Basketbullets: Pick-and-Roll Defense, Shot-Blocking

Basketbullets: Pick-and-Roll Defense, Shot-Blocking

Submitted by Ace on January 16th, 2017 at 3:58 PM

The Defense, For A Given Definition Of The Term


Slicing through M's defense with little resistance. [Marc-Gregor Campredon]

Do you have a stick? Throw it. Congratuations, you have hit a horrifying Michigan defensive stat.

The Wolverines may have pulled out a victory against a Nebraska team playing without its only viable post player, but they didn't do it by solving any of their problems on defense; the Huskers scored 1.21 points per possession, a hair below the average performance against M's defense in conference play. Michigan is now 185th in adjusted defensive efficiency; their worst finish under John Beilein was 120th in his first year in Ann Arbor.

Through five conference games, Michigan has the worst Big Ten defense by 8.9 points per 100 possessions; B1G opponents are making 52.7% of their twos and 55.3%(!!!) of their threes—and they're rebounding 34.7% of their misses. Michigan is great at not fouling and above-average at stealing the ball; they're somewhere between below-average and terrible at everything else.

Dylan has a post today that goes into further, gruesome detail on Michigan's defense, with one area of focus being the collapse of their pick-and-roll defense:

Michigan’s pick-and-roll defense has completely fallen apart. In the last six games, the Wolverines have allowed .986 points per possession (including pass outs) in the pick-and-roll game. Compared to seasonal numbers across Division I, that would rank 336th nationally.

Only the first half of the Nebraska game is available on the YouTubes, which is probably for the best. This actually came out better than I expected and it's still far from good:

The issue, as Dylan mentions in his post, doesn't appear to be the scheme; no matter how Michigan approaching defending the high screen—usually either with a soft hedge or ICE technique—they're allowing baskets because of individual player breakdowns. Passes into the post, like in the first play, are too easy to make. Blown rotations, like in the second, lead to wide open three-point attempts. Michigan commits the cardinal sin of allowing the P&R ballhandler to split the hedge at the 0:34 mark, something that occurred at least once more in the second half.

They did a little better towards the end of the half, as you can see in the video, but I also forgot to include this abomination:

It was more of the same in the second half. There are two common threads: Michigan has zero rim protection, which allows opponents to attack without fear, and their help/rotation off the ball is awful. I grew up on the suffocating team defense of the mid-aughts Pistons. This is the opposite of that. The problems are so widespread that it's impossible to suggest one or two solutions that could turn things around.

[After THE JUMP: That said...]

Michigan's Post Defense: A Thorough, Ugly Examination

Michigan's Post Defense: A Thorough, Ugly Examination

Submitted by Ace on December 2nd, 2016 at 2:30 PM


M's best post defender? It's, uh, in the eye of the beholder. [Marc-Gregor Campredon]

After Wednesday night's Virginia Tech game, I sat in on John Beilein's postgame presser, attempting to fill out my game recap by transcribing quotes as Beilein talked. I stopped dead, however, at this quote, because I had just watched the same game and came away with a very different take:

“Scoring points wasn’t as big as trying to stop them. Right now, Mark [Donnal]’s a better defender. In defense of Moe [Wagner], Moe’s been sick all day, didn’t feel good. He was doing alright taking the ball to the basket."

What follows is a more thorough examination of Michigan's post defense against Virginia Tech than is necessary or easily digestible, but I spent an entire day compiling these numbers and video clips, so you will read this and like it*, dammit.

*you will probably not like it, sorry.

I began by looking at the points per possession numbers on both ends of the court with each center on the floor. The results:

MOE WAGNER:

OFFENSE TOTAL: 28 poss, 30 pts (1.07 PPP)
DEFENSE TOTAL: 27 poss, 29 pts (1.07 PPP)

MARK DONNAL:

OFFENSE TOTAL: 28 poss, 33 pts (1.18 PPP)
DEFENSE TOTAL: 27 poss, 36 pts (1.33 PPP)

JON TESKE:

OFFENSE TOTAL: 7 poss, 7 pts (1.00 PPP)
DEFENSE TOTAL: 7 poss, 6 pts (0.86 PPP)

DJ Wilson had two defensive possessions at center: a post stop and two free throws allowed after one of his fouls going for an offensive rebound.

While small sample size caveats abound, this matched the eye test both from this game and this season. The defensive numbers stood up to further scrutiny; the offensive numbers, which surprised me, did not. Non-Donnal Wolverines shot 6-for-13 on three-pointers when he was on the floor; Donnal added a three-point miss himself and didn't assist any of the six makes. Michigan made only 3-of-10 threes when Wagner was out there, and he assisted one of the makes. There wasn't a difference in the quality of the attempts; if M had shot 30% from three with Donnal on the floor like they did with Wagner, Donnal's offensive PPP in this game would've been 0.96.

[Hit THE JUMP for video and analysis, if you dare.]

Armstrong State Bullets

Armstrong State Bullets

Submitted by Ace on November 4th, 2016 at 9:37 PM


DJ Wilson had a breakout game. So did his shorts. [Isaiah Hole/247]

Michigan coasted to a 77-49 win over D-II Armstrong State in their exhibition tune-up at Crisler tonight. A traditional recap is quite unnecessary, so it's time for the bullets.

DJ Wilson looked like a different player. Wilson nearly tallied a double-double, scoring ten (3/8 2-pt, 1/2 3-pt) and adding nine boards (four offensive), an assist, and two blocks. That doesn't cover his full impact, either. Wilson's length caused serious problems for ASU shooters—at least one Wilson-induced airball didn't count as a block—and he came very close to converting a couple more tip-ins. In stark contrast to previous years, Wilson knew where he was supposed to be and played with confidence. Opponent cavats abound, but tonight he looked like he'll be an integral part of the rotation; Wilson was first off the bench and played 24 minutes, all at the four.

The pecking order at center is clear. If Wilson's play wasn't the headliner, it was that of Moe Wagner, who scored a very efficient 15 points (6/8 2-pt, 1/1 3-pt) and more importantly played a clean game. Wagner had one early turnover and otherwise took good care of the ball, and he had only one foul, which he picked up well into the second half.

Mark Donnal was next in off the bench and looked much like he did last year, struggling some on defense and missing one of his two layups. It wasn't all bad for Donnal, who had a couple offensive rebounds, a block, and a steal in only seven minutes, but he certainly didn't look like he'd undergone a transformation.

Jon Teske got in late in both halves. He hit a face-up jumper during his first-half stint and threw down a tip-slam in the second. Otherwise, he didn't have a chance to show much. He's clearly ahead of Austin Davis, who looks destined for a redshirt—Davis didn't enter the game until the very late stages, and was on the floor with walk-ons Brent Hibbits and Fred Wright-Jones.


Watson (left) and Wagner with strong finishes. [Marc-Gregor Campredon]

Ibi Watson was up-and-down but mostly up. Watson had a couple turnover when he tried to do too much, especially on a fast-break opportunity when he tried a no-look pass that ASU cut off. He helped make up for that with active defense, hounding his man for three steals while only committing one foul. While he only went 1/4 from beyond the arc, his shot looked smooth. Watson was the second player off the bench and looks to have a real role as the backup 2/3.

Xavier Simpson had a quiet debut. The freshman was held scoreless on only two attempts and had a pair of turnovers to go with his two assists. His physical ability was apparent; he jetted past the entire ASU defense before dropping off a pass to Davis that almost caught the big man off guard for his second assist. Simpson took a page out of Derrick Walton's book, pulling down five defensive rebounds; he doesn't have Walton's height or hops, but he showed a good feel for where to be. He also disrupted a couple ASU possession with his quick feet and quick hands. Quiet isn't necessarily concerning, even if Simpson looks like he'll take some time to get fully comfortable—that was always going to be the case as a freshman running the point in Beilein's system.

The seniors did their thing. Walton had a quiet 12-6-7 while splitting his time between the point and the two—he mostly played off the ball when he shared the court with Simpson. Irvin tied Wagner with a team-high 15 points and added four assists and two steals. Both had a couple hiccups—Irvin blew a fast-break dunk for no discernable reason—but they mostly let the new rotation players get comfortable, then took over in late-clock situations if the team needed to get a shot up.

MAAR sat out with an ankle injury. Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman watched this one in street clothes after he reportedly rolled his ankle in practice yesterday. Sean Lonergan took his place in the starting lineup; it's very safe to assume Beilein inserted Lonergan instead of one of the freshmen so he could keep his planned rotation intact. Lonergan, for what it's worth, went 2/2 from the field, but he didn't look good on defense—I'd be surprised if he gets run when the team is healthy.

The new defense was disruptive. This should be music to your ears: the hard hedge is gone. Michigan's defenders mostly stayed inside the arc, with the guards—not centers running out to midcourt—putting the pressure on ballhandlers. ASU was sloppy—several of their 19 turnovers were unforced—but Michigan came away with eight steals and five blocks. The team is noticably longer this year, especially with Wilson in the lineup. There were a couple noticable blown switches, and a couple guys got missed boxouts late, but this was an encouraging first game with Billy Donlon as Beilein's right-hand man.

Hoops Preview 2016-17: Bigs

Hoops Preview 2016-17: Bigs

Submitted by Ace on November 3rd, 2016 at 5:03 PM

Previously: John Beilein media day transcriptBilly Donlon media day quotesMGoPodcast 8.7Alex's team previewPoint GuardsWings (Part I), Wings (Part II)


Moe Wagner can take M's center position to new heights. [Bryan Fuller]

Michigan entered last season hoping that Ricky Doyle would take full control of the center position and look the part of a reliable four-year starter. Instead, Doyle couldn't hold onto the ball or the starting job, and in March we learned he'd been suffering from undiagnosed sleep apnea. Mark Donnal supplanted Doyle even though freshman Moe Wagner, in brief early-season appearances, looked like the better player. An uninspiring Donnal-Doyle rotation lasted all the way through Big Ten season; after barely playing, Wagner broke through in the postseason.

Entering this season, the starting job is Wagner's to lose. Donnal looks destined to finish his Michigan career in a backup role; while Donnal is a redshirt junior, John Beilein has been understandably noncommital about bringing him back for a fifth year. Two very large freshmen, Jon Teske and Austin Davis, will battle for spare minutes; in all likelihood, one will get their feet wet while the other redshirts.

Please stay out of foul trouble, Moe.

[Hit THE JUMP for player breakdowns.]

Postseason Hoops Mailbag, Part II: Spike, Breakout Player, Bigs, Bigs, More Bigs

Postseason Hoops Mailbag, Part II: Spike, Breakout Player, Bigs, Bigs, More Bigs

Submitted by Ace on March 30th, 2016 at 4:29 PM


Dawkins, Wilson, and Chatman give M three non-Wagner breakout candidates.

Part one of the postseason mailbag, which definitely didn't include an egregious error in the original post, can be found here. Part two got quite lengthy, so let's get right to it.

A Spike return is very unlikely.

While that door isn't completely closed, it would shock me if Spike ended up back on the roster next season, and I think it would shock him, too:

With that, Albrecht and Beilein shook hands and parted ways. According to Albrecht, Beilein told him that if an additional scholarship should open up at Michigan, the program would "entertain the idea of" him returning, but added that such a scenario is unlikely.

"That's a long shot," Albrecht said Monday. "And really, I don't even know if they'd want to bring me back because they'll already have two very talented point guards on the roster next year."

I know it's hard to come to terms with this because Spike is such a beloved figure, but this is the best arrangement for both parties involved. The issue with bringing Spike back, even if a spot does open up, is you're then impeding the development of a highly regarded player at the same position. Xavier Simpson is the future at point guard for this program and they justifiably want him to get plenty of time next year. If he's stuck behind Walton and Albrecht, it's hurting the team down the road just so the team can have a marginal one-year upgrade at backup point guard—and that's not a slight against Spike, just an assessment of Simpson's talent. Plus, Albrecht isn't exactly a sure thing after coming off surgeries to both his hips.

As Spike mentioned above, returning to Michigan isn't necessarily his ideal scenario, either. If he's healthy, there's a good chance he'll start at another program—he'll be able to choose a school with that role available to him. That's not going to be the case in Ann Arbor with Walton coming back and Simpson arriving.

If there's further attrition, I'd rather see Michigan go after a grad transfer shooting guard, preferably one who's a positive on the defensive end—that's a far bigger need than a third point guard. Alternatively, they could go after a stretch four to take pressure off Zak Irvin if there's attrition in the frontcourt. That's far from the sentimental choice, but I think it's the best one for the team.

It appears John Beilein is thinking along the same lines. According to ESPN's Jeff Borzello, Michigan is one of the programs that's contacted grad transfer Columbia combo guard Grant Mullins, who's a 44% three-point shooter. At 6'3" with a PG-like assist-to-turnover ratio, Mullins could play either guard position. The coaches also reportedly contacted Sacred Heart transfer Cane Broome (that is apparently a real name), but there doesn't appear to be strong mutual interest; Michigan isn't listed among the schools Broome plans to visit, per CBS's Jon Rothstein.

[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the mailbag.]

Hoops Recruitin' Sets Officials

Hoops Recruitin' Sets Officials

Submitted by Ace on August 18th, 2015 at 2:00 PM

Winston Narrows List, Stops By A2

John Beilein's top recruiting priority is to land a quality point guard in the 2016 class and U-D Jesuit four-star Cassius Winston has been the number one target on the board for a while. Michigan got a couple encouraging developments on that front this week when Winston cut down his list and then dropped by Ann Arbor for an unofficial, per The Wolverine's Chris Balas ($):

Winston trimmed his list to four recently, striking Harvard from his list and leaving Michigan, Michigan State, Stanford and Pitt. Most believe it's a U-M vs. MSU battle, and Winston added some intrigue when he visited Ann Arbor again Aug. 16. 

...

"He loves everything Michigan has to offer, loves the basketball," his dad said. "He really likes the academics, too."

Winston is slated to take an official visit on September 19th; he's already taken one to Stanford and is supposed to see MSU the week prior, giving M the last crack unless he adds other visits to the schedule. His father told MLive he's getting a little tired of the recruiting process and would like to make a final decision before his senior season begins. This looks like an in-state battle and the Wolverines may have a slight edge right now.

[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the roundup.]

Unverified Voracity Might Bounce

Unverified Voracity Might Bounce

Submitted by Brian on May 6th, 2015 at 12:00 PM

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[Bryan Fuller]

The extra slot. Max Bielfeldt could return next year if Michigan was so inclined. It does not sound like they are rushing to make this happen, though. Bielfeldt:

"I don't even know," the 6-foot-8, 240-pound forward said. "I've just been looking to see what else is out there. If this (situation did come up), I knew I'd have to take it for what it is. If I end up making a decision here in the next week or so and nothing pops up Michigan-wise, then I'll move on.

"(I haven't talked with Beilein about it) since the scholarship opened up."

It might be hard to kiss and make up here with Bielfeldt fielding serious interest from multiple Big 12 schools.

Harbaugh profilin'. Bruce Feldman on the man in khaki:

Most coaches will say they are much better at their jobs than they were a decade ago thanks to experience, but Harbaugh isn't most coaches. "I don't know that I am (a better coach)," he said. "Even though you've proved something before, that's the very nature of football playing or coaching. You could have proved something 1,000 times before. You could prove it again, but now that's all that matters.

"It's irrelevant no matter how many times you prove something. This is the only time that matters."

Well worth a read.

That this is a hard decision is a bad thing. Dylan Larkin is playing at the World Championships for the USA, an impressive accomplishment for any college player. He is still considering signing with the Wings. That would be far from unprecedented, except for the fact that his pro team doesn't seem to be pressing for it at all:

Should Larkin sign with Detroit, he would most likely spend the season in the AHL with Grand Rapids, a team that has consistently been successful recently under the stewardship of coach Jeff Blashill. …

From what I’ve been told, the Red Wings would be happy with Larkin’s decision either way. If he returns to Michigan, he gets to play that big role on a young team (the team had a dearth of juniors this season, so there will only be a handful of seniors next year) and he can learn from mistakes now rather than in a couple years when he’s in the NHL.

If Larkin signs when the Wings are saying "you will play in the AHL"—something they no doubt mean given the guys they've left in Grand Rapids well after they've ripened—that is a devastating commentary on the current state of the program.

Unfortunately, I don't think I would be at all surprised by that. Mike Spath is without question the most plugged-in hockey reporter Michigan has, and when Andrew Copp left he talked to various people in the program and came back with this:

A motivation for Andrew Copp to leave? Apparently his dad didn't like that Copp wasn't the leading scorer the past two seasons and blamed this on Michigan's failure to develop him to be the first-line center he was destined to be.

This is what society has become. Every parent thinks their kid is the next Crosby. Winnipeg apparently told the family he could one day lead their team in points. I like Andrew a lot but that is a crock.

There is only one person who would say this to Spath: Red Berenson. Spath probably should have kept that one under his hat, because it drew a response from Copp's father in which he made it clear that assertions about his character were way off base. A small portion:

Michael it is disappointing that as you have gotten to know Andrew over the last 3 years you should have a gut feeling about how he is as a person. Much has been made about it in the press and by the coaches over the years. Andrew is a very mature young man with character, conviction, and morals. I can tell you that Andrew made the decision to leave completely on his own. We do not parent like micro-managers, we have always raised our two boys to be independent and we support the decisions that they do make. Andrew consulted with our family during the process but never once asked our opinion on what he should do with his life nor did we give it, that is HIS decision. To be honest I don’t know what I would have said, I would have loved to see him play his senior year, see him a couple times a week and every Sunday for family dinner. As a parent you hope you provide your kids with the life skills to make difficult decisions and I am proud of how Andrew has navigated this process.

Red has always been lovably cantankerous about his players leaving before their time. This goes several steps beyond that. Copp was not mentioned at the post-season banquet. When bitterness gets that prominent it starts to seem like a reason for the team's recent underperformance.

Red is going to be back next year, and then he is likely to retire. I'm not particularly optimistic about that final year. That Copp would leave probably doesn't say much about Copp.

For Larkin's part, here's Larkin:

"Not 100 percent," Larkin told The Windsor Star when asked if he's made a decision. "I'm still in between and weighing the options. I wanted to wait until after the tournament to make a decision.

"I'll probably take some time. I mean, I'm not in a rush. The seasons are over. There's really no rush. I really feel like there's not a wrong choice or a bad option. Either way I'm still going to be playing hockey and doing what I love.

"We'll see what's best for me."

I have a bad feel. NCAA muckety-mucks are complaining about the graduate transfer rule, because obviously. They do not have great reasons to do so:

"I don't think it fits the core values of intercollegiate athletics," said Sun Belt Conference commissioner Karl Benson.

When asked for specifics on the conflict with core values, Benson said, "It just doesn't feel right."

The core values of intercollegiate athletics are what exactly? If it's about getting an education, these players have already acquired bachelors' degrees. If it's about a level playing field, that ship sailed, sunk, and turned into barnacles a long time ago. If it's about catering to coaches' whims… we should probably have more timeouts in basketball.

Pat Forde says that if the NCAA is actually concerned about their core values they'd look at the scourge of recruits reclassifying. It's not clear that such a thing is at all common—most kids who reclassify are in fact forgoing a prep year, not accelerating. And the ones who do always have the option of, like, not doing so. It's hard to see what the harm is there. Forde's attempt to conjure one is unconvincing:

A senior year of high school is among the priceless commodities in life. I hope giving that away in part because some coach needs you now is a good decision for Thornton. It certainly seems to be one more example of the coach controlling the athlete more than vice versa.

High school is nice and all but if you told me I could go to prom or start at point guard for Duke I think I might take the latter. Thornton could still pick any school he wants as a class of 2016 player; that Duke presented him with an option he found attractive is not a problem.

Then there are the academic questions. By all accounts, Thornton is a bright young man and he may have been planning his class load with this accelerated graduation in mind. But will he be ready – early – for the classroom challenge at Duke? It's not exactly like going to UNLV.

It is. It is exactly like going to UNLV because every school has easy classes for people not interested in requirement X. I was in some at Michigan. Forde probably doesn't know that college hockey was well ahead of the curve here, with three top-ten NHL picks (Zach Werenski, Noah Hanifin, and Hobey winner Jack Eichel) arriving after accelerating their studies. It seems likely that both Werenski and Hanifin will be back at their respective schools next year, which they could only do if they were coping academically.

Increased flexibility for players is generally a good thing. Let them accelerate cake and graduate transfer cake.

Don't mind if I schadenfreude, thanks. EDSBS's ERASE THIS GAME series strikes upon the USF-Notre Dame game that caused Brian Kelly to turn into Yosemite Sam. Notre Dame's next game was this one:

tommy-rees-derp.jpg.pagespeed.ce.FzmuCPqsuR[1]

If you could get in the college football hall of fame for making fanbases other than your own happy, Rees would be a holy lock.

Now when is #M00N happening EDSBS? For pants' sake.

Scouting centers. Brendan Quinn on Austin Davis and Jon Teske:

Davis: While quiet in-person, he's not shy on the floor.

Davis is aggressive with the ball, while remaining steady and methodical, refusing to rush. He knows how to work offensively on the low blocks, utilizing good hands and a soft touch. Most importantly, Davis looks to score the ball. Points to just come to him -- he shows himself well on post-ups and gets his own points.

Teske: The shot-blocking ability is abundantly apparent. Teske is a natural with instinctual patience and timing. He's does well to go up and block shots in the air instead of lunging to get shots at the point of release. That defensive prowess translates to his movements and awareness on that end of the floor. Teske seems to anticipate without guessing, and looks to make defensive plays without leaving himself susceptible to mistakes.

Interesting that MLive is getting more into the scouting/video stuff for recruits. Davis got a bump to four stars on 247, BTW. It looks like there is going to be a severe difference of opinion between the sites on him. Brian Snow has made it clear that Scout is not going to follow suit.

Etc.: Tyus Battle will visit officially tomorrow; Duke has taken a big lead in the Crystal Ball, and this one doesn't seem like guesswork. Remember when a playoff was going to kill the bowls? Speaking of coach catering. On 2016 combo guard Bruce Brown.

Unverified Voracity Threatens You About Jenga

Unverified Voracity Threatens You About Jenga

Submitted by Brian on March 24th, 2015 at 11:06 AM

Stuff for a good cause. The UM Alumni Club of DC has an annual auction to raise money for the scholarships they endow. It's going on now, and includes things like signed Jake Long and Denard Robinson NFL jerseys, tickets to various games next year, and Michigan jenga. 100% of proceeds help kids go to M. Bid on everything.

Except the jenga. I will cut you if you try to take it from me.

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[Bryan Fuller]

Exit the one thing I liked. I liked the "Legends" jerseys for the most part. Having a QB wearing 98 was unique, and Michigan does not have much recognition of the guys who have had jerseys retired. While yanking numbers around annually was a bit much, I thought it was a nice reminder of those who had gone before. No more?

I understand that we are going to discard many Brady Hoke staples with prejudice. Incessant second and eleven: seeya. Touching your armpits after observing another sack: GTFO. Allowing 400 passing yards to Rutgers: toodleoo. But in this one case I feel we may be throwing the staple out with the staplewater.

Also heavily rumored. Michigan may be rejoining the ranks of the bestickered helmets.

boandjim[1]

I'm in the middle here. I like throwback stuff; I like clean, simple stuff. I would prefer helmet stickers made occasional re-appearances for uniformz games, but that's not really how helmet stickers work.

Swat swat swat swat swat. If you follow me on twitter you know the existence of the UC Irvine Anteaters was killing me as they pushed Louisville to the limit in their first-round tourney outing. Irvine has a 6'8" guy… and two 6'10" guys… and a 7'2" guy… and a 7'6" guy. As someone who has pined for a rim protector ever since it became clear Michigan basketball was going to have a really good offense even if their center's game is limited to finishing around the hoop, I was having tiny little conniption fit about a tiny school that had never been to the tournament grabbing enormous people left and right.

Anyway, long story short Jon Teske is tall and alters shots:

Michigan pledge Jon Teske scored 12 points and blocked six shots in the loss, but had a much greater impact than the numbers might indicate.
Though he was credited for only six blocks, the seven-footer (Rivals.com's No. 96 junion nationally) altered at least a dozen shots near the rim with his ridiculous wingspan and was whistled for two fouls on which it appeared he had all ball.

The first two of those were against Esa Ahmad, a WVU-bound forward who Michigan recruited for a minute several months ago. Teske's currently enduring the usual crazy zone defenses that high school teams deploy when facing someone of his size, and he is a young guy who's still growing. Whatever he's going to be is still a long way off—hopefully that includes college-level rim protection duties.

If it isn't broke but could use some improvement, add gradually. Doesn't have the ring of "if it isn't broke, break it" but has the salutary benefit of applying to Michigan football instead of disruptive "sharing economy" Silicon Valley startups. And it's what DJ Durkin is doing to the defense:

"I wouldn't say we're doing 'most' of either (scheme), if there's a defense that fits a scheme and it exposes something with the offense, we'll play it," senior linebacker Joe Bolden said earlier this spring. "Some plays we'll be in 3-4, another we'll be in 4-3. Just depends on personnel, what the other team runs. The scouting reports in the fall will determine what we play. And, if we're playing a 3-4 better, why would we do a 4-3? And just the same the other way.

"I really don't think it's that hard to grasp, personally."

Michigan's defense won't be exactly the same next season, but it won't be drastically different either. More importantly for Durkin, though, the experience level is high.

And again it's what Michigan is going to try to do with that alignment that matters.

Neither option is good here. Funchess revealed that he had a boo-boo last year:

So either that happened when he was inexplicably playing in garbage time or had already happened by the time he was inexplicably playing in garbage time.

I mean, come on. I'd like to see the NCAA burn as much as the next guy but this is laying it on a little thick:

Khari Harding transferred from Auburn to Tulsa to be closer to his ailing father and maximize his dad’s chances to watch him play live next fall.

Under a new NCAA amendment ratified this week, the latter apparently won’t be possible. The NCAA eliminated immediate eligibility hardship waivers for Football Bowl Subdivision transfers.

The rule change is effective immediately, so it doesn’t matter that Harding — whose father Corie is battling cancer for a second time — has been taking classes at Tulsa for two months before the amendment was ratified.

Surely the ability to go to school for free in immediate proximity to your dad so you can see him all the time is the important thing here, not the fact that your football career is going to be delayed by a year. You could argue that the redshirt is actually a benefit.

Andy Staples disagrees with the above paragraph and proposes one weird trick for transfer rules that would handle cases like this by devolving the responsibility to people a bit less bureaucratic. In bullets:

1. Schools may not prevent athletes from transferring to another school and receiving financial aid.
2. The player must sit out the following season. (With only one possible exception.)
3. The athletic director at the previous school signs a form allowing the transferring player to play immediately.
 

I'd be fine with that. The NCAA couldn't do anything to prevent conference rules from kicking in further restrictions (IIRC the SEC does not allow grad transfers between its institutions; the Big Ten has some restrictions that may or may not apply to Jake Rudock), so if you are concerned about the dread specter of Smotrycz proliferation don't be.

Big Puppy, NBA edition. Just a matter of time before he has his own t-shirts and line of dog food and possibly several different breeds of dog all competing to be renamed McGary:

3. Mitch McGary Running

It’s like the Kramer painting: You can’t look away.

Look at all that churning effort, the weirdly stiff arms and hands, the eager glance backward that says, “Please pass me the ball, I’m open, I’m running really fast, so fast, like the wind, am I going to get the ball?” He’s like a dog looking for a Frisbee.

Jokes aside, big men who run the floor suck in defenders and open up shots for teammates. Good on the rookie for playing out the ball.

Yes, he's a purebred McGary. He generates possessions and feels at an elite level.

NO I WILL NEVER GET OVER IT STOP ASKING. Why has Al Borges never recruited a quarterback who could be considered successful*? Well, it may have something to do with his long-time association with Steve Clarkson, who seems to have fobbed off all his lower-level prospects on mister gullible. This Steve Clarkson as portrayed in Bruce Feldman's "The QB" and reviewed by Spencer Hall:

3. Dilfer's just one of the QB whisperers profiled, a group of guys who all come across with drastically different results. George Whitfield, the man on ESPN chasing guys around with a broom, comes off as half-cracked, but still seemingly legit. The guy who pronounced Tim Tebow's throwing motion to be fixed after three months or so of work, Tom House, might be the biggest beneficiary here: a flaky ex-pitcher with piles of data, a messy office to match, and a stellar roster of clients who quietly swear by him. In contrast, Steve Clarkson, the man who brought Jimmy Clausen to the world, comes off as a money-hoovering huckster prone to announcing any client as "the next [STAR QB GOES HERE]" if given enough cash. Feldman doesn't even have to try, really. You just write down Clarkson's quotes and they do their own work.

Clausen was actually pretty good, if not at all deserving of his hype level. The other guys…

*["successful" is here short for "was the clear starter for his team as an upperclassman."

I only kind of hate Wisconsin basketball. I apologize to that one guy whose entire question to me was a statement about said hatred, but Wisconsin is so fascinated by the NCAA stenographer that Nigel Hayes is answering questions like this:

ncb_hayestranscript_ms_400x600[1]

I didn't know you had to capitalize xylophone. But that's why I'm not a stenographer.

Anyway, I still hate that they get away with the Wisconsin Chest Bump all the dang time but I have always coveted their bigs and I find them relatively tolerable when Michigan is not playing them. This has been a difficult confession. Share yours in the comments!

Etc.: Yes, please. Stopping taxpayer money from being spent on stadiums should be a bipartisan thing right? Jim Boeheim is just kind of this dude who doesn't like NCAA rules. Gasaway on the SCORING CRISIS. Relevant to our current situation: the rise of the vagabond QB. Congrats to Carol Hutchins on her 1400th win, a 20-0(!) bombing of OSU.

When I weep on national television I only get scorn.

Unverified Voracity Smells A Phone

Unverified Voracity Smells A Phone

Submitted by Brian on February 27th, 2015 at 11:28 AM

HELLO. I am back. I was blank yesterday after being in a car for like 14 hours, but here are some links to other things.

KenRequest[1]

According to Wikipedia, I have been to the place where this was conceived.

Things I learned in Iowa. A sampling.

  1. Iowa is not as flat as Nebraska
  2. …but it's close
  3. …and it's really surprisingly large when you have to drive from one corner to the other
  4. Do not smell a pig farmer's phone
  5. …especially if he's presenting it you to like the natives might present Dr. Livingstone an eyeball to consume
  6. …even if he looks stunningly like Dr. Drew
  7. David Foster Wallace was not joking about the omnipresence of the howling mid-American gale that scours pockets from your face when there are shards of ice to fling at you
  8. …this does at least keep the roads clear
  9. You can be relieved and grateful to see a Subway

This is maybe not enough things to justify the time spent but needs must.

Here are all these things and then a school that's like NOPE. As Ace covered this morning, there's another uniform hijink in the near future. (Can hijinks be singular?) The basketball uniforms aren't iconic like football, so the proportional outrage is lower. I'm still bugged by the fact that Adidas is coming up with one design element and applying it to everyone because they want to advertise themselves, with no thought to how they could help Michigan out.

Yeah yeah

Michigan did draw the line at Adidas's Zubaz monstrosities a few years back, so at least there's that.

Still, I'm jealous that Indiana's the uniform in the center going NOPE here:

"We have seen your ideas and find them lacking." –university that employs Tom Crean.

I wish we had the desire to do that. And the desire to go back to the 1989 throwbacks permanently.

B7BKitwCQAAn6p3[1]

"These throwbacks appear to be jerseys Michigan actually used to wear. They just don't get it, do they?" –The Brandon formerly known as athletic director

A seven footer! 2016 C commit Jon Teske was supposed to be growing constantly, as high school people tend to do, and now he's broken through a symbolic threshold:

Jon Teske has grown 1 inch since verbally committing to play basketball at Michigan back in early August.

This would be trivial if not for one fact: When Teske enrolls in 2016, he will officially be U-M's first 7-foot player since Ben Cronin, the first recruit coach John Beilein signed when he arrived in Ann Arbor eight years ago.

Teske is reportedly a shot blocker, something Michigan hasn't had since Beilein arrived.

Other than adding strength and bulk and improving his quickness in the lane, Teske's defensive skills are already at an elite level. He provides Medina with a safety net on the back line and blocks shots with a combination of a pterodactyl's wingspan and sharp instincts. Most impressively, he does so without fouling.

"The number of shots he changes is just unbelievable," Hassinger said. "That's what Michigan will get out of him -- he's such a good rim-protector. ... We can do so much defensively because he just rules the paint."

Yes, please.

Would you go so far as to say he is also strategic? Jedd Fisch gets in on the Jameis Winston praise pile:

Sounds like a man to play Battletech with. Meanwhile, another quote on Harbaugh from Petty:

"Outstanding guy," Petty said. "Just a football dude. That's the best way I can describe it. He just gave us a lot of advice about what to expect here (at the combine), about how to handle everything, especially going in as a rookie into a camp and what he expects as a coach in that scenario, things like that.

"We were tickled to death, anytime you get a chance to meet and talk to a guy who has been in it for four years and had a lot of success in it."

Harbaugh is definitely a Football Dude, as anyone who has watched that QB clinic video and giggled about knuckle placement knows.

Marketing back in the day. Gary Moeller repeats "keeps ticket prices down" three times in about 30 seconds at the end of this clip about marketing from a 1991 edition of Michigan Replay:

The word "brand" does not make an appearance.

We like this better because it doesn't work as well. It's that time of year when NFL guys ding spread QBs because their offenses provide too many open receivers to judge whether the guy can fit it in tight windows:

I think the NFL guy was saying that tight windows are an inevitability in the league rather than pro-style is necessarily better. (Or even a concept that really means much other than Our QB Don't Run. New England is basically Texas Tech with a separate LeGarrette Blount offense stapled to it.)

And stay out? CHL teams are making noises like they would withdraw from Washington if their for-profit enterprises with mid five-digit attendances have to give their players anything other than a per diem and the vague promise of an education package maybe a sixth of them will use:

Silvertips GM Garry Davidson was clearly singing from the same songbook when he told legislators if the state did not exempt the teams from minimum wage laws, “it could negatively impact our ability to operate and would force us to move or not operate in the state.”It’s an age-old tactic used by sports teams and it’s age-old because it so often works. Build us a new arena or we’ll go to a place where they’ll happily build one for us. Give us tax breaks and concessions or we’ll have to pick up our ball and go somewhere else. And in this case, grant us an exemption from laws governing the basic human right to minimum wage or we’ll take our teenagers and have them entertain hockey fans somewhere else.

Oh really? Considering the Everett Silvertips (4,898 average fans per game), Spokane Chiefs (5,570), Seattle Thunderbirds (4,353) and Tri-City Americans (3,976) are attracting decent home crowds, it’s safe to assume the revenue they’re drawing from their regular season gate alone is robust. Probably multi-millions.

A CHL departure from Washington is about as likely as the Big Ten re-implementing freshman eligibility. There aren't enough markets in BC and Alberta that aren't already covered. Meanwhile on the other side of the continent, a QMJHL team just sold for 25 million dollars.

Silver lining: it turns out there is in fact a sports organization that can make the NCAA look good.

Obligatory. Ohio State has a five star recruit incoming.

This is man with a good super power. Michigan Hockey Now pings commit Nick Pastujov about various personal things. He has never gone to a concert, he likes the World Cup, he envisions having a hilarious dinner with Bill Gates, Steve Carrell, and Bob Marley, and he has a very practical approach to super powers: "could do anything." That just about covers it, I'd think.

Etc.: Kentucky fans are terrified of Northwestern.

Thursday Recruitin' Finds Basketball Fred Jackson

Thursday Recruitin' Finds Basketball Fred Jackson

Submitted by Ace on August 21st, 2014 at 2:20 PM

Iman Marshall To Take Official To U-M

Five-star CA CB Iman Marshall, who'd previously mentioned interest in both an official and unofficial visit to Michigan, placed the Wolverines among the group of schools he'll check out on official visits this fall:

I'm sure Oklahoma and Texas fans will handle this responsibly and non-creepily. Yup. Definitely.

It's worth noting that doesn't constitute a top six for Marshall. He's quite familiar with the California in-state powers, and won't need to use officials on those schools—they're very much in play.

Michigan does have something going for them: Marshall and Freddy Canteen are "good friends" according to Steve Lorenz; they worked out together before Canteen enrolled at U-M. That said, while getting an official visit is a big step, it'd be a pretty major upset if Michigan ended up landing Marshall.

More Top Lists/Officials: Wheatley, Robertson, Bates

While four-star NY TE Tyrone "TJ" Wheatley Jr. doesn't have a timetable for his decision, he's whittled down his list to five finalists, per The Buffalo News

TJ Wheatley begins his senior season of high school football with five finalists among the many Division I powerhouses who recruited him: Alabama, Michigan, USC, UCLA and Miami.

Wheatley, a 6-foot-6, 260-pound defensive end/tight end who put on 15 pounds of muscle since this time last year, said Monday that he has no timetable for making his final decision on where he'll attend college.

"No, I'm not sure, I'm just going with the wind," Wheatley said, before commenting on any possible official recruiting visits he will take to schools. "I don't know when I'll take my officials; I don't even know if I'm going to go on officials to all five of those schools."

Wheatley has been so quiet on the recruiting trail that any guess as to where he'll end up is purely conjecture based on the fact that his dad is, you know, Tyrone Wheatley. Which that certainly means something, how much it'll affect Wheatley's decision is unknown, and there's another factor at play: Michigan's small class size means the longer he waits, the greater the potential that U-M runs out of room in the class. We'll know a lot more when he determines where he'll take his officials.

Michigan recently offered four-star CA OT Zach Robertson—who plays at the same school as top QB Josh Rosen—and will receive an official visit from him for the Penn State game, though it's likely he'll be a UCLA commit by then, per Rivals' Adam Gorney ($):

"UCLA is still my top," Robertson said. "I'm still open. I'm definitely going to be committing soon even in the next couple weeks. Even after I commit I want to take my officials."

Robertson called Michigan a "huge offer," so it looks like he'll give them a fair shot even if he's committed elsewhere when he visits. For what it's worth, Rosen reportedly enjoyed his U-M visit quite a bit, even though it wasn't enough to sway him from pledging to UCLA; this could end up working out in similar fashion.

Three-star LA DE Jalen Bates has a top five and two official visits scheduled, per Scout's Chad Simmons

"My top five are Texas Tech, Arizona State, Mississippi State, Louisiana Lafayette, and Michigan in no order," said Bates.

"I am going to Texas Tech for an official visit on September 13 and I am going to take my official visit to Arizona State on August 30."

Bates said he is unsure if he'll take all five officials; you can safely count Michigan out if they don't receive one. As evidenced by the presence of Louisiana Lafayette on this list, pulling recruits to the Midwest out of Louisiana is hard.

[Hit THE JUMP for updates on an early enrollee, Michigan commits in the new Rivals250, Brian Cole's future role, and more.]