One Frame At A Time: Spike

One Frame At A Time: Spike

Submitted by Ace on December 11th, 2015 at 2:27 PM

As always, click the links/stills to open each GIF in a lightbox.

The first real hint that Spike Albrecht would exceed even the most unreasonable expectations came in the second game of the 2013 NCAA Tournament, when he threaded a left-handed bounce pass between two defenders to hit Glenn Robinson III in stride from halfcourt. Michigan's bench leapt in unison—we thought, at the time, out of shock, but in retrospect perhaps they knew before the rest of us that Spike was far from done.

Two weekends later, Spike introduced himself to the hoops world at large with his 17-point outburst against Louisville. In the years since, that performance has become less stunning, which is remarkable considering he's only been a full-time starter when injury struck the guy in front of him.

To say Spike made the most out of a limited skill set is to sell him short, because he had serious skills. This is not a pass I've seen anyone else make, certainly not in a college game, and he pulled that out as a freshman in the second weekend of the tourney. It came seemingly out of nowhere—as, quite freqently, did Spike:

Spike's greatest asset was his audacity. He'd launch a shot from a foot inside the halfcourt logo because he could do that. Once he hit such a shot and then did the Sam Cassell big balls dance; if Cassell didn't have full ownership of that move, it could've been Spike's most fitting signature. One of his greatest highlights started by accident and ended with him acting like that was the plan all along:

Despite the above, Spike appeared in constant control. He'd dribble donuts through a defense until an opportunity presented itself. He'd find that extra half-foot of space required to get off his patented one-handed granny layup. He'd leave the center no choice but to respect that damn granny layup and commit a moment before Spike would drop a deft pass to the man the center had left all alone. He'd pick your pocket or your passing lane, then lead a highlight-worthy fast break. He'd weave through the defense and dish off a pass to a player he couldn't possibly have seen:

And, yes, Spike did the proverbial gritty stuff. In his second-to-last game, a rote blowout of Houston Baptist, he didn't hesitate to lay out for a loose ball—as he'd done so many times before—landing on two bad hips that were in even worse shape than we thought. The whole team ran over to pick him up. He shook it off as if it was nothing, then gave us one last spectacular play:

When Spike was on the court, odds were he'd put a smile on your face. He was just as likely to do so off the court:

If there's a player that embodies why we watch the college game, it's Spike Albrecht. While his career ended too soon, it contained more than we ever could've imagined.

Man Versus Nature, Mostly Space Bears

Man Versus Nature, Mostly Space Bears

Submitted by Brian on December 11th, 2015 at 11:20 AM

[Editor's Note: This ran as the game column after last year's win over Ohio State. When I started thinking about writing a Spike career obit it occurred to me that I was just going to rewrite this.]

2/22/2015 – Michigan 64, Ohio State 57 – 14-13, 7-8 Big Ten

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[Bryan Fuller]

Basketball from the perspective of an Andre Drummond or a Shaq is a simple thing. You come into possession of the ball. You hold it between two fingers, bellow something designed to induce a flight or fight response, survey the various and sundry "flight" responses, and dunk explosively on anyone who chose… poorly. If someone tries to do the same when you are on defense, you fling him into the nearest body of water.

Later, you have a snack.

Basketball from the perspective of Spike Albrecht is a multi-dimensional differential equation in which almost all answers are emphatically wrong ones. To avoid being postmarked to Lake Michigan, Albrecht has to swoop through the lane several times to induce dizziness in the opposition and then find the one local minima that will result in a shot instead of an Ent-shaped man flexing.

He does this regularly.

When he's really dialed in the result has a Globetrotter feel. A few games ago there was a brief referee discussion after Albrecht was fouled and the refs tried to determine whether it was on the floor or not. The thing is: they were probably right it was a pass. It looked like a pass. It felt like a pass.

It felt like a pass that was off by a little bit so instead of just hitting the backboard it grazed the rim. It felt like this for two diametrically opposed reasons. One, whatever it was that Albrecht was doing did not in any was resemble a shot, at least as far as shooting has been understood since World War II. Two, when Albrecht flings balls at the basket like that they're usually a lot closer to going in.

-------------------

I found out Kenpom's added an "MVP" feature in their box scores because Albrecht locked it down against Ohio State. And, well, yeah: Albrecht out-dueled future top five pick D'Angelo Russell:

  • Albrecht: 16 points on 12 shot equivalents, 4 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 steals, 0 TO
  • Russell: 16 points on 17 shot equivalents, 5 rebounds, 2 assists, 0 steals, 5 TO

Choosing your favorite Spiketrotters play from this game is difficult: the swooping layup past Amir Williams? The assist he wrapped around after faking the swooping layup so convincingly he momentarily fooled himself? The pinpoint, Brady-worthy fade pass to Bielfeldt off the pick and roll? Slipping in for one of his trademarked Very Sneaky Steals to seal the game?

I dunno man, I like 'em both, and I also like both the others. Watching that kind of performance from Albrecht is like a virtuoso slot receiver performance or a hat trick from one of the 5'8" puck wizards Michigan used to collect like pogs back in the day. It's disproportionately fun.

Movies pack their sportsbits with various people overcoming handicaps for a reason. People watch sports instead of those movies for a reason: it's so much better when a script is nowhere near the proceedings. Not that you could script items like we saw yesterday.

P: "So the little guy, he does what?"
W: "He swoops by a seven-foot dude and flings it up underhand from the baseline! And he makes it! A lot!"
P: "The littlest guy on the court. Shooting one-handed grandma free throws on the run against guys a foot taller than him."
W: "Yep!"
P: "I can't decide whether to fire you or shoot you."

We're all pretty eh on this season, willing to give a guy with eight NCAA tourney wins in two seasons a mulligan when his best two players end up on the shelf after a massive pile of unexpected NBA attrition, but not particularly eager to watch Michigan lose a bunch of games. There's no storming the barricades like football, just a desire to fast-forward to next year.

Albrecht paused that thinking a few minutes in yesterday, giving us something to grab on to now, instead of next year. That thing is man versus space bear, with man improbably winning.

[After THE JUMP: a few bullets from the original post that are no longer relevant.]

Spike Done

Spike Done

Submitted by Seth on December 11th, 2015 at 9:45 AM

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[Bryan Fuller]

The worst press release ever:

ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- University of Michigan men's basketball senior guard Spike Albrecht announced today (Friday, Dec. 11) he has elected to step away from the court for the remainder of the season. He will concentrate on his continued recovery and the rehabilitation process following bilateral hip surgery this past summer.

"This has been the toughest decision I have ever had to make," said Albrecht. "After taking a hard look at what is best for me, and this team, I will be stepping away from the game that has meant so much to me.

"I am so thankful for what Coach Beilein, the assistants and the medical staff have done for me during my career and in particular over the last year while I was dealing with this injury. I just have a little more to go and I really need to take the proper time to finish my rehab.

"The University of Michigan has provided me and my family so much, I don't really even have the words to express my gratitude. This place is truly special and I hope I was able to leave just a little bit of a mark during my career. I cannot thank Wolverine nation enough for all the love and support they have shown me throughout my four years here. Forever and always -- Go Blue!"

"This has been an agonizing decision for Spike, especially at this juncture of the season," said U-M head coach John Beilein. "He has done so much to get back to this point, but his long-term health is what is most important now and in the future. We want only the best for Spike.

"He is a tremendous young man, who has had a very special career. His important role in our 2013 NCAA Tournament run and his incredible performance in the national title game were straight out of a storybook. His sophomore year we would not have won the Big Ten title or made a second straight trip in the Elite Eight without him.

"He has proven time and time again what heart and determination can do. Even last year, he played through so much pain, but held the team together and guided us through tough times."

Albrecht played in 115 career games for the Wolverines. A two-time team captain, he was named Michigan's co-MVP last season after starting 18 of 31 games and posting a career-best 7.5 points per game.

As a freshman, he played in all 39 games and helped U-M reach the Final Four for the first time in 20 years as well as tie the school record for wins (31). It was his 17-point performance in the national title game against Louisville that will see him remembered for years to come.

Albrecht guided U-M to a second straight Elite Eight appearance as a sophomore as the Wolverines lost on a last second-shot to Kentucky to miss a second straight Final Four. That same season, he played in all 37 games and helped the Maize and Blue to its first outright Big Ten title in 28 years.

He would be eligible to take a medical redshirt and return next year, but from the way they’re talking about this it seems clear his career over-over. It is a tribute to Spike how much that utterly sucks.

Hoopsageddon Rounds 7-8: The Benchening

Hoopsageddon Rounds 7-8: The Benchening

Submitted by Seth on November 18th, 2015 at 4:35 PM

[Scheduling note: As of now Brian's on play 11,481 of 19,000 of the Indiana UFR so that will be a bit delayed. So here's some #content]

Hoopsageddon

Here it began. There it continued. And then it went on. Now we are on the final two rounds of our gimmicky Big Ten players preview. How things stand:

image

By the way we did these picks before last week so nobody had any game information go on. Alex is up.

--------------------------------

ALEX—ROUND 7, PICK 2: Tre Demps, SG, Northwestern

TEAM: PG: Bronson Koenig (UW), SG: Caris LeVert (UM), SF: Jarrod Uthoff (IA), PF: Malcolm Hill (IL), C: Thomas Bryant (Ind). Bench: Robert Carter (C/PF, Md), Tre Demps (SG, NW)

Caris never comes off the floor. Demps only takes the end of half/game heaves for my team and that's it.

[Jump for TWO MORE MICHIGAN PLAYERS we took horray!]

Hoops Preview 2015-16: Point Guards

Hoops Preview 2015-16: Point Guards

Submitted by Ace on October 27th, 2015 at 1:04 PM

Previously: Hoops Preview Podcast, MGoRadio 1.6 (wsg John Gasaway)


This was sorely missed last year.

Basketball season is nearly upon us. Unlike previous years, it isn't a much-needed respite from a miserable football campaign, and instead should serve as a delightful second helping of good sports feels as we head into the winter.

As Michigan learned the hard way in 2014-15, it all starts with the point guard in John Beilein's system. Derrick Walton is healthy again after a foot injury derailed and then prematurely ended his sophomore season; now he's poised for the patented LaVall Jordan second-year leap a year later than expected. Spike Albrecht is recovering from surgery on his hips but should be a full go early in the season, giving the Wolverines a starter-quality backup.

This is where the turnaround starts.

[Hit THE JUMP.]

Unverified Voracity Retires Books

Unverified Voracity Retires Books

Submitted by Brian on May 28th, 2015 at 2:49 PM

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[Bryan Fuller]

Let's get ready to softball. Michigan's part in the Women's College World Series kicks off tonight at 7, as they take on six-seed Alabama. Michigan swept Alabama 8-2 and 4-1 earlier this year, but that was before the Tide turned to freshman Alexis Osorio to do most of their pitching. The game is on ESPN2.

Meanwhile in Louisville. Baseball takes on Bradley tomorrow in the UL regional. Michael Baumann has an excellent and concise preview at D1Baseball. On Michigan's first-round opponent:

Bradley has become the poster child for the RPI robbing traditional power conferences of spots in the tournament, as the Braves’ No. 19 RPI — which peaked at 10 — never quite felt right. Going 10-11 in the MVC — which is a good conference, but not that good — is a bad look, and along with an 11-12 record against the RPI top 100, always gave off the impression that the Braves were a paper tiger.

Bradley will need a win out of No. 1 starter Elliot Ashbeck (11-4, 3.11) in the opener against Michigan, and from there, they can try to cobble together something that gets them from the start of the game to closer Matt Dennis (3-0, 1.59, 12 saves) until it’s time to start Ashbeck again.

That sounds as enticing as possible for a 2-vs-3 matchup in which you are the lower seed.

Should Michigan get past the Braves, Louisville (presumably) presents a formidable challenge in the next round. Michigan figures to draw a pitching matchup featuring a projected first-round pick against their #2 starter, who is… not going to be a first round pick.

MLive also has a Bradley preview.

Today in things we are glad no longer warrant a post. Remember the books and the birds?

apr-books apr-birds

Those were deployed in annual posts poring over the worrisome state of Michigan's APR after the Carr-Rodriguez transition year saw a huge crater that threatened to drag Michigan under the red line for penalties. Those posts have officially been retired.

Michigan football recorded a perfect single-year APR score (1,000) in 2013-14 for the first time since the NCAA began monitoring the metric in 2004-05. The program's four-year rolling APR average now sits at 990, third in the Big Ten. The NCAA released the updated figures Wednesday.

Well done, Hoke and academic staff.

Meanwhile I'm growing more and more skeptical of the validity of the APR. As a number of commenters pointed out in the post on freshman ineligibility, any metric that gives Crean-era Indiana basketball a perfect score is not particularly rigorous. But it's better to be at the top of a not particularly rigorous metric than towards the bottom.

Summer camp, 1992. I wish I could bottle old Michigan replay music and have it follow me around, en-jivening my day to day.

It's about that time. Michigan basketball refrains from offering recruits until June 1st of their junior year. June first is just a few days away… and nobody seems to know who is on the list. Or if there is even a list.

Michigan has just two certain spots in the class of 2017—those from the departures of Derrick Walton and Zak Irvin. They are aiming for a point guard in 2016. Assuming they get one that would fill their scholarship slots and push center commit Austin Davis to 2017 minus any attrition. That means they'd have one slot at most with almost no idea where they should use it.

For the first time in a while it seems like June 1st will pass without a solid definition of Michigan's top targets in a recruiting class. It is possible some offers will go out, and more possible still that Michigan finds some gentlemen at their annual summer camp, which is scheduled for June 6th. Here is a 2017 top 100 guy planning to attend from a long way way:

Having already landed its biggest 2016 recruit, Tyus Battle, Michigan is now setting up its wish list for 2017.

One name currently included is Greg Floyd Jr., a 6-foot-8 forward from Las Vegas.

On Wednesday, the Las Vegas Knicks, Floyd's AAU team, announced via Twitter that Floyd will visit Ann Arbor for Michigan's College Practice Camp on June 6.

Michigan may also offer NY combo guard Kevin Heurter, who is currently scheduled to be a member of the class of 2016 but has a 2017 offer from Syracuse and is very young for his class.

It's a kind of legacy. The SEC has added neutral observers to the press box to determine whether or not a player cannot continue because he has been hit very hard in the head. Get The Picture dubs this the

The Brady Hoke Rule

Woof. On the other hand, APR?

I wonder how Dantonio will get mad about this. This is clearly not trolling. It is the opposite of trolling.

"We know we're not the biggest guy on the block (right now)," Harbaugh said, per a live video stream recorded by The Wolverine. "Michigan State's the biggest guy on the block."

Harbaugh's comment was then met with a clap from someone in the back of the room. He acknowledged that clap, and followed it up by heaping praise on what Mark Dantonio and the Spartans have accomplished.

It is directed at Michigan State and Mark Dantonio, the man who's super power is generating offense from anything and everything. It is master trolling.

I heard you like team in your team in your team. There is a Michigan hype video narrated by the wonderfully scratchy Xzibit. Unfortunately it is not embeddable, which rather defeats the purpose of putting it on youtube. But at least it's on youtube instead of Michigan's terrible proprietary player?

(Woof on the writing, though. Lou Avery's generic organizational slogans of the week. You probably paid someone to do that. I will do this for free, Michigan. It is already my job.)

More like Steve Albrecht. Someone asked Steve Nash about Spike and comparisons made between the two during a reddit AMA:

"He's a good young player — flattered."

That's dang right.

Etc.: Journalism! Science! Maybe he just likes peeing in condoms. Hooray money, I guess. SEC complaining is the sweetest complaining. Matt Hinton is relevant to your interests: how to build an offensive line. Jabrill Peppers probably not staying five years. Quinn on Battle. Quinn on… Battle.

Roster Set, Let's Talk Minutes: Backcourt

Roster Set, Let's Talk Minutes: Backcourt

Submitted by Brian on May 7th, 2015 at 4:35 PM

I thought I'd revisit the basketball roster now that it seems set. We covered similar ground in the Always Next Year post on the team, but now that the Minutes Crunch™ is official, let's look at how things might shake out.

Point Guard

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[Bryan Fuller]

Starter: Derrick Walton (Jr.)
Backups: Spike Albrecht (Sr.), Muhammad Ali Abdur-Rahkman (So.)

Albrecht's hips and Walton's foot are lingering issues hovering over this spot. Derrick Walton was shut down in January and should be back from just about anything by November. His issues massively blunted his effectiveness. Walton went from a 45/41 percent shooter to 32/34. It's never good when a shooting line forces me to remind readers that the first one is twos and the second is threes.

Just about every part of Walton's statistical profile was static or regressed save his reliably mansome defensive rebounding; how much of that was the injury? How much was disorientation in an environment far more focused on his output? How much was just flat-out poor play?

We're hoping the answers to those questions are "lots," "some," and "not too much considering." Michigan and LaVall Jordan's point guard track record should mean that is close to the truth.

Still, the version of Derrick Walton Michigan gets is a major question mark for the season. Point guards have universally played above expectations since Darius Morris's freshman year. I just don't know what expectations are for Walton anymore.

Meanwhile, Spike Albrecht's presence would have certainly mitigated any downside here if he wasn't in the midst of dual hip surgeries. Instead he just probably mitigates any downside. The media has been told that he should be back in five or six months, no problem, but there are whispers he might be forced to redshirt. Albrecht was low usage and could not sustain his ludicrously low TO rates when forced into extensive action; he also led the post-LeVert team in assist rate by a huge margin and maintained shooting efficiency in a more difficult environment.

Spike was a major reason Michigan managed to remain competitive without Walton and Irvin. In the twelve games Michigan played without those two stars, Spike scored in double digits nine times, shot 45/43%, and had a stellar 60:19 assist:TO ratio. Even before the injuries Michigan was leaning on him heavily for minutes until the freshmen were somewhat more prepared. A senior reprise would have been most excellent. Is that still possible?

If not, MAAR steps into the breach. There are worse backup plans to your backup plans than a guy who put up 18 at Michigan State as a freshman and harassed DeAngelo Russell into an awful game. MAAR needs to work on his deep shooting (29% on fewer than two threes a game) and passing, but Michigan hasn't had a guy who can get to the basket like him since Trey. A bit more on him in the next section.

Minute projection: Fuzzy with injury issues. Call it Walton 25, Albrecht 15.

[After the JUMP: Caris, Dawkins, and the cavalry behind.]

Unverified Voracity Refuses To Get Excited

Unverified Voracity Refuses To Get Excited

Submitted by Brian on April 28th, 2015 at 12:28 PM

Jaylenbits? Maybe not quite but it is by far the most interesting thing going on right now. The latest:

  • Scout's Brian Snow has been saying this is a top two of UK and M for weeks and reiterated that, with Cal running third. Feels like the Bears would be a surprise but not an all-caps SHOCK.
  • Sam Webb did not offer a gut feeling on WTKA this morning but did reiterate that Michigan was very much in this recruitment; he's got an article coming up in the News on why that is. As a guy who's badgered him about this recruitment for months I can say that Sam is getting more hopeful as we move along here. He is not playing coy, though: nobody knows.
  • Kentucky offered 2015 6'6" wing Shaun Kirk yesterday just hours after he committed to NC State. Kentucky needs a lot of guys, yes; they already have a commitment from a 6'6" wing out of Chicago and are about to get a JUCO shooting guard, Mychal Mulder. A 247 Kentucky staff member suggested this was "more indicative" of where things are with Jaylen Brown than Cheick Diallo, the 6'9" power forward who is the other major prize Kentucky is after.
  • Even if Kentucky sweeps Kirk/Mulder/Diallo they will still have a spot for Brown, FWIW. Adding Jamal Murray, the Canadian combo guard who is considering reclassifying from 2016, and all those guys would fill them up but even then a guy like Marcus Lee could get Creaned.
  • Crystal Ball predictions continue to roll in for Michigan, including one from Jerry Meyer, 247's head of basketball recruiting. Michigan now has the last 13 picks, with 247 staffers at their Duke, Ohio State, Kansas, and UNC sites amongst those to pick M in the last couple days. Again, I wouldn't take this as gospel since this recruitment has been cloak and dagger. Somebody is hearing something.
  • College coaches don't seem to be among that group, as several said they have "no clue" and/or "no feel" for what Brown was going to do.
  • The OSU staffer told his message board that after some texts it looks like it's "headed UM's way" and that the Adidas thing was "huge". Steve Lorenz also mentioned something along those lines. I will call them Competent Germans for a week if this happens.
  • Rivals, which has been pessimistic the whole time, suggests that Kansas writers in their network are "beginning to believe" they have a real shot. That's at odds with what their 24/7 guys are saying.
  • There's no scheduled commitment time but people expect that that Brown will choose within the next couple weeks.

Meanwhile VA combo guard Kenny Williams is planning to take an official to Michigan. UNC and Virginia are the other schools he'll visit after using two of his officials earlier in the year; those schools and maybe VCU appear to comprise his list. Obviously if Brown does happen, Williams will no longer be an option.

Other basketball things. During the Hatch press conference, Beilein touched on a couple personnel matters. On DJ Wilson's position:

That is no surprise with Teske and maybe Davis scheduled to enter in 2016 (Davis may prep), but it is an indicator where Michigan stands this year. They may need a third C and it sounds like Wilson will be the guy playing Bielfeldt/Smotrycz when foul trouble looms.

On Spike:

That does not put talk about Spike redshirting to rest but it should at least dampen it considerably. Given the composition of the roster Michigan should want to add a point guard in 2016; a Spike redshirt prevents that. And having Albrecht available is a very good thing for a team with aspirations.

On other potential roster moves:

There was some speculation that Chatman might light out for greener pastures; happy that is not the case. He is still a guy who can develop into an excellent player. Just get that corner three down and get mean on the boards and we're in business.

1925 sounds exactly as fun as you would expect. The roaring 20s of football:

Several years later mud would obscure key numbers in the New York Stock Exchange, and the rest is history.

Nyet. Mike Spath reported a week or so ago that Michigan would look to add a grad transfer wide receiver or two over the coming months, space permitting, and thoughts naturally turned to Devin Lucien, the UCLA receiver who Michigan essentially turned down (they asked him to play D) days after Hoke took the job. Lucien is no longer available:

Ah well.

Cut to the chase. The Final Four—two spectacular games and Duke punking MSU—put the "COLLEGE BASKETBALL IS DEATH" meme to the sword, or it least it should have. But at the same time the tournament was going on, basketball was experimenting with a 30 second shot clock in their B- and C-tier postseason tournaments. Those increased scoring without a commensurate decrease in efficiency, so you may as well do it. It appears that people are going to do it:

Men's basketball is likely heading toward reducing its shot clock from 35 to 30 seconds, NCAA rules committee chairman Rick Byrd told ESPN.com on Monday.

Byrd, the coach at Belmont, said a year ago that there was a 5 percent chance of the change happening, but he changed his tone Monday.

"Now there's a real decent chance," Byrd said. "It's pretty evident a lot more coaches are leaning that way. The opinion of coaches on the shot clock has moved significantly to reducing it from 35 to 30. And all indicators are pointing toward that."

Byrd also said there was a 90% chance college basketball would adopt the NBA charge circle. It does sound like other changes are on the horizon:

Byrd said coaches have told him the game is too physical and too rough. He said that will come up quite a bit in the meeting.

Byrd also said there will be discussion about altering the timeout rule to create better flow. He said he would like to mimic the rule in women's basketball where if a coach calls a timeout within 30 seconds of a media timeout, then that becomes the TV timeout.

He said too often coaches will call a timeout, knowing they are getting a media timeout 15 seconds later, and that creates an even longer downtime for the fans in the stands and the TV audience.

"You can have the last few minutes take 20 minutes," Byrd said. "It doesn't bother coaches, but it does for those watching at home and in the arena. We need to try to get the games within two-hour windows."

All of that sounds excellent. From a selfish perspective I think the shot clock reduction hurts Michigan since they use their time on offense so well, but if it's part of a package that includes improving offensive flow by reducing the Spartanizing of the game I'll take it in a hot second.

Now just implement my coaches-must-cut-off-a-digit-to-call-timeout plan and we are cooking with gas.

The unbundling. ESPN has sued Verizon for attempting an end-around of their contract. ESPN thinks it says Verizon can't offer "basic" packages without its family of channels; Verizon is like nah.

Verizon Fios has just shy of six million cable subscribers -- making it the fourth largest cable company and sixth largest cable or satellite company in the country. Verizon recently announced a new cheaper alternative to a basic cable package. That offering allows consumers to subscribe to a basic cable package for $59.99. Unlike Dish Network's recent Sling TV offering which includes ESPN in its basic tier, the new Verizon Fios package doesn't include ESPN in its basic tier pricing. Instead ESPN -- along with ESPN2, FS1 and NBC Sports Network -- are included in a sports tier package which consumers can purchase for the additional price of $9.99 a month. That is, it's possible to subscribe to Verizon's new cable package without receiving ESPN.

That's actually a great deal for that sports package since ESPN and ESPN 2 alone cost Verizon seven dollars. I am not a law-talking guy but I can't see how this is going to fly in the courts; it is an indicator of where we're going. Right now sports is being subsidized by people who don't care about it at all. In an a-la-carte world that no longer happens.

Then what? Then ESPN takes a bath, with sports leagues next on the chopping block. ESPN costs 6 bucks a month for a channel 20% of people are interested in; it will not cost thirty bucks a month in an a-la-carte world because a lot of people will forgo it. There's only so much you can do by strong-arming customers in an environment where ten bucks a month gets you a virtually infinite pile of content. The people who don't care will opt out.

This is why adding questionable fanbases to the Big Ten in the pursuit of short-term cable dollars was so incredibly foolish even beyond the deleterious effects of adding a bunch of games nobody in the world cares about. Every time I see someone hail Jim Delany as some kind of visionary I want to laugh/cry.

Etc.: Jack Harbaugh on satellite camps. Quinn on Hatch.

Unverified Voracity Drops Outta Nowhere

Unverified Voracity Drops Outta Nowhere

Submitted by Brian on April 13th, 2015 at 12:18 PM

Mmmm, sacrilicious. Notre Dame youtube music, you say? I've got my schaden-stick at the ready.

This is way less bad than Freekbass, at least?

Also in Notre Dame. Goodbye, Lou Holtz.

SI.com learned over the weekend that ESPN has parted ways with Lou Holtz, who had been a college football studio analyst with the network since 2004 and worked most notably with host Rece Davis and analyst Mark May on ESPN’s Saturday College Football Final pregame, halftime and postgame studio coverage. Holtz was also a regular contributor to SportsCenter and ESPN Radio. The decision, according to sources, was closer to a mutual agreement between the parties than Holtz getting forced out.

Holtz wasn't exactly good. Once you accepted the fact that he was not there to provide serious analysis but rather to do magic tricks and babble incoherently, though, he was reliably entertaining. That's something you can't say for a lot of television "personalities." He was kind of like Dan LeBatard's dad for college football. I'm not going to actually miss him but since ESPN is 50/50 to replace the Rece Davis/Holtz/Mark May combo with three clones of Craig James I have real trepidation here.

Um, okay? Bizarre sequence of events in basketball recruiting: Shaka Smart takes the Texas job, so top-100 combo guard recruit Kenny Williams asks out of his letter of intent. In the immediate aftermath seven Crystal Ball predictions come in, six of them for Michigan. (The other: Georgetown.) Actual recruiting expert Jerry Meyer is amongst them, and both Rivals and Scout follow up with reporting on it that suggests it is not a fever dream. Georgetown's 247 guy thinks it's M and their Duke guys are somehow insistent on it.

One problem, of course: Michigan has a full roster unless Hatch goes on medical or Caris LeVert decides on the NBA draft, something that doesn't seem to be likely at the moment. And they're already really deep at guard. And they were not involved with the kid before his VCU commitment. And everybody says he committed to the Rams because he wanted to stay close to home in Virginia, which is why he doesn't seem interested in following Smart to Texas. Michigan isn't close to Virginia. And Williams does not currently have a scholarship offer. This is really several problems.

But apparently it might happen? Williams, depending on who you ask and when you asked him, is a 6'2" to 6'4" shooting guard with one of the best strokes in the country. Beilein was just down to watch him play at a tournament, so there's a concrete indicator the interest there is mutual.

A way in which it might make a little more sense. Derryck Thornton's dad has told a few people that Spike Albrecht might end up redshirting after his hip surgeries this offseason. Albrecht has one complete and one to go; the recovery timetable of 4-5 months seemed to give him a month or two to get back in the swing of things before the season.

I have a solution for your problem. NBA owner Mark Cuban bitching about college basketball:

The "horrible" state of college basketball is hurting the NBA, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban said.

Cuban said he doesn't enjoy watching the college game, but his bigger concern is that the physical, slow-down style that has become common in the NCAA results in prospects who are poorly prepared to jump to the NBA.

"If they want to keep kids in school and keep them from being pro players, they're doing it the exact right way by having the 35-second shot clock and having the game look and officiated the way it is," Cuban said Wednesday night. "Just because kids don't know how to play a full game of basketball.

"You've got three kids passing on the perimeter. With 10 seconds on the shot clock, they try to make something happen and two other kids stand around. They don't look for anything and then run back on defense, so there's no transition game because two out of five or three out of five or in some cases four out of five kids aren't involved in the play.

"It's uglier than ugly, and it's evidenced by the scoring going down. When the NBA went through that, we changed things."

If college basketball is hurting the NBA so badly, it's the NBA's fault for instituting one-and-done. And that characterization of college offense coming from the land of hero-ball and isolations is even more nuts.

Yes, teams emphasize getting back in transition. I'd like someone try to find a rule change for that.

Again, there is no scoring crisis, very little has changed in the last decade of college basketball, people are

oldmanyellsatcloud[1]

yelling pointlessly about a fractional dip in pace caused by fewer turnovers and more transition D that has actually seen offensive efficiency increase slightly over the past thirteen years. If you want to chop the shot clock to 30, fine. That will magically fix all of our problems, because there aren't any.

We just had five excellent offensive performances and Michigan State in the Final Four. Kentucky acquired 1.1 points per possession and lost by seven. And the bitching will continue because… Penn State, I guess?

A bit more on Alabama's pursuit and dismissal of Difficulties Guy. Holly Anderson writes about it, and hits the nail on the head:

Did Alabama consider the risks of bringing Jonathan Taylor to Tuscaloosa, and decide they merited his inclusion on the team? Or did Alabama never need to care about the risks at all?

Right now, it’s the only explanation that makes sense. What risk was there, really, to the program? This sport shifts glacially, and won’t change in time to adversely affect the careers of anyone who had a hand in this decision, or others like it. Neither the Crimson Tide’s recruiting nor their 2015 win-loss record will suffer. It seems most likely that they didn’t properly consider the admission decision, because they had no real need to. Because this little media conflagration that has unfolded over the past couple of days is Alabama’s worst-case scenario for a repeat assault allegation against Taylor: to be yelled at for a little bit.

Real consequences don't exist. The fanbase isn't going to deliver them (and I doubt many, if any, would). The SEC isn't. The NCAA isn't. Recruits and their parents aren't—recruits and their parents have been signing their kids up for Alabama's annual oversigning happily. The media will rattle a saber for a bit and rival fans get a bit of ammunition, and that's it. The end.

Etc.: Now that it's official I plan some passing game UFRs for Rudock; for now here's his game against Wisconsin, which was terrific. (He had some not very terrific games.) Wisconsin set to leave Adidas for UA. Urban Meyer has not pleased Jamal Dean's high school coach after declaring Dean not medically cleared.

Unverified Voracity Is Tested Regularly

Unverified Voracity Is Tested Regularly

Submitted by Brian on April 8th, 2015 at 12:34 PM

Not literally a comic book. 28 minutes of Charles Woodson highlights from high school do not quite feature him bounding over a tall building:

 

Full go minus one decision. John Beilein doesn't see anyone transferring this offseason:

"Everybody seems to be all onboard 100 percent," Beilein said Monday after attending a USBWA Final Four luncheon honoring freshman Austin Hatch. "Obviously, we're not with them 24 hours a day, but I love their attitude right now."

That does not include Caris LeVert, who is deciding on the NBA draft. It seems that people around the program are cautiously optimistic he will stay for his senior year, but we won't have certainty until the early entry deadline, April 26th.

That would leave Michigan with zero scholarships this year and two plus any attrition after next season in 2016. Unless Hatch goes on a medical scholarship that would cut out Mike Edwards, the various transfers looking at Michigan, and Jaylen Brown.

In related news, it looks like Max Bielfeldt will spend his grad transfer year at Bradley.

Meanwhile, another one bites the dust at Indiana. The Hoosiers get a commitment from prep post Thomas Bryant, bringing the number of Indiana players guaranteed to get run off this offseason to three. Someone please fire Tom Crean.

Spike surgery. Spike Albrecht will have surgery on both hips to eliminate the pain he played through this season. His projected return is in four or five months, which cuts him out of all the summer stuff but should have him back on the court a couple months before the season. That should be enough time to knock off the rust.

Soon, a fully healthy Spike will also be dunking on fools.

Out go the successories posters. Harbaugh on the weight room:

"It was shiny, like somebody from Chicago came in [from a ] P.R. firm," Harbaugh said. ""This isn't a slide show.

"This is work."

Don't get a DUI and then fail your probation. Harbaugh on Glasgow:

"The legal system has got as much hanging over his head as anybody else could possibly put on him," Harbaugh said. "There's nothing more that I, or the football program or the university could have on Graham right now than what (the courts) have.

"This is somebody who is taking a breathalyzer every morning and every night. He's got to be clean, 100 percent clean, not a drop of alcohol. And he'll either do it, or he won't. I believe in him, I believe he will. But we'll all know, there will be no secrets on that. Whether he does it or he doesn't, it'll be for public consumption."

He will have to do this through January, so he will either be clean as a whistle or you'll know he wasn't.

This is a lovely shot chart. Aubrey Dawkins did two things last year:

dawkins[1]

Threes and throwdowns. He was excellent at the threes, average at the throwdowns, which still means he was extremely efficient. Next year's project is getting some of those hexagons to be larger without changing their distribution. Oh, and doing the defense and rebounding stuff.

Okay, let's do it. Kenpom looks at the effect the 30-second shot clock (and expanded no-charge circle) had on the tournaments that used it:

Adjusting for the matchups and expected points in each game, scoring in the smaller tournaments has been about 5.6 ppg more than the NCAA tournament. This is 2.4 ppg higher than the typical difference in these events. That's not something that will transform the game, but if you assume that boost applies to the entire 2015-16 season, it would take the sport to scoring levels not seen since 2003. (That statement excludes last season, when scoring increased dramatically, partly because a bunch of fouls were called.)

Pace

Not surprisingly, most of the scoring increase can be attributed to an increase in pace. Accounting for the teams involved and the increase in tempo normally seen in lower-level events, there have been two additional possessions per 40 minutes than we'd expect under normal rules. This is a more modest change compared to scoring and only turns the clock back to 2011 in terms of pace. This suggests simply reducing the shot clock to 30 won't produce significantly more up-and-down basketball. A surprising finding here is that slow-paced teams were affected as much as fast-paced teams were.

Efficiency

One of the concerns of the 30-second clock is that it may make offenses less efficient, but the postseason experiment isn't providing much evidence of that. Accounting for the quality of the teams and the usual increase in efficiency seen in the lower-level events, efficiency was actually up, though by a miniscule 0.6 points per 100 possessions.

The efficiency thing is almost certainly noise, but it looks like any effects are going to be minimal in that department. I don't think there's much wrong with college basketball other than the fact that block/charge is impossible to call and the refs are hilariously bad in general—but that's not something you can wave a wand and fix.

Final CSS rankings out. Minor movement for most players. Zach Werenski is 9th, down from 6th. Kyle Connor moves up a spot to 13th. 2016 recruit Cooper Marody moves up ten spots to 53rd. There were some more significant moves:

  • NTDP forward Brendan Warren dropped from 34th to 66th, which is an early third round pick to the fifth or sixth. He had an okay year only with the U18s.
  • Incoming defenders Joe Cecconi and Nick Boka went in opposite directions; Cecconi dropped from 70 to 88 and Boka shot up from 176 to 117.

Given Michigan's needs next year I'm happy that Boka's stock has apparently surged, even if Warren is less of a prospect than you think he might be. I wonder if Michigan will try to bring Marody or another 2016 recruit in now given Copp's departure.

The Hockey Writers have an extensive breakdown of Werenski that compares him to Trouba. I know I'm seeing Werenski a year younger, but he is not Trouba. Trouba was a commanding defenseman at both ends of the ice. Werenski really came on in the offensive zone late in the year but was a significant source of defensive problems.

Etc.: 1914 All-American ring for "Maully," which is either John Maulbetsch's nickname or a cartoon hammer. Bacari Alexander is up for the UW-Green Bay job, which is a pretty good mid-major posting. Various OMG Harbaugh stories on spring from ESPN, MLive, MVictors, etc.

Sports "donations" are still tax-deductible. Alabama assistant salaries have gone up 60% in four years(!). Michigan's are probably in the same range.