequently against the sort of trapping 1-3-1 Beilein operates), closing out potential three-point shooters in the corner and hoping the defense recovers smartly enough to help him when he funnels potential drivers away from the baseline. The center (#5) plays in the middle of the floor, attempting to cut off passing lanes and harass entry feeds. West Virginia actually tends to employ a guard at the 4-spot. The guy up top is another guard and then the #2 and #3 guys are wings, small forwards, or general what-have you. (West Virginia, either by choice or necessity, plays small at virtually all times.) The guy on the baseline is guy is the linchpin of the defense and if you've only got one you'd better hope he's Rip Hamilton. As Ken Lindsay laconically notes:
Even if you are fortunate enough to have such a player possessing these qualities, the defense will become more ineffective as the game progresses. Weariness takes its toll.
West Virginia's version is trap-heavy. In a 1-3-1, the defense usually rotates to face the ballhandlers whenever he moves away from the dead center of the floor on the perimeter, but from appearances in the NIT final this often results in a point guard sitting approximately next to #2 on the first figure with no fewer than three defenders poised to collapse on him should he try to drive the ball to the hoop. C Jamie Smalligan would come out to the edge of the paint as two guards shaded themselves outside, inviting the ballhandler to drive himself into trouble. I've seen versions of this diagram with the baseline guy shaded to the strongside, shaded to the weakside, and directly under the hoop. IIRC WVU usually opts for the post-packing strongside, which makes entry passes improbable. The Mountaineers will rely on the size of the center and the speed of the four guy to cover the inevitable skip passes. A step late and it's an easy basket. A team that's not well coached will get obliterated.
The trapping forces a ton of turnovers. This year opponents turned it over on nearly 24% of their possessions, good for 39th overall. The year before they were 26th with a 24.5% opponent turnover rate. For unfortunate comparison, this is like playing Michigan every game of the year. In fact, West Virginia opponents are even more generous than Courtney Sims, Jerrett Smith and the rest of the no-I-insist-you-take-it All Stars. I believe this has a hidden effect on WVU's always-awesome offensive numbers, as the frequent turnovers lead to fast break opportunities. I wonder if anyone's looked at offensive efficiency in the immediate aftermath of an on-court turnover (WVU gets a lot of these; the past three years they've been top fifty in steal percentage); I bet they would find it has a measurable salutary effect.
The traditional way to beat a zone -- rain threes on it -- appears less effective against the 1-3-1 than most. West Virginia was seventh(!) in 3FG defense this year at 30.3%, and opponents didn't get off an inordinate number of them: 33.7% of opponent shots, good for a middle-of-the-pack 151st. This isn't nearly as consistent as the turnovers, though. Last year's Sweet 16 outfit was still above average at 34%, but the two years before that were ugly. However, in no year did teams get off an inordinate number of threes. WVU has hovered around the national average.
And the 1-3-1 has an eerily Bo Ryan-esque ability to avoid giving up free throws:
|Opp FT Rate||27.8||31.9||20.8||28.8|
Over the last four years the worst Beilein team has been distinctly above average in this category.
The 1-3-1 is a high-risk, high-reward defense. The trapping can lead to turnovers and fast break opportunities, but an effectively broken trap usually leads to a wide open shot or a layup. Though the three-point field goal percentage is ambiguous leaning-to-good, the two-point percentage is... uh... not:
I have no idea what the deal was with 2004, but whatever it was it did not carry over to the last three years. When opponents get off a two-point shot, it's usually a good one.
And when they manage to miss one of their two pointers they're fairly likely to get the ball back anyway. Anyone who caught themself begging Brent Petway to box out just once in his damn life this year is advised to avert their eyes:
|Opp Off Reb%||36.4||34.4||36.9||35.2|
Holy hopping hasenfeffer! That is Scottie Pippen-level ugly. Dear, departed Wonk would no doubt term it Edvard Munch-level horrific. If those numbers were a daytime talk show host, they'd be Rosie O'Donnell. If they were a hairstyle, they'd be Gene Keady's combover. If they were a student body, they'd be Notre Dame. I think what we're trying to say here is that the defensive rebounding numbers put up by Beilein's West Virginia teams are not very good. Yes. I think t
hat's the point.
It works okay once you adjust for the strength of WVU's opponents:
|Adj Defensive Eff||84th||86th||53rd||56th|
Those numbers are consistently good but not great without considering the hidden effect of all those turnovers.
I'm of the opinion that Beilein prefers the 1-3-1 zone because it covers up for the athletic deficiencies he's been forced to operate with his entire career. There's only one guy who really benefits from being a gazelle-type athlete, and that's the guy charged with the Sisyphean task of running the baseline. Everyone else has to be smart, aware, and well-coached. It also helps him run a small lineup on the other end of the floor without getting hammered for it on defense, as the zone defends the post mostly with quick hands, quick doubles, and the elimination of entry angles. That should help cover up for Michigan's decidedly lacking post depth next year. We have Udoh, Sims, and Rutgers transfer Zach Gibson. All are legitimate posts but spindly and lacking power. They won't have to do a ton of one-on-one post defending, so any potential foul trouble should be mitigated.
The best news about the guard positions is that the 1-3-1 should minimize the shortcomings of Jerrett Smith and Reed Baker, allowing their three-point marksmanship to hit the floor without Michigan turning into a layup line on the other end... or at least no more of a layup line than the 1-3-1 usually is. Assuming Kelvin Grady matriculates, his quick feet and hands would be welcome in the #1 role, as the ability to spring quick traps and double the post is a key part of the defense.
Unfortunately, the guy who seems best suited to play Pheidippides along the baseline is Jevohn Shepard and, unless Tommy Amaker is an even worse coach than everyone in the world thinks, he's not a fit for the offense since he can't shoot or handle or pass. But boy can he run! If Beilein can get him to function in the offense he's the best option, but that's doubtful. Other options: Manny Harris is 6'5" and supposedly cat quick. Kendrick Price may get unearthed from the end of the bench in the new offensive system and he's a SF/PF tweener who may have the combination of size and speed necessary to play the role.
NOTES FROM ELSEWHERE
There's a manual on the 1-3-1 trap from FIBA detailing the Italian women's team and their deployment of the scheme. Lots of graphs and tips and such, plus awesome broken English:
1. The most important advantage is that this defense is unique in "influencing" the movement of the offense, forcing them to play an unconventional offense, a style of play that is risky and moves them out of their usual offensive spots.
2. It can quickly change the direction of the game and offer decisive breaks for the defense.
3. It's a spectacular defense, that creates excitement with its aggressive traps.
4. It "pumps up" the defense, when wellmade stops and steals occur and "shakes" the defense, when players are lazy and not playing aggressive basketball.
5. It creates great problems for the offense to move the ball, forcing them to use lob and bounce passes, slow passes that can easily be stolen.
6. It creates extreme pressure on the offensive perimeter players.
7. It will often create a "paralyzing" effect on the opponents, causing them to make bad passes and force their shots.
This is a very risky defense (wide spaces to cover, traps), and a little mistake will allow the offense to easily beat you. There is no balance when blocking-out on defense and on the help-side rebounding. It requires a lot of energy, so this zone cannot be used throughout the game. In addition, it's a very technical defense and requires players with specific skills in
order to play it well.
â–¼ This defense requires players, who are able to sacrifice themselves and, from my experience, I find that women will often guarantee that this happens most of the time.
â–¼ Players must totally believe that what they are doing is the best for the team. A coach must be able to sell this defense to the team in order to make it work.
â–¼ Players have to be quick and have excellent athletics skills.
â–¼ Very important aspect: players must be skilled in aggressive man-to-man defensive tactics.
â–¼ You will need months of practice and plenty of patience to build this defense so it can be regularly applied.
(the quick and excellent athletics skills seems a strange assertion. Beilein's deployed it for 29 years with non-quick, non-athletic players .)
SportsGamer.com shows you how to set up the 1-3-1 in College Hoops 2k7, showing some action in a West Virginia-Pitt game. check out the video embedded along the right side of the screen.
A bunch of zone-beating plays on this page; play #4 specifically attacks the 1-3-1 for an alley-oop.
A former college player talks about attacking various zones:
The weak spots in the 1-3-1 are the baseline and right under basket. I will often tell coaches that once a 1-3-1 or a 1-2-2 is recognized to bring up a second player to the top. This creates the first match-up problem. One defender can't guard two players. In any good defense the wings will bluff and recover until the other defenders get in their designated spots. That's why coaches will continually yell to move the ball against a zone. The defense is shifting so much that if you move the ball quick enough a gap will open up and an easy shot will follow. Nothing kills on offense more than standing still. Add to that, standing still with the ball.
Fascinating article from American Basketball Quarterly, a coaches' trade rag, all about beating the 1-3-1. Terry Waldrop of Texas Weslyean:
"We've been real fortunate the past two years â€“ we've had real good shooters so we haven't had to deal with the 1-3-1 a lot," Waldrop said. "Three years ago people would zone us when we got off the bus. The real key is reversing the basketball pretty quickly and hitting those gaps with penetration. Then we're looking to shoot a 3-pointer out of it. As soon as we see a 1-3-1, we're looking for the 3. I'd like to shoot a 3 or a lay-up every time against it. What hurts you against the 1-3-1 is the 18-foot 2-pointer.
"You've got to be able to attack it and you better be able to shoot it. It's the worst defense in the world when it comes to making you complacent. You'll just kind of sit there with the ball over your head waiting for something to happen if you're not careful so you have to be in an attack mode."
There's a lot more. Highly recommended. Note this passage at the beginning of the article:
Still, there is no perfect defensive scheme. Every defense has a weakness (although that's often difficult to tell when West Virginia is playing its vaunted 1-3-1 zone) and the key is to find it, prepare for it and manipulate it to your team's advantage.
It's vaunted! We're going to have something vaunted other than an ability to dribble off our own feet!
I'll get to the bad right away: I am an idiot and accidentally deleted the NIT championship game because Comcast's DVR box has crappy, laggy software and no undelete feature. So instead of a cool post breaking down some of the unique features of John Beilein's teams here's this picture that adequately sums up the situation:
If anyone happens to know of or is capable of creating some internets West Virginia basketball, please point it out to me. I managed to track down a torrent of their NIT game against NC State (why? I don't know) but it remains stuck at a woeful 0% downloaded after most of a day.
The good news: as noted on mgolicious, everyone on the current roster has expressed a desire to stay, including Udoh and Sims. If you need more evidence that Terry Foster is Towelie the sportswriter...
...there it is. The recruits are still up in the air, as you might expect before they've had an opportunity to talk with Beilein. Before any candidates were even identified both Harris and Grady had claimed they weren't going anywhere. Legion made a similar statement but there were significant rumblings that he was looking to bolt. Since Beilein's name has come up, Grady's father has made a lot of outlandish statements about the Beilein offense and his ability to recruit, etc etc etc., and has expressed doubts about Kelvin's fit. Legion has been circumspect, while Harris hasn't wavered from his stance: probably going to Michigan but waiting to see about the coach. I think we keep Harris and Grady (I doubt Grady's going to walk into at least 20 minutes a game at another major-conference school and they're a Michigan family); Legion is 50-50.
You may have noticed this website is closely tracking the words out of a particular West Virginia scout board and the statements of a couple of insiders who proved their mettle in the recent Rich Rodriguez chaos. One of these insiders, EERhole, has just posted this:
West Virginia University has formally begun the search for a new basketball coach. Beilein has accepted Michigan's offer. I see no need in posting further details. The writing has been on the wall for a year.
Internet rumors? Perhaps. But given the oracular respect given EERhole based on his blow-by-blow accounts of the Rodriguez thing -- during which he was an outpost of positive news during a mass-media reported Alabama departure -- at the board, I think it's exceedingly likely that he is for real and that this is also. It's tough to reassemble the wavepattern months after the fact, but to have built that sort of trust he would have had to be on the inside during a time in which anyone faking it would have been swinging the other way. He's got the goods. IMO this is 95% of official and worth reporting as such.
I'm off to break down the NIT championship game.
UPDATE: Dude, that post totally went Keyser Soze on me: poof, like that it's gone. I was fortunate enough to still have it up and have archived it for posterity if anyone would like to see the original. I don't know if it was the site mods, who are liable to bring the hammer down when something like that leaks, or a voluntary withdrawal from EERhole. I do know that the other guy they rely on for information has added a couple notes:
Don't think the final salary offer from UM really matters so long as the buyout is taken care of... what I've been saying for a while. Sad really. Hope it changes.
And then what seems like an equivalent of the Soze post:
It's officially unofficial...
It is unofficial that it is official.
Whichever you prefer but I would with door #2 at this point.
I still think the announcement is almost certainly a formality at this point but you have all the information and can judge for yourself.
UPDATE II: EERhole popped up in another thread which came from a guy with one post purporting to have some inside info from the governor. The original guy said "Beilein rumor FWIW"; EER replied "not a rumor," so we can safely say that it was the site mods doing the nuking and so we're back to where we were before Keyser Soze. This concludes your skullduggery for the evening.
UPDATE III: Michigan boards lighting up with separate confirmation. We've got our guy. (Note link is to the premium Rivals board, where non-subscribers can read headers but not content. I think given the context the content is obvious.)
My antennae are scouring every available surface; nothing yet. A helpful commenter points out Wojo's Detroit News version of last night's Freep story with an interesting addendum/correction:
U-M athletic director Bill Martin has targeted Beilein all along, and according to two sources, Beilein, 54, appears very interested in the job.
Last night that read "appears willing to take the job," so the News has backed off a phrasing that implied he was going to take the offer. The Ann Arbor News has a blog entry from last night in which Martin plays dumb:
"I have not reached agreement with any candidate on a contract at this time," Martin wrote.
Martin dismissed published reports Beilein was in Ann Arbor Sunday.
"On the record, not true," Martin wrote.
Other than that, the only thing I've got is another Scout board post from EERhole (who was cited as a credible source of information during the Rodriguez chaos by 'Eer doubters and was referenced in a post Saturday):
I didn't post over the weekend because I just didn't have anything to add. Maybe I am coming down with an EERinfection.
What we do know -- as others have reported -- is that the offer was made. The belief is that he is/was in Michigan and we should (stress should) know something by noon today. Michigan would like to have a coach before the Final Four is over. None of this is anything that hasn't been reported, but I can confirm the same.
As of right now, it does not look good (neither did the Coach RR situation at this point in the process). I got my Q-tips out and am cleaning my EERhole so maybe I can hear better today.
(I am enjoying the ear metaphor this guy's got going on. An insider with style. ) Noon would be in, like, 50 minutes so maybe he's off on that. "It does not look good" looks good to me, though. Will update as information comes in.
Hasta luego SeÃ±or Beilein. Gracias por todo y buena suerte en Michigan!
This is Spanish -- it seems all these WVU insiders have schticks -- that translates as "Goodbye Mr. Beilein. Thanks for all and good luck at Michigan. SHIT!" for anyone who took some sort of commie language in high school. You have to respect the insider of information of anyone who can drop alt-164 (seriously: try it).
The result of this is the same sort of thing that you get on the Michigan boards when a confirmed insider drops some bad news. He has a follow-up:
This time it is 100% educated hunch. Just feel like the stars are aligned for his departure. Certainly hope not but I have a terrible feeling. We will not do better than John Beilein.
All of the info giving me the feeling comes from credible sources but nothing specific in the last day or so.
....so MOTS, basically. WVU guys are freaked and getting towards resigned but no one wants to come out and be definite. I think we're good. Again, FWIW, but long experience in these situations has taught me that the wise guys on the internet are usually ahead of the curve. I'm a bit leery that the guys who have posts I can read are providing dark, vague mutterings instead of something concrete -- even SeÃ±or Mexman says his projection is an "educated hunch" -- but that's all we have to go on now.
Update II: Fox Sports chimes in:
West Virginia coach John Beilein is close to leaving for Ann Arbor. Beilein, 54, who is coming off an NIT title earlier this week, has been offered the Michigan job and the two sides are close to reaching an agreement, according to sources close to the situation.
The holdup that may remain is a hefty $2.5 million buyout of his contract.
Can't see the buyout -- which has been a known fact since Beilein's name came up for the first time -- being a major hurdle at this point. If they're negotiating over who's paying what, what they're really negotiating is salary, and it's unlikely Michigan will have the balls to balk over a couple hundred K what with a decade of futility and Tubby Smith and the lack of a plan B.
Update III: I hope this EERHole guy knows what he's talking about. The latest:
Sorry for not posting play by play like I did during the CRR situation. Early this afternoon, the Beilein camp has "gone dark" and is not returning calls from members of the WVU athletic department. It appears he is not interested in negotiating with WVU - despite the fact that he was made a nice offer several days ago. As we have not heard from Beilein, I cannot say whether he will stay or go - but it does not look good.
There are other indications that WVU has gone as far as they are willing to with their contract offer and -- since that offer was made several days ago and the reports about the Michigan offer came afterwards -- his unresponsiveness to WVU AD calls is a great sign. Reading between the lines it appears that Beilein and Martin are very close to an agreement and that West Virginia is being shut out of the process, unable to make a counter-offer. I think the chances Beilein is announced as Michigan's coach in the next couple days are creeping above 75%.
Disclaimer: obviously this is all speculation from an outsider, so take it FWIW.
ATLANTA -- West Virginia coach John Beilein has an offer from Michigan athletic director Bill Martin to become Michigan's next men's basketball coach, according to three people close to the situation.
He is expected to make a decision in the next 24 hours.
And now we wait. This is just like Antietam.