Baseball returns to the tournament. They kick off their tourney run at 1 on Friday against Florida Gulf Coast. Michigan was one of the last four teams in after a bit of a slump to end the season; they've got excellent pitching and questionable bats.
The Zaire holdup. Former ND quarterback Malik Zaire is going to grad transfer somewhere, and reports have suggested that if it can be Florida it will be. This is the holdup on UF's end:
The SEC has always been stricter on graduate transfers than other leagues, largely because some coaches disapproved of Ole Miss getting a waiver to enroll Jeremiah Masoli from Oregon in 2010, especially when he didn’t complete a graduate degree. So it put some rules in place, one of which restricts schools from taking graduates transfers for three years if their previous transfers didn’t work out academically. Well, Florida had two graduate transfers in 2015 that didn't meet academic benchmarks, so technically they shouldn’t be able to take Zaire -- unless the rule changes this week, allowing the SEC to drop all pretense that academics matter in this discussion.
Florida should know one way or the other soon, and then Michigan will know if they'll be taking on Zaire or (probably) redshirt freshman Felipe Franks in the opener. Zaire's done pretty well in sparing time over the last three years, completing 59% of his 98 attempts for 8.3 YPA and a 6-0 TD-INT ratio. It would be better for Michigan if the Gators did not have that option, and that's why everyone expects the SEC's grad transfer rule to go by the wayside in the near future.
Spartan blackout nearing its end. After months of nothing, the wheels have started to turn in East Lansing:
Blackwell's contract had been extended by a month twice, which struck me as odd by may have been required for the school's now-concluded Title IX investigation. With that complete a decision from the county prosecutor can't be far behind. Probably.
Meanwhile it was revealed today that former MSU WR Keith Mumphery was expelled last year for sexual misconduct. If the anonymous trio ends up booted, as it appears they will be, that's five in two years.
Somebody still writes for ESPN! Congratulations to Kevin Pelton, the last man standing. He's got a fascinating piece on the emergence of the pull-up three pointer in the NBA. This is relevant to Michigan's interests since they've seen the same thing happen over the last few years with Nik Stauskas and Derrick Walton. The pull up 3 is a very very average shot even for guys who are the best at it, but the threat of it opens other things up on the pick and roll:
Portland point guard Damian Lillard, whose 445 pull-up 3-pointers since 2013-14 rank him third in the league over that span behind Curry and James Harden of the Houston Rockets, recalls learning the intricacy of pick-and-roll play from a trainer in 10th grade.
"He would always tell me, 'Everything is a setup,' " Lillard said.
The ability to shoot the pull-up 3 changes the way opponents defend pick-and-rolls and isolation plays, forcing them to come out higher to be able to contest a deep shot off the dribble. Lillard says he feels that difference on both ends of the court.
"You just know that you've got to be more in their space," he says of defending a player who can shoot the pull-up 3. "I know when a guy gives me space and I come off the pick-and-roll clean, that's a shot that I'm looking for because people want three points over two points now, especially with so many guys that can take and make that shot. So when I'm guarding a guy like that, I'm aware of it."
Here is a chart of pick and roll efficacy versus pull-up threes attempted for NBA players:
Michigan fans are nodding at that slope. This is especially relevant to our interests because Michigan was about to find out what happens at the very lower end of that scale when Xavier Simpson stepped into Walton's shoes. Simpson was just 5/19 on threes last year and just about all of those were must-take catch and shoots.
Now they're likely to be on the higher end of the scale. Jaaron Simmons is coming off a season where he took a whopping 104 jumpers off the dribble, per Synergy, and managed exactly 1 PPP on them. That was 87th percentile. He was at 1.16 PPP last year when shooting off the dribble after accepting a pick and roll; that was 88th percentile. His eFG in those situations was 58%—ie, insane.
Amongst D-I players with at least 50 PNR pull-ups last year Simmons was 11th in PPP, and the folks around him are almost exclusively low-low majors. Two notable exceptions were #9 Markelle Fultz, the probable top pick in the NBA draft, and #2 Derrick Walton.
Muckalt more or less done. Also: Flin Flon! George Sipple confirms Tech Hockey Guide's report that Bill Muckalt will be Mel Pearson's second assistant. Tech promoted assistant Joe Shawhan.
In less relevant hockey news, today I learned that Pearson is from a place named "Flin Flon," which is a silly name to give to a place. Pearson is now the only person you know who worked in a zinc plant:
“I did a little bit of everything,” Pearson said. “I worked in the zinc plant one summer. I went underground at North Main for a couple summers, working in the steel shop, straightening steel and sharpening up. I had to fill in at the changehouse one year, too. I enjoyed it. You meet a lot of really neat people there and learn about the industry and the mine itself and how things operate.”
Flin Flon is a remote town of 5k. Very remote:
And its name was acquired in the usual way:
The town's name is taken from the lead character in a paperback novel, The Sunless City by J. E. Preston Muddock. Josiah Flintabbatey Flonatin piloted a submarine through a bottomless lake where he passed into a strange underground world through a hole lined with gold. A copy of the book was allegedly found and read by prospector Tom Creighton.
When Tom Creighton discovered a high-grade exposure of copper, he thought of the book and called it Flin Flon's mine, and the town that developed around the mine adopted the name. Flin Flon shares with Tarzana, California, the distinction of being named after a character in a science fiction novel.
The character of "Flinty", as he is locally known, is of such importance to the identity of the city that the local Chamber of Commerce commissioned the minting of a $3.00 coin which was considered legal tender amongst locally participating retailers during the year following its issue. A statue representing Flinty was designed by cartoonist Al Capp and is one of the points of interest of the city. In 1978, the National Film Board of Canada produced the short documentary Canada Vignettes: Flin Flon about the origin of the city's name.
This has been today's MGoDiscussionOfCanadianSmallTownNames.
Hello: guy. Hockey has added this person:
Becker is an odd duck. He'll be 20 before he arrives this fall; unusually for an overager he was drafted. (In the seventh round, sure. Still: odd.) He was a Wisconsin commit who got thrown back in the pool when Mike Eaves was fired. His second try at a commitment was Tech.
Becker had a 16-12-28 line in 49 games last year. At 19 that's a statline indicative of a bottom six player. He's a big dude at 6'4", 198. More details at Tech Hockey Guide.
Also in hockey recruiting:
I've seen Norris anywhere from late first round to late second in draft projections; Pastujov seems to be moving back up into the third or fourth round range after an injury-plagued year or two. Chris Dilks recently profiled him:
After being considered one of the top prospects in his age group, Pastujov missed all but 5 games of his U16 season, and all but 14 games of his U17 seasons with the NTDP due to injury. He also missed a handful of games this season due to injury. I have no idea on the likelihood of re-occurrence. But even if he remains healthy, he has missed a lot of key development time in the past few years. …
NHL Central Scouting omitted him completely from their mid-term rankings before placing him 80th on their final list, and he followed that up with a point-per-game performance at the World U18s, which probably helps. There’s likely to be an extremely wide range of opinions on Pastujov though, just because there’s a tantalizing ceiling, but so little in terms of track record to go on.
If I were picking, I’d probably start looking at Pastujov as early as the late-second round. I have serious concerns given his injury history, but high-end scoring ability like he potentially has is going to be very hard to come by in this Draft.
Pastujov was a big big deal when he committed to Michigan; with Norris he has the potential to insert some of the top end scoring last year's team so badly missed.
Golazo. Francis Atuahene did this in a US Open Cup match:
Unfortunately for Michigan, Atuahene was about all they had going for them last year as they finished 4-11-4.
Etc.: Ryan Veingrad beats cancer, walks on. Florida opener set for 3:30, which is not at the same time as Bama-FSU. Northwestern scatback Solomon Vault will miss the 2017 season with injury. I am honor bound to link assertions that adding Rutgers and Maryland was a dumb long term move, but Delany's got his 20 mil so he don't care.