Before the possibility emerged of John Beilein leaving to coach the Detroit Pistons, everything was falling into place. In Luke Yaklich, Beilein had found the defensive coordinator he long needed to consistently compete not just for Big Ten championships, but national championships. After a most unlikely Final Four run, the Wolverines reloaded with one of the most talented incoming recruiting classes in program history. Charles Matthews announced his return and 2019 blue chip prospect Jalen Wilson committed in rapid succession. More five-star talent looked to be on the horizon.
And then, for the better part of a week, it was up in the air. Sure, Beilein could leave Ann Arbor today as the greatest coach in program history, but—like with so many of his rapidly developed players—his work at Michigan would feel unfinished, not for lack of accomplishment but the distinct possibility of even greater heights.
If fans of any program know that periods of great prosperity must be appreciated in their time, it's Michigan basketball fans. (At least those of a certain age.) In choosing between a great new challenge or conquering an old one, Beilein seemed to take the same perspective. Well, either that or he met Tom Gores. Regardless, he told the Freep's Nick Baumgardner that he chose to pull out of the search when he realized where he wanted to finish his career:
“It became very clear to me where I was meant to finish coaching,” Beilein told the Free Press on Thursday after a speaking engagement in Ann Arbor. “If you followed my career, it was ‘you’ve built this up, you’ve got it right and you leave the program in better shape than you found it.’ And then go and do it again somewhere else.
“I wasn’t offered the (Pistons) job. I was a finalist, but I wasn’t offered the job. And I decided rather than to go through it more, I knew where I needed to be.”
Beilein's contract extension, which The Athletic's Brendan Quinn reports is near completion, should pay him around $4 million per year (up from $3.37M) through the 2022-23 season, which would put him among college basketball's highest-paid coaches. One would expect the assistants will get nice raises, too. Warde Manuel appears to recognize what needs to be done to maintain an elite program.
[Hit THE JUMP for a quick Big Ten outlook, a recruiting update, and more.]
The Nets don't have much in the way of shooting in the frontcourt and aren't really committed to any 4s or 5s long term besides promising rookie Jarrett Allen and the dead-weight contract of Timofey Mozgov.
Wagner brings floor spacing and a high-energy style of play. He was one of the breakout players of March, leading Michigan to a Big Ten title and a surprise run to the NCAA championship game.
The Raptors have traded that pick to the Nets, so that would mean Caris Levert, Nik Stauskas, and Wagner were all… uh… Nets. Since mock drafts are deadly accurate, NY-based Michigan grads should buy their season tickets now.
This is not a layup-focused point guard. IA PG DJ Carton's latest highlight video is mostly nasty contested dunks.
I preferred our previous ignorance about Crisler's scorer, because back in those innocent days I could point out that Michigan's defensive renassaince was in no small part because they were elite at forcing non-rim twos. Now I can only suspect that. Now I know that some part of that is a home scorer who thinks only uncontested dunks or layups are "at the rim."
One of the more telling sequences from Amazon’s behind-the-scenes look at Michigan’s 2017 season came during the Wolverines’ 42–13 loss at Penn State. After another failed drive, Michigan quarterback John O’Korn came to the sideline. “No blocking,” O’Korn told Harbaugh. “There’s no blocking.”
Andy Staples inserts that into a piece about Shea Patterson's attempt to save Michigan's offense. I do have an issue with Staples citing raw yards per carry numbers from Michigan's less successful outings on the ground:
Last season, they averaged 2.6 yards a carry against Michigan State, 2.5 yards a carry against Penn State, 1.5 yards a carry against Wisconsin, 2.8 yards a carry against Ohio State and 2.2 yards a carry against South Carolina. That places even more pressure on the quarterback, figuratively (because he’s expected to do it all) and literally (because blocking poorly leads to large humans in the quarterback’s face and the lack of a run game means defenses can dedicate more bodies to covering potential targets).
Once you move sacks to the correct bin, Michigan averaged 3.9, 4.3, 2.2, 4.6, and 2.9 YPC in those games, which is not good but is a considerably more accurate evaluation than sack-included numbers for the #117 pass pro team in the country.
Another thing to note on this one is the safety who eventually tackled Evans: he is rotated back by the motion and spends a second or two reading the play out before barreling downfield. That makes for a good gain instead of good blocks and three yards. The difference between that nine yard gain and this three yard one is evident:
PSU safety to top of screen
PSU also got a DT out there on a stunt, but that's just a thing that happened. It's not a trend. The trend is the safeties firing at Michigan's ground game with impunity. PSU's safety froze on the first one because he didn't know what he was looking at. Once he saw the play once he was able to fire because nobody cares about Michigan's passing game. That's a version of what happened to early Rodriguez offenses where the new stuff would work for a bit and then when the defense had seen it they curled up and died, because they could only do one thing.
Michigan's lack of a passing game stifled their run game, not vice versa. Patterson's worst case scenario is a thousand times better than what Michigan got from the spot a year ago. It'll all go to hell if Michigan can't pass protect better, but Patterson really does solve a swath of Michigan's issues just by being a proven P5 quarteback.
Speaking of. If you can stomach it, James Light highlighted a couple of Michigan's many, many missed opportnities against Ohio State:
Patterson certainly would have won that game, for one.
Can anyone catch up? A Jalen Wilson post-visit interview($) is mostly unrevealing, but he does omit UCLA as a contender and say he's going to commit before his school year starts. Wilson's visit generated a big Michigan run on the crystal ball, with both Steve Lorenz and Josh Henschke joining various others.
Wilson has as-of-yet unscheduled visits he wants to take to Baylor, Marquette, Oklahoma State, and Kansas. Hopefully those remain vague.
Pitino flips! In the media! The Washington Post has an extensive story on new IU recruit Romeo Langford's college decision featuring one Rick Pitino:
In January 2017, Pitino said, two Adidas officials met with him to discuss their efforts to keep Nike and Under Armour from landing Langford, whom Pitino was recruiting. Pitino’s account was supported by text messages he shared with The Washington Post for a previous story.
“The way they phrased it, it was [whichever shoe company] was going to pay the dad’s AAU program the most money, gets it,” Pitino said in a recent phone interview. A few days later, Adidas’s league added a new team: Twenty Two Vision, featuring Romeo Langford on the court and Tim Langford as team director. Shoe company sponsorships can reach $100,000 to $150,000, and team directors who limit expenses can pay themselves salaries from those amounts.
“That’s the way that world works,” Pitino said. “Which is completely legal, by the way.”
This space is in full heighten the contradictions mode about college basketball and welcomes any and all revelations about how ineffectual the NCAA's attempts to prevent money from flowing to folks with marketable skills are. A pissed-off Rick Pitino napalming everyone he can in the Washington Post is a boon for everyone.
This here site has mentioned a couple times that the restricted numbers and big fish looking at the hook in the 2019 class mean that a sit-one-play-any transfer would have to be quite the prospect. Wichita State's Austin Reaves—a college-proven Just A Shooter who hit 45% a year ago—was a better bet than a Robert Morris player with a 102 ORTG, but still didn't seem compelling enough to occupy a precious 2019 roster slot.
After some back and forth it looks like Michigan agrees. A Reaves visit scheduled for this weekend is off and the twitter account that's reporting all the Reaves news excludes Michigan from a new top four, with a decision imminent. Purdue is in that top 4 and for no reason I expect him to end up there so he can play off a 7'3" guy and run around like Rip Hamilton.
There is a visit on this weekend, and it's a big one: TX SF Jalen Wilson. Wilson recently released a top six with a couple of notable exclusions:
Those exclusions are Oklahoma, who had one of the three CBs ventured for Wilson, and UNC. The Tarheels wanted to wait until the July evaluation period before deciding on an offer; Wilson's ready to move on. A week or so ago he told 24/7 that Michigan, Baylor, Marquette, and Kansas were "really prioritizing him," so that moves a couple of contenders down the list.
Kansas rather looms, but a visit near decision time gives Michigan their shot to pitch UNMATCHED DEVELOPMENT. Also uh?
Top 30-ish players committing is always a believe-it-when-you-see-it event for a scrupulously, uh, scrupulous program. Wilson looks like the rare bird who might execute the maneuver. If you'd like the nitty-gritty on him, UMHoops has a breakdown of his game. He's an Iggy-esque guy who can get to the basket but he needs to work on his 3P%.
UPDATE: Ace points out that Snow just issued a Michigan crystal ball and explained on the The Victors Club. He doesn't think a commitment is likely this weekend, but that it may be a formality.
With all due respect to the other schools on that list—Michigan has lost recruiting battles to most—that's the kind of top six for a top 50 prospect I can get behind. Wisconsin getting axed is nice since he had the early run of crystal balls. He talked to Zagsblog after his list came out and said a bunch of not much:
Michigan: “I’m planning to go on a visit. [Coach Luke Yaklich] and I, we’ve been talking often, so we have a really strong relationship and they’re supporting me so it’s always good to hear from them. They had a great season, making it to the national championship. I feel like every school is recruiting me for a priority.’
Carton recently moved up to 30th on Rivals and is knocking on the door of five-star status:
Got my first live look at DJ Carton at @ny2lasports. There aren’t many better point guard prospects in the 2019 class. Strong, physical, changes speeds & has terrific vision.
When national analysts discuss potential leaders for Carton they're usually weak predictions like "could be slightly ahead of the pack," but Michigan is a constant amongst those predictions. Rivals's Eric Bossi thinks Michigan and Ohio State are edging ahead of the field; IU 247 guy says it's M, OSU, and Indiana; 24/7 national analyst Brian Snow is also in the M and OSU camp.
What? Mo Hurst did not go in the first round of the NFL draft, which is now #1 on my list of WTF NFL draft moments in the I-look-at-everything-in-detail era:
Jonas Mouton, constantly out of position looks-like-Tarzan dude, goes in the second round.
Alan Branch falls into the second round behind three DT jabronis.
Lamarr Woodley also falls into the second round of that draft.
David Harris, same thing, same draft.
Ernest Shazor dropping out entirely was a twitter suggestion but Shazor checked out immediately after ending that Purdue receiver and reportedly had some off-field issues. The most absurd thing from Michigan's end was Ryan Mundy transferring to WVU and then getting drafted.
I reserve the right to revise this opinion if it turns out that Hurst's heart condition is more severe than people are letting on. Todd McShay did assert he would plummet because of it before yesterday's first round.
This is not a true thing. Don Brown is not a sitcom dad. And only a sitcom dad would do this.
Don Brown shared that during a previous trip to Paris “I had a bad experience. I was having a hard time finding coffee and I got a bunch of espressos and out them in a big glass. Oh my God I thought I was having the big one!” (Imagine Don Brown on espresso!!! Lol)
Don Brown did not pour 30 dollars worth of espresso in a cup and slam it with one gulp and then almost die. He is a highly competent leader of men. This isn't I Love Lucy.
Oh God. What if it is? What if we're in the I Love Lucy universe? IT WOULD EXPLAIN AN AWFUL LOT, WOULDN'T IT.
I'll take a carton of Cartons. 247 basketball analyst guy Brian Snow has issued a Michigan prediction for "soon to be five star"(!) IA PG DJ Carton based on a bunch of people's assertions about Carton's recruitment. Pick sounds somewhat speculative—it's a number of people with low-confidence opinions, not one or two with a high-confidence one—but it's still a situation where Michigan is recruiting against the rest of the Big Ten instead of one-and-done powerhouses that they're batting 0.100 against. (McGary.) There are no regional offers left to get, and he's been everywhere already:
He’s also a step ahead of most of his classmates in his recruiting process. That’s due in large part to a busy visit scheduled his family has managed for him over the past year.
“I have been to Creighton, Michigan, Ohio State, Illinois, Iowa, Marquette, Wisconsin, Nebraska, Missouri, Indiana, that’s all I can think of right now.” Carton said in Texas.
Michigan is in a good place, as Carton is currently Recruit Who Asserts He Has No Future Visits Set Up Except This One School:
Another trip to Indiana is under serious consideration per his father and another Big Ten campus trip seems likely as well.
“I don’t have any scheduled right now but I did talk to (Michigan) coach (John) Beilein and he is wanting me to come to campus as soon as possible,” Carton said. “My family and I are going to probably scheduled that one soon.”
As a bonus, Sam agrees and also asserts that 5-star TX SF Jalen Wilson is highly realistic. He's taking an unofficial in two weeks and… uh… commit watch maybe? Probably not. But maybe? And then we shoot Boeheim if he looks even a little squirrelly?
The Hoiberg plan. Nebrasketball picks up that Robert Morris transfer:
Robert Morris transfer Dachon Burke has committed to Nebraska. The 6'4" guard averaged 17.6 points, 5.8 rebounds, 2.5 assists, and 2.1 steals per game this past season.
In communications this week, Ole Miss told the NCAA it basically had nothing to add.
"There is nothing new here," Bjork told CBS Sports. "We do not oppose the student-athlete competing right away if the decision is based on accurate information, NCAA bylaws, applicable waiver standards and relevant case precedent."
Patterson's attorney, Tom Mars, concluded, "Therefore, the case is ready to be decided. The timing of the NCAA's decision is a matter of the staff's discretion, so there is no timetable for when a decision will be made. I'm confident, however, that the staff will not take any more time than is necessary to come to the right decision."
Either way we'll know soon—but it had better be a thumbs up unless the NCAA wants a ton of awful PR for no reason. It's not like there's going to be a spate of free transfers from schools that get in trouble and lie about it—currently that list of schools stands at just Ole Miss.
…according to the transcript of the cockpit voice recorder, part of the investigative report released last week by the National Transportation Safety Board, the pilot’s terse “Abort” at 187 mph was met with a historically sensible, procedurally correct and potentially fatal response.
“No. Not above —” the copilot said, referring to takeoff speed. Then: “(Expletive.)”
What the captain felt in his hands, and the copilot had no way of knowing, was that the two-engine jetliner was not going to climb. The yoke “felt heavy, like there was a stack of bricks on the nose,” he told investigators, and so he immediately did exactly what pilots are trained to avoid.
Tough sell for transfers; transfers a tough sell. Per Josh Henschke, South Dakota transfer Matt Mooney has dropped Michigan from consideration. This is not much of a surprise since he should be able to find 30 MPG somewhere else.
The only other transfer currently associated with Michigan is Robert Morris SG Dachon Burke, but 1) Burke is a sit one, play two kid with 2) a 102 ORTG in the NEC. I don't know what ORTG a sit-one-play-two low-major guy would have to have to be appealing given that Michigan currently has one open 2019 scholarship, but it's not 102. It's probably 130. Anyone talking about Burke seriously hasn't looked at Michigan's roster.
Carton's HS has great jerseys that Michigan should try to copy, too
Especially since… In the aftermath of Michigan's Final Four run, Beilein has started hitting up a bunch of top 50 guys. Michigan appears to be recruiting in the expectation they'll have two spots and they would like those to be a combo guard and a wing. With Duke folks still banking on Joe Girard, it's recently-offered IA CG DJ Carton who now seems like the most likely big-time combo addition. Carton's recruitment is nearly an entirely intraconference battle, with Marquette the lone school outside of the Big Ten drawing much mention.
Carton has four CB picks to Wisconsin on his profile but Wisconsin 247 guy Evan Flood seems like he's trying to let the locals down easy, saying that if he had an idea of where to flip his pick he'd flip it away from the Badgers. Guard depth is cited as a problem—a dubious assertion given Wisconsin's guard play and recent recruiting. Meanwhile Henschke seems fairly close to a Michigan crystal ball.
Nunez doesn't hit rim. Some highlights:
Much shorter reel than Castleton's but that form is so pure.
#7 Oliver Wahlstrom. Wahlstrom decommitted from Harvard and is apparently choosing between BC, Michigan, and maybe a year in Europe. No news since Jeff Cox reported that a week ago.
#17 Bode Wilde. Will be a freshman in AA next year, also after decommitting from Harvard. Hopefully he and Wahlstrom are bros.
#154 Jack Randl. That makes Randl a late pick if he actually goes.
Michigan's other draft-age commits—Calen Kiefiuk and Jacob Semik—are not listed. That's not a huge surprise for either given their USHL numbers, though Semik has some peripheral stats that look pretty good. (More about that later.)
This class was hurt pretty badly by the uncertainty about Red Berenson; Pearson's tried to fill it in with various overagers as he seeks to bridge the gap between Hughes and Norris to the 2020 group. Flipping Wilde will be a big help there; a one-and-done from Wahlstrom would also be real nice. Also…
Obligatory Jack Hughes mention. Hughes draws a New York Times(!) profile. Most of it is stuff you're already familiar with if you follow Michigan hockey. A section at the end definitively states that he won't accelerate (boo), but then broaches the possibility of the #1 pick in the draft spending a year somewhere other than the NHL:
Hughes is undecided about where he will play after he is done with the National Team Development Program in 2019. He is considering college hockey and the junior ranks in Canada. “We can’t get too far ahead of ourselves. He’s just a kid,” said Jim Hughes, who now works for Pat Brisson, the top agent whose clients include Matthews, now a Maple Leafs star, and other N.H.L. players.
One other possibility is a year of pro hockey in Switzerland, where Matthews played, on Brisson’s advice, before being drafted. Going directly to the N.H.L. after the 2019 draft could be a stretch unless Jack Hughes adds plenty of pounds and bulk over the next 18 months.
That's not going to happen, right? When's the last time that happened? I don't even want to think about it. They'd still give the Hobey to Jimmy Vesey.
Exit fun guy. Alas: 2020 hockey recruit Antonio Stranges signed with London. May he have better luck than previous Michigan decommits. Fellow touted 2020 recruit Andrei Bakanov signed a tender with the USHL's Cedar Rapids after not making himself available for the OHL draft and is on track to matriculate. Bakanov has some stats:
Bakanov, a six-foot-two, 192-pound forward, spent the 2017-18 season with the Oakland Jr. Grizzlies, totaling an impressive 112 points (57G, 55A) in 77 total games between the program's HPHL schedule and U16 AAA schedule.
“Cedar Rapids has a great history of producing tremendous players," Bakanov said. "The plan that Coach Carlson provided my family and me not only for on ice development , but also developing as a student and person, far exceeded our expectations. I was able to see a game on my visit and the support of the fans for the team really excited me."
If he scores at a decent clip in his draft-1 year in the USHL he'll be a first round candidate.