Burke, Spike, Spike, Burke

Burke, Spike, Spike, Burke

Submitted by Brian on April 9th, 2012 at 11:04 AM

ARE YOU STILL RUNNING AROUND IN A CIRCLE? GODDAMMIT YOU BETTER BE

How was your Easter? Mine was lovely apart from the multiple quizzes about Trey Burke's future I had to answer with a vague negativity precisely calibrated to imply a 73.2% chance of departure. Not because of the quizzes necessarily. It was more the repeated consideration of next year's basketball season without Mr. Burke.

As this was happening the Trey Burke zeitgeist—he's got his own now—shifted away from the razor wire and urban warfare towards the bunnies and butterflies. First Keith Langlois tweeted this:

FWIW. NBA personnel guy in Miami for #Pistons game says he believes Trey Burke is headed back to Michigan. Would go in 30s, he said.

And then a young lady who goes to Burke's church tweeted this after noting that the Burke family was at their service:

report from church. The Burke family is telling members of our congregation that Trey's staying another year. We'll see!

Apply grains of salt as you will. My internet spidey sense says legit (30k tweets is a hell of a sockpuppet) and better than hearing about it from an NBA guy in Miami, but still not certain. It has the whiff of a real thing that will be the turning point in internet PANIC about losing Burke a year early.

I am fully aware that blind hope is capable of autopiloting me to this belief; find your own Bayesian estimate. Mine… it moved.

ALSO: Please note the excellent form of mgouser Jivas's post on this stuff:

Trey Burke Twitter rumors [Good]

This is a headline we should all strive for. Concise, informative, and non-stomach-churning.

Now Please Please Please Let Me Introduce You To Your Backup This Time

Spike-Albrecht[1]

As seemed ordained from the moment Sam Webb caused Spike Albrecht's name to pop up on the Michigan internets, the Crown Point Guard [HIKM!] committed to Michigan on his official visit. UMHoops has a commitment post and this site covered Albrecht a couple weeks ago.

Albrecht committed to Michigan over… uh… Appalachian State* and interest that may or may not have resulted in a scholarship offer from various Ivies, Vermont, etc. You get the idea. As Beilein recruits go this is more Colton Christian than, well, Trey Burke, but if you're busy making lists of the late Beilein pickups that didn't go so well don't forget to include Stu Douglass and Zack Novak and feel VERY BAD ABOUT YOURSELF.

If Burke comes back Albrecht doesn't ever have to be a big-time player to be a good idea. He just has to be a heady guy who hands out assists, shoots decently, and doesn't turn the ball over in 15 minutes a game. He'll give the point guard spot some desperately-needed stability even if he never ends up starting.

He's a 5'11" kid from Indiana who took a post-grad year in the same league Mitch McGary and a bunch of other high-level recruits idled in this year. He led his team to the title and garnered MVP honors while doing so. This quote Dylan gathered seems like the quickest path to an understanding of his game:

He’s an old-school style pass first point guard.  He’s very cerebral with a high basketball I.Q.  His best physical attribute is his endurance – he can play all day – but he isn’t especially explosive.  He’s a threat with the three-point line but not a great shooter.  He takes care of the ball, makes very good decisions, and knows how to run a team.

You can check out one of his games from the NESPAC playoffs on Youtube and get the same impression. Albrecht will get into the interior of the defense a lot and fling passes to open guys either on the perimeter or inside. Every once in a while he'll take the shot himself. He's clever, which allows him to overcome some of his physical limitations, and he seems to have a plan whenever he gets into the lane. Heady, smart, etc.

If Burke does go they will have to devolve a lot of usage from the point guard spot and find a way to cope with what looks like some pretty bad defense, but they'd survive. The coach quotes are encouraging about his ability to step in immediately. Por ejemplo:

"We played a very similar offense to what Michigan runs, and this kid is designed for this offense," Carroll said. "He was years ahead of other players when it came to understanding where this offense could go, and that's what you hope your point guard is.

"And I think he'll be the same for Michigan. I think (Beilein) will have a blast coaching this kid." … "He was our tournament MVP, and one thing (Michigan can) expect was what we saw, is that he makes the right decisions.

"He is absolutely clutch."

So he'll come in a lot closer to his ceiling than most kids after a postgrad year and his AP-level understanding of stuff. Also, his coach points out that the league he plays in is overflowing with D-I guys. His transition won't be as harsh.

Hopefully he won't have to step right in, though. Keep running in that circle.

*[WOOOO SUCKIT WOOOOOOO 1-1 BABY LET'S CANCEL THE RUBBER MATCH]

Unverified Voracity Waits

Unverified Voracity Waits

Submitted by Brian on April 6th, 2012 at 2:58 PM

Trey-Burke-ready-for-former-teammate-Sullinger[1]Untitled-1[3]

BABY PLEASE DON'T GO

Burkedate. You've probably seen this from Beilein:

My coaching staff and I have met with Trey and his parents several times over the past two weeks. Collectively, we have gathered and shared with each of them some necessary information that we feel will help Trey make the most informed decision for his future.

The Burke family has been very receptive to our assistance and appreciates that we have encouraged Trey to take his time and look at all of his options between now and the April 10 deadline.

With only one full week of classes remaining, Trey and his teammates, like all students at Michigan, are working diligently to complete their assignments and prepare for final exams.

Hopefully we can exhale about that Guptill tweet. A reader noted that  "move sci" is one of those massive 101-level lectures that doesn't take attendance and probably has as multiple choice exam—ah, Anthro 101 fulfilling my R&E requirement. Burke's probably not missing anything other than quality time with the Daily crossword.

As for where the needle's pointing on a departure, it hasn't moved since yesterday when the forecast called for despair with a small pocket of hope starting at about 3 PM. I don't have anything new, and given the situation anything other than an official declaration one way or the other is going to be worth little.

Go Ferris. Ferris State beat Union yesterday to advance to the NCAA hockey championship game against a rampant BC. For state pride and underdog status and to put the Ferris program on solid footing in the coming hockey New World Order, a Bulldog championship would be sweet. The game is tomorrow at 7 on ESPN2.

In danger. Josh Furman's absence from practice has been attributed to "administrative" issues that aren't academic, and this gives off a whiff of doghouse:

When asked how safety Josh Furman has been doing during camp, Mattison reversed course and said Michigan head coach Brady Hoke would have to answer that.

Dollars to donuts Furman's got a strike or two to his name. Being held out of spring practice is not a good sign. Meanwhile, Marvin Robinson will plead to a lesser charge in his having-a-"concussion"-that-held-him-out-of-eight-games case. He's practicing, so extrapolate Furman's situation from that.

RELEASE THE MCALBRECHTKEN. It's back to the drawing board for the internet nickname but it looks like the brief, passionate courtship between Michigan and Spike Albrecht will come to a satisfactory conclusion. The NWI Times reports that he's "expected to sign" today—should be "commit" since the signing period doesn't start for a few days. Coach quote:

"Spike always played at a high level for us," Swan said, "but to see what he did at the highest level of prep school ball this past year, that was remarkable.

"I know the Michigan staff is very excited about Spike and I know I am really happy for him. He's worked really hard for this opportunity."

Finally we have our revenge on Appalachian State. Can we cancel that game now?

Albrecht's presumed commitment gives Michigan a point guard in the event of a Burke departure; they've still got one or two open slots for 2012 depending on how that goes and a third scholarship they could spend on a grad-year transfer. Speaking of…

[HT: UMHoops]

Another name for the transfer mill. Boston College's Matt Humphrey has decided to spend his last year of eligibility elsewhere. He's more of a wing or shooting guard and did not stand out amongst the wreckage that was BC's most recent season, but he was their second-leading scorer. BC Interruption on his game:

Humphrey was an enigma during his times with the Eagles. At times he was the offensive and defensive rock for BC, providing veteran leadership to a very young and inexperienced team. On the other hand he was impatient (shooting 35% from the field), and averaged two turnovers a game. He also showed an impatient fiery streak, sometimes making big turnovers in crucial moments.

As literally the only non-freshman who played more than a third of BC's minutes, it's hard to judge how he'd contribute to a better team. BC was 9-22 last year. His efficiency numbers are poor—he was 40% from 2, 31% from three—but shot selection had a lot to do with that. Presumably the shots would be better here.

With a BC degree in hand the academics shouldn't be a problem.

Why do you keep hitting yourself? Ramzy posts up an 84-year-old OSU program written by Brady Hoke:

image

You there with the helmet: go forth and show that beaver subphylum what Ohio is all about. Well done.

Insert usual amusement at OSU fans getting terribly peeved about That School Up North not calling them by their official name. Not Ramzy in particular, just, you know, them.

Seven teams, pi semifinals, one and a half finals: The Delany Plan. I don't have to mention that Jim Delany's ludicrous three-semifinal plan for a "plus one" is ludicrous, right? This is how that would have looked the past five years:

2011

Semifinals: No. 1 LSU-No. 5 Oregon (replacing Stanford), No. 2 Alabama-No. 3 Oklahoma State

Rose Bowl: No. 4 Stanford-No. 10 Wisconsin

2010

Semifinals: No. 1 Auburn-No. 6 Ohio State (replacing Wisconsin), No. 3 TCU-No. 4 Stanford

Rose Bowl: No. 2 Oregon-No. 5 Wisconsin

2009

No change

2008

No change

2007

Semifinals: No. 2 LSU-No. 5 Georgia (replacing Ohio State), No. 3 Virginia Tech-No. 4 Oklahoma

Rose Bowl: No. 1 Ohio State-No. 7 USC

The Rose Bowl has survived years in which it's lost one of its tenants to the national title game just fine. Over the last five years it would have had to replace three of its eight berths with… 11-1 Michigan (2007), 11-1 Stanford (2010), and 10-2 Oregon(2011). The Rose Bowl will survive a move to a four-team playoff just fine.

Tom Fornelli has the plan I endorse anyway.

Think of the children. Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott surveys his players for their desires in re: playoff:

While the players expressed a range of opinions, the "common thread" was their desire for some form of playoff. "If you're a competitor, you want a chance to play for it on the field, versus being voted for. That was made loud and clear," said Scott.

This has long been the case but now it matters because people have to backtrack on their lame justifications of the previous system.

Kind of, yes. Joe Nocera's been hammering the NCAA for months now but never has he taken on a more harpoon-worthy whale than that condescending ad you learned to hate over the course of the NCAA tournament. Not the Spandeau Ballet one. The other one:

If you’ve been watching the N.C.A.A. men’s basketball championship — a k a March Madness — you’ve undoubtedly seen the commercial. It’s an N.C.A.A. ad that shows college athletes pumping iron, running sprints and playing games. The voice-over, though, talks not about athletic achievement but academic accomplishment. “African-American males who are student-athletes are 10 percent more likely to graduate,” says the narrator. As the ad concludes, a female athlete looks into the camera and says, “Still think we’re just a bunch of dumb jocks?”

Well… it appears you can't do math:

But Richard Southall, who directs the College Sport Research Institute at the University of North Carolina — along with two colleagues, E. Woodrow Eckard of the University of Colorado-Denver and Mark Nagel at the University of South Carolina — have done rigorous studies that show the opposite. In comparing college basketball players with their true peer group — full-time college students — their data show that the athletes are 20 percent less likely to graduate than nonathletes. They also parsed the data by race: of the teams in this year’s March Madness, for instance, the black athletes are 33 percent less likely to graduate than nonathletes.

There are a lot of good reasons this may be. By the time a lot of players get to college they've been set up to struggle. But the relationship between money, prestige, and cut corners is clear.

Etc.: ESPN revamps its 2012 basketball rankings a final time. GRIII is #18, McGary #27, Stauskas #76. The overall class has dipped to #11. The OHL Draft is this weekend. Keep an eye on where commits Kyle Connor and Dylan Larkin go—the lower the better. More Albrecht scouting from people hitting up the full-game youtube videos of his team playing. An early look at the Alabama offense.

Unverified Voracity Wants CONCACAF Disbanded

Unverified Voracity Wants CONCACAF Disbanded

Submitted by Brian on March 30th, 2012 at 3:28 PM

The only way we'll ever see FSU at Michigan again: a playoff

Playoff stuff. CBS anonymously surveyed conference commissioners and came back with indications as to where they're leaning if (when) a four-team playoff gets implemented. The most important bit from the Big Ten perspective:

CBSSports.com survey says: The commissioners that responded favored playing the semifinal games on campus and holding the title game at a neutral site -- either an existing BCS bowl or letting cities bid for the title game. There was not much support for holding the semifinal games at neutral sites.

I predict in 2014: Semifinal games will end up being played on campus sites with the current BCS bowls hosting the championship game on a rotating basis. Although, don't count out the BCS allowing other cities to bid for the game -- similar to the Super Bowl. Also it's a stone cold lock that the double-hosting format by the BCS bowls (Fiesta, Orange, Sugar and Rose) will be eliminated when the new cycle begins.

That is the way it should be. Cut out the middlemen and provide home atmospheres. Brett McMurphy also reports that commissioners are split down the middle about restricting the field to conference champions, that semifinals will be played sometime around Christmas, and the final will be "as close to January 1 as possible." Oddly, the actual plus one—just another game after the bowls without a bracket—is still on the table.

Amazing how we've instantly flipped from never happen to definitely happening on this. Once Delany was proposing stuff in newspapers this was inevitable, I guess. Still a jarring shift in the landscape.

Burying the lead. David Stern got snippy when asked about the NBA's one-and-done rule recently, which got the headline and the attention. I think this is more significant, though:

“Years ago, I said to the NCAA, I’ve got a great idea,” he said. ‘We’ll insure a select group of basketball players. And that will make them more likely to stay in school, because they won’t feel the loss of a big contract. We’ll designate a pool, and those that are lucky enough to be drafted and make money will pay us back, and those that don’t, it’s our expense. The NCAA I think took it to a committee, that takes it to a census, that took it to a conference, then they have a congress and they came back to me and they said, well, it will only work under our rules if we do that for all sports. And I said, I don’t think that’ll work.”

NBA: Would you like some free money?
NCAA, thanks to the Indiana States of the world: No.

The NCAA is a lot like CONCACAF these days, dominated by a bunch of insignificant islands who have voting power out of all proportion to their relevance. This is D-I. Indiana State wants it to be intramurals. A split is necessary.

As far as the one-and-done model goes, the reason Stern gets snippy is because every time he has a press conference someone asks him about the one and done being ridiculous. This is because it is. John Gasaway was talking about this on twitter recently and I chimed in to agree: the NBA should move to the NHL model where everyone's eligible out of high school whether they opt in or not. NBA teams could then draft players without having to sign them, and sign them when they thought they could be a useful addition to the roster. You could expand the draft to five rounds and give NBA fans another reason to watch college basketball. The kids who aren't ready but keep declaring for the draft willy-nilly would evaporate. It would be a win for everyone.

file-2417-1[1]

Della Valle items. I'm watching his weird Findlay Prep team* club a high school that's actually a high school in a made-for-ESPN high school showcase. It's dififcult to judge Della Valle's offense since he's an afterthought amongst the mega-touted guys around him, but he plays probably 80% of Findlay's minutes so he's doing something right.

He's a scrappy, high-effort player who's doing pretty well defensively against other guys going to high majors, and it seems like he's making smart cuts to get open. These cuts are almost universally ignored by his teammates; the one time he did get a dump-down in the post he took a couple of back-to-the-basket dribbles before hitting a teammate flashing down the lane. The resulting thunder-dunk was aborted by a foul. He looks like a Beilein player out there amongst the athletes and whatnot. Findlay claims he's hitting 55% of his threes on the year, which… like… if that's true he's not shooting nearly enough.

His ballhandling is okay. You could get away with him as a backup point but wouldn't want to start him there. He'd be able to play at the two and three easily. I'd take him without blinking.

It would be a great help for Michigan if Arizona's troubled Josiah Turner returned. Survey says

"I won't elaborate beyond that just because when our season ends we will be able to take the next step and get on the same page with Josiah moving forward. That shouldn't be interpreted as he will never play at Arizona again, but I know he won't play this season again."

This is Turner's second suspension. He did not travel with the team to Florida on Dec. 7, and Miller also held him out during the third game of the season to send something of an attitude adjustment message.

Miller wouldn't comment on the chances of Turner -- rated the 10th-best recruit in the country last season by Rivals.com -- being with Arizona next season

Hmmm. Make this work, Sean Miller. Arizona currently has one scholarship available and is after Duquense transfer TJ McConnell, a PG (who can't play next year, settle down) who fits a bigger need for them. Without someone else leaving they would not have room for Della Valle. Root for McConnell to Arizona and Turner to zen meditation.

Della Valle visits Arizona the 13th and Michigan shortly after. Vibes have been good so far but not so good that it would be a shock to see him at Arizona. It seems to be down to M and the Wildcats, though.

*[The only students at the school are the guys on the basketball roster. It's a school in a very technical sense. The academics seem fine, as the kids go to a tony private school across the street.]

Beilein offense in detail. It's been like four days so it's time for another Massive Daily Profile. This one is on Beilein's offense:

Beilein rapidly moves the five pins around the board, showing the wide variety of offensive looks he uses. The only thing moving faster than his fingers is his mouth, as he breathlessly details what would be overly complex to most.

You realize Beilein is in complete control of this offense, and for good reason — it’s all his. Some may have similar principles in their system, but the minutiae, terminology and endless reads Beilein employs are unique to him. Though the basics come from some ancestral systems, he has morphed and twisted his attack into something all his own.

Ever wonder why you don’t see other teams running the Beilein system? It’d be impossible. The only man who truly knows its detailed intricacies is Beilein.

Etc.: Five high points of the basketball season. Craig Roh interviewed, seems to be adopting the shaggy hair required of Michigan SDEs.

Mailbag: Basketball Options, Hoke Philosophical Ceiling, Spring Qs, Damn It All To Hell

Mailbag: Basketball Options, Hoke Philosophical Ceiling, Spring Qs, Damn It All To Hell

Submitted by Brian on March 27th, 2012 at 12:34 PM

imbro[1]Byron_Zeigler[1]

Already strong desire to see Amedeo Della Valle wearing Michigan electric banana yellow: incremented. Also, here's 6'7" Bo Zeigler.

What to do with the extra options.

Brian -

I'm curious what you think Michigan should do with their suddenly available basketball scholarships.  I realize it is impossible to predict specific names since you don't know who is really out there or how they look outside their highlight films.  But from a position stand-point, what do you think?

I ask because I've had a debate with Dylan at UMHoops the past few days about it.  He's of the opinion that a combo guard like Della Valle would be the best choice because we don't need a true PG with Burke and Walton.  My opinion is that the end of the bench is designed for people who fit a very specific role and are comfortable being a developmental prospect so I think we need a true PG who can back up Burke and Walton and be available in case of emergency. 

I think Travis Trice (MSU) and Stilman White (UNC) are perfect examples of the type of player you want to provide depth.  They were both undersized, low-ranked recruits coming into a full roster with many more heralded players but both played critical back-up roles for their teams when needed.  To me, that is the first priority with these available scholarships and the second priority is either a combo guard with a lot of upside or a pure shooter to groom into the Vogrich role. 

Adam
AC1997

Michigan could take both a PG and a combo now and a third guy besides if he's a grad-year transfer. I think the ideal situation is a grad-year PG, Della Valle, and a full-court press on Bo Zeigler and Monte Morris as Michigan tries to add to its 2013 class.

If there isn't a suitable grad-year guy out there, then it comes down to what you think of your available point guard options. Michigan does need a second point guard at some point. Do you think Della Valle and/or Stauskas can give you backup minutes if Burke stays? Do you think Spike Albrecht or other random unsigned guy can play? How do you feel about your shot at doubling up with Walton and Morris in 2013? What is your contingency plan if Burke goes pro?

I can't answer any of those questions, but I don't think you want to take a guy just to take a guy. Christian was an example of that. He was going to Tulane and had little interest outside of that before Michigan swooped in. He ended up sitting on the bench before departing, and the limited utility he provided in his sparse minutes probably could have been handled by Corey Person without much problem.

Albrecht is a walking question mark right now. There's a big difference between Travis Trice—who had offers from Minnesota, Northwestern, Dayton, and Butler—and Albrecht, who doesn't even have profile at the major sites and has Vermont fans on the fence about taking him. Meanwhile, White had a BYU offer. I can't find a confirmed Albrecht offer from anyone—his profile is a lot closer to Christian than either of your four-year examples.

Unless you think Albrecht is the sort of guy who can give you ten minutes now and could start as a senior, I wouldn't take him. If he's as good as Dave Sobolewski, the guy Sam Webb compared him to, I would. But even a low profile guy like Sobocop got three stars from Rivals and shows a number of quality mid-major offers like Harvard, Northern Iowa, and Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

In contrast, we know Della Valle has high-level suitors. If Michigan gets him they'll beat out Texas A&M, Arizona, Gonzaga, and others for him (AFAIK he does not have an official OSU offer). That's a guy you'd take any time.

This is my point guard decision matrix:

  • If you can get a grad-year guy, take him.
  • Otherwise, if you think Albrecht or other guy is as good as Sobolewski, take him.
  • Otherwise, if Trey Burke stays just deal with 5-10 minutes a game with Stauskas or hopefully Della Valle at the point.
  • If Trey Burke leaves, panic. Then reach for someone, anyone.

FWIW, A Trey Zeigler transfer—which doesn't seem to be on the table—doesn't fit well with Michigan's needs. They need another guard next year, when Zeigler won't be eligible, and he's probably more of a shooting guard. If you can get Della Valle he's preferable since he's available now.

    Mmmm, roster fantasy.

Brian -

I don't think it's possible...but we just think about the possibility of Burke and Hardaway staying for not one, but TWO years!?!  How good could that team be assuming all the incoming freshmen stay?

[ED: This email came in before the attrition and the Burke news.]

Sure it's possible, but I'm not sure we want that to happen. If Hardaway has another year like his most recent one and Burke doesn't improve significantly they'll again be in that range of second-round-to-undrafted prospects and the calculus will dictate a return. I'd rather have Hardaway turn into a lottery pick both for roster reasons and, hey, NBA lottery pick driving team forward.

A hypothetical 2013-14 squad featuring everyone from the current roster and the next two incoming classes would be one-seed good even without Smotrycz. It would probably mean the upcoming season was a disappointment, though. I'd rather have a breakout year and deal with the consequences.

It's in the past.

So with the partnership between the B1G and PAC12 coming up in a few years to do some cross conference games some of the teams are getting a slight jump (i.e. Northwestern playing Stanford and Cal, as well as the recent announcement of Michigan State and Oregon).  While I would love to see a home and home with USC, isn’t the most intriguing matchup with Arizona? It might be a lose-lose situation for us where if we win we were expected to win and if we lose then Rich Rod will have his moment of glory.

Who would you like to see?

Jin Shi

Intriguing, yes. Annoying, God yes. I would like Michigan to stay away from any rehash of the Rodriguez era. This desire is on par with Michigan making a Rose Bowl: let us never speak of that again. Playing Arizona is like scheduling a rematch with Appalachian…

Oh, right. That.

If they zipper future matchups like they do for the Big Ten/ACC challenge (though I assume they'll do home-and-homes in this Pac-10 alliance), Michigan might not have a choice. It's hard to see the near future of both conferences panning out in such a way as to dictate the Arizona-Michigan matchup unless TV wants to get cute. I'd expect USC, Oregon, Stanford, etc. Arizona's been down forever for a reason.

On the philosophical shortcomings of the program expressed via the lens of running back recruiting.

The recent commit of Deveon Smith, which possibly excludes Ty Isaac, brought to the forefront an interesting inner debate I've had for a while.  You have said that the Ohio State game is a microcosm of UM's season.  I similarly have thought that Mike Hart was a microcosm of UM football in not only the late Carr years, but also the Bo years. (Disclaimer:  do not read further if you think of the Bo years as the pinnacle of a college football program). 

Anyway, Hart was so very good but just not quite fast enough to take it to the house after he hit the second level; often getting caught from behind.  Similarly, the late Carr years, as well as Bo's years, resulted in very good teams which just couldn't reach an NC (or a very good bowl record).  Obviously the leading all-time rusher in UM history is not to blame for UM's failure to win NC's, but rather a microcosm; just doesn't have that last little burst to become elite. 

I see the same in Smith vs Isaac:  one a more sure-fire prospect, but lacks the elite higher ceiling that great break-away speed gives (Smith), or a bigger risk in waiting for that elite size/speed combo (Isaac).  I'm honestly not sure where I stand in the inner debate of whether I would rather risk a higher level ceiling (in prospects and program), or go a safer route, but with a lower ceiling that results in conference championships but not the elite national championships.  I was curious to know your thoughts on the subject. 

David

The tension here was on display in Hoke's first press conference when Drew Sharp managed to break away from the gentle grape-peeling-and-feeding session to ask a typically nasty question about Hoke's focus on winning the Big Ten, and how it wasn't a focus on winning national championships, and doesn't that make you some sort of jerk, Brady, and don't even think I'm projecting my failures on to you and everyone I write about I HAVE A VERY IMPORTANT JOB AT A NEWSPAPER.

Hoke looked at Sharp like his cool leather jacket was made out of baby skin—which, unbeknownst to him, it was—and mumbled something about how that opportunity would be there if they won the league. Sharp tried to press the point, but Hoke had already moved on to recruiting the 2015 class.

The idea that Michigan plays it safe was something I've felt as I watched good teams play in fear of what could go wrong instead of pressing their advantages and fall apart against teams they have no business doing so against. That was pretty much the only thing I thought when Hoke was hired: oh God this again, even further removed from the time period in which it was a good idea.

Hoke then set about annihilating that expectation, on and off the field. He hired Greg Mattison and brought along an honest-to-God offensive coordinator, he went for it—a lot—and told the media not to expect him to change after it didn't work out that one time against Illinois. And of course the recruiting. Brady Hoke's answer to Smith vs Isaac is "why not both?" I gingerly suggest that will also be his approach to Big Ten title vs National title. Hoke likes to win games, and tries to win all of them, and is recruiting at a level that will allow him to do so.

933695[1]josh-furman[1]

Wilson is needed at safety because Josh Furman's hair may be too spectacular for him to see the field.

Spring questions.

Hi Brian,

Some Spring FB questions that so far I have not seen much about:

1) With the additions of Wilson and Clark as Free Safeties (and Dymonte in 2013) it would seem that moving Tamari Carter back to his HS position of CB would be logical given his size and our depth chart.  I know there is talk of trying Wilson at CB but I don't buy it.

I haven't heard anything about Wilson at CB; I'd be surprised if he was not a safety all the way. As far as Carter goes, I'm looking at the depth chart and it seems like Michigan has three solid veterans plus a couple of true sophomore backups they liked enough to play last year. That seems like a position of less uncertainty than safety, partially because Marvin Robinson…

2) Any word on whether Marvin Robinson will get a medical red shirt for last year and also if that minor X Box spat has been cleared up?  I still see Marvin as #2 on the depth chart and heir apparent to Kovacs at SS, so an extra year of eligibility would be nice.  In other Red Shirt News I know it is futile to ask why we can't get a straight answer about Devin's possible wasted Freshman year... a riddle wrapped in a conundrum.

…does not seem like he's going to be a factor this year. I've gotten a report that he has not looked in shape at early spring practices. Obviously a lot of time left before fall; still not a good sign. If he's not in line for playing time Carter is one of only two guys with a year under his belt at safety. The other is Josh Furman, who has reportedly been absent for a few practices. Even if that's benign (class conflict?) it's not a good sign for potential Furman playing time. Things could go wrong a lot more quickly there than corner.

I don't know about Gardner. I've heard the opposite about the likelihood he ends up getting the extra year—e.g., it is a formality. I don't know what to believe there.

3) Is there any buzz at all about Ken Wilkins?  He seems like a great possibility at SDE but I am starting to feel "Adam Patterson Syndrome" with regard to Mr. Wilkins.

Thanks,
Jerry In Ibiza

There hasn't been much buzz about Wilkins and the move of not one but two WDEs inside to positions he might play is not a good sign for him when it comes to seeing the field. The last we saw Wilkins he was getting annihilated by a walk-on as an undersized three-tech in the spring game; he did not surface at all last season even when the defensive line depth was whittled down to nothing in the Sugar Bowl.

He's got a shot at the rotation this year whether it's behind Black or Roh; if he doesn't do it now chances are he won't ever. If Patterson was on the sort of roster Wilkins will be as a fourth year player, he would have been buried.

Basketball: What Now?

Basketball: What Now?

Submitted by Brian on March 22nd, 2012 at 11:47 AM

Yesterday's rapture of three players and near-rapture of Trey Burke takes Michigan from set on players for years to scramble mode. Even if Burke returns—

—Michigan has two open scholarships for now or 2013 and a third that could go to a grad-year transfer. Options? There are some.

Amedeo Della Valle

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The 6'5" combo guard from Italy out of Findlay Prep in Nevada. Michigan made his top five despite not officially offering and Beilein's checking him out in person today. He's not ranked highly but has offers from Arizona, Ohio State, and Gonzaga, three of the other teams in his top five. (Texas A&M is the other team. They are not good at basketball.) He's not highly ranked but if he's actually got offers from those three teams and UCLA, UConn, and USC he's a best-case scenario as far as talent Michigan can add to the roster.

Is he a point guard? He thinks so.

Della Valle is a natural point guard, but with Dominic Artis and Nigel Williams-Goss entrenched in the Findlay backcourt, he’s been playing out of position a bit. Moreover, with Bennett injured, Della Valle has been defending bigger players.

It’s given him the chance to demonstrate his versatility.

“I can play the one and the two,” Della Valle said. “I can defend combo guards.”

Della Valle is taking his time with a decision, and said he will likely choose a school until April. There are no favorites, and no other visits planned just yet.

“I want to play right away,” he said. “I also want a great coach. And style of play is important.”

I get the vibe Michigan is in strong position with Della Valle but am simultaneously suspicious of my instinct. There was a random guy on the Rivals board saying he had some inside info and Michigan would get him if they pushed hard. So that's totally solid.

Spike Albrecht

spike-albrecht[1]

Albrecht is the kid with the ball.

That's not a protest sign directed at a Swiss alderman, it's a person. Sam Webb mentioned a point guard from Indiana spending a prep year in the same league Stauskas and McGary are in; though he didn't mention a name Albrecht fits the profile and is undoubtedly the player in question.

Albrecht is from Crown Point, Indiana—the heart of Michigan recruiting—and a former member of the SYF AAU squad that has provided Michigan with Glenn Robinson III and Mitch McGary. He took a post-grad year in an effort to get a major scholarship. He's still looking for one. He put up 23 points in the prep school AAA championship game after defeating Mitch McGary's heavily favored Brewster squad (link is to full game)  and was named the tourney MVP. He's got a couple kids going to D-I schools on his team (Vermont, Harvard, Dartmouth) but still seems to be his team's go-to guy. As of October Albrecht was getting interest from Vermont and MAC schools; he's not rated and is variously listed anywhere from 5'11" to 6'2", with the shorter end of that scale being more realistic.

Highlights? Highlights.

He is not large but does seem to have the wild double-clutch reverse layup game that you have to have if you're going to be a guy that size playing college basketball. We'd be totally boned if we had to start him next year and he's not likely to beat out Derrick Walton but he might be a solid rotation guy.

BONUS: his team is nicknamed the "Hoggers." 

Random High Profile Uncommitted Dude

There are some uncommitted fellows with four stars at various recruiting services but with none of them listing Michigan it's doubtful they can get seriously involved. It is distantly possible they could hop on a guy like Darrick Wood, who is #104 at Rivals, plays at a New England prep school, and only shows an offer from St. John's… a school he already decommitted from. That is a name I picked off a list and nothing else.

Hhhhhhhyarrrrr!

With coach-firing season comes potential defections. Illinois has jettisoned Bruce Weber and will not reload with Shaka Smart. Could Michigan pirate one of their recruits? They do have a three-star PG named Michael Orris out of Crete-Monee (also the high school of LaQuon Treadwell). As of a couple weeks ago this was his status($):

"Absolutely," Orris said, when asked if he still planned to suit up for the Orange and Blue next season. "It changes a lot because (Weber) was the man that recruited me, someone I developed an amazing relationship with, but I've signed a letter of intent to Illinois. As of now, that's where I'm going."

It's a longshot, but not completely off the table. Illinois also has an unranked 6-foot shooting guard with one other offer from North Dakota State committed as a preferred walk-on. He's not likely to draw interest.

Nebraska also dumped its coach recently, and unlike Illinois they've got a number of commits. Unfortunately, none are geographically proximate and most are JUCOs. They do have a 5'8" three-star PG out of Kansas City and a 6'4" shooting guard out of Kansas. No one has gotten an "I'm still committed" quote.

This is also the category in which grad-year transfers might be explored. I have no idea if there's a Brandon Wood out there for Michigan this year, but if there is Michigan should take him without blinking. FWIW, UConn's Alex Oriakhi has announced he will transfer and will be immediately eligible as long as UConn's APR-related suspension is upheld. Unfortunately he's a 6'9" center who Michigan doesn't really need.

Air

If Burke returns Michigan doesn't really need anything except maybe a backup point. They could bank a scholarship or two and try to add to their 2013 class with a Bo Ziegler or other guys. It's about 90% likely that Michigan does not fill both slots, I'd say.

Since he'll have to sit out a year, Trey Ziegler counts as air, BTW. Not that it seems like there's anything going on there.

Let's Feel Better About Things

Man, is Mark Donnal going to be a tough matchup in Beilein's offense.

Love the skill level, and he seems like he's got decent athleticism. Also, Derrick Walton is gooooood.

Mailbag: 2013 Basketball Class Skepticism, More Colors, Late Game Gritty Clutch Anecdote Battle

Mailbag: 2013 Basketball Class Skepticism, More Colors, Late Game Gritty Clutch Anecdote Battle

Submitted by Brian on March 14th, 2012 at 12:14 PM

robinson3[1]hardawayjr[1]03c5159d9e125e06e80e6a7067001aff[1]

Hi Brian,

Do you think Coach Beilein wasn't selective enough in the 2013 class, seeing that none of the recruits are in the top 50, and one of them is outside the top 100?

Thanks!

Troy
Cleveland, OH

At this point Beilein has earned the benefit of the doubt when it comes to jumping on recruits early. When he grabbed Glenn Robinson III he was an unranked three-star; he is going to finish his high school career with five stars on Rivals and won't be far off on Scout. Nick Stauskas has broken into the top 100 on all sites as well; I think he'll be a fantastic two-guard for Michigan. Last year Beilein won a recruiting battle with Cincinnati for PSU decommit Trey Burke. The year before he grabbed Smotrycz before his profile blew up and was higher on Tim Hardaway Jr than anyone else. Beilein's evaluation skills are clearly a notch above the field.

So there's that. Beilein's taken a lot of lightly-regarded three stars who happen to blow up either before or after they hit Ann Arbor. Michigan's 2013 class may be in the process of doing that. Derrick Walton just went for 47 in a playoff game; Zak Irvin has had a strong high school season. I'm guessing those guys are more likely to move up than down, though Scout's Brian Snow doesn't seem like he's going to budge on Irvin just yet.

Even if those guys aren't in line for some of the meteoric rises we've seen Michigan recruits have, they don't have to get bumped much to be on par with 2012. Irvin's on the edge of the top 50 on Rivals and Walton is 87. They're starting out with more rep than Robinson or Stauskas, more rep than three of MSU's four 2012 commits.

As for Donnal, I don't care as much what the ratings say about him because it's at that five spot that Michigan is so divergent from a conventional team. Donnal has an extremely high skill level that makes him a great fit for Michigan. Hypothetical athletic limitations—which may or may not be a big deal for a post who just finished his junior year of high school—make him the #124 player in a nationwide ranking; in Beilein's eyes you can bet he's a lot higher.

When Carlton Brundidge, a guy who still has a lot of time to turn into a useful player, is the best case for a Beilein recruiting miss* attempting to criticize his 2013 class is like shooting a guy wearing six bulletproof vests.

*[I don't think anyone expected post-signing-day pickup Colton Christian to be anything other than what he is; jury is out on Bielfeldt. Beilein is making a lot of encouraging noises about him. #pleasebelikedraymondgreen

Also, a large number of Beilein recruits that went elsewhere have gone on to agonizingly good careers elsewhere: Kyle Kuric, Kevin Pangos, Klay Thompson, etc. Hell, Green was supposedly about to commit to Michigan before Izzo swooped in on him.]

Color follow-up.

A follow-up from the Michigan Today story featuring the "athletic colors" and the "official colors" that were so divergent:

Brian -

After reading about university colors on MGoBlog, I thought you find find some additional information of interest.

An Ann Arbor News article from November 29, 1998, "Hue-ing the line: True blue, maize ways" follows up on the Fall 1996 Michigan Today story "Which Maize? Which Blue?" The 1912 official color color samples (housed at the Bentley Historical Library) were tested in 1997 with spectrophotometers by X-Rite (a company in Grandville, Michigan founded by Rufus Teesdale a Michigan graduate).

According to the Ann Arbor News article, the spectrophotometer readings were converted to printing instructions noting that the numbers "were tweaked a bit to account for some fading of the ribbons since 1912."

The spectrophotometer readings of the 1912 official color samples were:

MAIZE: 9 cyan, 28 magenta, 59 yellow, 0 black

BLUE:  93 cyan, 76 magenta, 24 yellow, 2 black

The 1912 report on the official colors reads a lot like current complaints about color, "In short, the blue color, which is the one longest associated with the University, starting with a shade almost as dark as "navy blue" has gradually weakened until it has the hint known as "baby blue." the maize, likewise, has faded to correspond, and is now an expressionless pale yellow. So delicate have the colors become, that they have not only lost their original character, but are ineffective in decorations, and useless to the Athletic association, which has been forced to employ colors entirely different from those which recent graduates regard as University colors. It is only necessary to see the diversity of the banners which are displayed in the store windows to realize the confusion which exists."
- Brian

Every time I bring this up I'm pleasantly surprised by how seriously people take this. Again, I've heard that the athletic department would like to move away from the kind of yellow that gets us mentioned in the same breath with the Sounders and Oregon when SI writers are bagging on these babies:

BaylorNewUnis[1]

I hope they come with sirens, ladders, and hoses

Let there come a day when Roy Roundtree is wearing sunglasses in Crisler just to look cool instead of prevent retina damage.

On Michigan's late game success.

Brian,

You mentioned that you don't buy into the "grit" factor as a possible explanation into their 13-5 record given the difference in efficiency margin.  I agree that Eckstein-adjectives don't rationalize the difference but I was curious if there is any game experience stats out there that could help. 

I know that UM is still young in terms of overall team experience but there's no question in my mind that Novak and Douglas' four years of relevant playing time contributes to that record despite the efficiency.  I would also think that having Morgan and Hardaway being second year starters adds to that explanation given the relative short time periods that excellent teams have their players for before they leave for the draft.

I don't know how you would measure it but is there anything that quantifies the experience of the players actually playing minutes in the game.  Having two starters that have played significant time over four years has to be somewhat rare in the Big 10's upper tier.

Thanks,
Keegan

Kenpom does have an experience measure that adjusts for minutes played. Michigan is 209th of 345 with an average of 1.54 years of experience. This is a massive improvement on last year when they were 335th*.

As for Michigan's super-experienced dudes, Michigan's two is better than OSU's one (Buford) and MSU's one (Green; Thornton has not seen a lot of time in his career), but Green has a usage of 28%, Buford 23%. Stu and Zack are around 15% each. Their involvement in the offense summed about equals Green's.

Meanwhile when I think clutch late-game performances, I think Trey Burke putting it as high off the glass as possible against OSU and hitting free throw after free throw. This blog has a tag about Burke's clutch play even though it tries not to believe in clutch. That's a freshman.

So I cannot agree with your police work here when poor Northwestern is so much more experienced (89th), relies two massive-usage upperclassmen, and endured maximum epic pain in all late game situations this year. BOOM REVERSE ANECDOTE'D.

In the face of the post-Merrit/Lee implosion I'm a convert to the gritty winning winners bit, but I think that's equally useful at all times during a game, in practice, etc., not especially at the end of a game.

*[BONUS KENPOM STATISTICAL OUTLIER: Michigan gets 17% of their minutes from its bench. That is 343rd(!) nationally. The only teams more reliant on their starters are Siena, a 14-17 MAAC team, and Youngstown State, a 16-15 Horizon League team.

Oddly enough, having few bench minutes is much less of a problem than having a ton. Alabama is the most bench-heavy team in the tournament at #45 and they are up there involuntarily after two starters were suspended midseason. #60 Kansas State is the first team on the list that seems to have voluntarily played its bench a lot. Life's better at the bottom: 14 teams in the 300s in this category (ie, a third of them) made the tourney, including S16 seeds Kansas, Kentucky, Missouri, Wisconsin, Louisville, and Michigan.]

Unverified Voracity Plans A Boring Signing Day

Unverified Voracity Plans A Boring Signing Day

Submitted by Brian on January 31st, 2012 at 3:28 PM

Well, we're going to do stuff anyway. The number of Michigan prospects who will commit on signing day: zero. This makes our annual signing day chat spectacular kind of pointless, but we'll do it anyway. It'll boot up an hour or two before Brady Hoke's 1 PM press conference and wind down after that. Also scheduled: a podcast, a 2013 reset, and a look at what other teams in the conference did (spoiler: not much). I look forward to answering the same question about whether there will be any surprise recruits two dozen times.

Ace has an ill-timed but unavoidable absence the next couple days and will by around as much as possible but not constantly.

4ebafdc97e461.image[1]robinson3[1]142_Nick_Stauskas[1]

McGary, Robinson, Stauskas

I'm not even mad. Scout updates its 2012 basketball rankings in much the same way Rivals did, dropping McGary to #20, raising GRIII to #27, and inserting Stauskas at #83. I don't mind McGary falling like that since it seemed like he was not quite on the same level as various other centers this fall.

Even better from the "keep McGary around some" POV: there are a whopping eight centers in front of him in the Scout rankings. He might want to cool his heels a little to clear out that logjam. Meanwhile, Robinson is two spots off a fifth star and Stauskas has converted just about everyone into a believer at this point.

The numbers are pretty good. Via UMHoops, Michigan's tourney profile:

  • Record: 15-6 (6-3 Big Ten) [Div. 1 Only]
  • RPI: 16
  • SOS: 14
  • Home Record: 11-0
  • Away Record: 2-5
  • Neutral Record: 2-1
  • vs. RPI Top 50: 6-4
  • vs. RPI Top 100: 7-5

That Wisconsin win is rounding into form, giving Michigan two victories over elite-ish competition. I'm pleasantly surprised the RPI is that high; I would have guessed they were ten or so spots lower. Michigan's lack of blowouts does not hurt them here, though. Thus that.

Also thus: Michigan is homing in on a 5 seed according to bracketology folks. Lunardi has us a 4, Crashing the Dance a 6, and three other sources say 5. Michigan is tracking slightly better than my expectation at the beginning of the season, which was a 6.

All the outdoor games. The outside GLI thing is steadily moving from rumor to reality. A Windsor Star columnist is now saying that it will be officially official "next week." By the time that tourney's done Michigan will have played 5 outdoor games in four years. The novelty is officially worn off.

Loons. The SEC version of Thought Equity Motion is blowing out the youtube accounts of anyone with the temerity to post clips of decade-old games. Keep your old projects handy, WH.

The correct solution here is the same one that some music companies have started executing when they find their audio on youtube: leave it and take the ad revenue. No one who's putting these games up is doing so for the money. They just want to share the history of their programs with the world at large. And no one's going to pay to see the 1999 Wisconsin game, no matter how much you want to try:

I can no longer share my clips with the Bulldog Nation, but am forced to watch them by my lonesome (and I mean all alone -- strangely, my wife doesn't enjoy reliving the 1976 Florida game with me).  However, if the Bulldogs were a member of the Big Ten, for example, the videos would remain on my blog and up at YouTube for the few viewers that actually wanted to watch them. …

One quick look at the SEC's site and I notice it has one of my favorite old Bulldog classics "on demand" -- the 1980 Georgia-South Carolina game.  Before you could go to YouTube, or my blog, and view clips from this game.  Now, you still can view the clips from the very same game via the SEC Digital Network, but it's gonna cost you: $3.99 to rent, $6.99 to own.

I bet the 1980 UGA-South Carolina game has brought in far less revenue than XOS has spent DMCAing clips of it. Work out a deal where you get the ad revenue and leave the old games alone.

These people are actually doing free work for you. They are not your enemies.

SEC rule update. Via Blutarsky, the new SEC rule on oversigning clarified:

“If a player signs, he counts without regard to whether or not he actually enrolls,” SEC spokesman Charles Bloom said in an e-mail Monday. “ ‘Back counting’ is only permitted for mid-year enrollees who are able to be included as an initial counter for the academic year in which they enroll. ‘Back counting’ is an artificial term for this discussion and not accurate as the question is about the signing limit.”

So a team that signed 22 last year could still sign 28 this year as long as three were in early. A team that signed 25 (or 28) last year is limited to 25. Signees that don't make it in still count.

I wonder if we'll see certain SEC schools hold off on signing prospects until it is clear they're in. Despite all the hoopla a LOI is totally unnecessary. If a school wanted they could just enroll a kid and give him a scholarship. The current SEC rule will go national next year, affecting Big Ten schools not one whit.

BONUS: Here's an unintended side effect: these make JUCOs more expensive since you have a limited number of LOIs and they usually have just half the available eligibility. Taking those guys reduces your margin of error with high school kids. Since that margin is still roomy I don't think it'll have a major impact.

Etc.: ESPN's NHL insider projects($) Trouba #21, Di Giuseppe #30, and Boo Nieves #41 in his draft rankings. That is significantly lower on Trouba than most. UMHoops looks at Michigan halfway through the conference. Tight ends are becoming more important everywhere. Beilein hops on the "Ohio" train, further infuriating OSU fans who use "TSUN" reflexively.

Unverified Voracity Unearths Marsupials

Unverified Voracity Unearths Marsupials

Submitted by Brian on January 19th, 2012 at 4:27 PM

Random old game. Michigan-Illinois 2002, via WH:

Beilein knows talent. This is a meme that's been gone over before in this space and Trey Burke is an obvious addition to Beilein's list of who-dat finds. But do you remember Kevin Pangos? Michigan was after the Ontario point guard and possible marsupial early($) despite his low recruiting profile; other offerees at that time were UNLV, Temple, and Portland.

Pangos ended up at Gonzaga, where he's been statistically better than Trey Burke, albeit against considerably weaker competition. He's shooting 40% from 3 on 105 attempts, 51% from two, has excellent assist and turnover rates, gets to the line, and has pretty good usage. It all adds up to the #47 player in O-rating as a freshman point guard.

Pangos is another of Beilein's many low-rated targets that ended up tearing it up wherever they ended up. See also: Joe Trapani, Kyle Kuric (low usage but a 45% three point shooter a year ago), Klay Thompson (who shot a ludicrous third of WSU's attemps last year and still managed to hit 40% from 3), and Robin Benzing, not to mention the players he's actually recruited like Burke, Hardaway, Novak, etc. Add in the increased profiles of Stauskas and Robinson and it seems like mid-majors should be following Beilein around to see who he doesn't end up with. This will be a tough task since Michigan's 2013 class is already full.

FWIW, Casey Prather is a rare Beilein evaluation miss. He's struggling to get on the floor at Florida and is just 8 of 33 from two this year.

This section inspired by the Big Ten Geeks post on M-MSU.

Youth is wasted on the green. John Niyo has a column on the Michigan-Michigan State game that repeats a few of Izzo's hangdog assertions in the aftermath of the M win, most prominently in the headline (which Niyo, of course, did not write):

Michigan State hurt by lack of experience

…Lost in their surprising 15-game winning streak and run to a top-10 national ranking was the fact the Spartans' depth and chemistry -- both vastly improved over last year's dysfunctional bunch -- still are reliant on what Izzo not-so-affectionately calls his "three-and-a-half freshmen."

That'd be first-year players Travis Trice, Branden Dawson and Brandan Kearney, as well as senior transfer Brandon Wood. And with the exception of Kearney's cameo, none of them looked the slightest bit comfortable as they stepped into the fray Tuesday against a Michigan squad that's no longer afraid of its in-state sibling.

Wood had the most disastrous showing, starting with some wild 3-point attempts early and ending with a crucial defensive breakdown late. But he was hardly alone.

"I thought our young guys really looked young," said Izzo, who wasn't in the mood to say much about the young guy for Michigan (freshman guard Trey Burke) who really looked great. "The inexperience hurt us."

Niyo does nod to Michigan's general lack of Grizzly Adams beards, but just to clarify, Michigan is actually younger than Michigan State this year. Kenpom ranks M 222nd in average age*; Michigan State is 198. The difference is negligible. If you want to argue Brandon Wood is "half a freshman" that still doesn't make him younger or more likely to have eligibility next year, when Michigan loses Novak and Douglass versus State losing Green, Wood, and Thornton. The age thing isn't going to be much different next year.

*[This is adjusted for minutes, so Brundidge's existence doesn't count for much since his minutes are few. Burke, on the other hand…]

The balm of Payne. A guy named Chris Mackinder does defensive box scores that are pretty interesting, if difficult to interpret. His output for the MSU game:

AjhaOfkCEAIQKka[1]

And explanation of his numbers can be found at the Audacity of Hoops. The numbers don't make total sense to me. Novak was largely tasked with Draymond Green. Green takes 27% of MSU shots when he's on the floor; in this game he managed only 17%, scoring seven points on eight shots with five turnovers to three assists. Even if those turnovers were largely forced by other players it doesn't make much sense that the numbers claim he was the worst Michigan defender. Apparently he got blamed for over-helping. Meanwhile Hardaway makes out okay because he guarded Thornton for half the game. We'll see what Ace says.

Even so, it's interesting to look at 1) the abject cluelessness of Payne, who was charged with 3.5 baskets against a fifth of a stop (that a missed FTA—another way in which this system is pretty weird) in just 14 minutes, and 2) Keith Appling losing his matchup with Burke. Also, the extremely low defensive usage applied to Douglass would seem to confirm everyone's eyes in re: Douglass's perimeter defense. The good shots are elsewhere.

(HT: TOC contributor and gap-maintainer KJOnTheBanks.)

Brick city. UMHoops looks at Michigan's three point issues both for and against. Prepare for an ugly chart covering Michigan's three-point shooting in conference:

Name 3FGM 3FGA 3FG%
Stu Douglass 12 28 42.9%
Matt Vogrich 3 8 37.5%
Trey Burke 10 30 33.3%
Zack Novak 10 31 32.3%
Blake McLimans 1 4 25.0%
Evan Smotrycz 5 23 21.7%
Tim Hardaway Jr 8 42 19.0%

Yuck. That Hardaway leads the team in attempts and is making 19% of them should mean he is no longer given a green light unless someone else creates the shot for him.

This is the opposite trend from last year, when Hardaway went nuts from deep during the Big Ten season. Shot quality is a big part of this—not many of Michigan's looks in the Big Ten have been clean. Hopefully a larger part is just a random slump. Michigan's not going to win many games from here on out without making their share of threes.

Inroad. Cato June is apparently the new head coach at Anacostia in DC. It would be nice for Michigan to get an in somewhere in that city, which pumps out prospects yearly.

Etc.: Hockey picks up a 2015 forward commit from Kyle Connor. As per usual he's too young to really know how good he is but he does lead his team in scoring by a considerable margin and is supposed to be a NTDP lock. Shawn Conway article from the Seaholm High School(!) newspaper finds him at a JUCO on the West Coast, Arizona offer in hand. Bama fans can make excuses for anything. You're paying $70 per year for ESPN.

Mitch McMuppets

Mitch McMuppets

Submitted by Brian on November 3rd, 2011 at 5:27 PM

I was torn, but then people crashed the site. I think site crashed for something good == muppets. Especially when the good thing was a foregone conclusion. McMuppets ahoy!

And you can't have one without the other…

About ten months ago, Michigan was 1-6 in the Big Ten and people were emailing me nasty things about John Beilein's job prospects.

Hello: Mitch McGary

Hello: Mitch McGary

Submitted by Ace on November 3rd, 2011 at 5:03 PM

I will keep my composure. I will keep my composure. I will keep my composure.

WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOMITCHMCGARYWOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!

Well, I tried, but when Michigan hauls in their biggest basketball recruit since either LaVell Blanchard (1999) or Jerod Ward (1994) it's time to get excited. Mitch McGary chose the Wolverines today over Duke and Florida live on ESPNU, and lo, there is much rejoicing in Ann Arbor.

GURU RATINGS

Scout Rivals ESPN 24/7 Sports
5*, #1 C,
#2 Ovr
5*, #1 C,
#3 Ovr

5*, 97,
#1 C, #2 Ovr

5*, 100,
#3 C, #5 Ovr

All four services are in agreement that McGary is 6'10" and around 250 pounds (except ESPN, which has him at 225, which seems implausible), and all are in agreement that he's really, really good at basketball.

How good? Let's get to the evaluations, starting with ESPN:

McGary is a physically imposing presence in the paint with good size, tremendous upper body strength, and limitless energy and physicality. He is proactive seeking out contact inside, a consistent finisher, and high volume two way rebounder. He is incredibly active with a terrific motor and great toughness. The lefty is skilled enough to stretch the defense to 18 feet, has the dexterity to dunk with both hands in congestion, and sets big screens both on and off the ball. He runs well in straight lines and has pretty soft hands around the basket.

That's their "strengths" blurb, while areas to work on include developing a more polished post game, using his right hand more (he's a lefty), and his basketball I.Q.—they cite that he plays with "blind aggression," which seems to make sense when you're a 6'10" NBA prospect with outstanding mobility and finishing ability, but that's just me.

UMHoops caught McGary—as well as his AAU teammate and best friend, now-fellow 2012 commit Glenn Robinson III—at the Pittsburgh Jam Fest this spring:

McGary’s uncanny combination of size, strength, athleticism and coordination is extremely impressive because it allows him to do so much on the court. He loves to rebound the ball and push it up the court himself. He attacks the basket with a nice face-up game, although it’d be nice to see him play more with his back to the basket.

His decision making needs work as he often tries to do far too much before turning the ball over.He also tends to float to the perimeter a bit too much and loves to settle for jump shots despite having the tools to get a much better look at the basket. Overall, McGary was extremely impressive and he is on the verge of blowing up if he hasn’t already. The lefty’s flaws are correctable and easily outweighed by his size and talent.

I love imagining a 6'10" power forward leading the fast break, and now I don't have to, because he'll be doing it for Michigan and you can see him run the break in the highlights below. Also taking note of his precocious athletic talents was Eric Bossi of Rivals, who saw McGary at the NY2LA Summer Jam in July:

What a total animal this guy played like on Friday. First, the five-star big man broke Texas PRO in the first half with his ill-tempered length-of-the-court drives and rebounding, and he was able to rest himself for the championship after racking up 14 points and 16 boards. Then, looking as fresh as he would if he was playing his first game of the summer, he went out and dominated the paint in SYF's win over Dream Vision in the championship game. Bottom line, McGary is a competitor with a non-stop motor, great hands, great skill and even greater will.

ESPN's Paul Biancardi liked McGary's motor enough to deem it the best in the 2012 ESPN100, and also noted McGary's Novakian enthusiasm even when he's on the sideline:

It is difficult to find players who bring all-out effort and energy on a consistent basis, but McGary does it better than anyone. Not only does he bring energy to his own game, he gives it to his teammates. His motor never stops as he constantly works the backboard, runs the floor and dives on the floor for loose balls. His enthusiasm even carries over when he's on the bench as he cheers on his teammates and remains vocal. McGary has talent and physical tools, but his motor makes him special and will make him money one day.

Maybe the gritty grit grit stuff isn't coincidence, as McGary hails from Chesterton, Indiana, home of—you guessed it—Zack Novak, who hosted McGary on his official visit. McGary transferred after his junior season from Chesterton High School to Brewster Academy, a powerhouse school in New Hampshire, but I'm now strongly suspecting there's something in the water in Chesterton.

More scout drooling—plus a very interesting comparison—from Coast 2 Coast Recruiting:

When watching Mitch McGary play, it’s easy to envision a young David Lee. Whether he is effortlessly running the floor, shooting left-handed fadeaways, abusing the rim with powerful dunks, or blocking shots into next Wednesday, all punctuated by electric yells, it’s a beautiful sight to any basketball fan. The newly sculpted 6’10 250 pound power forward/center started tearing through the basketball world in the past three months at the NY2LA Swish ‘N Dish, The Adidas May Classic, The Pittsburgh Jam Fest, the Jayhawk Invitational, and most recently, the NBPA Top 100 camp.

I'm totally fine with the Lee comparison as long as it's related to offense—Lee was a McDonald's All-American in 2001 (and the slam dunk contest champ that year) who went to Florida and was drafted in the first round (30th overall) by the Knicks, and he became a 20-10 guy for them, but his lack of ability on the defensive end played a role in him getting shipped to basketball purgatory at Golden State last season. On the offensive end, Lee is a 6'9" PF/C with great athleticism for his size, a decent mid-range jumper, and he's an absolute demon on the boards.

Finally, I had to end with this quote by Scout's Brian Snow from today's timely Sam Webb article [emphasis mine]:

"To put it bluntly — (at Michigan) he'd be the starting center and the best player on the team the moment he walks on campus," Snow said emphatically. "I really don't see a scenario in which that isn't the case. He is probably the hardest playing kid in the country. There's absolutely no prima donna to him at all. He'll run through a wall for you, he'll dive on the floor. Then he is a pretty good athlete. He can really face the rim and handle the ball, especially against centers. He also scores down low, blocks shots, and he is one of the better rebounders in the country.

"We're talking about a kid that can do it all from the low post," said Daniels. "He can run, he has good hands, he plays hard and with energy, he rebounds, blocks shots, and he can score. Whatever school gets Mitch is getting a heck of a player and a major impact-type guy as soon as he sets foot on campus."

Yes, please.

Dylan also posted UMHoops's final scouting impressions of McGary and several other scouting reports (a couple of which appear above) yesterday in anticipation of Mitch McGary Day. It's well worth a read, and since I got half these links from Dylan, you should feel obligated to click over and give his fantastic site a read, especially on a day like today.

OFFERS

McGary boasted six offers, and they're from a who's who of basketball powerhouses: Aside from Michigan, he had scholarship offers from Duke, Florida, Kentucky, Maryland, and North Carolina. I suspect that offer list would've been much larger had McGary not reclassified from a 2011 to a 2012 recruit—transferring from his hometown of Chesterton to Brewster Academy in New Hampshire in the process—and blowing up relatively late by basketball recruiting standards.

VIDEO

Dylan posted an extensive video archive with a solid ten videos. Lots of good stuff there, and here's one of my favorites:

Yes, he ole'd a defender with an around-the-back dribble on the break and finished with a two-handed dunk from halfway to the free throw line. That was not a hallucination, unless I am also hallucinating, which hopefully is not the case.

Also, obligatory video of McGary shattering a backboard and then revealing his incredible nickname, "White Thunder":

/BOOM Tractor Traylor'd (RIP)

PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE

He's gonna start. I know, I'm going way out on a limb there. Here's what Michigan's lineup will likely look like for the 2012-13 season (McGary's freshman year), with the not-entirely-safe-but-certainly-not-crazy assumption that Tim Hardaway Jr. sticks around for his junior season:

PG: Trey Burke (backup: Carlton Brundidge)
SG: Tim Hardaway Jr. (Matt Vogrich/Nick Stauskas)
SF: Evan Smotrycz (Glenn Robinson III)
PF: Mitch McGary (Evan Smotrycz/Jon Horford)
C: Jordan Morgan (Jon Horford)

That's, well, a really good team. Big Ten contender, dangerous in the NCAA tournament good. And if you believe Brian Snow, McGary will be the best player on a team featuring a junior Tim Hardaway Jr.—you have permission to get hype, people. McGary should be contending for all-conference honors as soon as he steps on campus, and has the potential to do even more than that.

As for whether or not McGary will stick around beyond his freshman season, that's certainly in question. From Nick Baumgardner at AnnArbor.com:

[McGary] would provide instant impact. For how long? That remains unclear. Plenty of national analysts have pegged McGary as a potential "one-and-done" prospect, though [ESPN recruiting analyst Dave] Telep said, "I don't think it's unrealistic to say he could be (in college) for two years."

I'll take two years of McGary in a heartbeat, obviously. It's easy to accept these things if a player is likely going to have a huge impact right away, especially when it means Michigan will likely be on the radar of future top recruits in a way they haven't been in over a decade.

UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS

McGary joins forward Glenn Robinson III (Rivals's #34 overall prospect) and guard Nick Stauskas (#79) in the class of 2012, and that will wrap things up with a dramatic flourish for that year's group. The Wolverines are already full for the class of 2013, with four-stars Derrick Walton and Zak Irvin and three-stars Mark Donnal and Austin Hatch (although Hatch's status as a 2013 recruit is in doubt after the tragic plane crash—he will likely reclassify as a 2014 player if he can continue his basketball career) already in the fold.

Yes, Michigan is already moving on to the 2014 class. Beilein Uber Alles. Really, the job the Beilein and assistant Bacari Alexander did with this recruitment was phenomenal by all accounts. I had to pull another quote from Sam Webb's article, because it should get you extremely excited for the future of the program (as if you're not already):

"What I really like about Michigan is its coaching staff, especially Bacari Alexander," said McGary in his ESPN blog Wednesday. "He's probably one of the most underrated coaches in the country. He really knows what he's doing with the big men. I just like that I can trust the coaches there, and I actually like that they're not on the biggest stage yet. That gives me the opportunity to go there and make a huge impact from day one."

Cue the Muppets, if Brian hasn't posted them already.