On The Periphery

On The Periphery

Submitted by Ace on May 6th, 2014 at 2:36 PM

Even after his meteoric rise from unheralded three-star to coveted five-star, Glenn Robinson III was never the centerpiece. In John Beilein's 2012 recruiting class, Mitch McGary commanded the most attention. In Michigan's offense over the following two seasons, Trey Burke and Nik Stauskas were the focal points. Playing a game in which the object is to put the ball through the hoop, Robinson was notable for how rarely—and briefly—he touched the rock.

He waited on the periphery, and when the opportunity arose, he struck with such suddenness and forcefulness that even if you forgot he was on the court, you were sure to leave the game talking about whatever he just did. One moment, he was a 30% three-point shooter standing harmlessly in the corner. The next, some unsuspecting defender was attempting to discard a 6'6", 220-pound hat with ill intentions.

Robinson's ability to make these lightning strikes look effortless belied the skill required to execute them. Correctly timing a cut requires not only reading the defense, but also your teammates—a foray to the rim is worthless if the cutter and passer aren't on the same page, and a poorly timed one can ruin the offense's spacing.

[Hit THE JUMP because of excessive entirely necessary GIF usage.]

Stauskas, Robinson To Enter Draft

Stauskas, Robinson To Enter Draft

Submitted by Brian on April 15th, 2014 at 3:27 PM

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[Bryan Fuller]

Michigan just scooped their own press conference with a press release. Snippet:

Robinson III, Stauskas Declare for Early Entry into NBA Draft

April 15, 2014

ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- University of Michigan men's basketball head coach John Beilein announced today (Tuesday, April 15) that sophomores Glenn Robinson III (St. John, Ind./Lake Central) and Nik Stauskas (Mississauga, Ontario/St. Mark's School [Mass.]) will forgo their final two years of eligibility and submit the necessary paperwork to declare for early entry into the 2014 National Basketball Association (NBA) Draft.

"In a very short period of time, these two young men have had a very positive impact on the Michigan Basketball program," said Beilein. "From day one, Glenn and Nik have had the right attitude and work ethic that has helped us enjoy so much of our recent success."

That's the way this was going, and now it has gone. Raise your hand if you thought Michigan would have four early NBA draft entries in two years under John Beilein, let alone four in two years. That's nobody. Weird place we're in now. Great place. Weird place.

Anyway, godspeed, gentlemen. May your NBA careers be long and fruitful and draw other players of your ilk to Ann Arbor.

Unverified Voracity Announces Decisions

Unverified Voracity Announces Decisions

Submitted by Brian on April 15th, 2014 at 12:08 PM

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Maize and Blue Nation

The day has (mostly) come. Expect a post at about 3:35 today, as Michigan has called a press conference featuring Nik Stauskas and Glenn Robinson III at 3:30 wherein they will either announce their NBA draft futures or talk about their favorite things to put on hamburgers. Here's hoping it's the latter.

I don't think there's a huge amount of suspense with either of those two guys. Michigan is bringing in Muhammed Ali Abdur-Rahkman for an official this weekend, and now there are multiple reports that Robinson has signed with an agent or hasn't signed but is entering the draft anyway.

The suspense is with Mitch McGary, who is not announcing:

McGary's father, Tim McGary, told MLive on Monday night that his son has no intentions to partake in the press conference and is still undecided on whether he return to U-M or not.

"He's still back and forth on it," Tim McGary said.

So he's not gone; neither is he necessarily back. He has until the 27th to make that decision; the NCAA's deadline is an entirely artificial one.

The fact that he's still debating things is obviously good. It is not as good as McGary being ready to announce a return would be; it is still good. Scout's Brian Snow has reported a shift of opinion($) in the Indiana recruiting circles he pings regularly that is positive for Michigan, so there's that. Sam Webb confirmed, insofar as it is possible to confirm an opinion on a decision that clearly hasn't been made yet.

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Abdur-Rahkman, 40 in white
ha no but man wouldn't that be something
he's the guy with the ball
not that I had to tell you that

Meanwhile, MAAR. If Michigan does settle on Abdur-Rahkman as a spring take I'll be satisfied; Beilein and company have proved they can ID a diamond in the rough and, like… MAAR for four years. Misspelled Smiths tie in acronym: yes please.

MAAR currently has a slate of mid-major offers after a senior season in which he averaged nearly 24 points a game for Central Catholic. Joe Stapleton's article linked above indicates the seriousness of Michigan's interest—Beilein calls him "at least three times a week"*—despite the fact that he is not just a shooter because he's not, in fact, a shooter:

Abdur-Rahkman would be a slight departure from the prototypical Michigan recruit in that he isn’t known for his shooting. In fact, the graduating senior said that while his shot has improved, he made his living getting to the rim and playing great man-to-man defense.

A defensive stopper type would be welcome, and shooting can develop. If Michigan was to offer it doesn't seem like it'll take a whole lot of thought from MAAR:

“(Michigan is) definitely the top school.”

Abdur-Rahkman also deviates from the Beilein model in that he's old for his class. In fact, he is literally as old as you can be and still play high school basketball in Pennsylvania:

Abdur-Rahkman turned 16 on Sept. 1 at the start of his freshman year, which means, of course, he turned 19 on Sept. 1 of this past year. The cutoff date for meeting the PIAA's age requirement is Sept. 1, meaning that had Muhammad been born on Aug. 31, he would have had to be part of the 2013 graduating class.

He'll be 20 by the time he arrives on campus. Good for immediate readiness, bad for upside. Kind of like grabbing a hockey player after a couple years of JUCO.

*[They deregulated phone calls in men's basketball, if that sounds like a violation to you. Kelvin Sampson sighs heavily at home about this.]

WELP. Here's this draft evaluation of Taylor Lewan from SBNation that discusses Taylor Lewan, who is of interest to us as a Michigan alum who is likely to go in the top half of the first round of the draft.

What a shitty offense

Uh… what?

So I wanted to focus this breakdown on Taylor Lewan, not the severe annoyance I had with the way Michigan used him. But since it was the one thing that stood out to me the most while watching Lewan play, I am going to go ahead and address it right off the bat.

Oh.

Now look, I don't profess to be some kind of expert on offenses, but some things about football I just feel like should be common sense. For instance, if you have a superior blocker at left tackle, most of your help from tight ends and running backs, whether it be run blocking or pass blocking, should go to the other four guys. It should also allow you to design plays built around his athleticism to help get your skill position players free out in space. Stuff like smoke screens (WR takes one step forward then one step back to catch the ball while his blockers lead up in front of him) or really any kind of screens, counter plays (where you pull the offensive guard and tackle from one side of the center to the other side of the center) and any number of sweep plays (runs designed to get wide outside of the offensive tackle).

I didn't see much of that in the five games that I watched. Furthermore, why in the HELL did Michigan keep a tight end to Lewan's side so damn much? He obviously didn't need the help. The quarterback was right handed anyway (with bootlegs you like for the tight end to be lined up to the side of the quarterback's throwing hand), and they could have potentially had a wide receiver there instead of a tight end. It would've increased the chances of success on passing downs as well as run downs if you get the opposing defenses spread themselves out. But is that what Michigan did?

HEEEEEELLLLLL NOOOOOOOO

This very long blockquote is not the end of former NFL DE Stephen White's evisceration of last year's Michigan offense, despite it being a very long blockquote. I expect that White will be getting some very stern comments from the folks around here who fought the rearguard action for Team Borges with such heroic ferocity last season when I made statements like "this is stupid," "this makes no sense," and "it is bad when your tailbacks run 27 times for 27 yards."

Michigan protected Taylor Lewan with a tight end so often that it made it hard for this draft evaluator to, you know, evaluate Taylor Lewan. Meanwhile, the interior of the line was a highway to Devin Gardner's ribs. And the kicker is: the tight ends couldn't even block. Michigan was tossing away its main advantage on the line—dang good tackles—because of their philosophy about manballin' it. That's alarming, because that seems like it comes from the top. It's all well and good to be Stanford or Alabama if you can be that, but when you're on your way to dead last TFLs… probably not.

We'll see. Rubber hits the road in September.

Oh, good. Putting Chad Lindsay on 27 tickets turns out to be premature, as the Alabama transfer is getting his woo on. After his visit to Michigan he hit up Louisville and Oklahoma; this week he's headed to Cal and… Ohio State. Oh goody.

OSU lost four seniors off last year's line and can pitch Lindsay playing time, and you know there's nothing in the world Urban would like more than grabbing Lindsay away from Michigan even if he ends up sitting on the bench the whole year. Especially if he ends up sitting on the bench the whole year.

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Get out of there while you still can, Chad.

This will help you feel better about the previous section. Someone's really into Amir Williams saying coach be all over his di—

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For pants sake, lady, can you see a camera without reflexively extending your tongue and squinting? I submit that you cannot.

Mascot of the week. The El Paso Chihuahuas' Chico has been hanging with Eight Ball the Tiger:

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Mascots should be as frightening as possible. I approve.

YUP. It's almost like arguments against a college football playoff weren't particularly good ones.

Our worthless suit overlords think so little of us they kept the guy who was issuing these proclamations around to issue the exact opposite proclamations.

The Michigan Difference. Michigan PhD grad makes joke about Darren Rovell on twitter.

Darren Rovell, being Darren Rovell, reports this comment to some guy at Michigan. Michigan's "informal response":

1) "Wait, so who is this guy? Is @darrenrovell actually famous?"

2) "What did he think we were going to do? Take away your diploma?"

/sings fight song, waves tiny block M flag

I am always very careful about how I mis-state the word rapper. Ace informs me that this gentleman with Devin Gardner is noted rappist "Two Chains," but I say balderdash, I say!

image

COUNT THE CHAINS, "TWO CHAINS." His real name is Excessive Watches IV. He goes home and takes off all of that, sits down with a Forbes, and looks exactly like Carlton. Fact. E-fact. Also his rap song just cannot compete with the Charleston.

This has been Brian pretends he's more out of touch than he is to forestall accusations of being out of touch theater. Thank you.

Thanks, bro. Horford opens up about his decision to leave to MLive; it turns out his zen does not extend to the rest of his family:

"(Transferring) is something that my family has been trying to persuade me to do for four years," Horford said. "So I guess naturally it's always been inevitable -- when people are telling you something all the time."

I get the feeling that Horford's support system regards Horford's abilities with… uh… enthusiasm not necessarily in line with reality. The reason his playing time dropped late in the season is that he wasn't playing well. I mean… when Morgan went out I was always like WHEN CAN WE GET MORGAN BACK IN. Play better and you get more time. Or wait for Morgan to graduate and go get it like he did.

Please please please let me get what I want (fewer timeouts) this time. Timeouts are a scourge upon basketball, not only turning 60 seconds of clock time into a writhing eternity of nothingness but also reducing the chaos factor that a trailing team attempts to insert into the game late. On four seconds trying to inbound the ball? Timeout. Trapped in the corner? Timeout. Want to get your defense set? Timeout. Timeouts are used to prevent turnovers, keep the leading team in the lead, and let over-coaching guys in suits maintain as much control as possible. They result in two and a half hour  games that mean you have to stream the first ten minutes of  your game on ESPN3. They are miserable and should be almost entirely removed.

They won't be, but at least the misery of them is a thing that has reached the people who can do something about it:

Everyone agreed that one of the biggest detractions of the current game is the eternity it takes to end a close one. That is largely due to the number of timeouts granted to each team, both officially (five per team per game) and unofficially (coaches are given a minute to substitute when a player fouls out). Replay reviews are viewed as a necessary evil in the quest for the right calls, but they also add to the length of an endgame situation. Coaches cherish their control of the game and thus will be loath to surrender timeouts, but fans everywhere would embrace fewer stoppages in play – especially late in a game. The NCAA said it will begin tracking the length of games next year, as it does in football.

"Length is becoming a concern," said David Worlock, NCAA associate director of men's basketball.

You're going to begin tracking games? And you don't think there's anything wrong with the current replay setup? Argh. But yes, please, shoot timeouts into the sun. One per team per game.

Also:

An elimination of live-ball timeouts, or at least limiting those calls to players instead of coaches. This would be a move toward FIBA international rules, which allow no live-ball timeouts.

Yes.

But no:

Reducing the shot clock to either 30 or 24 seconds. Brey said he is in favor, and there seems to be fairly wide support for a reduction of some kind – although there also is a concern about college hoops becoming an NBA copycat league. (Interestingly, Byrd said his Belmont team occasionally uses a 12-second shot clock in practice to force tempo and enhance conditioning.)

With zone defenses viable and the skill level generally reduced, shortening the shot clock just results in more ugly shots. 45 to 35 was necessary, but in college 35 is fine.

Etc.: Sam Mikulak in repose. PSU-M is at 7 PM on ESPN or ESPN 2. Frighentingly quick MAAR scouting video from UMHoops.

Reporter: Glenn Robinson To Enter Draft

Reporter: Glenn Robinson To Enter Draft

Submitted by Brian on April 14th, 2014 at 1:39 PM

This is the report the reporter is reporting:

If you're wondering why this guy would get it first, the signed with an agent bit is the gateway there. Fischer writes for SLAM and the Boston Globe, FWIW.

Unverified Voracity Reflects

Unverified Voracity Reflects

Submitted by Brian on April 3rd, 2014 at 1:11 PM

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Dustin Johnston/UMHoops

Rounding up the exit. Further takes on the end of Michigan's season come from Genuinely Sarcastic:

In three of the last four seasons, Michigan's season has come down to one final shot in the dying moments. That's actually pretty astonishing when you think about it. All the chaos and moving parts of a basketball game, boiling down to one shot on three separate occasions in three separate games. All three involved different circumstances, and a Michigan program at different stages of its evolution.

Hoover Street Rag:

Sometimes you don't appreciate you have until it's gone.  Which is why I am thankful we were able to send off Jordan Morgan on a high note.  Morgan is exactly what we want our players to be, tenacious, hard-working, always working to be better, and, oh yeah, a pretty damn good student to boot.  To see all of the #ThanksJMo tweets after the game is to know that we didn't lose sight of what was going to end when Stauskas's last shot fell short.  We know we're probably also losing some other players, and we'll deal with that when the time comes, but for now, we appreciate what we had, because it was fun.  It was just fun.

The Daily:

INDIANAPOLIS — Moments after the game, the sun is low in the sky and Lucas Oil Stadium casts a long shadow across Indianapolis as, inside, Michigan walks off the court for the last time together. Jordan Morgan is first, well before anyone else. Glenn Robinson III gives a quick wave to the crowd and puts his head down. Nik Stauskas is emotionless. Mitch McGary, who was never getting into the game, walks off wearing the uniform his teammates have insisted he wear.

Later, Morgan, held up by his press conference, is one of the last to enter the Michigan locker room. Most of the room is composed except for Zak Irvin, who is emotional in one corner of the room, and for Morgan. He wipes his face with his sleeve and cries in front of the television cameras.

His teammates have said the loss is all the more difficult because it means they’ll never play another game with Morgan. The senior doesn’t know how to respond.

He pauses to wipe his eyes.

“I didn’t expect it to be my last game,” Morgan says.

“It’s over. I don’t know what else to say.”

And Nick Baumgardner:

But while every team in this NCAA tournament, save for one, ends its season with a loss, they don't all end their season without regret.

This Michigan team earned the right to live -- forever -- with a clear conscience.

"You can be mad if you want," Michigan's Jon Horford said. "But if you make guys hit tough shots they don't normally hit.

"Then you shake their hand."

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[Bryan Fuller]

Draft stuff. NBA draft types seem to be in consensus about Michigan's three early entry candidates: Stauskas is out the door, but the other two should return. "Should" and "will" are two very different things, of course. Also, when NBA draft types talk about these things they talk about them from the perspective of the NBA, not the player.

Disclaimers aside, NBA type on Robinson:

Projecting where Robinson could be selected in this year's NBA draft is difficult. His potential is boundless, but his play has been erratic. The scout described his prospective draft position as "all over the board for some people."

He concluded saying Robinson should return to Ann Arbor to "develop some consistency in his game."

A guy the BTN talked to:

Glenn Robinson III
Why he should stay: Should finally emerge as Michigan’s star player. Showed flashes of what people expected as a sophomore, but not consistently. Should look better with Walton having a year under his belt as point guard.
Why he should leave: Teams still like his skill and athleticism. Could flourish enough in workout situations to alleviate NBA concerns.
Prediction: Stays

As I mentioned in the post a couple days ago, Robinson's clear frustration at being forced to play the 4 is something that will weigh on him. This makes Mark Donnal the most important guy on the team from GRIII's perspective. If Mitch returns Donnal is free to play the 4 for basically all of his minutes, and if he's a 25 minute or 30 minute guy that means Robinson's spending almost all of his time on the wing.

As for Mitch, there is almost universal agreement that it would be hard to take the guy in the first round with the questions about his back and relatively thin resume. McGary would have to be confident in his ability to go full McGary in draft camps this month if he was going to make a leap. Anonymous NBA guy:

If he chooses to declare for the draft, McGary's health will be "picked apart in this process" due to an injury classified only as a lower-back condition, according to the scout.

It's clear both Robinson and McGary entered the year planning that this would be their last at Michigan, and that momentum will make deciding to stay more difficult than it otherwise even if it seems like the best idea to return for both.

These days there is no withdrawal, so the dates that matter are April 16th, when the Portsmouth Invitational starts and the 27th, which is the last day to declare. GRIII and McGary will almost certainly decide by the 16th, as Portsmouth is where a lot of first or second round decisions get hashed out.

Also in draft stuff. I'm not sure if this draft blogger the BTN talked to has anything solid or if he's just guessing based on the fact that everyone flees West Lafayette, but here's the hypothetical death knell for Matt Painter's career:

A.J. Hammons
Why he should stay: Showed very little improvement in many ways from freshman to sophomore year. A dominant junior year could make him a first-round pick.
Why he should leave: Skilled big men and shot-blockers are always in demand at the NBA level and Hammons’ development may have stalled at Purdue.
Prediction: Enters Draft

Tom Dienhart also predicted a Hammons departure, FWIW. I know Hammons is a frustrating dude but he's all Purdue has right now.

Other decisions the Big Ten is waiting on include Sam Dekker and (now) Frank Kaminsky at Wisconsin plus Gary Harris and Branden Dawson at MSU. Gary Parrish reported that barring a 180 in the next couple days, Harris is out the door. Dawson is a bit of a surprising name, but he's got financial issues and pretty much is what he is at this point: a 20-minutes-a-game defensive specialist.

MSU is also offering firm handshakes to potential fifth-year players Alex Guana and Russell Byrd. The latter is a little sad, since he had the highest ratio of bark to bite in the Big Ten. From the spectator's position, it's always tough to lose a guy like that.

Freshman talk. Via MGoVideo:

Canteen made a catch! And he's wearing 17. Always enjoy guys wearing oddball numbers I have no association with. Looking forward to Canteen changing it six times over the course of his career.

Wrong move, buddy. Now we're going to try and beat you. Ohio State cockiness increments yearly these days. And one day super super soon they are going to regret it, I tell you. Until then, the prospect of random OSU assistant coaches spouting off about Michigan remains. Ed Warinner:

Standard message board banter. Okay. And then:

Wow. That's personal. I expect that from a guy named WOLVERINEKILLAH88, not so much a coach. Hoke brushed it off on WTKA today, as he is wont to do.

From the People In Charge Of Things Are Just In Charge Of Them file. Texas has a new athletic director, who is in charge of Texas. He is also an idiot.

He sees Texas as being in a unique position to grow its international brand and said it's essential to use athletics as a platform to tell the university's story.

"They shouldn't be done for junketeering purposes," Patterson said. "They should be done in a fashion that grows the profile and the interest of the university of a broad scale internationally."

Patterson reportedly has expressed interest in playing a nonconference football game in Mexico City. Another possibility Patterson acknowledged Tuesday could be a future sporting event in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

This dude already scheduled a Texas basketball game in China, but will not even consider playing Texas A&M. The goal appears to be pissing off your core fanbase as much as possible. CEO types are just emperors running around naked as the day is long these days, searching for growth at all costs like their department is a publicly traded company.

Also… "junketeering." Just keep shooting bullets into the English language until it topples, guys.

It's on. The Michigan legislature passed a bill allowing Michigan to sell alcohol for that rumored Man U/Real Madrid friendly this summer, which was followed up by an announcement there would be an announcement tomorrow. Expect them to announce a series of announcements about announcements culminating in a soccer game.

Etc.: A Brian Phillips ode to Raftery and Lundquist. Five Key Plays for Kentucky. More Morgan. Additional Morgan. DJ Wilson update.

Michigan 73, Tennessee 71

Michigan 73, Tennessee 71

Submitted by Ace on March 28th, 2014 at 10:18 PM


After the charge. [Dustin Johnston/UMHoops]

As it turned out, the Sweet Sixteen matchup between Michigan and Tennessee was determined by mismatches up front.

Jeronne Maymon couldn't handle Glenn Robinson III without fouling—or stay in front of any of Michigan's perimeter players—while Jordan Morgan outscored and outrebounded Jarnell Stokes, then all but sealed the victory by taking a charge when Tennessee called Stokes's number with a chance to win the game.

It started with Robinson, who opened the game with an easy blow-by against Maymon for a layup, stymied his post-up opportunity on the other end, and then drew the Tennessee big man's first foul. That set the early tone—Tennessee couldn't hang with Michigan's offense while playing two bigs, but their lack of depth meant going without one also hurt them dearly.

When Maymon checked back in, he quickly picked up his second foul on a Morgan and-one. After another stint on the bench, he allowed Caris LeVert to swoop by him for an easy two and found himself on the pine once again. Maymon would finish with two points, three rebounds—just one offensive—and four fouls in 17 minutes. Robinson scored 13 on nine shots, pulled down five boards (two off.), and held his own in the post for 39 minutes.

With Maymon neutralized, it appeared Michigan would win with ease. Tennessee's defense opened up, and the Wolverines took advantage, hitting 7-of-9 three-pointers in the first half; their 45 first-half points were the most ceded by the Volunteers all season. Uncharacteristically, the only significant category Michigan didn't win in the first half was turnovers; that'd turn out to be an omen, and not a good one.

I'll assume you watched the game, and therefore spare you the gory details of Tennessee's second-half run that, based on my Twitter feed, drove everyone not obligated to write a game recap to drink heavily. (Don't worry, I'll join you degenerates soon.) The turnovers kept coming. Nik Stauskas, who'd score 14 points on 13 shots, went cold from the outside. Jordan McRae, who finished with a game-high 24 points, kept finding his way to the basket.

A blown out of bounds call that somehow held upon review, a turnover after Robinson couldn't handle a lob to halfcourt, and another inbounds turnover when LeVert caught the ball with a foot on the line; that sequence set up the Vols, once down 15 in the second half, with the ball down just one point with nine seconds on the clock.

That's when Morgan, who led Michigan with 15 points and seven rebounds, made a play reminiscent of last year's Syracuse game. Tennessee's plan was simple: post up Stokes. That plan backfired when Morgan anticipated Stokes's drive, beat him to the spot, and planted his feet as Stokes lowered his shoulder into Morgan's chest. In the most Jordan Morgan play of them all, Michigan's lone senior drew a charge, refusing to allow his career to end on this night.

Michigan's early shooting bonanza—helped mightily by the freshman duo of Derrick Walton and Zak Irvin, who combined to hit 5-of-5 triples—allowed them to survive a late storm that they helped create with sloppy play. It wasn't pretty. A lot of it wasn't fun. But they survived.

On the backs of two of the more scrutinized players to come through this program—Morgan, too soft/untalented/unskilled to center a real contender; Robinson, too soft/one-dimensional/reliant on his athleticism to live up to his five-star billing—Michigan made the Elite Eight for the second consecutive season. In the regional final, whether they play Louisville or Kentucky, they'll face a mismatch or two; they might just create a couple themselves, too.

One Frame At A Time: Wofford & Texas

One Frame At A Time: Wofford & Texas

Submitted by Ace on March 25th, 2014 at 3:45 PM

Jordan Morgan recorded his second double-double of the weekend in the most Jordan Morgan way possible: by attempting to take a charge, not getting the call, and grabbing a board anyway while he's flat on his back.

This didn't make the top ten from the weekend. Don't fret, though—Morgan still makes several appearances. For the rest of the first two rounds of the tourney in GIFs, hit the jump.

[JUMP like GRIII over Javan Felix.]

Unverified Voracity Might Be Coffee Dad

Unverified Voracity Might Be Coffee Dad

Submitted by Brian on March 25th, 2014 at 12:28 PM

YES DO IT YES. Oversigning for the win:

Knows Nussmeier, started four games for them a year ago, immediately eligible, Michigan has the room, just do it.

Are we sure he's not actually coffee dad? From John Beilein's favorited tweets:

image

Coffee dad. Also he favorited some random dude talking about his teams' rebounding derogatorily. John Beilein!

…is self-aware. So it's good he's not Skynet.

OH REALLY. Lost in the sea of March Madness last week was one statement from Brady Hoke that will hopefully prevent me from typing yet more spittle-flecked all-caps rants about how fifth year senior starting quarterbacks don't get benched except in the event of catastrophic injury, and sometimes not even then:

He's doing okay, (but) he's not ready to be the starter at Michigan," Hoke said Thursday. "Devin's got the most experience at that job. … But if we were starting today, (Morris) wouldn't be the guy out there."

All right then. That's settled.

"Two weeks from now? We'll see."

ARGH.

And the Crimson sea parted. It's that time of year again, where players either flee or are pushed from the Indiana basketball program. This time it seems more like a mutual flee/push, as two struggling players Indiana probably needs anyway are exiting. Jeremy Hollowell, one of the two large athletic Hoosiers who can't play basketball, is out the door. Austin Etherington is the other departure. Noah Vonleh already announced he's entering the draft.

With Luke Fischer's departure for Marquette in the middle of the season, Indiana has lost every player over 6'8" who saw time except for Hanner Mosquera-Perea. Meanwhile the biggest guy in their recruiting class is a 6'7" small forward.

Is it too late for James Blackmon to decommit again? Asking for a friend.

And then the other red sea parted. OSU takes a major hit with LaQuinton Ross's NBA draft declaration. They've got a terrific recruiting class coming in, and now they're really going to need it. They've lost Ross, who was 30% of their shots, Amedeo Della Valle, Aaron Craft, and Lenzelle Smith from a six seed and first-round exit.

And then everybody in the Big Ten laid out the red carpet. West Virginia shooting guard Eron Harris is transferring closer to home. Home is Indianapolis. Harris averaged 17 points a game as a sophomore, shooting 42% from two and 86% from the line. Scout's Brian Snow says Michigan will be involved($), and lord knows everyone in and around shooting-challenged Indiana will also make a run. Michigan's hoping that "closer to home" really means "away from West Virginia" since 250 versus 350 miles isn't much of a functional difference.

I'm in favor of Michigan trying to grab him. Think of him as a 2015 recruit who only  gets two years before he has to go to the NBA, and oh right that just makes him like anyone else who ends up shooting the ball a lot under John Beilein.

Michigan has an open scholarship this year and it would be nice to have a couple of upperclass years to fill in those vacated by Michigan's NBA draft departure. After Harris sits out a year he would be competing on the wing with a senior Caris LeVert—maybe—and a junior Zak Irvin—maybe, along with Kam Chatman and any class of 2015 freshmen. Harris is a proven high-level player who will make a decision well before the 2015 kids will. And he'll have a year to get better under Beilein before he gets back on the court. If you can get him, get him.

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[Bryan Fuller]

Open to a return. Glenn Robinson was as noncommital as everyone is when asked about entering a professional draft, but this is something good to hear:

"There have been times this year when I thought about it and heard a lot of talk and everything," Robinson said. "I just want to make the best decision, the best decision for me, because I want to play this game for a long time. So if I'm not ready, I'm not ready."

While you can't begrudge someone their desire to get paid lots of money for their skill, it does grind my gears a tiny bit when guys leave early without the prospect of a first-round pick waiting. Robinson might have fallen into that boat; it would be really easy to ignore the stuff they're saying about you this year because you were supposed to be a first rounder last year. Hopefully one of these two things happens:

  1. Robinson annihilates Tokyo as he drags Michigan to a national title
  2. Robinson plays pretty well and follows the Tim Hardaway Jr model.

Open to stay. Please hold your nose at a reference to a Michael Rosenberg-gathered quote, but it's kind of a big deal:

Jordan is so admired within the program that Alexander, another rising coach, endorses him to be the next head coach at Michigan.

"In my mind, I think he would be a great progression, when and if the time comes, when coach Beilein decides to transition on," Alexander says.

Alexander is 37, and he set a goal for himself to be a head coach by age 40. But he looks at Jordan and thinks of the Michigan football team's defensive coordinator. Says Alexander: "I would be more than willing to be (Jordan's) Greg Mattison. We want to continue to work together. I just think the world of him."

If Jordan and Alexander are both around when Beilein hangs it up, I don't know how you don't give Jordan the job after his work with Morris and Burke and Stauskas and LeVert, plus the recruiting bonafides and possible huge long-term upside. (Beilein is 61, so if he goes another five years you'd be hiring a 39-year old guy who could be around for the next 25 years.) Especially if that would mean Alexander sticks with him.

They've really got to do something about this. Urban Meyer on the packaged play trend and its acceleration:

The second-level zone read has his attention. In the traditional zone read, the quarterback reads the defensive end to dictate whether he'll hand off or run. In this version, the quarterback is reading the linebacker.

“That's going to not disappear,” Meyer says. “It's even in the NFL now. The NFL doesn't give you three yards.”

College does -- as in, officials allow linemen to get up to three yards downfield before a throw. After following up with other coaches on this concept, one popular play is to throw a slant to the open space if the linebacker goes inside to cover the run, knowing linemen are already headed downfield to block.

This has started to become comical. Last year in the Michigan-Air Force game, two Air Force OL had in fact engaged defenders six yards downfield on a pass play without a call. Either get rid of the illegal man downfield rule or enforce it. But pick one.

Etc.: Glasgow's issue was a "driving-related offense," which seems pretty likely to be one particular driving-related offense unless they've got some really strict new rules about using your turn signal.

Derrick Green getting slimmer. Jim Tressel's CV doesn't include anything about sweatervests. Bo bracket. Pistons to chase Izzo because owner is MSU grad. No idea why MSU NBA owners want to wreck their alma mater's program but fine by me.

Michigan 79, Texas 65

Michigan 79, Texas 65

Submitted by Ace on March 22nd, 2014 at 8:35 PM


Um, Texas? You there? [photo via Dustin Johnston/UMHoops]

The scouting report favored Michigan, and this game played to the scouting report.

The Wolverines advanced to the Sweet Sixteen by outshooting Texas considerably, hitting a team NCAA Tournament record 14 of their 28 three-point attempts. The Longhorns connected on less than 40% of their two-pointers, and while they managed to make a second-half surge by overwhelming Michigan on the boards, they simply couldn't keep pace.

After the Longhorns took an early 6-3 lead, Michigan went on a tear, eventually gaining a 30-12 advantage after a Zak Irvin triple—the seventh Wolverine three-pointer in the first 13 minutes. Texas's attempts to push the pace backfired, leading to several open shots for Michigan and a bunch of missed jumpers on the other end. One could only watch agape at the display of offensive firepower:

Said firepower, when combined with a returned aversion to turnovers—Michigan committed just four all game—proved impossible to overcome.

While Texas managed to close the gap to 13 points by halftime, Michigan threatened to blow the game open entirely when the Longhorns opened the second half in a 2-3 zone. Michigan scored eight points in three possessions, with a couple Derrick Walton bombs over the top sandwiched around a Jordan Morgan dunk after gorgeous passing shredded the defense.

Them something strange happened. Rick Barnes called for a slight alteration to the 2-3, shading the backside guard over the middle, and then mixed in a fair amount of 1-3-1. Michigan went without a field goal for nearly six minutes. After Michigan had managed to mitigate Texas's size and rebounding advantage in the first half, the Longhorns dominated the boards in the second, and they pulled within six after an Isaiah Taylor jumper.

That's when Glenn Robinson III made two of the biggest plays of his career, first blowing by Connor Lammert and finishing with an impressive floater, then connecting on a three from the wing on Michigan's next possession to stretch the lead back to 11 with 6:45 to play.

A corner three by Spike Albrecht and a four-point trip after Jordan Morgan drew an intentional foul—while making a basket that was waved off, no less—put the final nails in the coffin. While it took them a while, Michigan eventually took advantage of the holes in the Longhorn zone, and once they did the proceedings were academic.

In addition to Robinson (14 points, 5/10 FG, 5 rebounds) and his second-half heroics, two performances really stood out for Michigan. Nik Stauskas led the team with 17 points on 15 shot equivalents while tying a career high with eight assists; his passing was key in picking apart Texas's zone. Then there was Morgan, who scored 15 (5/7 FG, 7/8 FT), pulled in ten rebounds (5 off.), dished out two assists, and recorded two steals. He limited Cameron Ridley to six points and nine rebounds while giving the Texas behemoth all sorts of trouble with his quickness on the other end.

While Michigan's offensive lull in the second half got a little scary, John Beilein had a response for every one of Rick Barnes's adjustments—yes, this was expected—and it's tough to get worried about the offense when they still managed to score 1.4 points per trip. This was another slow-paced game—just 57 possessions, one more than the Wofford slog—with a score that often belied the comfortable gap between the two teams.

With Duke off the board, Michigan awaits the winner of tomorrow evening's Tennessee/Mercer game. Either way, they've cleared the path for a deep run, and they've already accomplished a lot—did anyone imagine this team moving on to the Sweet Sixteen without much resistance after Mitch McGary went down?

Now, with McGary competing for the role of top cheerleader from the bench, Michigan will be favored to play for a spot in the Final Four regardless of who wins tomorrow. Take a bow, John Beilein.

Michigan 57, Wofford 40

Michigan 57, Wofford 40

Submitted by Ace on March 20th, 2014 at 9:44 PM


Dustin Johnston/UMHoops

Michigan didn't earn any style points in their NCAA Tournament victory over Wofford, but those don't really matter this time of year. A substandard offensive performance didn't prevent the Wolverines from advancing with relative ease.

The Terriers certainly helped in that regard, erasing any good that came from hitting 50% of their twos by going just 1-for-19 from beyond the arc despite generating good looks. They played like a 15-seed, and on a night when Michigan sat below one point per possession for much of the second half, that was fortunate.

Nik Stauskas cracked the career 1,000-point barrier with a second-half triple en route to a team-high 15 points on ten shot equivalents. Glenn Robinson had 14, albeit on 14 shots, while adding seven rebounds. Jordan Morgan played the best all-around game of any Wolverine, tallying ten points (4/6 FG), ten boards, two assists, a steal, and a block.

The numbers tell the story here. In a very low-possession game—just 56, a slog even by Big Ten standards—the shooting gap made an enormous difference, one that wasn't so easy to see due to the pace and some uncharacteristic turnovers. With the officials letting the teams play (hooray!), it was all about which team could generate buckets, and Wofford was just as likely to get the ball stuck above the backboard—yes, this happened—as they were to connect from the outside.

Michigan can't hang their hat on this defensive performance; Wofford's inability to make shots was due to their inaccuracy more than anything the Wolverines were doing. By the same token, the offensive performance wasn't as bad as it looked at times. Caris LeVert isn't going to get held to six points very often, and Zak Irvin missed all four of his three-point attempts despite getting some decent looks.*

It wasn't a fun game to watch, and Michigan will need to step it up offensively if they want to make a run in the tournament. After they ran out to a double-digit lead against an overmatched opponent in a somnolent atmosphere, however, the ugliness of this game is at least understandable.

Now the Wolverines await the winner of Texas/ASU, which is happening right now on CBS.

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*Admittedly, also some not-so-decent looks.