“The player development is the main thing I like (about Michigan),” Williams said. “You can see that they develop their players. They get them in the gym and they work them hard. And their hard work pays off.”
Michigan 64 Penn State 55, Michigan 8-6 (2-1 Big Ten)
So, uh, What Happened?
I have no idea. I can't afford cable, so I was taking in the game at a local drinking establishment. It was turned off for maybe 5 minutes so we could watch the AWESOME PREGAME for the BCS National Championship game. By the time I convinced the waitress to get the Michigan game turned back on, the margin had gone from 16 points to a more manageable 7. The Wolverines continued to make buckets, and Penn State threw the ball away time and again, resulting in a Michigan victory that actually could have been by a slightly wider margin. I think the difference between halves can be best illustrated by a...
|Stat||Half 1||Half 2|
|Michigan Free Throw%||0.00||83.33|
|Talor Battle Points||9||0|
|Michigan Bench Points||0||0|
So it was a difference of night and day, especially considering that most of the Wolverines' improvement came with less than 12 minutes remaining on the clock. John Beilein's rousing halftime speech (saying absolutely nothing) must have made a huge difference. [Editor's note: this tactic sometimes works in Football Manager.]
Ken Pomeroy was so inspired by this game, that he wrote a blog post about whether it's even possible for a team to win a game without making a 3-pointer (he concludes probably not), since Michigan didn't do so until 11:59 remained in the game. However, it should be noted that it's not like Michigan wasn't trying to make threes, it just so happened that they missed their first 14(!) attempts.
Zack Novak broke the seal with just under 12 minutes to go, Laval Lucas-Perry gave an inspired performance (as he only seems to do on the road), and Michigan drilled 7 of their final 10 attempts to steal the road win. Aside from the inconsistency between halves, there were other causes for concern, of course. As noted above, bench players scored exactly 0 points, though Darius Morris contributed in other ways. There is still a lot of work for this team to do if they want to reach the top half of the conference, despite the 2-game winning streak (the first winning streak of any kind since November).
So What Now?
Michigan fought through one of their worst single halves of the year, and managed to win a game on the road. It remains to be seen whether making it past such adversity will make the team stronger, or scare the crap out of them as they realize how fragile their season truly is. With upcoming home games against Northwestern (Sunday at 2:30 in Crisler) and Northwestern looking more winnable, this season has a chance to make the postseason after all. NIT or Bust, Baby!
|WHAT||Michigan v. Penn State|
|WHERE||University Park, PA|
January 7th, 2010
|THE LINE||Michigan +1.5*|
*Line provided by online sports betting site Sportsbetting.com.
Michigan came into the season with a lofty ranking and proceeded to drop a winnable games left and right. Part of the blame for that may have been going from the hunter to the hunted. The team got complacent. "Understanding success is more difficult than understanding why we played so poorly against Indiana," said John Beilein. Now that the Wolverines are coming off an emotional high against Ohio State, it's important to remain hungry. Beilein: "The overconfidence carried over a little bit, so we had to set that straight in practice."
Two other important factors for Michigan will be more tangible: continuing to get production from members of the team other than Manny Harris and DeShawn Sims, and expanding the amount of time for bench players. "Darius [Morris], Matt [Vogrich] gave us a lift off the bench, Zack Gibson, hopefully those guys will just keep giving us more," said Beilein.
For his part, Morris is comfortable coming off the bench. "I'm able to see before I go right into it what they're running on offense," he said, "and how certain players aren't guarding screens properly, and I make that adjustment when I go in the game."
The Nittany Lions are 8-6 on the year and have lost both of their conference game (at Minnesota and home against Wisconsin). Outside the conference, they've played one heck of a weak schedule, and losing to historic programs like UNC-Wilmington and Tulane. They've also got respectable losses to Temple and Virginia Tech, though the Tech loss came at home. The only top-100 squad that they've beaten is Virginia. Michigan must win to have even a vague chance of a tournament bid.
Any discussion of Penn State's roster starts and ends with Talor Battle, with a few words about some other guys sprinkled in the middle. "They've surrounded him with more shooters again, just like they have in the past," said Beilein. It's clear that Battle is the lifeblood of this team. Zack Novak: "He's really talented and we definitely have to contain him."
Battle is top-20 in percentage of available minutes played, uses more possessions than anyone else on the roster, and has the team's second-best assist rate. Other important Nittany Lions include big men David Jackson, Jeff Brooks and Andrew Jones, who are 1-2-3 in effective field goal percentage on the team. They're the leaders in playing time outside of Battle. 6-10 Jones is the leading rebounder on both ends of the floor.
Penn State doesn't have a single senior on their roster, so Michigan may have an experience advantage for once. "That's the thing we're searching for now, that poise," said Beilein. PSU lost Stanley Pringle and Jamelle Cornley off last year's roster. They're feeling both departures.
If you need an explanation of the stats, check out Ken Pomeroy.
|Michigan v. Penn State: National Ranks|
|Category||Michigan Rank||Penn State Rank||Advantage|
|Mich eFG% v. PSU Def eFG%||194||133||P|
|Mich Def eFG% v. PSU eFG%||198||135||P|
|Mich TO% v. PSU Def TO%
|Mich Def TO% v. PSU TO%||51||39||P|
|Mich OReb% v. PSU DReb%
|Mich DReb% v. PSU OReb%||270||192||P|
|Mich FTR v. PSU Opp FTR
|Mich Opp FTR v. PSU FTR
|Mich AdjO v. PSU AdjD||77||114||M|
|Mich AdjD v. PSU AdjO||98||94||-|
Difference of more than 10 places in the national rankings get a 1-letter advantage, more than 100 gets a 2-letter advantage, more than 200 gets a 3-letter advantage, etc.
The statistical matchup is interesting here, with huge advantages in a couple categories for both teams. Penn State has a consistent advantage overall. Michigan should be able to hold onto the ball, Penn State should be able to rebound most of Michigan's misses, and the Nittany Lions won't likely send Michigan to the line a lot.
If Michigan wants to win this game, they'll have to continue the defensive renaissance that started with Kansas, took a game off against Indiana, and returned with a vengeance against Ohio State courtesy of surprising Diebler-stopper Stu Douglass. Michigan held the Buckeyes below 45% eFG, after allowing previous opponents to shoot above 50% (and letting Jon Diebler start the game 4/6 on 3-pointers). The Wolverines, despite forcing a lot of opponent turnovers, actually won't have the advantage coming into this game. All of the teams Penn State has lost to have been heavy on man defense, so that may not play into Michigan's advantage.
This game could play out a lot like the Indiana game. If both Manny Harris and DeShawn Sims show up to play, the Wolverine will have a chance to win. They need will require a 40-minute effort to come away with a win. When Penn State goes on a run, Michigan needs to answer. "We just need to keep our poise and become more solid," said Novak, "rather than coming down and thinking 'they're making a run, we need to make the spectacular play." Alas, this looks like another close loss for Michigan on the road.
Beilein gave an endorsement of Brandon's credentials as an athletics guy and not just a businessman as well, saying, "I think he took care of that in the interview process, if there was a concern."
Hoopster Jordan Dumars, son of Pistons president (and former Piston) Joe Dumars, has enrolled at Michigan after transferring from South Florida. He is expected to join the Michigan basketball team as a preferred walkon. Since he's a transfer, we have a little bit of info on what he'll do at the collegiate level but not much.
|2*, NR SG||2*, NR SG||80, #127 SG|
The recruiting sites agree: Dumars was essentially a "meh" prospect coming out of high school. ESPN had this to say about him:
Dumars is a very accurate shooter that has very good range. He has the ability to stretch defenses as they have to account for Dumars perimeter shooting prowess whenever he steps on the court. He does not have elite athleticism or quickness, which regulates him to more of...
We can extrapolate where that sentence was going (and assume they meant "relegates," not "regulates"), and assume it will say something about how he's going to just hang out around the perimeter and shoot, rarely driving. Without elite quickness or athleticism, he also sounds like someone who will have trouble defending.
From his highlight video (see it below), he seems to have very good range, and a Stu Douglass-like courage to prove that range any time he gets the ball. He has a pretty quick release, and wasn't afraid to shoot with defenders closing in. Of course, in college those defenders will be much quicker and bigger.
Basically, he sounds like a good developmental project, as long as you don't have to spend a scholarship on him. It never hurts to have the son of an NBA legend on your team, either, especially when he's associated with the nearest NBA franchise.
Dumars is transferring from South Florida, and it appears as though the Bulls were the only school that offered him a scholarship. What a surprise that they landed him! Oddly, he committed as a junior, and it still never appears that he got more offers. Perhaps he would have become a bigger prospect without the early commitment? His South Florida bio says he chose USF over Duquesne, Michigan, and Dayton, but Michigan didn't offer him, so I question whether the other two options did.
Dumars has not been offered a scholarship by Michigan and will join the basketball team as a preferred walkon.
In his semester at South Florida, Dumars played in 6 of the Bulls' first 8 games (all Bulls wins), but sat out the last five. At least a couple of the more recent games were after he had decided to transfer, so that may be the reason he sat those out.
In his six games played, he got 27 minutes. He attempted eight shots, all of them threes, and made two. He also picked up five fouls (a lot for so little time played, since he never got more than two in a single game). The Game of his Brief Career came against Kent State. He played 13 minutes, going 2/4 from three-point land.
His South Florida bio also has some high school stats:
Country Day finished the year 24-2 and ranked No. 16 in the nation by USA Today... Ended regular season 19-1 and ranked No. 1 in Michigan ... Captain as a senior and averaged 10.2 points, 2.3 assists, 2.2 rebounds and 1.2 steals per game ... Third leading scorer on team and shot 36 percent from 3-point range and 96 percent from the free throw line.
As a junior, he averaged 14 points per game, and as a sophomore, he was the 6th man on Country Day's State Championship squad.
High school highlights from Jordan. I didn't listen to the whole song, but it's Lil' Wayne, so assume it's NSFW:
PREDICTION AND THE UPSHOT
Since Dumars is transferring at the semester break, he will be in the same situation next year that Laval Lucas-Perry was last year. He will have to sit out the Winter '10 semester and the Fall '10 semester, but be eligible to play in January of 2011. At that time, he will be a redshirt freshman with 3.5 years to play.
At that time, he'll be a depth player, grabbing a couple minutes here and there to rest starters and maybe getting in at the end of blowouts. If he's able to progress as a player (and more importantly, as an athlete), he could become a member of the rotation down the road.
If Manny Harris leaves early for the NBA and Michigan doesn't land someone in the 2010 class, such as Trey Zeigler, to replace him, the situation changes a bit. The Wolverines would have to shuffle the rotation a bit, and fill a starting spot at the 3 guard, making more playing time a possibility for Jordan.
For the future, Country Day is a basketball powerhouse, producing some guys you may have heard of: Chris Webber and Shane Battier, among others. The Wolverines have targeted 2011 big Amir Williams out of DCDS, and having a former Yellow Jacket on the roster should help the team recruit DCDS. Also, having Joe Dumars hang around the program can't hurt.
The last couple items I covered before heading out into the holiday season hell for leather were Jay Hopson's departure and some happy vibes going down in the recruitment of CA S Sean Parker. I popped by head back up to post a UV last week. Other than that, I've been silent.
So. Things! That are wringing the life out of me!
Hockey is killing me. I was in Chicago for the opening night of the GLI and the thing wasn't on TV and that turned out to be a fantastic thing for yrs truly because Michigan outshot RPI 46-13(!!!) and lost 4-3. If I had actually seen that transpire I would have died. My spleen would have burst out of my stomach and ran for Mexico trailing intestine and whatnot behind it, and I would have looked down in horror at what was going down only to find it considerably more pleasant than the on-ice action. This apparently happened:
With Michigan trailing by only one goal, Hogan looked like he had a routine save to his glove side that most likely would have left the Wolverines down just one heading into the final period.
But when the puck slipped off of Hogan’s glove and into the net, Berenson made the only decision he could to save his team’s chance at a third-straight GLI Championship.
Michigan managed to rebound the next night and beat an atrocious Michigan Tech team to split the weekend but the RPI loss is the just about the last dagger in Michigan's at-large tourney hopes. Losing to a bleah ECAC team is bad enough—it will kill Michigan's record against common opponents, a Pairwise* factor, against good ECAC teams like Yale that play limited nonconference schedules—but as a special bonus Michigan missed the opportunity to play a good Michigan State team and instead got Tech, #49 of 58 in RPI and 3-16 on the season.
Michigan is now 29th in RPI, down a spot from before the GLI. Sioux Sports shows that if Michigan wins 14 of its remaining 17 games they'd end up somewhere around 10th to 13th in RPI. Upshot: if they managed to do that they'd likely be on the good side of the bubble when conference tournaments rolled around and would have a fighting chance at picking up an at-large bid if they make the Joe and split there.
So… no problem. Just win at an 82% clip when you're at 50% on the season, can't score no matter how many shots you take, and just saw your goalie pulled for a smurfy walk-on who gave up a soft game-losing goal in the four shots he faced.
A more realistic goal is to scrape into fourth place in the CCHA to get a first-round bye in the CCHA playoffs and hope to win them. Short of a time machine that drops sophomore year Al Montoya, Mike Comrie, and Jack Johnson onto the roster, Michigan can't get to the tournament in any other way.
*(The way the hockey tournament is selected is something else called the Pairwise. It compares the top 25 teams in RPI against each other in various categories—RPI, record against common opponents, record against teams under consideration, and head to head. At this point the PWR is so heavily based on RPI that with a few exceptions teams will be within one or two spots of their RPI rank at season's end.)
Basketball: also killing me. So they actually beat Ohio State the other day in a testament to the power of home court in the Big Ten, but AnnArbor.com theorizes that "a confident Michigan basketball team inspires expectations again" and I think they're nuts.
I might have this conversation on WTKA again this afternoon, but a week in which you split against meh Big Ten teams—and Ohio State is meh without Evan Turner—is not making progress towards your goals. Unlike last year, when a strong nonconference run put M in a spot where all they had to do was hold serve, this team has to cut a fiery swath through the Big Ten if they want a bid. Losing to the second-worst team in the Big Ten according to Kenpom is not exactly doing that.
It is nice to win something against Ohio State, though. Or anyone at all, in anything.
Ekpe Udoh: yes, killing me. Udoh is the Ryan Mallett of Michigan basketball. He's 7th in the nation in blocks and Baylor's most-used player (82% of available minutes) on an 11-1 team that's beaten Xavier, Arizona State, and South Carolina. He transferred because a new coach came in and he didn't like his style, leaving Michigan utterly deficient at something important (passing, interior defense) and being touted as a potential first-round pick.
Assistant coach search: not killing me. Stealth mode. I haven't heard or read one word about who Michigan is looking at to replace the departed Hopson, whether it's in the newspaper or a premium message board or my inbox. Michigan might be busy recruiting or, you know, having a "holiday" with the weird people who live with the coaches and insist that something other than football is an "activity" that can be "undertaken." It'll be interesting to see who gets picked up, and it looks like the announcement is going to be of the variety where Some Guy gets picked up and I scramble to google him to find out who he is.
Michigan 73, Ohio State 64. Michigan 7-6 (1-1 Big Ten)
Michigan's schizophrenic season took yet another turn tonight as the Wolverines knocked off the #15 Ohio State Buckeyes in Crisler Arena. The Buckeyes' Jon Diebler started the game hot, and it seemed like we were doomed to watch yet another opponent shoot out the lights. However, it was Manny Harris and DeShawn Sims who stole the show. Michigan's big two scored 52 of their team's 73 points, with Manny adding 5 assists and Peedi pulling down 9 boards. Freshman shooting guard Matt Vogrich also led the team in offensive rebounding(!) and had a key block in the paint(!!).
Michigan isn't in any position to look at this as just another win, but perhaps the upset isn't as big as it seems. Despite Michigan's early-season woes and Ohio State's lofty ranking, the Buckeyes were actually an underdog according to Vegas. Michigan's inconsistencies from game to game have obscured how good the Wolverines actually are, and the low points will have to be smoothed out if there's to be any expectation of a postseason visit.
For now, it's nice to be able to bask in the glow of victory for a change, especially when that victory comes over the Buckeyes.
- Man, Crisler was rocking in the second half. That's easily the loudest I've heard it since the Duke game last year. Me likey. The sound system was busted, however.
- LLP was very quiet. I guess it doesn't matter since Manny and DeShawn were basically all the offense the team needed for a win, but to continue winning games, Laval needs to contribute.
- No sign of Jordan Morgan or Blake McLimans. I guess they'll continue on a redshirt track, despite the losses of Eric Puls and Ben Cronin.
- Manny was much more authoritative on his drives today. He was willing to go to his left, which he hasn't done much this year. He also had a thunderous dunk that brought the house down.
- Vogrich moved positions, he's now backing up Manny Harris at the 3 guard spot.
- To slow down Diebler during his hot start, Beilein had Stu Douglass guard him. I wouldn't have thought of Stu as a big defensive stopper, but that just goes to show what I know.
- Maybe Michigan was hesitant to start their New Year Run before the calendar changed...
"It only takes one game to start your momentum rolling." DeShawn Sims.
"It was just an overall good effort by the whole team. I was the recipient of a lot of passes from a lot of people today, and that's pretty much what got us ahead today." DeShawn Sims, on his offensive output.
"I don't know what it is, we're just getting down to the basics a little bit." Stu Douglas, on the team's overall effort.
"I was just trying to be a spark... It's Ohio State, so it's hard not to bring energy in this game... Everybody probably thinks I'm 7-foot if they just look at my stats in this game." Matt Vogrich, on his surprising performance.
"Coach has really been stressing that to me... that defense is gonna win games. Right now, that's what my focus is." Darius Morris.
"It's Michigan-Ohio State. That's one of the reasons you come to Michigan, to play Ohio State." Zack Novak.
"I wish we'd shown some of that patience at Indiana and Kansas." John Beilein, on the team running its offense.
"Both are terrific basketball players... We weren't able to them at the times that we needed to." Ohio State coach Thad Matta, on Manny Harris and DeShawn Sims.
"It's Big Ten play. You've got 9 at home, and you've gotta take care of your home court." Thad Matta.
Indiana 71 Michigan 65, Michigan 6-6 (0-1 Big Ten)
The Indiana game was the type of contest that makes me not want to even think about Michigan basketball for a couple days, so I did just that. It happened pretty much the way I expected, except a close game at the end broke the way of the Hoosiers, not in favor of Michigan. The Wolverines have still only won 1 game away from home this season, and the 6-6 record means Michigan is almost certain to miss the NCAA tournament, and will struggle to even make the NIT.
Michigan got in foul trouble too early, and was unable to get into a rhythm. DeShawn Sims and Zack Novak both fouled out, and Manny Harris was limited in the first half with foul trouble (though he did manage 30 total minutes in the game). Indiana was allowed to shot the ball very well, and Michigan's defense seemed to regress since the encouraging contest against Kansas.
On the bright side, Zack Novak was able to knock down a couple threes, as was Stu Douglass. Novak started the game on fire then went 1/6 the rest of the way, but seeing the ball go in the hoop at all will aid his confidence. Other than that, it's probably best to forget about this game.
Part 2: The Essentials
|WHAT||Michigan v. Ohio State|
|WHERE||Ann Arbor, MI|
January 3rd, 2009
|THE LINE||Michigan -2(!!!!)*|
|TELEVISION||Big Ten Network|
*Line provided by online sports betting site Sportsbetting.com.
The Buckeyes, like Indiana before them, face Michigan without their best player. Evan Turner is scheduled to return from fractured vertebrae in just a few days, but isn't expected to play tomorrow. The Buckeyes enter this game coming off a shellacking at the hands of Wisconsin on Thursday, only their second loss since Turner went down.
Leading the way in Turner's absence are William Buford, who is the assist leader, David Lighty, who is the best defender, and big outside sniper Jon Diebler, one of the nation's leaders in shooting, with an effective field goal percentage of 66.7%. The Buckeyes don't have one huge guy to scare Michigan fans about size, but they are big at every position. PJ Hill at 6-1 and Jeremie Simmons at 6-2 are the only Buckeyes in heavy rotation under 6-5.
If you need an explanation of the stats, check out Ken Pomeroy. Also, you'd better hide the women and children before they catch a glimpse of this chart.
|Michigan v. Ohio State: National Ranks|
|Category||Michigan Rank||Ohio State Rank||Advantage|
|Mich eFG% v. OSU Def eFG%||226||60||OO|
|Mich Def eFG% v. OSU eFG%||216||3||OOO|
|Mich TO% v. OSU Def TO%||4||50||M|
|Mich Def TO% v. OSU TO%||56||30||O|
|Mich OReb% v. OSU DReb%||256||70||OO|
|Mich DReb% v. OSU OReb%||244||259||M|
|Mich FTR v. OSU Opp FTR||321||23||OOO|
|Mich Opp FTR v. OSU FTR||25||148||MM|
|Mich AdjO v. OSU AdjD||101||36||O|
|Mich AdjD v. OSU AdjO||103||30||O|
Difference of more than 10 places in the national rankings get a 1-letter advantage, more than 100 gets a 2-letter advantage, more than 200 gets a 3-letter advantage, etc.
HAHA WE WON'T FOUL YOU AND ARE TOTALLY GOING TO WIN. Ohio State has advantages in a vast majority of categories, including the two big boys of overall efficiency. Michigan will have to play well above their season-average level of play in order to get a win. A defensive effort like the one they put in against Kansas will have to be combined with one of the best shooting performances of the year for Michigan to win, unless something bizarre happens.
The Buckeyes can shoot better, defend opponents' shots better, rebound better, and keep opponents of the foul line very well. Unless the Wisconsin game was evidence that they can't compete against similarly-talented competition without Turner (the only teams they beat without him were Presbyterian, Delaware State, and Cleveland State), Michigan is probably in for a tough, tough game.
This looks like one that the Buckeyes lead by single-digit margins almost throughout, and then pull away at the end. If Michigan wants to come away with the victory, keeping the deficit manageable is their best bet.