chance of bowl: 13.6%
Apparently everyone has beaten me to the punch: Yes, that was a a foul. It was a fouly foul made out of 100% foul. Kids love it because it comes with 100% of the recommended daily allowance of foul.
I can see the argument being thrown about by some Piston fans that the game was being refereed like a cage match and that in the waning moments of a playoff game it would require a chainsaw and some bloody stumps to get a call, but... man, that's a foul. Maybe you don't call the friendly, constant bumping from behind. You definitely don't call the arm-straight up stuff at right, but in between Rip brought his arm down and raked Lebron's elbow as he went up to shoot. That is not permitted. Of course, this is the NBA and so "not permitted" is wildly inconsistent unless you wander a few feet from the bench when a Spur does something dastardly, but... foul!
(the best video I could find is up at the Fanhouse but is not conclusive.)
On the other hand, I think everyone associated with the NBA except Manu Ginobli and his loathsome floppy ilk experienced a private moment of delight when Anderson Varejao allowed a Rasheed Wallace shove to send him into low earth orbit and the referees watched impassively as 'Sheed turned and hit a dagger. I speak for everyone on the planet when I say that Anderson Varejao could never get a call again and it would be too soon. People should be allowed to punch him in the face as he shoots. They should be allowed to charge into a stationary Varejao like they are crash-testing a car against a stupid Brazilian walls with ridiculous haircuts. If a Cavalier is injured and cannot take foul shots that are assigned and he is chosen to replace that Cavalier at the line, the referee should throw the ball at his nads and call him for a technical. (I don't like Anderson Varejao.)
So, yeah. Fouls and non-.
Non-conspiracy conspiracy! A theory: sick of the constant conspiracy theories thrown around by NBA fans, David Stern and his Illuminati cronies hatched a conspiracy to make it obvious to everyone that there were no money-generating conspiracies in the NBA. Oden and Durant were carefully shepherded to the Pacific Northwest to franchises no one really cares about that start most of their games at 10:30 PM. Not coincidentally, both of them are in the Western conference, further unbalancing the level of play between East and West. The hugely entertaining Phoenix Suns get thugged out of a series against the Spurs, a team everyone in the country would like to see deported, thanks to the most tone-deaf, inane suspension in NBA history. And Lebron James, of all people, can't get a call in the Eastern Conference Finals, presumably setting up another Spurs-Pistons Finals that no one, not even Pistons fans, wants to see.
The inescapable conclusion: only an idiot could possibly screw up a conspiracy this badly. There must be no conspiracy. And that's the conspiracy! Truly, David Stern is the Machiavellian puppet master for our time. "Dance!" he says. And we dance!
Sheed. I figure most people who have to deal with Rasheed game-in, game-out have conflicted feelings about the guy on a regular basis. He was the guy who left Marshall oh so wide open in Game 1, and if anyone on the planet should know better it's him. But he had seven blocks that game. This game: 7 for 10, 16 points, 11 rebounds, stiff defense, one dagger -- dagger! -- that was as clutch as the Lebron foul was foul.
And then he goes and says this in the postgame:
Ohhhhh, amen. Let's all punch him when he shoots! Then give him a technical! Yesssssss.
I will bring you fresh baby. Maxiell must be hungry. Feed him. Feed him baby.
Bulls! When I posted on game 1 of the ECF, Chicagoans in the comments lamented that the Bulls series was ignored in this space. I have good reasons: book, Canada, missing game 3, and the overwhelming dullness of the constant blowouts. I have opinions on the Bulls, but nothing you haven't heard before:
- Ben Gordon is a terrifying offensive player but such a defensive liability that he should resume the super-sub role he had when he entered the league. You should still give him starters minutes but try to get him soft minutes when, say, Chauncey Billups is on the bench.
- They should try giving Sefo... Sefa... the Swiss guy a ton of minutes next year in an effort to find out just what they have in him. He's big, a decent shooter, and seems like he's got the skills to play. Anything that gets Duhon out of the lineup is good and if Guy Who Is Swiss Guy can play, really play, that lets Gordon do the super-sub thing.
- I want to headbutt Scott Skiles.
- Deng good, still a couple years away from being a real star.
- As everyone said, the Wallace signing was complete nonsense that is probably going to kill their chances of putting together a championship-level core until it expires. I was ambivalent about the Pistons bringing him back at $13 million per year when they were exercising their Bird exception -- ie, when they couldn't have spent that money on anyone else in the entire league. Dropping $15 million per when that 15 million is precious, precious space actually under the actual cap was insane.
You can blame "back problems" for his performance in the last game, but where was he the rest of the series? The Bulls had no advantage on the boards and, though Wallace blocked a couple shots here and there, no real defensive advantage because of his presence. If Tyrus Thomas could go ten seconds without dribbling the ball off his foot he would have been a clear upgrade over Wallace.
I mean, honestly, game six was bittersweet. It was good to see the Pistons had made the right decision, but watching Ben Wallace limp and clatter through a playoff game he had no impact on was
sad. Mostly I felt bad that I didn't feel worse, though. Wallace was the reason I started following the NBA again and now he'll end his career a cap albatross at the end of Chicago's bench with an entire city sort of hating him for costing so much and sucking so bad. Was it worth eight million to give up a retired number and demi-godhood in a city that loved him? I don't think so, and I don't think Ben does either.
- They seriously f-ed up if there was any way to swing a Gasol deal that didn't involve Deng/Gordon/Hinrich. That's debatable, but you don't think Memphis would have gone for Thomas, the Knicks pick, Nocioni, and spare parts to make up the salaries? I mean, if Baron Davis proved anything it's that you don't mess with a guy who can grow a killer beard in the playoffs.
- I'm not afraid of the Bulls passing the Pistons the next couple years. Just don't see the growth potential. Gordon is who he'll be, same with Hinrich. Deng will improve, but Tayshaun is always an equalizer against those sorts of players. If Thomas gets much better very quickly -- possible but unlikely -- they'll be a threat. Otherwise... not so much.
I hope this concludes my Bulls-related duties.
Bill Martin goes to golf with members of the '97 national championship team. While there he is quizzed on the future of the Notre Dame series. He says this:
If Michigan athletic director Bill Martin had his druthers, Ohio State and Notre Dame would not play at Michigan Stadium in the same season.
But it appears Notre Dame is unable to accommodate a move like that for similar reasons of its own.
"They don't want to have at home the same year Southern Cal and Michigan, because those are their two premier games," Martin said. "If they moved to accommodate us, then they're stuck with Southern Cal and Michigan at home the same year, so I'm not sure how it's going to get resolved. That's a challenge."
The Michigan-Notre Dame series goes through the 2011 season. Martin said he has been talking about a series renewal with Irish athletic department officials for the last three or four years.
"We've been talking about taking off an odd number of years so we can accomplish that (schedule maneuvering), but then that doesn't do what they want," Martin said.
It does not appear there has been any talk of dropping the series.
"It's the highest-rated television preseason game in college football," Martin said. "Those are the two winningest programs in college football history. It's the game that all of our fans want and all of the Notre Dame fans want. It's hard to drop that series. They don't want to drop it, I don't want to drop it; I want to simply fine-tune it a little bit."
In this passage Martin has
- praised the game,
- specifically denied any desire to drop the series,
- stated he's been working on an extension for years, and
- expressed a reasonable concern about the ND/OSU rotation.
BGS seizes upon this to argue that this is evidence that... Michigan would like to stop playing Notre Dame! Okay, that's a bit odd, but since Martin didn't come right out and say "you'll pry the Michigan-ND series from my cold dead hands," if you are in a certain untrustworthy frame of mind you could potentially see in this the seeds for the dissolution of the series. As Martin's desire to spread Michigan's two marquee games out so season ticket holders don't get stuck with a home slate like last year's -- Wisconsin and, uh, Iowa? -- is expressly built on the idea that Notre Dame is an anchor in the schedule, it's obviously paranoid and unlikely, but it's not entirely impossible that this is the ultimate nonsensical weasel move. Stipulated. (Also stipulated: it is the height of irony to take this conversation, spin it into something unflattering about the University of Michigan, and then title your post "You know how I know you're Michigan?" Someone get me a textbook so I can insert this sequence into it.)
But the really fun part comes in the comments, where people take up the paranoid and unlikely speculation built upon the Michigan athletic director's direct statement that he wants to continue the Notre Dame series and go to town. (To be fair: there were quite a few reasonable commenters in the BGS thread, but it really was split 50-50 between "f-em! we're Notre Dame" and sanity; just about everyone took the assertion that Michigan was looking to end the series at face value.) At first there's just sad acceptance of the inevitable end of the series:
It's a shame that it's probably going to end. To me, that game is the true start of the CFB season. Maybe there's a little fear that with the resurgence in recruiting in South Bend, that their season will be bookended(?) by losses.....
...says the team that last won a bowl game in the Hayes administration. And then there's the guy who blacked out for a convenient three-hour period last year:
If Monk Davieham was still in charge, Michigan would be pushing like hell for a long term extension. The skunks know that once we truly turn the corner on this rebuild, their ass is grass and Charlie's a big 'ol lawn mower.
And the rank hypocrisy:
The real reason the Skunks are maneuvering and trying to justify dropping the IRISH is because next year they have already scheduled Toledo, as in Holy Toledo!! Gee the Winningest football program can surely keep on winning when it reaches across the state line to start playing Holy Toledo. The Holy part is to justify dropping the IRISH, if that ever happens.
Insert "Commander-in-Chief" reference here. And then there's this:
Voice has it right. Screw them if they think getting off our schedule will make them better - perhaps it will, until the SOS rankings and opinion of B10 football goes in the tank.
Not playing Notre Dame will destroy the Big Ten. Destroy!
And then, the favorite:
Aren't they pulling a tOSU and trying to limit their away games to 3 or 4 away games per season?
It was no different when Fielding Yost was there. Michigan has always been afraid of a schedule that might challenge them.
What a bunch of sissy boys.
Waa, don't want 2 challenging games in one season Waa.
Lets add Nebraska, Texas and OU into a rotation.
Michigan and their conference suck.
...all because Bill Martin said "I very much want to continue the Notre Dame series." Verily, all this illuminates the dodgy character of Michigan fans. Yea, we are caught in its chemical-green florescent glow, each hair-ridden mole and dusky, craterous pore magnified for the world to see. Lo. We are undone.
I dunno, Bill, maybe next time just say "no comment"?
Baseball. If you've been hovering over mgo.licio.us on the sidebar and feverishly hitting refresh (and who hasn't?) of late you know that the baseball team is Big Ten champs. As a result, they'll host the conference tournament at Ray Fisher starting tonight. The bottom four seeds start play today; Michigan will face the winner with the lowest seed at 7 PM tomorrow. I am planning on attending if anyone wants to wander by and say high.
As far as the importance of the tournament: not much. Though Michigan's late season "slide" -- basically one bad series against Penn State -- has dented their tourney resume, Rivals still has them a three-seed in their latest projected brackets. Clunking out of the double-elimination tourney at 0-2 would probably hurt their positioning but they'd still get in. Winning might bump them up to a two-seed but they'd still be going on the road.
Hey, yeah, that was totally voluntary! A reader passes along this Boston Globe interview with Amaker that has this hilarious softball passage:
You've spent the last 10 years coaching at Seton Hall and Michigan. Why did you accept the head coaching job at Harvard?
Obviously, it's Harvard, first of all. Its brand is as big, or bigger, than any other name or brand in higher education. So my wife and I were very intrigued, very interested, and as we grew to learn more, boy, did it become even that much more attractive.
Let's go ask Chris Shelton why he chose the job at AAA Toledo next, guys.
Skepticism continues. So the Big Ten Network keeps claiming that it's signed up "40 cable providers" in an effort to reassure spooked fans like myself (and, probably, you). But then the loquacious president rolls into town and drops this nugget...
"We've had productive conversations with Comcast and feel they're moving forward in a very productive way," Silverman said. "... The fact that everyone's been really receptive to our meetings and we've gotten 40 deals done in the terms we're looking for are really encouraging."
...and I'm just like "this guy has to be spouting a bunch of crap." How many cable providers are there in the country? And how can you possibly sign "40 deals" without, you know, covering Comcast? Maybe this will all work out, but I wouldn't take the sunny confidence being relentlessly churned out as anything other than PR.
October 11th, 2008 will see the Toledo Rockets visit Michigan Stadium:
"This is a great opportunity for our football program," said UT Athletic Director Mike O'Brien. "Any time you have a chance to play in Michigan Stadium before 110,000 fans, you have to take it. I think it is a game that our fans, as well as our football program, are very excited to have on the schedule. "
This will mark the appearance of planetoid coach Tom Amstutz, who will break the record for most enormous football coach in Michigan Stadium currently held by Charlie Weis, and absolutely nothing else of interest. Hopefully the final '08 opponent is going to be someone half respectable. Schedule as of now:
Aug. 30 open?
Sept. 6 MIAMI (OHIO)
Sept. 13 at Notre Dame
Sept. 20 open?
Sept. 27 WISCONSIN
Oct. 4 ILLINOIS (HC)
Oct. 11 TOLEDO
Oct. 18 at Penn State
Oct. 25 MICHIGAN STATE
Nov. 1 at Purdue
Nov. 8 at Minnesota
Nov. 15 NORTHWESTERN
Nov. 22 at Ohio State
5/22/2007 - Detroit 79-76 Cleveland - Up 1-0, ECF.
Lebron kicked it, and Rasheed was vastly, enormously, unforgivably out of position and Donyell Marshall morphed into Robert Horry for one or three hateful seconds before the ball clanged off the rim and Marshall was lovable, unthreatening Donyell Marshall again. We like Donyell Marshall. We do not like Robert Horry and it has nothing to do with his hipcheck; it has to do with the irritating playoffs-clutch-guy thing.
And so the hot topic appears to be the Pass of Destiny. I, being a Pistons fan, hated the Pass of Destiny; therefore it was probably a really good idea. Math:
- Donyell Marshall is a career 35% three-point shooter and most of his looks haven't been nearly as good as a wide open corner three. A conservative estimate of that shot's chance to go in is around 40%.
Marshall's shot wins the game if it goes in.Update: I remembered the end of the game wrong. There would still have been time for a response from the Pistons.
- Hypothetical Lebron shot ties the game and takes less time, giving the Pistons an opportunity to respond at the other end of the floor. Chances of Cleveland winning are less than 50%. If you conservatively estimate that Detroit's last second shot when they inbound at half-court after a timeout is 20% to go in and that OT is 50-50, Lebron scoring gives the Cavs a 40% chance to win.
- The chance Lebron scores must be 2 times greater than the chance Marshall scores for the kick to be a bad idea (80% chance of win / 40% chance of win = 2).
- 40% * 2 = 80%.
- Lebron didn't have any 80% chance to make his shot.
- He did the right thing. QED, MFer.
That's a pat conclusion that requires some hypothetical numbers. It also assumes that Lebron is basketball Deep Thought and has this sort of game theory analysis going on constantly; the tipping factor here is the difference in potential Detroit ripostes given the amount of time left on the clock, which would require some preternatural sixth sense to absorb and evaluate. So Lebron might not have known that he was doing the right thing and it might be a symbol of his vexing failure to become the ur-player or even the best player in his draft class.
Because Lebron chews his nails. He misses important free throws. He has not thrown down and roared in a critical situation for all to see. He is not... clutch. So when you kick to a wide open player who has a shot for the win it is read as further evidence of being UnClutch even though you have just set your teammate up with the best possible shot he could have and given your team the best possible avenue to win. That's the job of any player, and sometimes even when you're a superstar the best play is for someone else to shoot.
Now, the ten points and no free throws? Well... that seemed to be an interesting reaction by Mike Brown to the defense the Pistons threw at the Cavs last year, when they essentially played a zone whenever the Cavs tried to iso Lebron and did so to good effect. Last night they displayed a willingness to continue this, switching every screen when Lebron came across the perimeter and having help defenders keep an eye out for any potential drives. They left other players open and for a while Cleveland took advantage of that strategy by getting open looks and using the out-of-position help guys to their advantage and crashing the boards. Lebron had no points in the first quarter and his team led by six. Was that a bad performance? Um... no? The problems came later when the Cavaliers remembered that they were the Cavaliers and therefore sucked. By that time it seemed that Lebron was all too content to remain peripheral, and the few times when he took it upon himself to create something the result was a tough jumper after a double-team. He was damned if he did or did not; those criticizing him today are choosing between two different ways to reach the same end.
- Hated the insertion of Lindsay Hunter. I know the last time I talked Pistons here I declared my abiding hatred for all things Flip Murray, but essentially from that moment on Murray turned his season around and started playing inexplicably well when given a chance. Hunter still has him on ball-hounding and has a place in the lineup, but when the opposing point guard is Eric Snow? Um... what? If the point of putting Hunter out there is to shut down an opposing perimeter player and the person you are shutting down is Eric Snow, there is a problem. Flip Murray is perfectly capable of doing the same. There are probably WNBA players capable of doing the same. Hell, you could send Reed Baker out there to watch Snow launch his jacked up shot with no detrimental effect on your winning percentage. So... what is the purpose of sending Hunter out, especially when your offense is clunking along to 35 first half points?
- OTOH, the Maxiell insertion was very effective late (though there was that ugly, unnecessary goaltending).
- Antonio McDyess lost his jumpshot, found it in a major way in the second half of the season, and then lost it again. It's frustrating to watch him throw up shots that were almost guaranteed in the waning days of the regular season and watch them clang off the rim. An average performance from him and the game is tied at the half and comfortable down the stretch.
- This felt like a game Cleveland had to have if they were going to win the series. Detroit has now survived a game in which Prince was something like 1/11 and Billups not only failed to get his shot but coughed up seven(!!!) turnovers. All told, Detroit had 16 to Cleveland's 7; this will not happen again.
Update 5/21: Linked to article on DC DT Reggie Ellis. Added KS TE Spencer Ladner, AL OL Antoine McClain, GA S Jamoris Slaughter (Scout article), FL OL Matt Patchan. Linked to Rivals roundup article w/ info on Cissoko, Fred Smith, Vaughn Carraway, newspaper article on Butler High in NC. Did some general cleanup with schools of interest and reorganized a couple sets with some new gray icons. Linked to Jonas Gray article. Does he have a frickin' offer or not? Linked to articles on PA WR Vaughn Carraway, NC S Robert Blanton, PA LB Shayne Hale, PA QB Terrelle Pryor, header on PA WR Jonathan Baldwin (no longer considering basketball), pictures of OH TE Kevin Koger. Moved IN OL Kurt Wermers and OH TE Brandon Moore to committed. Added TX CB Adrian Bushell. Downgraded Darrell Scott to red, removed FL DT Marcus Forston (was only on board because of single brief mention, does not appear to have any serious interest). Linked to articles on the commitments of Wermers (second article) and Moore.
Editorial Opinion: A lot of news this week, what with the commits and so forth and so on. Some questions posed by commenters:
Do we take a second tight end?
Very probably. The new offense uses a ton of two tight end sets and with the loss of Butler we'll have a senior Massey, the two '07 recruits, and the unimpressive McLaurin/Criswell combo, if Criswell isn't shifted back to fullback. As long as we stick with the zone game we should consider a second tight end a starter and recruit like it. I would expect Michigan to take either Tyler Hoover or Kevin Koger, possibly both if they think one can play defensive end.
How highly ranked is Wermers going to be?
I initially projected a standard three-star rating, but there have been some rumblings recently that he might end up a solid 4*, top 250 sort. Evidently he was impressive at a recent combine. I still think he gets only three. We'll see.
How many more OL?
Lots. I bet we take a full line and maybe a sixth player. At this point we're at 17 scholarships and there are some obvious candidates to not return for potential fifth years; this small class is now going to end up around 21 or 22 players, most likely. With only two recruits in last year's class and three in the class before it -- one of whom did not redshirt -- linemen are a huge priority. I would expect another tackle and one or two more interior linemen. There aren't any names that jump out at the moment, but I kind of hope enormous Oregon lineman Matt Lipski, who plans on camping, shows well enough to get an offer. He'd be a project but Michigan would have the time to develop him with Ortmann and Schilling looking likely to start over the next three years. Also, instater Rocko Koury has an awesome name and is beginning to build himself some buzz.
On to other stuff...
Gray! McGuffie! Running back controversy! So this Scout article claims an offer for Jonas Gray.
I think it is wrong. This continues to be the recruiting year's most puzzling subplot: like... WTF? An instate back with no apparent character or academic issues is universally acclaimed a top-100 player and Michigan refuses to offer at a position of need. Freaky, especially because Michigan only has three confirmed offers out, all to players extremely far away. Californian Darrell Scott is a longshot, and though Covaughn Deboskie seems interested he's being heavily pursued by a lot of schools and it would be foolish to put all our eggs in his basket.
That leaves McGuffie. All the circumstantial evidence points to promises being made by a Michigan coaching staff extremely confident in landing a promise-worthy back. The only guy that could possibly be is McGuffie. So I'm inclined to take this BP post kind of seriously:
Is a Wolverine, and has been for sometime.
I grab some videos and slap 'em up on the Fanhouse, because, dude. Seriously. A comment shows up like so:
Ok, here's the deal. I was on the same team with him this past year when he rushed for his 3,121 yards and 43 TD's. Im a Michigan fan so of corse Im trying to get him to wear the maize and blue, and sometime in November I think it was Michigan offerd him a full ride.
Later on in the season when I walked in to watch film of our previous game, our head coach saw my shirt (the day of the Indiana game) and we were talking about Michigan, and Sam looked at me and kept stating he's going to Michigan. Over time, he's repeated the same statements to me. And just last week he got my attention to let me know he's visiting Michigan in February.
(Comment sic.) Intriguing! But probably internets FUD. I follow up with the guy. I get a name and number that check out. I think it's legit, and I think in February we're likely to get a commit from McGuffie.
So... February didn't happen. But this is all playing out like Michigan has McGuffie on lockdown. This is the long way of explaining that I'm very confident on McGuffie. As always, FWIW. This might be a good time to point out this old Houston Chronicle article on him.
Wideouts! PA WR Vaughn Carraway still maintains us as a leader and is now beginning to pick up some impressive offers -- Tennessee the latest. Interesting note on his recruitment from Scout:
"Michigan is still at the top," Carraway said. "I've kept in contact with Coach (Steve) Szabo mostly. He said they haven't decided if they want me for offense or defense yet. I really like their coaching staff and the way they practice.
"I've been there a couple of times," he added. "I want to visit one time again before the season and then go again for a game. That will probably be my official visit."
Intriguing. With things seemingly goin
g very well for instater Fred Smith, Woolfolk/Herron teammate Daryl Stonum, and Ty Law-cousin Jonathan Baldwin, Carraway might fit into this class in the defensive backfield. He's 6'2" but only 170 according to that Scout article... a big corner? That would go some distance to explaining the paucity of corner offers out at the moment. Carraway wants to commit before the fall.
Scouting stuff. Rivals has a free article on MSNBC with a report on the recent PSU Nike combine that has a couple scouting reports for those looking for a clearer picture of a couple of our recruits. First, CB commit Boubacar Cissoko:
The best player in the bunch was cornerback Boubacar Cissoko of Detroit Cass Tech. The recognition as the top defensive back in the camp really came as no surprise. Many believed he was the top cornerback at last year's NIKE Camp in Columbus.
Cissoko, who is a Michigan commitment, was amazing in the one-on-one drills last weekend.
While many other cornerbacks in the camp played off the line, Cissoko got right up in the faces of the receivers and locked them up with press coverage. Some questioned how he would handle going up against taller receivers. He's only 5 feet 9 and 170 pounds, but Cissoko had no trouble handling bigger guys. His technique and physical nature allows him to play much bigger than his size.
Reminds me of Arkansas CB Chris Houston, who was a delight to watch against Gamecock WR Sidney Rice during their matchup last fall. Houston's small but will line up right over your grill and fight you everywhere.
WR target Fred Smith:
Smith, a 6-foot-2, 215-pound receiver, had a very good camp and performed well in the one-on-ones. He made one amazing catch on an out route where grabbed the ball and kept both feet in bounds, despite being tackled by the defender.
Smith might not be the fastest receiver around â€“ he's probably a guy that runs in the 4.5 range in the 40-yard dash â€“ but he runs great routes. If you get the ball in his vicinity, he'll catch it.
Smith also has a great college-ready frame that allows him to beat the jam at the line of scrimmage.
Jason Avant? I call everyone Jason Avant these days. But great routes and hands, big college-ready frame, not the fastest? Could it be anyone else?
Sargent! Interesting name at safety: Georgian Jamoris Slaughter. Slaughter on Michigan:
"I want to go where they'll help me with my future," he said. "I want to play in the NFL after college, so it would be great if they had a history of that."
Slaughter says that growing up, Michigan was his favorite team. "I guess I always liked their style," Slaughter said. "I always picked them when I played Madden. They have a great defense and I like how they blitz and zone a lot. You can really show your skills there."
Odd spate of Georgians with an abiding fondness for Michigan this year; Omar Hunter also counts himself a longtime fan. Normally I would be skeptical of his desire to come north, but he counts Notre Dame and Ohio State amongst his top five so he seems less bound to the south than most. We'll have some competition but it sounds like we've got a legit shot.
Similar story with TX CB Adrian Bushell, who has offers from Michigan, Florida (offering everyone), and Texas Tech and claims those three plus West Virginia as a top four.
Also there is this. Jim Stefani has an enormous post recapping Michigan's offensive recruiting to date and doing some projecting in the future. If you've got the time...
Yost Built has a scoop on the Michigan goalie situation:
Steve Jakiel has left school and won't be coming back next year. Hunwick is in, and it's reportedly not a one year thing. In addition, from what I've heard, Bryan Hogan will be coming this year, with the intention of winning the starting job.
Something had to be up once Hunwick was announced as incoming, and this is probably the best possible way for it to work out. Jakiel got a couple games when Sauer was really struggling earlier in the season and was awful. Hogan had his own struggles last year but had a nice season the year before that, actually forcing his way past Jakiel into the starting lineup; Jakiel was later traded.
So, yeah, Scout and Rivals are both reporting that Ohio tight end Brandon Moore has picked Michigan. Which is like, yow, man. Moore is a top 100 kid to both sites who started picking up major offers last summer, when Georgia dropped one on him. By November -- three months before the previous class' Signing Day -- he had picked up a Nebraska offer:
For much of the game, that player was 6-foot-6, 235-pound hybrid tight end Brandon Moore.
Thomas may not have known that Moore, a junior, has already received scholarship offers to play at schools like Georgia and Nebraska. But on the field, Thomas, 6-0, 175 pounds, cared little for Moore's credentials.
(Moore would be held to two catches for nine yards in that game. Frowns.) On or around Signing Day Moore's list would look like so:
Stanford, Nebraska, Georgia, Mississippi, Illinois, LSU and Clemson have already previously offered the Southwest Ohio standout, but he netted two more major offers on Wednesday.
That is a hell of a lot of attention. By the time of his commitment he had thirty-some offers, including Florida, Miami and Notre Dame. Kid is unmistakably big time.
One school who didn't offer, puzzlingly: Ohio State. They are having to pick recruits very carefully in a year of limited scholarships and a great deal of instate talent, but, um, Moore would appear to be one of the most highly coveted tight ends in the country. He's certainly got a higher profile than Toledo TE Kevin Koger, who Michigan and Ohio State are fighting over. The Buckeye Planet thread on Moore reads precisely like any internet discussion of Jonas Gray amongst Michigan fans: confusion, anger, rationalization, and overriding faith in the wise decisions of the God Emperor. (Except for that last one.)
So what do we have in Moore? A 6'6", 243 pound tight end -- he's definitely a tight end -- with "hands the size of tennis rackets" according to Jeremy Crabtree($) at Rivals. As a junior he wasn't targeted much, with only twenty catches (or 25, depending on the articles you read), but the vagaries of high school quarterbacking make evaluating receivers based on stats a dodgy proposition. ESPN has filed a suprisingly negative scouting report($) given the accolades and offers he's collected:
Moore is an impressive physical specimen and looks the part of a big- time college prospect. However, he is currently caught in the middle and a bit one-dimensional -- does not have the speed and elusiveness of a wide receiver and we have yet to see the in-line blocking skill of a dominate [sic] tight end. ... He is missing an explosive release, sharp route running (most are rounded) and the ability to create separation on cornerbacks. Although he is very athletic, he does not show the deceptive ability to slip by linebackers and settle in open space.
It does go on to say he's "dripping with potential" (so that's what that is -- phew) and has "some of the highest upside in the class," so there's that. You can see some highlights for yourself at Scouting Ohio, though they're unnecessarily small.
Update: Moore video now on Youtube so that it can be perused full-size:
Evidently, Michigan has received a commitment from Indiana offensive lineman Kurt Wermers. (I say "evidently" because Tom Lemming is apparently the source of the information and he has been wrong in the past.) The reader is invited to speculate on how much freely available info there is on moderately to not particularly hyped guards from Indiana. Yep.
We'll try to ballpark his potential anyway. As of now he has twelve offers, Michigan being the most impressive. UCLA, Purdue, and Iowa had also extended offers and Notre Dame was rumored to be looking at him "heavily," whatever that means, but hadn't followed suit. (There was one article that asserted a written offer from Notre Dame, but I think that was erroneous.) He's currently ranked #47 on Scout's Midwest Top 100, just ahead of RoJo brother Corey Johnson, tiny OH RB Darius Ashley (who might have a Michigan offer and does have a Tennessee offer), and PSL OLB Nick Perry (likely underrated)... that's probably on the 3/4 borderline. Rivals hasn't rated him in their initial Hot 250 or whatever it's called, so he's probably a 3 to them. ESPN hasn't gotten around to him. It's highly likely he ends up in the anonymous mass of three star recruits when all is said and done.
Upshot: nothing to scream in the streets about either way. Michigan needs linemen in quantity and picked up a guard. This is good. You'd like his offers and guru ratings to be a little higher -- this appears to be the second guy we've picked up who was waiting on an offer from either ND or OSU that didn't appear forthcoming -- but that's life. Michigan must have liked him quite a bit since they offered him two months ago; hopefully they're right.
The only other thing that's turned up was this article from nwi.com:
Imagine a phone ringing. It's Michigan football coach Lloyd Carr. Or Notre Dame's Charlie Weis. Or UCLA's Karl Dorrell. Or Iowa's Kirk Ferentz. Or Indiana's Terry Hoeppner. Or Purdue's Joe Tiller.
And every one of these big-time gridiron gods would get the same message.
One of these things is not like the others, yesno? Indiana football is at least four to six times bigger than Wayne Bennett in Brisbane!
There's not much else of note in there except a reference to Wermer's participation in an a capella group, which probably had a major influence on his decision if the horrible, locust-like proliferation of chipper instrument-free musical troupes on campus hasn't been violently stomped out in the years since I ceased attending class. And God help us all if it hasn't. Those suckers were nearing critical mass years ago.
So, yeah, there isn't much from the recruiting sites on Cronin but I did turn up some local newspaper items of note. First... guess which player in this photo is the Michigan recruit:
This appears to be the most effusive praise available for our new center:
Start with the Mayor's Cup - or at least that was the official title of the tournament. More accurately, it was the Ben Cronin Show, also starring some other Henninger players quite happy to gain city supremacy.
Cronin has been bent on domination ever since Proctor made him disappear on Dec. 19. A solid game against CNS three days later was followed by this Mayor's Cup display at LeMoyne College, where he pulled off back-to-back triple doubles against Fowler and Corcoran.
The final, in particular, had its own share of pathos. As you all know, Henninger and Corcoran were supposed to meet in the Section III football playoffs on Oct. 15 - before the forfeits, before Auburn showed up, and you know the rest.
From the early moments, when Cronin swatted an Elton Frazier shot, the 7-foor junior ruled the night. He had 18 points, 16 rebounds and 12 blocks, and four of his teammates reached double figures in scoring, too, most notably Mike Johnson, whose six free throws late sealed the 61-55 win.
Henninger is 8-1, and you can argue that Cronin is the central figure in the Class AA playoff race. With his size and growing strength, if he does this kind of paint job every night, the Black Knights can take the banner.
Evidently, the banner is a state championship thing. Henninger did not acquire said banner this year, falling to Proctor in the final. A month later, Cronin's team lost and drew some criticism from the same source:
Apparently, one headline-grabbing upset over a state top 10 team was not enough. F-M wanted more, and got it by imposing its collective will on Henninger - especially on the defensive side, where Ben Cronin vanished. ... Granted, Cronin's two early fouls hurt, but a great player should overcome those things. Henninger could not establish itself in the paint, and the Hornets took full advantage.
There was also a monster game against Fairport -- which sounds like it has a killer sailing team -- with 21 points and 19 rebounds.
All this means little given the context provided by the above photo. Cronin tall, others short, do good. Yay. But there were a couple encouraging comments yesterday from the proprietor of the aforementioned OrangeFan Syracuse blog:
Cronin is a good get for you guys. He's actually a very good athlete, but only picked up basketball relatively late - he was a hockey player until he grew so tall. That hockey athleticism and experience should suit him well once he grows into his body. Syracuse already has 4 centers on the roster, and Boeheim still wanted this kid. Congrats.
(Waggish commenters immediately asked if he had been a goalie.) I think I've already expressed my opinion on this kid, but to re-iterate: these are the guys Beilein has won with elsewhere and given his late entry into the world of recruiting Michigan (at least for the '08 class), he's probably not going to upgrade his recruiting in terms of stars until '09. So I'm much happier with this particular commit than Amaker snagging Coleman or Jerrett Smith, because Beilein's already proven he can work with this type of player and he isn't in his third year on the job.
The instate crop for '08 is very bad anyway, especially with Anthony Crater already committed to OSU. The only other guy who appears to be on the radar of Michigan or MSU is SF/PF Draymond Green, the one-time Kentucky commit who opened it back up when Tubby went away. There have been some breathless headlines re: Green of late on GBW, so maybe he's making headway there.
Update: Whoops! Forgot the local newspaper article on the commit:
"I feel it's the perfect fit for me," Cronin said. "It's a great academic school and I love coach Beilein. I'm sure he'll develop me as a player to get to the best of my potential. He develops his players and gets them to shoot it. I think he's going to make me a much better offensive player than I am right now." ...
[Henninger coach Erik] Saroney said he could see Cronin excelling in Beilein's system.
"I think he fits perfectly in that system," Saroney said, "and I say that despite the fact that we didn't use him like that last year, but college basketball and high school basketball are two different beasts."