Basketball Season Review: Guards

Basketball Season Review: Guards

Submitted by Ace on March 29th, 2012 at 10:41 AM


Photo by Eric Upchurch/MGoBlog

Now that the disappointment stemming from an early NCAA tournament exit has largely melted away—replaced instead by a crippling fear that Trey Burke will go pro in similarly too-soon fashion—it's time to take a look back on the 2011-12 basketball season. Heading into the season, expectations weren't particularly high after the early departure of Darius Morris, and the burden was largely placed on Burke to get Michigan back to the tournament. From my season preview:

This year's team appears poised for a potential top-25 season and another tournament run, but much of those expectations rely on a smooth transition from a star in Morris to a true freshman in Burke while other players—most notably Hardaway and Smotrycz—pick up the scoring slack and keep the offense running smoothly. With a difficult non-conference slate that includes a brutal draw in the Maui Invitational, plus playing in a Big Ten conference ranked by KenPom as the nation's toughest, this looks to me like a team that will spend much of the season squarely on the tournament bubble.

Exceeding those expectations means that we either see vast improvement from key role players, a huge breakout from Tim Hardaway, or a fantastic freshman year out of Burke—none of those are out of the question, but none are certainties, either. If Michigan suddenly finds that they can't create inside scoring chances without Morris's penetration, or Hardaway spends the season trying to carry the offense by chucking up less-than-ideal shots, Michigan could fall short of their goals as the fanbase begins to look ahead to the arrival of Mitch McGary, Glenn Robinson III, and Nick Stauskas in 2012-13.

Michigan spent most of the season not on the tournament bubble, but firmly in the top 25, thanks to a fantastic freshman campaign from Burke. A late-season push, coupled with a little help from Ohio State, brought the team a share of its first Big Ten title in my lifetime. The team stumbled in the postseason, getting demolished by the Buckeyes in the conference tourney before bowing out to OHIO in the NCAAs, but there's no arguing that the season was a rousing success.

Today's review covers the guards—before you ask, Zack Novak gets lumped in with the forwards—and looks at their highlights, lowlights, and expectations for next year:

Trey Burke

Preseason Expectations: Burke headed into the season as the big question mark on the team. We knew the freshman was talented, likely beyond what his recruiting profile would suggest, but would he pick up the offense quickly enough to carry the burden of being the team's lone true point guard?

Postseason Reality: Burke not only grasped John Beilein's complicated offense quickly, but proved to be a dymanic scorer with an on-court maturity well beyond that of the average freshman. He scored in double figures in all but four games and played 30+ minutes in every game after the season opener, including three 45-minute efforts. Burke's quickness and finishing ability made him tough to handle on the pick-and-roll, which became the staple of Michigan's offense, and he was also adept leading the fast break. He also held up well defensively, posting the lowest foul rate on the team despite playing in a conference chock-full of talented point guards. Burke had his freshman moments, struggling a bit against larger guards and aggressive hedging, but he was the clear-cut best player on the team. The only question now is if Burke was a little too good, at least when it comes to the prospects of next year's squad.

Highlight: For a single play, Burke's improbable floater off the high glass to seal the Ohio State victory stands out above the rest, doubly so because he made the shot over childhood friend and future lottery pick Jared Sullinger. For a game, however, I'm going with his 30-point outburst against Minnesota in the first round of the BTT, as the freshman carried the offense in what was otherwise an ugly slog—Burke shot 11-14 from the field, the rest of his teammates a combined 13-35. Burke played every minute of the game, and Michigan needed all of his production in a three-point overtime victory.

Lowlight: The next day wasn't as kind, as Burke—gassed from playing 45 minutes the night before and matched up against B1G DPOY Aaron Craft—was just 1-11 from the field with eight turnovers in a 22-point loss to Ohio State. The larger Buckeyes exploited Michigan's lack of size across the board, giving Burke little room to operate, and the game got out of hand in a hurry.

Key Numbers: 28.7% assist rate, 49.0 2pt%, 34.8 3pt%, 1.7 fouls committed/40 minutes.

Next Year: PLEASE COME BACK. If Burke returns, he'll once again carry the load at the point, as Michigan is hoping to land either a grad-year transfer or true freshman to provide some backup help. Most of Burke's improvement should come from a full year in a college strength program and a greater understanding of Beilein's offense—remember the second-year leap of Morris—which should help him learn how to deal with big, aggressive defenses. There are little things, like leaving his feet on the baseline without knowing where he's going with the ball, that Burke needs to work on. That's picking nits, however, and if he returns he should contend for All-America honors.

Stu Douglass

Preseason Expectations: Knock down some threes, play the usual solid perimeter defense, spell Burke at the point on occasion, and provide critical senior leadership.

Postseason Reality: The numbers don't jump off the page, but that was never the expectation from a willing role player. Douglass not only was the team's top perimeter defender and an outside shooting threat—he developed into a reliable second ball-handler and had a knack for getting to the rim, an aspect of his game that was entirely nonexistent until this season. Douglass knew how to avoid mistakes on both ends of the floor, posting a very solid 14.4% turnover rate and committing just 2.2 fouls per 40 minutes. Though he never developed into a lights-out shooter, Douglass helped the team in so many ways—especially on defense—that the numbers probably don't do his contribution justice. He stepped into the starting lineup when Evan Smotrycz struggled in Big Ten play, gave Burke the space to run the team, and matched up against the opposing team's best scorer on most nights—nobody will ever accuse Stu of not being a team player.

Highlight: Douglass's best game came on the road at Northwestern, as he helped push the team to an overtime victory with 12 points (4-7 from three) and five assists while shutting down a red-hot Drew Crawford in the second half and OT.

Lowlight: Douglass struggled down the stretch, shooting a combined 6-18 and dishing out just four assists over the team's last three games.

Key Numbers: 15.0% assist rate, 14.4% TO rate, 83.9 FT%

Next Year: Farewell, Stu. Douglass has graduated and will likely pursue a pro career overseas.

Tim Hardaway Jr.

Preseason Expectations: After an outstanding freshman season, Hardaway was expected—perhaps unfairly, given his greater first-year production—to make a Morris-like leap to superstardom as a sophomore. Leading the team in scoring was a given, even if it meant a slight dropoff in efficiency, as was contention for postseason honors.

Postseason Reality: While Hardaway's per-game numbers weren't bad at all—14.6 points, 3.8 rebounds, and 2.1 assists—his long-range shooting was inconsistent at best. THJ finished the season shooting 53.5% from two on 235 attempts, a solid improvement over his first season, but just 28.3% from three on 187 attempts, a big dropoff. Tasked with creating his own shot more often, Hardaway struggled with his shot selection, often launching unnecessary long twos or contested threes early in the shot clock. Though he showed flashes of All-American potential, getting hot from the outside or finally using his superior athleticism to get to the basket, he never appeared fully comfortable with his shot, even battling a late-season swoon at the free-throw line. Issues with ballhandling—despite posting a low 14.4% turnover rate—and defensive effort also appeared at times during the season. It wasn't all bad—Hardaway finished the season strong and had several great games throughout—it just wasn't the year everyone, including Hardaway, was expecting.

Highlight: Michigan traveled to Illinois for a critical late-season contest in the midst of Hardaway's funk, and he snapped out of it to the tune of 25 points on 6-7 shooting (9-10 from the line) and 11 rebounds. THJ also scored 20 on 8-13 shooting and dished out four assists in the win over UCLA and poured in a season-high 26 against Penn State.

Lowlight: The dream of sweeping Michigan State twice in as many years met a rude reality in the Breslin Center, as Hardaway managed a season-low 4 points while connecting on just 1-10 shots from the field.

Key Numbers: 4.7 fouls drawn/40 minutes, 53.5 2pt%, 28.3 3pt%

Next Year: It's all but assured that Hardaway will return next season, and with Michigan losing Evan Smotrycz, Stu Douglass, and Zack Novak, he'll have to improve his shot selection from beyond the arc and bring that 3pt% at least close to where it was his freshman year (37%). Whether Burke stays or goes, Hardaway should also work on his handle, as too many times he simply lost the ball while driving into the paint. Mainly, however, Hardaway's 2012-'13 outlook depends on his mental approach; if he's willing to take the ball to the basket more often and play within the offense, his numbers will improve and so should the team. If that happens, we'll see the Hardaway many were afraid would be making the leap to the NBA by now.

Matt Vogrich

Preseason Expectations: A few quality minutes off the bench while displaying the shooting prowess that made him one of the country's top long-range gunners in high school.

Postseason Reality: Vogrich didn't get a lot of burn, playing 26.5% of available minutes, in large part because his 30.2 3pt% mark fell short of expectations. However, Vogrich showed improvement on defense as well as a Novakian ability to come away with a surprising number of offensive rebounds. He also finished better at the rim this season, hitting 13 of his 23 two-point attempts. The long-range shooting, however, is what he's here for, and the significant dropoff from his freshman and sophomore years was worrisome.

Highlight: As Michigan once again needed overtime to put away Northwestern in Evanston, Vogrich hit 3-6 from deep and even chipped in two assists and a block. His nine points were a season high outside of his 11 against Arkansas-Pine Bluff.

Lowlight: A 4-16 slump over a 10-game span in December and January really hampered Vogrich's overall numbers, and unfortunately also coincided with shooting woes from Hardaway and Smotrycz.

Key Numbers: 3.6 OR%, 56.5 2pt%, 30.2 3pt%

Next Year: Vogrich will have a role, but how large of one will depend on his shot with two-guard Nik Stauskas coming to campus as a highly-regarded shooter. If Vogrich can continue to hit the boards, he should get minutes in a thin backcourt, but in the end it all comes down to whether or not he connects from three. I'm guessing he bounces back, as he shot much better in his first two seasons than he did this year.

Eso Akunne

Preseason Expectations: Provide emergency minutes if Trey Burke needs oxygen.

Postseason Reality: Akunne played just 48 minutes all year, and only 10 in Big Ten play, mostly at the point. He did hit 4-5 of his three-point attempts, but also had four turnovers to a lone assist while looking a bit uncomfortable as a primary ballhandler when faced with pressure.

Highlight: Played 12 minutes against Iowa State and was 2-2 from the field (1-1 from three) for a career-high 5 points.

Lowlight: Coughed the ball up twice in two minutes against Oakland.

Next Year: With so little depth at the point, Akunne might be called upon to play a few minutes. Making sure he's comfortable taking the ball upcourt against a press or trap would be helpful.

Carlton Brundidge

Preseason Expectations: Brundidge, despite the four-star recruiting profile, wasn't expected to have the impact of Burke. The big question was how the 6'1" slasher's game would translate to the college level.

Postseason Reality: Brundidge played four fewer minutes than Akunne and shot a combined 1-8 from the field. He never played more than four minutes in a conference game, had a scary midseason bout with asthma, and never looked like he'd settled into Beilein's offense or the pace of the college game in general.

Highlight: The freshman's lone made field goal came against Arkansas-Pine Bluff, when he played a season-high 12 minutes.

Lowlight: His post-season transfer.

Next Year: Brundidge was one of three players to transfer after the season, so here's hoping he lands on his feet and carves out a role for himself at another program.

Smotrycz, Brundidge, Christian All Exit

Smotrycz, Brundidge, Christian All Exit

Submitted by Brian on March 21st, 2012 at 3:19 PM

I had these tweets up from Sam Webb that hinted at some attrition from the basketball team but that's all irrelevant now:

University of Michigan men's basketball head coach John Beilein announced today (Wednesday, March 21) that sophomore forward Evan Smotrycz (Reading, Mass./New Hampton Prep [N.H.]),sophomore forward Colton Christian (Bellevue, Wash./Hargrave Military Academy) and freshman guard Carlton Brundidge (Southfield, Mich./Southfield HS) each decided to leave the Wolverine basketball program and transfer to another school.

Smotrycz is the headliner here. He started the first half of the year before Michigan went to Stu Douglass in the starting lineup; playing out of position the rest of the year at the five he still saw 20 minutes a game and was Michigan's best three-point shooter over the course of the season. He was projected to start at the four next year. His loss is both inexplicable and harmful. Unless Smotrycz was flat out told that McGary and Robinson were going to eat his minutes I don't understand that departure.

Brundidge only saw a few minutes spotting Trey Burke; Christian was also an end of the bench type.

Michigan's scholarship crunch just got blown away: Michigan could bring in two additional guys in the 2012 class and still have room for their three guys in 2013 without any further attrition. They only have one active target, 6'5" Findlay Prep PG/SG Amedeo Della Valle. He's got a top five Michigan is a part of along with Texas A&M, Ohio State, Arizona, and Gonzaga. They could also get in on the Trey Ziegler transfer sweepstakes now.

Michigan Basketball Season Preview

Michigan Basketball Season Preview

Submitted by Ace on November 11th, 2011 at 3:05 PM

L to R: Greatest photo evar(!), Trey Burke, Evan Smotrycz

Brian has decided to activate the "ninja" half of my job description and deploy me as MGoBlog's go-to basketball guy this season, a role which will only increase as football season comes to a close. Michigan's basketball season officially kicks tips off tonight against D-II opponent Ferris State in a game that would be far more interesting if it took place at Yost instead of Crisler, but that's non-conference basketball scheduling for you. That means I should probably post a season preview.

Last year saw an extremely youthful Michigan squad overcome the losses of Manny Harris and DeShawn Sims and a six-game midseason losing streak to make a shocking run to the NCAA tournament—highlighted by a season sweep of Michigan State—where they bombarded Tennessee in the first round before falling just short against top-seeded Duke. The Wolverines were poised to bring back every major (and minor, really) contributor from the 2010-11 squad until Darius Morris—the team's leading scorer and only true point guard—decided to leave for the NBA, turning Michigan from a potential Big Ten dark horse into, well, a darker horse, if that makes any sense whatsoever.

Still, the Wolverines return everybody except Morris, add a pair of high-profile freshmen in point guard Trey Burke and combo guard Carlton Brundidge (as well as forward Max Bielfeldt), and have an obvious go-to guy in place in sophomore Tim Hardaway Jr., who is poised to take over the reigns from Morris as the focal point of the offense. This is enough to earn them a preseason #22 rating from Ken Pomeroy, good for fourth in the B1G behind Ohio State (#2), Wisconsin (#10), and Purdue (#19), and just ahead of the Spartans (#24). How will the team fare? Let's start by breaking it down by somewhat-vague position groups:

The Rotation

Point Guard

Yes, point guard gets a section to itself, and this will be the most scrutinized spot on the floor for the Wolverines. As expected, John Beilein has named freshman Trey Burke, a four-star recruit and last year's Mr. Basketball in Ohio, as the starter, and he's under an extraordinary amount of pressure to come in and adequately replace Darius Morris. Their styles couldn't be much more different—Morris is a 6'4", physical creator who used his size to create interior shots (both for himself and others) but struggled with his outside shot, while the 5'11" Burke relies on his quickness and shooting ability to create his own offense. Burke actually fits better into Beilein's offense, but the looming question is whether or not Burke will be able to set up his teammates like Morris (6.7 assists per game last year) while not making too many freshman mistakes with the basketball.

It's likely that Stu Douglass will reprise his role as sixth man and primary backup at both guard positions. Douglass isn't an ideal creator at point guard—last year, he had a higher turnover rate (17.0%) than assist rate (10.9%)—but he's a streak shooter who can occasionally catch fire from deep and as a senior he's well-versed in the offense. Now that he's got a year of experience at point guard—a position he had never played until last season—under his belt, he should be an adequate backup for Burke. Douglass is the team's best perimeter defender, as well, but he must develop more consistency in his shot (48.9% from two, 35.8% from three LY) to become a real threat on offense.

Wing

Michigan's only other scholarship senior is the King of the Gritty White Guy Platitudes himself, Zack Novak, a 6'4" shooter/rebounder/unlikely-dunk-contest-winner/sideline-freakout-artist who has spent much of his Wolverine career playing wildly out of position at power forward. Now that Michigan finally has some depth up front, Novak can play the two or the three, and this should help open up his offense—other than seldom-used Matt Vogrich, Novak had the best three-point percentage on the team last year at 38.5%, but he often seemed to get gassed and disappear offensively due to having to guard players half-a-foot taller than him. Unfortunately, he's not a threat inside the arc, posting a paltry 38.0% shooting mark on two-pointers, but his remarkable ability to get rebounds amidst the trees makes him a valuable player on both ends of the floor. I expect Novak will average double-digits in scoring while grabbing 5-7 rebounds per game and providing valuable defense.

Your other starter on the wing is Tim Hardaway Jr., who greatly exceeded expectations as a freshman—averaging nearly 14 points and four rebounds per game—and will now become the team's go-to scorer. Hardaway spent much of last season as a spot-up shooter, and connected on a decent 36.7% of his threes, but this year he'll be asked to do much more creating with the ball in his hands. This was an area he improved upon as the season wore on last year, but he'll still have to get much better now that Morris isn't there to take away a lot of the defensive pressure. Still, Hardaway is the clear best player on the team—he's on both the Naismith and Wooden award preseason watch lists—and he should average at least 15 points a game. The big question here will be his shot selection, as he displayed a propensity for "what was that?"-type jumpers at times last year and could feel more pressure to jack up ill-advised shots as the team's main scorer.

Douglass, again, should be the primary backup at guard, but don't be surprised if 6'4" junior Matt Vogrich sees a greatly increased role this season. Vogrich was a dead-eye shooter from distance last season, hitting 38.7% of his threes, and was much-improved defensively after looking lost as a freshman two years ago. He's still limited in terms of his skill set, but in Beilein's system his sharp shooting will be a big asset off the bench.

The wild card here is four-star freshman Carlton Brundidge, who stands at only 6'1" but is a strong slasher who is at his best when attacking the basket, something you can't say about anyone else on the roster. Brundidge barely played in Michigan's exhibition game against Wayne State last week, but I think his role will increase as the season moves forward—he's one of the more talented players on the roster and could see a lot of time next to Douglass when the senior shifts over to the point, as their respective size and skill-sets make for a solid backcourt pairing.

Bigs

(I'm throwing the nominal power forwards in here too, just in case there's some confusion when I call, say, the 6'6" Colton Christian a backup big.)

The starter at the four is 6'9" sophomore Evan Smotrycz, a very solid outside shooter (38.1% from three) who many have tabbed as the X-factor for this year's team. Smotrycz reportedly gained 30 much-needed pounds in the offseason, which should help his post defense greatly, but there are still major questions about his athleticism and ability to create shots on offense. Smotrycz doesn't have much in the way of a post game and hasn't displayed the quickness to face up and drive past a player with regularity, and we'll have to see if he's improved in those areas over the offseason. While I still don't think he'll be a major threat in the post, his size and shooting ability are very intriguing, and I think Smotrycz could emerge as the team's second option on offense. Defensively, he should be fine as long as he's not asked to take on quick small forwards or hulking centers, and Beilein now has enough flexibility with his lineups where that shouldn't be a huge issue.

At center, it's a battle between redshirt sophomore Jordan Morgan and true sophomore Jon Horford (brother of Al) for the starting spot. Morgan was the man there last year, and was extremely efficient shooting the basketball (62.7%), but most of his opportunities were either created by the now-departed Morris or the result of offensive rebounds. While he was decent in his on-ball defense, Morgan was extremely foul-prone and did not provide much of a shot-blocking threat. If tabbed as the eventual starter, Morgan should be solid, but he's got his limitations and could really feel the absence of Morris more than anyone else on the roster.

Though it came as a bit of a surprise, it was Horford who started against Wayne State, and he'll take the opening tip once again against Ferris State tonight. An extremely raw prospect out of high school, Horford showed occasional flashes of rebounding and shot-blocking brilliance last year, but often looked awkward with the ball in his hands and frequently settled for outside shots, which he rarely made. Like Morgan, he was very foul-prone, so we'll likely see both big men get major minutes this season, but Horford seems to have the higher upside—he's more athletic than Morgan and has a better shooting touch while providing a much-needed shot-blocking presence on the interior of the defense.

There are two bench players who should see occasional minutes this year: 6'6" sophomore power forward Colton Christian and 6'10" center Blake McLimans. Christian doesn't provide any real threat offensively, but he's a capable rebounder and defender who could turn into an interesting role player if he shows the ability—and willingness—to hit any sort of shot. McLimans is big, which is always nice, but he was supposed to possess a good outside shot and ended up going 1-for-19 for three last year. Since he only shot the ball 41 times total (making 13), this is a bit of an issue, and defensively he's not as strong as either Morgan or Horford. We'll see if Beilein trusts him enough to put him in the rotation, or if he decides to go small and occasionally move Smotrycz to the five, something we saw a fair amount last year.

Outlook

I hate to kind of punt on this one, but man, who knows? The 2008-09 team was supposed to be mediocre at best, then made a surprise run to the tournament and even knocked off Clemson once they got there. The 2009-10 team brought back pretty much everyone, had a lot of preseason hype, and fell flat to the tune of a 15-17 record. With Harris and Sims gone last season and pretty much the entire team either freshman or sophomores, the 2010-11 squad looked to be terrible, so of course they reeled off 21 wins and once again advanced to the second round of the NCAAs.

This year's team appears poised for a potential top-25 season and another tournament run, but much of those expectations rely on a smooth transition from a star in Morris to a true freshman in Burke while other players—most notably Hardaway and Smotrycz—pick up the scoring slack and keep the offense running smoothly. With a difficult non-conference slate that includes a brutal draw in the Maui Invitational, plus playing in a Big Ten conference ranked by KenPom as the nation's toughest, this looks to me like a team that will spend much of the season squarely on the tournament bubble.

Exceeding those expectations means that we either see vast improvement from key role players, a huge breakout from Tim Hardaway, or a fantastic freshman year out of Burke—none of those are out of the question, but none are certainties, either. If Michigan suddenly finds that they can't create inside scoring chances without Morris's penetration, or Hardaway spends the season trying to carry the offense by chucking up less-than-ideal shots, Michigan could fall short of their goals as the fanbase begins to look ahead to the arrival of Mitch McGary, Glenn Robinson III, and Nick Stauskas in 2012-13.

All I can say for certain is this will be an interesting year, and lucky for us, this is a group that is extremely likable and fun to support. The future is very bright, almost regardless of what happens this year, but we'll just have to see if the Wolverines continue to make a push towards the top of the Big Ten or stay in a holding pattern until blue-chip reinforcements arrive.

Unverified Voracity Declared War Without Causus Belli

Unverified Voracity Declared War Without Causus Belli

Submitted by Brian on March 25th, 2011 at 4:23 PM

Live streaming goes just far enough. There is a live stream of IL PF Max Bielfeldt's announcement, which is going to happen in about ten minutes here. Michigan and Illinois are the contenders with most signs pointing to Michigan despite Bielfeldt's last name being on more than one building in Champaign. Bielfeldt compares himself to Luke Harangody and put up monster numbers as a senior, but recruiting sites say he's an "average at best" athlete. Think Graham Brown, I guess, except apparently he's got a decent shooting stroke that extends to the three point line.

If Bielfeldt goes blue there will undoubtedly be all the info you could want on UMHoops shortly after. Meanwhile, I've got a hockey game to panic about. [UPDATE: Bielfeldt has committed.]

I hope this is one game. Trey Burke highlight reel ahoy:

Probably one game, right? I bet they cut out a couple misses but probably one game.

Even in the unlikely event this is a season's worth of highlights, that's still pretty encouraging. Burke shows a three-point stroke, crossovers, spin moves, a nice pull-up jumper, and a floater in the lane. The diversity of his offensive game is impressive, and if these stats are right…

Burke is averaging 23.6 points, 6.8 assists, 3.1 rebounds and 2.6 steals. He is shooting 58.7 percent from the field, 46.6 percent from three-point range (54 of 116) and 73.3 percent at the free-throw line (88 of 120).

…dang, we may have just ganked* the next Talor Battle away from Penn State. (I only doubt because a separate article has even more ludicrous shooting percentages, FWIW. I believe the very slightly more pessimistic version but there's some wobble that makes me think they may have overlooked some attempts.)

48% from three plus that highlight video plus winning Mr. Basketball over a bunch of other D-I commits including a guy headed to Michigan State equals one extremely underrated recruit—Burke is a three star on Rivals. ESPN does have him a bit higher as a four star ranked #85, and boy were they right about Tim Hardaway Jr. Let's hope their streak continues.

In other basketball recruiting news, Carlton Brundidge just saw his high school career end in painful fashion. He tied Southfield's state semifinal against Kalamazoo Central with a 17-foot pull up, missed a backdoor layup on the ensuing possession, made both halves of a 1-and-1 to re-tie the game, then saw Central get a putback off an airball for the win. Burke plays his semifinal tonight at 8:30.

*["Ganked" should have made the transition from thing you say in sixth grade to critical part of the language by now.]

black-news

Frank Beckmann thinks this is racist

The tipping point. I've read Ramzy Nasrallah's stuff on and off for a very long time now and while some of his opinions make me roll my eyes I'm sure that's mutual. It's a natural consequence of being on opposite sides of the rivalry. That said, he's always been worth reading even when we disagree, and when he posts something titled The Case For Regicide that signals a huge shift in the portion of the Ohio State fanbase that doesn't have neckbeards. That shift is from "this shall pass" to "this seems too dumb to tolerate; we're screwed, at least insofar as a football program with OSU's natural advantages can be, which isn't that much."

I've been pretty strident in my opinion that Tressel should be fired and now it seems fairly likely he will. He's already been tried, compared to Nixon, and executed in the media. In that event the big questions lie in the eventual results of what seems like it will be a labyrinthine NCAA investigation and whether or not Tressel will axe Gordon Gee on his way out. I'm guessing "disappointing" and "yes."

More pads. More pads:

At the 35 second mark Denard runs a zone read for many yards, and then a power play gets destroyed. I'm just sayin'…

Seriously though, seeing a zone read makes me happy even if they hardly ran it last year. Tough talk and an open-minded offensive coordinator are where it's at.

Fort? No fort. Last year Michigan had an open practice in Michigan Stadium that you could buy your way into by shelling out for the big baller seats or donating to Mott at the Spring Game. Rodriguez hated it and I had to wait until the rest of the internet had responded to round up third-party impressions because I'd been asked not to relate anything I saw myself. So that was a one-off, right? Hoke's back and so is The Fort and that'll never happen again:

Fans attending the game will be asked to make any donation the hospital. Donations at the following levels will come with a correlating gift:

$5: A 5”x7” Fathead Trading Card of either Charles Woodson or Desmond Howard.
$20: A Fathead Teammate Block M (roughly 12”x7”).
$100: A Fathead Junior Big House Mural (17”x30”).
$250: Four passes to a pre-season scrimmage
$500: Two pre-game sideline passes (does not include game tickets) to one of the following four games: Western Michigan, Eastern Michigan, San Diego State or Minnesota.
$750: Two pre-game sideline passes (does not include game tickets) to the Nebraska game.

Except apparently it will. Never underestimate the power of club seating. I went last year with Greg of MVictors and FOB Craig Ross. It was rainy and strange but I thought it was worth it because I'm insane.

Etc.: Holdin' The Rope on the basketball season. Yes, that is now kind of an awkward blog name. Bacon on the Fab Five. He has a different memory of Jalen Rose. AA.com profiles the receivers.

Unverified Voracity Has Field Goal Pox

Unverified Voracity Has Field Goal Pox

Submitted by Brian on December 16th, 2010 at 12:42 PM

A horribly enlightening graph. FEI and I were getting along just great until Mr. Fremeau had to go and put our kicker situation in a neat graph. Sit down and get a bucket, as this is a graph of Michigan's attempts against those of FEI #1 kicker Alex Henery of Nebraska:

awful-kickin

This is nothing you didn't already know, but Michigan threw away 16 points on field goal attempts this year and was forced into some uncomfortable situations on fourth down because of those big red dots. I'm not sure if those were actual negatives because sometimes this happened:

Romer disciples would say being forced to go for it in that down and distance is probably a net benefit since anyone attempting a 50-yard field goal is going to have difficulties. There were certain situations less friendly, however, and Michigan still had to go because asking for anything more than an extra point was doom.

Michigan might need a kicker in this class.

A minor debunk. One of the rumors wandering around message boards was that Calvin Magee went down to Gainesville a couple weeks ago, supposedly to interview for a job. Given what we know about the Florida coaching situation (Meyer was days away from retiring) that doesn't make any sense and can probably be dismissed, and I can confirm from an excellent source that Magee never met with anyone at Florida. File that in the dustbin of history next to All Of Iowa Is Suspended.

It's a tragedy when you don't get along with your groin. The injury that held Bryan Hogan out of the Big Chill will sideline him for "at least a month," according to AnnArbor.com. That sidelines him for the GLI—a tournament Michigan should win even without him—and an early January series against the State team Michigan just beat 5-0 and is languishing near the bottom of the league standings. It sucks for Hogan to miss out just as he was establishing himself the starter but if he's got to be out a month this is the one to miss.

It is again the groin, but a different bit of the groin:

"But he made one move and he could just feel it."

Berenson said Hogan partially tore a tendon or muscle in his groin, but that it has nothing to do with the injury Hogan suffered last year.

Groin.

A midseason review of the hockey team on AA.com points out that however frustrating the first half of the season has been Michigan's come out of it in decent shape. A quick glance at College Hockey Stats shows that Michigan's scoring margin is amongst the national leaders:

# Team Games GF GF/G GA GA/G Margin
1 Yale 12 59 4.92 25 2.08 2.83
2 Union 16 65 4.06 34 2.12 1.94
3 Boston College 16 60 3.75 34 2.12 1.62
4 Miami 18 69 3.83 41 2.28 1.56
5 Wisconsin 20 69 3.45 42 2.1 1.35
6 Nebraska-Omaha 16 59 3.69 39 2.44 1.25
7 Minnesota Duluth 18 67 3.72 46 2.56 1.17
8 New Hampshire 16 57 3.56 39 2.44 1.12
9 Dartmouth 11 40 3.64 28 2.55 1.09
10 Robert Morris 16 54 3.38 37 2.31 1.06
11 Maine 16 57 3.56 41 2.56 1
12 Michigan 19 63 3.32 45 2.37 0.95
13 Rensselaer 16 49 3.06 34 2.12 0.94
14 Princeton 13 41 3.15 29 2.23 0.92
15 North Dakota 20 69 3.45 53 2.65 0.8
16 Notre Dame 19 68 3.58 55 2.89 0.68

[Michigan opponents in italics.]

They're 12th, and that's with a few minor schools and ECAC pushovers in front of them. They're 11th in KRACH, which seems about right—a solid tournament team but not a top seed. (My usual complaint about KRACH is it overrates nonconference games and piles WCHA teams atop the rankings, and this is again true.) I'm still concerned that any mildly competent defensive team can reduce Michigan to pinging shots from the point and hoping something wacky happens. This will have to be true…

"I think we expected to be a little further ahead - but not a lot," Berenson said Tuesday. "You can't say, 'Oh, we're going to expect to lose four games in the first half.' I mean, which games are you expecting to lose? I wasn't expecting us to have four ties. … Our best hockey is still ahead of us.

"I think we've seen some glimpses, some good signs, and I think the second half will be our best half. But we're right there. We're knocking on the door. We're not bad."

…if Michigan is going to go into the tournament expecting something good.

Tearing it up. Michigan's current* 2011 signees continue to raise their stock of late. It was Trey Burke making a late-summer push at AAU events across Ohio, but as they enter their senior years its Brundidge making waves:

Brundidge opened the season up with 41 points in a blow out win over Mount Clemens but the competition began to heat up this week as Southfield traveled to Romulus, a consensus top 5 team in the state of Michigan. The burly guard answered the challenge as he poured in 29 points, 8 rebounds, and eight assists in a 78-70 victory. Unofficially, Brundidge was 6 of 12 from the field (2-6 3pt) and 11 of 13 from the free throw stripe.

Vince Baldwin took to the twitters to rave about Brundidge's passing in the aftermath.

As for Burke, he's shooting 79(!!!) percent in two games so far. Adding that guard tandem to Morris, and Douglass and you're verging on… loaded? Can we possibly say that about Michigan basketball? I'm confused.

*(There's still the possibility of a third if Michigan finds a guy—probably a Euro—they want.)

Meanwhile on Kenpom. Michigan poked its hypothetical head above .500 after the Utah game and is now sitting at 17-14 with seven conference wins. Every time I check it it seems they've moved up a spot or two thanks to other teams falling back; they're up to 59th now, twenty spots higher than they were about a week ago. Saturday's game against Oakland is a big one—the Grizzlies just beat Tennessee and played Michigan State to the wire. Win that and it's time to start eyeing an NIT bid.

In other tempo-free stat news, Big Ten Geeks points out that while North Carolina Central is bad, they have never been quite as bad as they were against Michigan—their 0.78 points per trip was a season worst. This is a Beilein team built on… defense? As long as the team is bricking wide-open threes by the bunch, apparently. On WTKA today Beilein said a couple items of note:

  1. They'd gone straight man to man the whole year because the team is very young and they'd rather do one thing well than a few things poorly.
  2. "This is Division I basketball" and when you have a wide open shot you have to take it. It doesn't sound like he's displeased with anything from the first half except the fact the ball didn't go in the basket. You could chalk it up to it being just one of those things… if this wasn't the third straight year Michigan hefted a ton of threes (16th nationally) and didn't make any of them (255th).

One step ahead of you. AA.com suggests a fix for the Big Ten logo fiasco:

The Big Ten can backtrack with a press release that says something to the effect of “we are sure honored to have such passionate fans, and we’ve heard their voices.”

Then hold a contest. Fans submit their best ideas for new division names and new logo - there are plenty of good ones floating around the Internet in recent days, ideas that exceed the cartoonish one delivered by the conference.

Hmmm. The M Zone tweaked the popular Tscherne entry by fanning the team logos out underneath the shield:

anthonytscherne

Now you can remember who's in what division. These are ordered alphabetically but maybe they could put the division champs on top every year? Or they could just go with the horrible periwinkle.

Etc.: The 85k number cited by Guinness is provisional "with the numbers continuing to increase." Dear Lynn Henning: I would have rewritten your column like so: "Yes." Further adventures in scouting Mississippi State continue with a breakdown of Dan Mullen's TE shovel pass, AKA "binky," which he's still running to good effect.

Unverified Voracity, Globetrotting

Unverified Voracity, Globetrotting

Submitted by Brian on December 3rd, 2010 at 1:35 PM

Bust happening one. There was one piece of a news-type thing that transpired at last night's football bust. It was Dave Brandon saying this:

LIVONIA - When emcee Frank Beckmann made an off-hand quip about the Michigan football team headed west for its upcoming bowl game, athletic director Dave Brandon corrected him.

“I think we’re going in a different direction,” Brandon said Thursday at the podium during the team's annual football banquet at the Laurel Manor.

That direction would be south to Florida, whereupon Michigan would play an SEC team of some variety. An eagle-eyed reader with a strange method of surfing Michigan's ticket website stumbled across two "hidden" items and sent them along. They are tickets for the Insight and Gator bowls. If Michigan isn't going west and isn't preparing to sell Outback tickets, this means Michigan would play Florida in the Gator. The Gator Bowl has just publicly declared it doesn't give two dangs about anything but "heads in beds, fannies in seats and big TV ratings," so that sounds like they're going for Dread Ferrari sex appeal over the Americanzi*.

This avoids the ten-win-opponent gauntlet on either side and sets up a fascinating matchup between Florida's offense and Michigan's defense, except it probably won't be that fascinating because as soon as they step on the field against Michigan, Florida will look like MC 900 Foot Tebow is at the helm again. If form holds they'll still lose because Michigan puts up 40.

*(Note to self: try very hard not to misspell this by transposing the final A and N.)

Bust happening two. The other thing the newspapers are reporting today is an "emotional" or "emotional" Rich Rodriguez making a case for his job, which probably shouldn't affect anyone's decision but will make everyone feel worse if the plug gets pulled:

“My name is Rich Rodriguez,” he said. “I’m honored to be the football coach at Michigan. I hope you realize I want to be a Michigan man.”

Guh. That Michigan's head coach would have to say something like that in year three is a depressing summary of the state of things.

Apparently something by someone named Josh Groban was referenced, horrifying the Michigan twittersphere and thrilling those of rivals. I don't know who that is, and where I'd normally set about fixing my old-manness in this department it sounds like ignorance is bliss here. I will take the opportunity to remind you that Special K is the center of all evil in this universe and his power is only growing. INCREDIBLY DORKY AND OVERWROUGHT ANALOGY HO: Michigan Stadium feels like one of the Elven havens after the destruction of the one ring, its ancient power slowly leaching from it, permitting intruders like men and Saliva to breach its hallowed ground.

/idaoah

In other verklemptness. Denard accepting his MVP:

DenardRobinson_Banquet-thumb-590x411-63224

Lon Hordowel/Ann Arbor.com

Bust bit of information that is not really a happening but is interesting. Michigan's share of the pie for their game in Jerryworld is a whopping 4.7 million dollars. The News says this is "roughly" what Michigan gets for a home game, so Michigan gets to play a real opponent in one-off without sacrificing any dollars. Insert usual complaint about how the Big Ten's excessive revenue sharing encourages big games played thousands of miles from campus over home-and-home series that are more convenient and authentic than preseason bowl games in generic corporate stadia. I would much rather go to a game in Tuscaloosa than Dallas.

Football of the other variety. This weekend Michigan will attempt to do one better than its best-ever finish in soccer by beating #2 seed Maryland and advancing to the College Cup in Santa Barbara, whereupon their games will actually be on television. Getting past the Terps will be a tall order. They're 19-2-1, have won 15 straight, and are seeded higher than the Akron team that crushed Michigan 7-1 a month and a half ago.

There's no TV but I am pretty sure this will be a web stream of the game, which is Sunday at 1.

As a side note, I think it would help soccer's attendance considerably if they started having more consistent scheduling. Football's something you should probably avoid, but why not play on Sunday at a consistent time as often as possible? Michigan's home games were on Saturday(3), Wednesday(6), and Friday(2), with just one on Sunday. I get that you're going to have a lot of Wednesday night games because of scheduling issues but it seems like they should make an effort to get a consistent date and time going for weekend games.

It's all about the pants. ESPN Rise has a slightly hyperbolic profile of Carlton Brundidge, who "combines drive of a beast, dad's instilled military discipline." Biographical tidbit: Brundige's older sister was a Michigan swimmer named Clinique, which is a brand name for makeup and reminds me of Idiocracy.

But the real reason I'm bringing this to your attention is awesome pants:

Gary Teasley; MI DEC 2010; Basketball; Southfield High School; Story Idea: Calrton Brundidge is the top hoops player in Michigan, rated as the No. 52 senior in the ESPNU 100. Brundidge has committed to play his college ball at Michigan. Brundidge comes from a big-time basketball family, with his brother playing at Wayne State and his father, who played at Army under Mike Krzyzewski. Team Colors: White and Blue; Photo by: Scott Stewart

We need warmups like that so hard.

(HT: UMHoops.)

Etc.: The Big Chill rink is extant and "perfect" according to Berenson. AA.com has a video interview. Tom Brady in ugg boots. Justice Hayes is staying local even if Rodriguez leaves because Fred Jackson is a permanent fixture. Mets Maize on Rodriguez the person.

Unverified Voracity Is Bombed Without Provocation

Unverified Voracity Is Bombed Without Provocation

Submitted by Brian on April 26th, 2010 at 11:46 AM

Summary. The Rodriguez transition as expressed by Smurfs:

That is all.

Second edition? There's been a disconnect between the recruiting buzz on incoming defensive end Jibreel Black (major talent, say mods at the usual sites) and the recruiting services who placed him on the three/four-star borderline. Michigan's coaches had been after Black from early on in his recruiting cycle and pursued him through two(!) commitments to other schools, so they seem to be on the former side.

Maybe a couple more people are sidling over there after Black's performance in the North-South Ohio All Star game:

The star of the night, however, was Jibreel Black. He was constantly in the backfield and pretty much controlled the entire second half. He’s not the biggest guy (6’2” 255) in the world, but then neither was Brandon Graham. And when pressed for what was going to happen the next time he plays in the Horseshoe as a Wolverine, Black didn’t hesitate to answer.

“I’ll be doing the same thing,” he laughed. “Pryor better watch out.”

Insert all the usual caveats about all-star games here—who knows if the kid he was going up against is even going I-A, for one—but anything that causes an observer to mention Brandon Graham in the same sentence as someone with eligibility remaining is all right by me.

Antonio Kinard had a pick six and was reputed to have played well; the other Michigan recruits didn't draw much mention except someone calling the matchup between Courtney Avery and 6'7" OSU WR signee Tyrone Williams "unfair." His quarterbacks were exceptionally good sports about it, though, and he finished with just two catches for 19 yards. Tim has more detail in a mini-Friday Night Lights post coming up later today.

This year's hot stuff. Ace follows up on last year's "Weapon of Choice" video with the Denard Robinson show from this year's spring game:

It's the circle of life.

Catching up with defectors past. Penn State's quarterback situation is not so good. Kevin Newsome, who you may remember as one of the defectors in the defection-laden class of 2008, is the only scholarship quarterback on campus right now. His competition is Matt McGloin, a walk-on(!), and neither is burning up the field:

McGloin (10 of 23, 110 yards) threw two interceptions and should have had a third – a drop by new defensive back Chaz Powell – returned 90 yards for a touchdown in the first half.

Newsome, a righty with a near-sidearm throwing motion, finished 5 of 12 for 50 yards and lost 12 yards rushing. Dual threat? Not so much Saturday.

Neither is the offensive line, apparently:

To be fair, the QBs didn't have much time to set their feet. Or duck. …

“We're trying different combinations and we're trying to get the best five guys in there,'' Paterno said during a news conference right before the scrimmage.

“The tackles are a concern for us. … We're not really sure who the tackles are going to be.''

Before you go cackling to your Penn State friends, remember that 1) Penn State's defense is not Michigan's defense and 2) IIRC, the author of this article is one of those dinosaur local columnists whose schtick is relentless negativity.

However, a softened version of the snark above has been related by generally positive outlets like the PSU's Scout and Rivals sites. It's safe to say that a certain level of disquiet exists in Happy Valley. Many people are openly speculating about how JoePa is going to have to grit his teeth and start one of his two true freshmen this fall. One of them, Paul Jones, did enroll early. Whoever starts is going to be protected by a couple of converted guards at tackle.

In other spring games:

  • Is it good news or bad news that MSU's game, which was an actual game, ended 17-10? I don't know. Kirk Cousin remains an effective passer. The offensive line gave up eight sacks but the starters were split across teams.
  • Notre Dame beat Notre Dame 27-19, spawning a number of thread on the message board about how they were terrible and will die against us in the fall. The ND side of things is less resigned to doom. You could even call them encouraged. I think your walk-on second string QB going 18 for 30 for 223 yards, 3 TDs, and 1 INT is not so good, but as always to read too much into spring games at your peril.

Other future warrior-poets. Meanwhile on the AAU circuit, Carlton Brundidge may have developed a jumper:

Give credit to Carlton Brundidge, the kid is putting in work. The only knock on him in the past has been the lack of a consistent jump shot from three point range, but that looks to be coming along nicely. With defenders playing a sagging zone designed to stop Amir Williams, Brundidge was hitting from deep with ease. As always he still finished going to the rim off the dribble, but Brundidge really looks improved shooting the deep jumper.

UMHoops has video of Brundidge going off for 44 in last weekend's AAU tournament, in which his team made the final before falling. It's impressive even if #15 on the opposition has a dedication to defense that can be described as "hilariously lacking."

Also, AA.com's Mike Rothstein has an interview with Bacari Alexander:

Q: What was the best Globetrotter experience you had?

BA: “You don’t realize what the significance of the Globetrotter experience is until you travel abroad. When I went to Stockholm, Sweden and there was a capacity crowd in the arena to the tune of 18, 19,000 sold out, I said ‘Wow.’ You don’t realize that you’re a part of something so much bigger than yourself.”

This is all right and good. Sweden loves the quintessentially American Globetrotters. America loves Carl Hagelin. We'll call it even. Full profile coming later today.

Updating crush rates. MCalibur updates his QB fragility study, finding that 1) last year was a bad year for everyone except pocket statues and 2) there's still no statistical significance in the numbers. Note that this doesn't mean people who assert running QBs get injured more are definitely wrong:

At first blush it looks like there’s a difference in the injury rates of level 1, 2, and 0/3 but the fact of the matter is that there is insufficient evidence to support this. I actually ran hypothesis tests this time and that was the outcome (failure to reject the null hypothesis that A=B=C=D). Note that this does not mean that no difference exists, simply that there is no reason to conclude that a difference does exist. The differences observed are statistically insignificant.

This is a lesson David Berri could stand to learn. Still, whatever increase there might be in running quarterbacks is minimal if it exists at all:

Fragilityplot_thumb

After six years of data, the guys who run more than anyone else are 2-3% more likely to get injured than pocket throwers and the least-injured quarterbacks are guys who run a little.

Etc.: Women's tennis brings home a Big Ten title and is in the range where a national title isn't out of the possibility. Ann Arbor voids all those parking tickets from the spring game. Nebraska is now making noises about the Big Ten. So is Paul Tagliabue; his are very silly. You are now bowl eligible if you are bowl eligible.

Unverified Voracity Catches Up With Kelly Baraka. Yes, Again.

Unverified Voracity Catches Up With Kelly Baraka. Yes, Again.

Submitted by Brian on April 7th, 2010 at 1:00 PM

Baraka Obama-a. Remember Kelly Baraka? Unless you're an old-school M recruitnik probably not. If you don't: he was supposed to  be a total ninja RB before a number of high school pot arrests saw him lose his shot at an M scholarship. He never made it anywhere else and has regularly featured in "where are they now?" features end up with the Kalamazoo Xplosion, a minor league football team. Not that you needed me to tell you that with a name like "Xplosion."

Yeah… anyway. About that ninja bit:

LeGarrette Blount ain't got nothing on Kelly Baraka.

Video revamp. Inside Michigan Football sans browser-crippling software:

Schilling's beard is a confidence-building one.

Slings and arrows. The Mathlete takes a look at luck over the past two years in the Big Ten and nationally, re-running last season based on performance-adjusted PPG metrics and slicing out some of the huge swings from random plays like fumbles (he leaves in interceptions). Unsurprisingly, Michigan hasn't been on the kind end of things:

image

I had some questions about whether this "luck" factor was really luck, but there doesn't appear to be any correlation between excellent teams and good fortune. OSU and Penn State average out to be basically even. Iowa nets out around –2. Michigan State's 9-3 2008 team was the second most-fortunate in the country that year, something that checks out in the statistics. It passes a cursory sanity check.

So, then: Northwestern is your official Big Ten lucksack with Minnesota a distant second. If I'm reading the graph right, the Wildcats have been the luckiest team in the country two years running. The negative outlier for 2009—that dot sitting right at –3.0 on the y axis—is Oklahoma, by the way. Not that you needed to be told that a seven-win Stoops outfit suffered its share of outrageous fortune even beyond the Bradford injury.

One stop scouting. The NTDP moved to the USHL this year, which the NHL scouting community loves. Previously, the development team had puttered along in the NAHL, in which draftable prospects are few and far between. Now they're in the USA's premiere junior league and scouts are going "eeee":

"The whole design of the program has given us the selfish benefactor of comparing the Under-18 team on one weekend against the University of Michigan and older players, and then watching them against their group peers the following weekend. But because this is such a select team, an elite team, we think that the elite 18-year-olds should be able to compete against the 21- and 22-year-olds who were not selected in the draft. Those players are older and more savvy but for some reason were passed over."

This should help the NTDP hold on to some of the elite Americans they've lost in recent years. (Example: Stefan Matteau, son of longtime NHLer Stephane Matteau, has accepted a slot according to Michigan Hockey Net.) The 2011 NTDP is a relatively motley bunch. Michigan hasn't recruited anyone from it, a rarity these days. That will change for 2012, as Michigan will have at least two on next years U17s. Boo Nieves is a holy lock for the team and Heisenberg says Connor Carrick has already accepted an invite.

Anything that helps the USHL get on even footing with major junior—something that point equivalencies and NHL alumni suggest is in the process of happening—is good for college hockey.

More Brandon panting. David Brandon loves America:

“Expanding the tournament, I believe is a bad idea … there are certain things that if they are not broke, don’t try to fix ‘em. If there is a better, more outstanding platform out there than the NCAA Final Four and basketball tournament, you have to tell me what that is.”

Not that this matters as the 96-team tournament becomes a foregone conclusion. I can't wait for that 9-24 matchup that will determine who has the right to face at eight seed. Guh.

While I'm on Brandon, contrast Michigan's hiring process with the fiasco that went down in Eugene after Mike Bellotti was presented a $2.3 million going-away present after accepting a job with ESPN:

[Oregon president Richard] Lariviere made two things clear: that he initiated the change in leadership and that university officials made missteps in dealing with Bellotti’s contract that no longer will be tolerated.

“This institution did not follow acceptable business practices in the past,” Lariviere said. “That will not be repeated by my administration.”

Makes the hundred grand or whatever Michigan spent vetting candidates seem like the chump change it is.

Lariviere fired Bellotti because of an "increasing need for strong financial and business management"; the ESPN job was a late development that seemed to allow all parties to save face. (Then it blew up in their face, but it was a nice try.) The trend in athletic directors is clear: CEO types.

Walk it back. Notre Dame AD Jack Swarbrick has read enough livid emails about Notre Dame's national cachet and the potential damage to Catholicism that would result from Our Lady joining up with those secular hooligans and is now changing tack on Notre Dame's role in Big Ten expansion:

That, Swarbrick insists now, was not a signal that Notre Dame is more open to finding a home for football in the Big Ten or any other league.

"The only things that could make it happen are the sorts of radical change in the industry that would cause upheaval and impact a lot more (schools) than Notre Dame," he says. "You wind up with only three conferences. You wind up with two tiers of conferences. Now, all of a sudden, it's not three divisions in college; it's four. It's the big change.

"I don't see that happening."

Please reduce your ND-to-B10 DEFCON to 85. Swarbrick adds:

"I really do believe strongly that we're sort of uniquely positioned to continue to chart our own course."

Sort of uniquely positioned? DEFCON back to 84!

In other Big Ten expansion news, Barnhardt writes about a 16 team Big Ten, spurring another round of PANIC duly shot down by DocSat, resurrected by the St Louis Post-Dispatch and OSU athletic director Gene Smith:

"I believe that if we expand, you probably ought to look at more than (just adding a 12th school)," Ohio State athletics director Gene Smith said.

Stressing that was his opinion and may not be shared by some colleagues, Smith added that he believed the impact "would be pretty massive."

A sixteen team Big Ten is stupid. I complained earlier that an expansion to 14 would see Michigan play Penn State 29% of the time; going to 16 would drop that to 12% (eight conference games) or 25% (nine). That's not a conference any more. The only way it could work would be to adopt promotion and relegation. Whenever I bring this up people point out that the radical swings in team quality characteristic of college football could doom very good teams to irrelevance, and they're right. But it makes more sense than pretending to be in a conference with a team you play once every eight years.

If you're going to expand like that, I think 15 is the number. My completely bats proposal for a 14-team Big Ten is mathematically unworkable, but if you add a 15th team you can break the conference into three divisions of five that play each other and two (or possibly three) opponents in each of the other divisions, and then you can have relegation/promotion crazytimes at the end of the season. This will never, ever happen.

I'm hoping this is all a game of chicken to convince Notre Dame to sign on the dotted line. Expansion of the Big Ten past twelve teams is an idea on par with a 96 team NCAA tournament.

Reviews of a mixed variety. Local scouting service "Best of the Best" returns from the MSHAA playoffs with impressions of a number of players, three of them relevant to your interests. Isaiah Sykes:

He doesn't have a jump shot to save his life, but you'd be hard pressed to find a better finisher and slasher in the 2010 class statewide. Also drop dimes like a 5'9 PG. Terrific rebounder, and is great at getting the defensive board and starting the fast break and making something positive happen with the basketball. High majors are recruiting him, and it's warranted, would be a good late pick up for any up-tempo college team.

Carlton Brundidge:

He's already committed to Michigan, but I don't know if he'll be successful in that system. In order to succeed at the highest level, picking the right system will be a absolute necessity for him. At the end of the day, he's a SG, and that's the bottom line. He produces and gets the job done, at that's what every team needs. He's a very good finisher for his size at the high school level and he can score in bunches when he gets rolling. All in all, his upside is limited in my opinion.

Decidedly negative, that. Hopefully he can develop a jumper over the next year and a half. Finally, Amir Williams:

A defensive phenom no matter the game because of his length, size, and timing, his effect on the game will be felt no matter what. He is also a hungry rebounder, who attacks the glass. Those are two big positives that you'd like every big man to have in their game, once the offensive part of his game becomes more consistent, we could be looking at another McDonald's All American out of the Country Day program.

Etc.: Rich Rodriguez's most recent presser in youtube form: part one, and part two. TSB unbreaks One Shining Moment. Dienhart surveys the explosion in assistant coaches' salaries.

Unverified Voracity Eschews True Style

Unverified Voracity Eschews True Style

Submitted by Brian on October 13th, 2009 at 1:34 PM

cancer-kicker

Annoying reminder. Acquire your cancer kicker bracelets by donating on the right sidebar and help out Phil Brabbs. You will feel like much less of a heel after you do this. Brabbs and his wife also have a video blog up about their first week with Brabbs on chemotherapy.

Oops. You know, I saw this Daily article detailing this new pitch play Michigan was working on, and I thought "that's really cool, I wonder why more practice articles aren't this specific":

In a rotation that was repeated about four times, a quarterback and running back lined up to practice a simple outside pitch play. Though the play was basic, the pairings were different than usual.

And then Michigan ran that pitch play to pretty good effect against Iowa and then Rodriguez closed practice for the rest of the year. Oh, that's why.

FTR: Rodriguez apparently mentioned "blogs" a couple times when announcing that practice is closed. I'm not sure why, since this place hasn't detailed any specific plays Michigan was running during the open section of practice. Any mentions I've made of plays I'd like Michigan to run (tight end shovel! Denard as Percy Harvin!) are total speculation. Total speculation that should be immediately inserted into the playbook, but total speculation nonetheless.

Hanging by a thread, but possibly a thick one. Boubacar Cissoko missed the Iowa game, of course, and has been indefinitely suspended by Rodriguez for matters on the practice field and in the classroom. Weird little fib here:

Cissoko told a reporter earlier in the day he didn't travel with the team because he was "banged up," but would return in the next game.

I guess that's good? Like Cissoko wants to be on the team and might pull out of his tailspin? Or it's bad because he's a nasty fibber. I don't know. Cissoko Transfer DEFCON should be set at 3. He is still practicing with the team:

"Playing football is important to him," Rodriguez said. “And I think his academics are important. But to what level? It has to be at the right level."

I should clarify something I said on the radio yesterday that caused a message board thread; if I said a Cissoko transfer is "likely" that was in error. I meant to say it seemed possible without putting any sort of spin on how likely, or unlikely, that was to occur. Sometimes in the talking you say things less precise than you want to.

(Side note: every time someone shows up on MGoBoard with inside information they're roundly laughed at and negged, and then their info turns out to be accurate. This has happened with Craig Roh starting, Forcier's shoulder injury being more than a bruise, about which more later, and Cissoko not making the trip to Iowa City. MGoBlog is way more locked down that MLive; yes lol Chris Perry's broken leg but let's take context into account. Even someone with 50 points has put in 100x times more cred than an anonymous poster somewhere else. Information on the internet is usually good.)

The Salters thing. There's been quite a bit made of the Lisa Salters quote about Forcier's interaction with Rodriguez on the sideline just before he got pulled. The exact words, according to AA.com:

When a rattled Forcier came to the sideline, Salters said, “He kind of looked over at Coach saying, ‘I don’t know what you want me to do.’”

That sounds like speculation to me, not a direct quote.

The shoulder thing. Jason Forcier is pinged by the Daily and spills a bit more on Tate's shoulder injury:

His shoulder is more injured than I think the public realizes," Jason said. "It's the same thing (Oklahoma quarterback) Sam Bradford did. Maybe not as severe, but an AC joint is an AC joint. Once you injure it, it's hurt for the rest of the year." …

"(Tate)'s being tough," Jason said. "But he's playing against guys that are over three times his size."

Um… that would make Tate approximately 110 pounds. Which seems less improbable when you're talking about Forcier than any other quarterback hanging around, but still pretty improbable.

Meanwhile, this Rodriguez quote on Forcier's practice time from the same article confirms one of this site's theories about the super-lame offense against Michigan State this year:

"His shoulder really limited his practice time the last couple of weeks, but it didn't bother him too much in the game," Rodriguez said. "

This no doubt slowed Michigan's piecemeal installation of the vast and multivariate spread 'n' shred, allowing Michigan State to tee off on the plays they'd already seen with impunity and preventing Michigan from providing the sort of counter-punch they'd like to. A game against a 1-3 I-AA team should allow Michigan a couple weeks to put in new stuff for Penn State, and Forcier's shoulder should continue to get more cooperative as the year goes along.

Brunnnndidge. Our 2011 PG/SG commit is on the youtubes, pretending to get interviewed by ESPN:

HE LIKES MATH! This actually took place after Carlton's freshman year, FWIW, and two months ago someone called him a lawya in the comments. Law on, lawya.

I'll fight the bear. Iowa's evident effort at targeting Donovan Warren was weird to me, and weird to Troy Woolfolk:

Woolfolk, who made four tackles Saturday, said he was surprised Iowa didn’t challenge him more.

“I was like really shocked,” he said. “I asked myself, 'Why aren't they attacking me, the fresh, young blood in the water.' They just kept going to Donovan.”

Iowa got some completions on Warren but it cost them, and the stuff they did get was often of the miracle-throw or safety-bust variety. It seemed foolhardy. Iowa did chuck a couple fades at Woolfolk but neither was completed.

Flowers for Algernon. Michigan Monday is getting pretty stupid of late:

For the game, the Wolverines carried the ball 45 times for 195 yards, a decent 4.3-yard average. Last week Michigan State held Michigan to 28 yards on 28 carries, so obviously things were better than the last time out, but I’m far from convinced that the Wolverines’ running game is “back”.

Of those 195 yards, 53 of them came on a drive in the third quarter where the Wolverines ran the ball almost exclusively from under the center. The drive ended in a touchdown, but the fact that Michigan had to go away from their true running style should be cause for concern. To further badmouth the running game, we need to also mention Michigan’s final two drives of the game, which saw Denard Robinson inserted for a benched Tate Forcier. Michigan started the first drive with 7:42 remaining, down by nine points. Iowa was more than happy to let the Wolverines run the ball the rest of the game, and that’s essentially what they did, rushing for 50 yards on their last two drives.

Basically, over half of Michigan’s rushing yards came when Iowa was happy to see the run or when Tate Forcier was under center, meaning the zone read was pretty well shut down again.

Blather about "true running style": inane.

Rodriguez's true running style is "whatever works," and I kind of doubt Iowa was happy to have Michigan run the ball down the field for a touchdown on a drive that started with eight minutes left, especially once the ball got inside the 20. Michigan didn't turn in a dominating day but consistently creased the Iowa OL and got good yardage all night; they did not break big runs because part of the reason for the consistent success was Iowa laying back with two deep safeties and waiting for Michigan to screw up, which they did. There's plenty to criticize about a Michigan team likely headed for a December bowl game of no note, so why twist yourself into knots in an attempt to knock down the one consistently good aspect of the team?

Outside perspective. Okay, we're off the high of the Notre Dame game and discontent and arguing with people who are yet more discontent still. At this point, though, it's clear that the true disaster projections—which seemed a possibility as Michigan nervously prepared for the Western Michigan game—have gone by the wayside. We're left with those preseason projections, which built in the information that Rich Rodriguez is a very good football coach. Doctor Saturday provides some perspective:

The fact that the Wolverines were banged up, outgained, and reckless with the ball and still only fell by two with a realistic to chance to knock off a conference frontrunner on the road would have been regarded as a very optimistic step five weeks ago, when we were unsure of Rodriguez's grasp on the team. Premature Heisman sites were launched and visions of New Year's Day had begun to dance in September, but this was supposed to be a 7-5 team struggling through growing pains en route to the Champs Sports, and it's beginning to shape up as exactly that.

Whee bowls. The Big Ten has picked up the Gator Bowl, which will be a boring SEC-Big Ten matchup but at least it's a boring SEC-Big Ten matchup that's slanted in the Big Ten's favor. And then they're adding some new thing in the Cotton Bowl:

A new bowl game to be played at Cotton Bowl stadium in Dallas will have the No. 7 pick from the Big Ten, which likely will face a team from the Big 12 or Conference USA. The Cotton Bowl Classic will move to Dallas Cowboys Stadium beginning in January, and the new bowl is expected to be played around Jan. 1.

This bumps the Motor City down to #8 and essentially cancels any relationship between the Big Ten and it unless there's just a glut of 6-6 teams one year. Hopefully this is never relevant.

Concussion pants. Notes on Michigan's concussions: both Tate and Brown are good to go for Delaware State.

Etc.: Bowl projections have Michigan in the Champs, Insight, or Alamo against Kansas, Wake, Oklahoma State, or UNC. Bowl projections aren't very useful right now. MSU folk have put up their UFR-O equivalent; this one's way less depressing than the one that handles the other side of the ball.

Hello: 2011 PG Carlton Brundidge

Hello: 2011 PG Carlton Brundidge

Submitted by Brian on September 21st, 2009 at 10:21 AM

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Southfield point guard Carlton Brundidge has committed to Michigan. He's a junior at the moment, so will come in for 2011 when Darius Morris is a junior. UMHoops has a full rundown on Brundidge for your delectation. A highlight or two:

Brundidge ranks 98th on Rivals, 68th on Scout and 33rd on ESPN. Carlton is one of the top juniors in the state of Michigan as well, ranking as high or higher as Tommie McCune, Patrick Lucas-Perry, Amir Williams, Brandan Kearney, and others. While some like Brandan Kearney may have more potential, it is hard to argue with Brundidge’s production. …

Brundidge is a power guard who thrives taking the ball to the hoop and creating for himself. His three point jump shot is streaky and a bit funky but he can score in bunches. He is a high energy guy who is often mentioned in scouting reports for being active on the glass despite his short height.

As you can see by the above video, Brundidge is a bulldog of a scoring point guard closer to a Rodney Stuckey (YMRMFSPA!) than a traditional distributor. Like Stuckey, Brundidge can get to the rack and finish with the best of them. He puts up points in bunches, most of them on shots he's created for himself. Also (and unfortunately) like Stuckey, his outside shot is a weakness. Brundidge is considerably shorter than Stuckey, but should be fine for college and may have an inch or two of growth left.

Yes, MGoBlog readers with long memories for slightly uncomplimentary things said about Michigan coaches around these parts will remember a long mailbag post doubting John Beilein's recruiting ability. Picking up Brundidge, who's not a guy you would think finds the Beilein offense a huge selling point, goes a long way towards making that opinion look stupid, and I welcome the opportunity for a fuller mea culpa in the event Beilein picks up either Prather or Zeigler and finishes out the '11 class with a highly-rated post. Stupidity, in this case, is preferred.