Forget the five-star freshman for a moment. You know, the one that scored 21 points on nine shots. Forget the star point guard; yeah, the one with 22 points and nine assists. Forget, even, about the shooting guard, the NBA progeny that turned in another efficient all-around effort.
Jordan Morgan—yes, that Jordan Morgan—stole a pass, dribbled the length of the court, and soared for a one-handed slam. That same Jordan Morgan also split two defenders with a quick hop-step and deftly finished with a layup. He also threw an alley-oop and even crossed a guy over. The coaches had raved in the offseason about Morgan losing weight and gaining some athleticism, but they said nothing about him turning into young Charles Barkley.
That's hyperbole, of course. But man, after that game, it's tough not to be hyperbolic. A sluggish start quickly gave way to a Michigan highlight-fest, with Morgan and Glenn Robinson III and Trey Burke competing for top gif-able honors until Jon Horford came in and blew them away with a savage throwdown in traffic. It's safe to say Michigan hasn't had a team this athletic since the Fab Five days.
What's really scary, though, is that they're skilled to boot. Robinson connected on his first eight shots, including three from distance. Burke overcame some sloppy play and hit four-of-seven threes of his own while getting into the lane at will, finishing when there was space and finding the open man when the defense collapsed. Tim Hardaway Jr. continued to show off his all-around improvement, pulling down seven defensive boards in addition to scoring ten on just five shots. Nik Stauskas missed his first three-pointer, then hit his next three, finishing with ten points.
This team isn't perfect, of course. The defense left too many shooters open, especially in the early going, missing a few switches and getting beat off the dribble—Stauskas and Mitch McGary both had moments of confusion that led to buckets. The Wolverines turned the ball over on 19% of their possessions, with Burke and Robinson each coughing up the pill three times and Stauskas looking shaky putting the ball on the floor. McGary biffed an open layup off a beautiful feed from Burke and generally appears to need some refining on both ends of the floor. And yes, they played IUPUI, which isn't exactly Duke.
When watching a Michigan team that now practices alley-oops, though, and Jordan Morgan going coast-to-coast, it's tough not to get very excited for this season. The Wolverines played a Division-I team with a pulse, had an ugly first ten minutes, and absolutely crushed them in the way that precociously-talented, well-coached teams are wont to do. That's not what Michigan basketball has been, but it sure feels like that's what it's going to be.
A smile crept across John Beilein's face as he pantomimed Trey Burke turning and flipping the ball underhand with "just the right spin" to Tim Hardaway Jr., who buried one of his five three-pointers (that part, unfortunately, not pantomimed by Beilein).
Michigan hit the century mark for the first time since 2007 in a 100-62 beatdown of Slippery Rock in the season opener, and it was Beilein's stars who led the way. Hardaway played one of his most complete games as a Wolverine, scoring 25 points on 8-10 shooting (5-5 from three) and adding ten rebounds, three assists, and a steal. Burke overcame a shaky first half to pour in 21 points of his own (9-17 FGs) and dish out eight assists; after turning the ball over four times in the first half, he had just one in the second stanza and finished on a 6-7 shooting tear.
Burke wasn't the only Wolverine to struggle out of the gate, as Michigan trailed 15-14 just over six minutes into the game before back-to-back threes by Burke and Hardaway—naturally—began to break the game open. They wouldn't completely pull away until a 10-0 run in the opening minutes of the second half, which featured eight points from Hardaway, including an emphatic one-handed dunk off a feed from Glenn Robinson III and back-to-back threes sandwiched around a missed free throw.
While the freshmen weren't filling the tin like they did in exhibition play—combining for 28 points, 11 of those coming in the game's final four minutes—they found ways to contribute. Robinson scored ten points on 5-7 shooting and picked up his rebounding efforts, pulling in eight total (six defensive) in 32 minutes. Mitch McGary pulled down nine rebounds—five offensive, though three came on one possession when he couldn't lay the ball in—in just 12 minutes while chipping in nine points; he also had three fouls, the big reason why he didn't play more. Nik Stauskas only attempted two field goals, hitting one, but got to the line to shoot a pair twice with some aggressive drives to the basket. Spike Albrecht was just 1-5 from the field, but he handed out two assists and didn't turn the ball over.
After missing the exhibition season with a knee injury, Jon Horford played better than the stats would indicate in eight key minutes after McGary and Jordan Morgan both found themselves in early foul trouble. On his first possession of the game, he rebounded a Morgan miss, hit the putback, and drew a foul, then drew a charge on the very next play. Later in the first half, he deftly slipped a pass to a cutting Robinson for an easy layup. While Horford was still limited—not by injury, but by his gas tank after missing the last two weeks—he appeared to have all of his pre-injury athleticism.
The depth is there for this team in a way that it hasn't been under John Beilein. Last year, there was no Horford to step in for Morgan, and certainly no McGary to add a second big man to the lineup. When Burke was off, like he was in the first half, there wasn't an Albrecht there to give him a chance to sit down and regroup, like he did nine minutes into tonight's game. And to have Robinson as a third scoring option, well, let's just call that an upgrade, and that's no slight to Zack Novak or Stu Douglass.
But tonight, the story was Hardaway and Burke. The two had a synergy tonight, Burke knowing just where to give it to Hardaway, Hardaway knowing just where and when to attack, that could take this team from good to great. And yes, at least tonight, there was even just the right spin on the ball.
"Bright youth passes swiftly as a thought." — Theognis
There is no "next year."
Not in today's college basketball, where Kentucky wins a national championship starting three freshmen and two sophomores, the NBA draft age limit creates a one-year holding pen for the sport's brightest young stars, and no graduating senior was selected in this year's lottery. It's not a new reality—as Michigan, home of the Fab Five, should well know—but one that's reaching its apex in the Age of Calipari.
This year's Michigan squad is no exception. The star of the show is sophomore point guard Trey Burke, who nearly exited for the pro ranks in April and, if all goes well, won't be back the next time around. A pair of precocious freshmen, Mitch McGary and Glenn Robinson III, will start and hopefully star—three more newcomers should play prominent roles. The grizzled veteran of the team's core, junior swingman Tim Hardaway Jr., is still unable to legally imbibe.
John Beilein is building for the future, and a bright future it is. After sharing a Big Ten title last season, however, and then pulling in Michigan's finest recruiting class since the Ed Martin era, the Wolverines carry a top-five preseason ranking and expectations to win now. While the hype may be slightly overblown, anything less than the program's first Sweet Sixteen appearance since 1994 would be considered a disappointment.
How the team reaches that point is still very much in question. Hardaway, plagued by a balky jumper, ceded the role of lead dog to Burke as the season wore on in 2011-12; if he regains his stroke, he could emerge as the top scoring option. The presence of Jordan Morgan, McGary, and a healthy Jon Horford up front gives Beilein new-found depth and versatility with his lineup—Beilein spoke at media day of an offseason spent studying NBA film to see how the pros utilize two post players, a luxury he hasn't been afforded during his time in Ann Arbor. For their part, McGary and Robinson must live up to sky-high recruiting hype if this team hopes to deliver on their potential.
The extent to which the Wolverines miss Zack Novak, Stu Douglass, and Even Smotrycz depends largely on another freshman, Nik Stauskas, and his ability to connect from the outside. Yet another freshman, Spike Albrecht, will be called upon to replace "timeout" as Burke's backup. One more first-year guard, Caris LeVert, has earned rave reviews in practice and could provide scoring punch off the bench.
Despite the inexperience and uncertainty, this team represents Beilein's surest bet to take this program to the next level, and could very well be his best shot for a long time. That may sound rash, but the Wolverines have been close to the leap before, only to fall back: the Amaker tenure crumbled despite early promise, the 2009-10 squad faltered despite making the tournament with the same nucleus the year before, and even last year's team tripped up against 13-seed Ohio in the Big Dance. Trey Burke probably isn't walking through that door next year. There's no guarantee Tim Hardaway Jr. will, either. For that matter, Mitch McGary and Glenn Robinson III have one-and-done potential if all goes well (too well, perhaps).
As the season tips off tonight in a refurbished Crisler Center, there's a distinct sense of urgency—not just to prove that this program is going places, but that they've already arrived. If the season goes according to plan, there won't be need for talk of next year, and that will truly signal the new age of Michigan basketball.
It may be the middle of football season, but it's already time to gear up for basketball; Michigan tips off the 2012-13 season against Northern Michigan on November 1st, a scant three weeks from yesterday. Leading up to the opener I'll be doing a comprehensive preview, starting with a look at the rotation—guards/wings today, bigs next week—and then moving on to the schedule, a look at the Big Ten competition, and important questions facing the team this season.
Let's take a look at the guards/wings, shall we?
Returners: PG Trey Burke, SG/SF Tim Hardaway Jr., PG Eso Akunne, SG/SF Matt Vogrich, SG Josh Bartlestein, SG Corey Person Departures: SG Stu Douglass Newcomers: PG Spike Albrecht, SG Nik Stauskas, SG Caris Levert
Note: Freshman Glenn Robinson III could easily—and probably should be—included in this post with the wings, but since he's expected to see time at the four and there are more guards/wings than bigs on the roster, he'll be featured in next week's post.
Michigan received a huge scare over the offseason when it appeared that Burke would declare for the NBA Draft, but he's returned for at least one more season in the Maize and Blue after earning Big Ten Freshman of the Year honors from the media in 2011-12. Despite the presence of Tim Hardaway Jr., it was Burke who became the team's go-to guy down the stretch as the season wore on, notably hitting an improbable floater over Jared Sullinger to seal a win over Ohio State and exploding for 30 points against Minnesota in the Big Ten Tournament.
Despite being much smaller than his point guard predecessor, Darius Morris, Burke showed the ability last season to score in a variety of ways, including getting to the basket off the pick-and-roll. While his outside shooting stroke lacked consistency, he still managed to hit nearly 35% of his threes, and Slam Magazine declared that area of his game "improved" after June's Nike Skills Camp. Given his adept passing, if Burke is able to become a ~40% three-point shooter he'll be as lethal a point guard as there is in the country.
If there's one area to improve upon offensively, it's Burke's ability to handle the hard hedge on the pick-and-roll; he struggled with turnovers when teams doubled hard with a big off the screen. That's an area that will improve with experience, though Burke's lack of size means that will still be the way to most effectively limit him.
Defensively, Burke impressed for a freshman; he very rarely fouls (just 1.7 committed per 40 minutes) and is quick enough to stay in front of just about anyone. He hounded Wisconsin standout Jordan Taylor into a 12-point outing on just 5-15 shooting in a victory last January, impressively shutting down the bigger Taylor on multiple post-up attempts; his size belies his strength, and he'll only get stronger after adding ten pounds in the offseason.
Burke is in line to compete for first-team All-America honors this season; he's the proverbial straw that stirs the drink in Beilein's pick-and-roll-heavy offense, and he's no slouch defensively, either.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the guards and wings, including Tim Hardaway Jr. and a trio of talented freshmen.]
The freshmen, new uniforms, and oh my god what in the hell
Today's basketball media day was perfectly described by another reporter as "not a newsmaking event*," which seems a tad ironic but that's Michigan athletics these days. You can tell the freshmen have already been coached not to say anything interesting, and I'm not even going to bother transcribing the player roundtables as a result. Just imagine the football pressers and replace "football" with "basketball" and you have a good idea of what you missed.
I will, however, post some highlights from John Beilein's press conference.
The team has had 16 hours of summer workouts in addition to the usual weight training, plus 12 hours of recent skill training. Starting Friday they practice 20 hours a week.
The William Davidson Player Development Center is almost complete. It's a "sensational venue" to practice in while Crisler is being redone.
Beilein's had one look at Crisler about a month ago, and says "it looks like a brand new building, like we built a $200 million building." Calls it a tremendous asset for recruiting and very fan-friendly.
Mitch McGary is helping replace the energy void left by Zack Novak, who he says was "really instrumental in everyone's life."
It's too early to name a starting five. During the first two weeks of practice he'll put two or three freshmen on one team, two or three on the other, and watch how they adjust. The last few weeks were much more for skill development than team development. Probably won't name a lineup in the next 2-3 weeks.
Trey Burke is up to 190 pounds, and it's a good 190. Praises strength coach Jon Sanderson for his work with the whole team (I can say from seeing him up close that Tim Hardaway Jr. looks very impressive physically right now, definitely bigger than last year).
Tim Hardaway Jr. has "taken a little bit of Novak," in that you can hear his presence on the court.
"This is a good rebounding team." Has more of an inside presence than past Beilein squads, McGary and Jordan Morgan in particular. The offense may be more predicated around offensive rebounding as a result.
The freshmen are very coachable, and have been getting help from both the coaching staff and their fellow players. He says the team is as intelligent as any he's had. Cited Glenn Robinson III specifically as a player who's picked up new information and put it to use on the court ten minutes later. At the end of a recent practice, Josh Bartlestein, Corey Person, and Eso Akunne each had pulled freshmen aside to teach them something.
When he got here, the question in the Big Ten was who was going to be the sixth or seventh team into the NCAA tournament. Now the fight may be over who will be the eighth or ninth team in.
When asked about how he'll handle high expectations and preseason rankings: "I think John Beilein is always going to have a chip on his shoulder."
As for if he thinks they're a top five team: "I don't pay any attention to that." Says he doesn't watch other teams practice, so how could he know? [Good point, coach.]
There's four, five, maybe even six players who could see time at the four or the five. Loves having the versatility, notes the importance of the four—Kevin Durant and LeBron James were playing the four in the NBA playoffs last year. Last year he didn't feel he had a choice at the four after Jon Horford got hurt.
The goal is to win the Big Ten title. [Of course it is. Fergodsakes.]
Nik Stauskas has "a natural ability to find the bottom of the basket," but what makes him a difficult guard is that he can also put the ball on the floor and drive to the rim. Also showing the ability to keep his head up and find the open man, and he's putting in effort on defense because he knows that's how he'll see the floor.
Last year there wasn't a player who felt comfortable spelling Trey Burke as the primary ballhandler. There's a lot more confidence in Spike Albrecht being able to come in and run the point to give Burke a rest. Stauskas and Caris Levert can also put the ball on the floor.
Beilein used most of the 16 hours of summer workouts on offense. The staff watched the NBA much closer than ever before and cut more NBA film than in the past to see how they utilize two post players.
The team hasn't spoken about the loss to OHIO in the NCAA tournament. They're very proud of the Big Ten championship and will talk about the tourney loss if they get back there this year.
The only injury is a "foot stress issue" for Corey Person. Otherwise there are a few nagging issues but nothing major.
No captains have been named yet.
Tim Hardaway Jr. will split time between the two and the three. Lots of options on the roster, so they'll wait and see how things shake out during practice.
That about covers it. Here's a shoe:
*said unnamed reporter even preceded that with "as expected"; we're not bitter!
Help Colt. Former Michigan kicker Jeff DelVerne has a four-year old kid with a brain tumor. They're having a golf scramble/lunch/silent auction on September 15th in Ottawa Lake. Click the flyer at right for a bigger version with details; RSVPs are requested by September 1st.
Well what was the point of that then? As you may have spotted on the message board, Michigan has updated its roster for fall and changed a large number of the weights they just issued to the media in Chicago. For example, Willie Henry is now 314 pounds, up from 302, and seems all but certainly destined to be a nose tackle down the road. Other notable changes:
Terry Richardson is +8 to 162, which is better but still too small to see the field.
RJS is +7 to 213, which ditto.
Mario Ojemudia is vaguely plausible at 231 (+8).
Ben Braden is down 11 to 308.
Chris Wormley is +11 to 279, i.e. one pound more than Craig Roh.
Ricardo Miller is down to 226 from 234 last year.
Either Willie Henry's high school weights were massively outdated or he's put on a lot of weight he'll have to reshape over the next year or two. It's probably a combo. Meanwhile, the slight Chris Wormley redshirts just evaporated.
Who likes touchdowns? You do.
You: don't talk to anyone. As Heiko noted yesterday, the proverbial Fort is back and in full effect:
Michigan's athletic department has made a few changes regarding media access for the upcoming season:
Players' family members cannot be interviewed without permission from the athletic department.
Freshmen will be withheld from media day.
Practice will be closed to all media.
When asked why these changes were being made, an athletic department spokesman said "are you stepping to the man?" and delivered a Degeneration X crotch chop in the general direction of the media.
This is probably good for the site since it relies less on that whole "talking to people" thing—gross—than traditional media, but as a fan I'm disappointed. Ohio State is taking the opposite tack, letting media into dang near anything. Eleven Warriors is bringing back observations like this…
Day Two of Urban Meyer's first fall camp at Ohio State may have been the best offensive practice since his arrival. Quarterback Braxton Miller delivered the goods and wide receivers Devin Smith and Evan Spencer finally looked like the skill position players Meyer offenses always covet.
Another bright spot has been the emergence of Meyer's first recruiting class. The two-deep is littered with freshmen with everything pointing to several playing Sept. 1.
…and Michigan media is going to recycle press conference quotes until there's a game. Ohio State even signed up for the ESPNU show that's essentially college Hard Knocks, a prospect that caused several Michigan athletic department staffers to expire from massive cerebral hemorrhages when they heard the news and made the mistake of thinking about having cameras at practice. I'm openly dreading this upcoming Mott practice thing since it's just going to be 90 minutes of punting drills again.
This is of course fine as long as Michigan wins football games, but it's just another way in which it feels like the program feels its fans are not part of the team.
CAMERAS AT PRACTICE /dozens die Doug Karsch and his weird hair wisp bring you the officially-sanctioned version of what went on inside said Fort:
The main difference between the coaching staffs is that Coach Hokestresses physicality. We would do drills that had nothing to do with football, but just to see the toughness in the player. We'd do this one drill where there was just this towel on a mat. And at the beginning there're two people holding it, and one person had to eventually take it from the other person. It gets really rough down there; people get bloody noses and stuff. It teaches you into becoming a man and how to hold yours. . . . [If Coach Hoke came to Michigan in 2008], we probably would have won a National Championship in 2011."
Jake Ryan is his pick for a breakout player this year.
"He's a great athlete, I feel like he could play anywhere and he could probably take my spot if he tried," Michigan senior safety Jordan Kovacs said. "He's a natural athlete, and if they play him at receiver, I'm sure he'll be pretty good.
"Wherever he plays, he's going to make big plays."
This is going to be a fascinating subplot. Here's hoping he's ridiculously good. That probably goes without saying.
"We have some very nice pieces to work with this season, and if those two get together early, and it's a pair we really like, you could see them stick together for most of the year," Powers said. "It's not set in stone, but we like to have a veteran guy with a young guy and that's a pair you could really see emerging into something special."
If Merrill manages to maintain his form from his 6-10 games and avoids the slide that he suffered towards the end of the year, that will be a killer pairing. Now if Red would only ride it like it was an intergalactic space donkey. If that works out like you think it might, those guy should be 30 minutes a night players.
In other hockey news, new 2015 commit Brendan Warren makes me feel old by being born the year I graduated from high school. He's the usual: supposed NTDP lock who may or may not arrive the high end prospect he's expected to be.
He's a top seven guy. Trey Burke finishes seventh in a CBS Sports poll that asked college coaches "if you could add any one player to your team for next season, who would it be?"
Impressive company. I'm a little surprised to see Aaron Craft in third place, but I'm telling you guys who can affect the game without using possession are super valuable. That's another reason to get excited about Zak Irvin, who sounds like a lockdown perimeter defender.
BONUS: updated rankings have started to come out. Scout relents and moves Irvin into their top 100 at 62; Walton is 43 and Donnal 80. IIRC both of the latter guys are essentially static. MaxPreps has close to identical rankings of Walton (42) and Donnal (73) but Irvin is near five-star status for them at 26. Both ESPN and Rivals have repeatedly praised Walton and Irvin this summer, so bumps are expected when those services debut new rankings.
The "W" stands for "I put no effort into this, not even figuring out what W stands for." Apparently both teams in the Wisconsin-Nebraska game this fall are going to look like they're wearing crappy UTL knockoffs. Nebraska's uniforms were pretty meh but Wisconsin's are self-parodying:
I don't think that's electrical tape but it could be. Best UW take: "They're the uniform equivalent of scheduling Wofford."
Paterno did help his football players. Those men, however, were heavily recruited, talented and often highly motivated people. If they hadn't gone to Penn State they would've gone to Michigan or Virginia or Notre Dame.
For decades he found a way to take top-line kids and maximize what they could do, usually by motivating them to excel at a sport they already loved. They were subject to mass adulation and had the potential to become millionaires at the professional level.
He wasn't taking illiterate Third World children and getting them to Harvard. Almost every person Paterno positively impacted through football would have fared similarly had Penn State not even fielded a team. They just would have played elsewhere. Bo Schembechler or Lou Holtz or Bobby Bowden would've coached them up in football and life, just like Paterno did.
That's always bugged me about the sanctimony of a certain section of the ND fanbase. Congratulations: you took kids from Catholic schools with solid families and didn't turn them into the Joker. Well done.
A man who breaks some rules in order to win a few more football games is likely to understand himself to be nothing more exalted than a hustler on the make. By contrast, a man who talks himself into believing that he is running a uniquely virtuous Grand Experiment, rather than just another successful college football program that mostly avoids the most egregious forms of cheating, is far more likely to develop the delusion that he’s some sort of role model for his peers, or even a quasi-spiritual leader of our youth.
Before his death, Joe Paterno remarked that "With the benefit of hindsight, I wish I had done more."
The measured banality of that phraseology, the suggestion that hindsight is the necessary ingredient when confronted with the most simple matters of immediate moral action, reveals his own disconnection and concern for reputation right up until his last moments.
Let's be clear: Those boys wish you'd done anything at all, Joe.
That closes the door on Brian's opinion of Joe Paterno story time. Wait, one more: Grantland's Michael Weinreb, a State College native with Penn State ties that run as deep as they can, declares the experiment "failed."
NCAA matters. The Paterno debate closes as another one re-opens: should the NCAA step in and hammer Penn State for the above? I'm on the "no" side. The NCAA has an enforcement mechanism to maintain its own set of rules for things that the legal system has nothing to say about. Here, the perpetrators are going to jail. That is an appropriate punishment and effective deterrent. The NCAA stepping in is redundant, and the hammer would fall on a completely unrelated set of people. The legal system has a laser-aimed bazooka; the NCAA would be deploying a wonky BB gun with a misaligned sight. Meanwhile, the Department of Education could look into Penn State essentially ignoring the Clery act and PSU is about to be flooded with civil lawsuits that insurance probably won't cover. Deterrence: check.
That said, if the NCAA were to vacate Paterno's victories after the 2001 incident* and instate Bobby Bowden as the all-time victories leader I would clap like a seal. (Or Les Miles.) Paterno's maniacal pursuit of that goal long after he'd ceased to be capable of anything other than muttering in the press box seems like a symptom of the broader disease.
*[Ideally they'd deploy some sort of double standard so the Big Ten wouldn't have to go back and pretend that a decade of games didn't happen. Just nix them from Paterno's record, not the program's.]
rejected nicknames included "the super seven," "excellent thirty-six," and "adjective-free e to the x"
A rain of thunder from the FABULOUS FIVE. I just came up with that nickname for Michigan's incoming basketball recruiting class. You see, there are five of them, and they seem very good at basketball collectively. Thus I have decided to call them the FABULOUS FIVE. I may decide have a few of those letters lower-cased in the future. It's a work in progress.
No? You're saying something about how that's ridiculous, fraught with historical significance, and derivative. Well, you are a hater.
"They got us two out of three games. I don't think they got the better of us, but they looked really good. They came in and they're willing to learn and that's a good sign for freshmen. We should be really good with their help this year," sophomore Trey Burke said. "I remember there were a couple times they beat us … that doesn't surprise me because that's the type of players they are.
"They're really good, they have size and they know their roles — they can play."
Said Tim Hardaway Jr.: "The first two or three games, they destroyed us. I think they were very excited. (In) games to 11, they're beating us 11-6, 11-7."
"(Jordan Morgan) and I looked at each other and said we have to show them what Big Ten basketball is about and we beat them 11-1, 11-2, so they got their time, but it won't happen again."
Also, Burke and Hardaway are revealed to be on separate teams when this is going on, meaning 1) walk-ons are filling out the veteran five-man rosters, and 2) Burke and Hardaway are not playing together. You may have not needed the second bullet point there.
Anyway, I predict Mitch Albom thinks none of these guys are taking 600k from a Detroit numbers runner. This time, he will be correct. Also the basketball team will be good at basketball.
BONUS: Caris Levert is "built like small Kevin Durant," which means he can be used as a kite should the situation call for it.
Nevermind the good nonconference scheduling business. The Pac-12/Big Ten scheduling pact that was like conference expansion except brillianter, that was a historic way to something something with synergy, the thing that promised Wisconsin would finally have to play an opponent with zero confused Albanians in the secondary… it's dead.
The two leagues announced Friday that their pact, which initially called for 12 football games per year, has been called off. The reason: at least four Pac-12 schools were unwilling to agree to mandatory scheduling, ESPN.com has learned. A key sticking point is that Pac-12 teams play nine conference games, while Big Ten teams play only eight. Adding in traditional non-league series like USC-Notre Dame, Stanford-Notre Dame and Utah-BYU, and it makes the scheduling situation tougher for those in the Pac-12.
So much for that. The silver lining is that the Big Ten will look at going to a nine-game conference schedule in 2017, like they had announced they were going to do before the stars aligned with the Pac-12. I preferred a nine-game conference schedule anyway. From Michigan's perspective anything that helps balance the crossover-rival playing field is beneficial, and I hate going four years without playing Wisconsin, etc.
Libel lawsuit business. Prediction: Kitchener's lawsuit will have no effect on the Daily. As Tyler Dellow points out, the US passed an act that prohibits libel tourism and what they're accused of—paying an employee—is only debatably defamatory. Meanwhile, OHL restrictions on compensation may not be legal since the players have not collectively bargained for their contracts. Given the state of the law the play for the Daily may be to ignore the lawsuit:
In any event, it seems to me that one consequence of the SPEECH Act is that, if your assets are in America and you’ve received advice that a foreign defamation action against you could not succeed in America, you’d never bother to defend it. Let the plaintiff have his default judgment and then who cares. This is, of course, more true of corporations then it is of individuals – a judgment against him personally would kind of limit the career opportunities of Matt Slovin, the reporter in question, because the judgment could be enforced against him if he ever moved to Canada and acquired some assets.
The fact of the individual journalist apparently being named in the litigation is the one thing that might make it sensible to fight the thing here. Here’s hoping the case goes all the way to trial – a trip through the sausage factory of junior hockey could be a considerable amount of fun.
The Daily is standing by its story. Kitchener's playing a game of chicken here—it seems like their business model is based on not having anyone look too closely at why their players aren't employees.
Whereas ESPN starts off Euro matches in the studio with a discussion of the lineup choices made by the managers, they start off college football games with Mark May and Lou Holtz getting into contrived fights or Jesse Palmer looking pretty. Whereas ESPN includes the pre-match pomp and circumstance when covering Euro matches, they ignore it almost entirely in college football. Instead, the approach is for the play-by-play and color guys to drum through the story lines for the game - story lines that they will stick to regardless of how the game actually plays out - and then maybe the viewer gets a five-second shot of Michigan players touching the banner or Clemson players rubbing Howard's Rock. Whereas ESPN shows the starting lineups for both teams in formation at the outset of each Euro match, they cannot be bothered to even list the starting lineups for college football teams anymore, instead showing only the "Impact Players," as if every word coming out of Matt Millen's mouth is so critical that he does not have time to list 44 starters.
In short, ESPN feeds both the mind and the heart in the first 15 minutes of covering a Euro match, while it does neither in the first 15 minutes of covering a college football game. If ESPN started Georgia-South Carolina by covering the entire rendition of Also Sprach Zarathustra* and then discussed the teams' starting lineups and how they would match up against one another, both in terms of styles and in terms of individual matchups, then I would be a very happy camper and I suspect that most college football fans would be, as well.
The asterisk notes that yes, that's ESPN coverage, but if you watch that youtube clip it is remarkable because Mike Patrick just gets out of the way and lets you have your moment with the fans. I'd love it if every word spoken by Mark May was replaced by the PBP announcer pointedly not saying anything as the pageantry of the pregame played out.
Newspapers still struggling. An extensive Nieman Lab article on the situation of the Detroit papers is full of doom, gloom, and happy faces put on crappy situations by Paul Anger:
“Very soon, sooner than most people expect, we’ll only publish on Sunday,” Elrick, the Pulitzer winner, told me. “We’re still losing money. I think they were smart to do a lot of research. I think they were smart to communicate to people what they were doing and why. But there’s no question that they did this because there was no better alternative. To my mind, this was cutting off your arm so you can get out from under the boulder. This was not, ‘I’ll be so much faster and lighter with one arm.’ Anybody who’s telling you that is full of baloney.”
Anger insists that the delivery change has been “extremely successful,” but that doesn’t mean things are bright. Weekday circulation continues to drop — nearly 6 percent between March 2011 and March 2012.
Even the director of the Knight-Wallace Fellowship is dismissing papers out of hand:
Charles Eisendrath, director of the Knight-Wallace Fellowship at the University of Michigan, puts it bluntly: “They do not matter,” he told me. “They’ve been fading for a long time. The decision to get rid of half of your [delivery] schedule accelerated the rate by two. What advertisers think is, ‘This isn’t going anywhere. It doesn’t carry any influence.’ What readers think is, ‘There’s nothing in this.’”
The Free Press just announced they would "sizably reduce" its newsroom again. Section 1 opens up a bottle of champagne.
Hi. I returned, sorry about the unannounced vacation time. I was in NYC, I thought I would be able to proceed as normal, I was correct only on Thursday and Friday. Back now.
Falk talks Bo. Self-recommending.
Draftings and goings(?). Michigan folk came off the board frequently at the recently-completed NHL draft. Jacob Trouba went 9th, Phil DiGuiseppe and Boo Nieves were second-rounders, and Connor Carrick went in the fifth. That was almost exactly what everyone expected—Carrick may have gone a little higher than his rankings suggested. So hurray, sounds like Michigan has Komisarek 2.0…
9. Winnipeg Jets: D Jacob Trouba. Trouba is a tremendous skater — likely the best of the whole bunch — who loves to dish out punishment along the walls and easily separates his opponent from the puck. He's a rugged force in the defensive end who scores off the charts in both his character and compete levels.
…and will see him on the ice this fall since Trouba took opportunity after opportunity to restate that, barring a meteor strike, he'd be in Ann Arbor in the fall and even the meteor would have to do some explaining.
The sad fugee face news comes from Mike Spath, who brings a screeching halt to optimism in re: Phil Di Guiseppe's return. Yes, the PDG who said this after his selection by the Hurricanes:
“It’s great hockey,” Di Giuseppe said of the Michigan experience. “That’s why I went to school there and played there. I’m happy with my decision and I’m happy to go back next year.”
However, we heard chatter even before the season concluded that Di Giuseppe had one eye on the OHL and with the right situation could leave U-M early. After the Hurricanes picked him, that talk has only intensified, to the point that we put his chances at returning to Michigan at 50 percent, and would not be surprised in the least if he is playing in the OHL next season.
Getting picked by Carolina is not so good because Peter Karmanos owns both the Hurricanes and the Plymouth Whalers. Even if every public utterance from PDG has been strongly pro-college (Spath even references the one PDG gave him in the article), Spath is plugged in on this stuff.
Meanwhile in Lansing, four incoming Spartans were drafted, the first two coming off the board back-to-back in the third round. That's their best showing in the draft since… 2006. Rick Comley was a disaster and Tom Anastos may have been a better idea than he seemed at first.
“I know some of you have been speculating that the coaching staff might be moving on after our historic season. A certain school up North came calling and we decided that Kent State and what we have built here was too good to leave."
Moving on, then, to… Chris Sabo? According to the twitter feed user Raoul has latched onto as the only plausible source of college baseball coaching scuttlebutt, yes:
Hearing reports Chris Sabo will be named new HC at #Michigan. Several reports today on this story. Something's up.Stay posted.
And our twitter feed started backtracking in the way people do in these situations when people get mad at him. But you are on twitter! I trusted you!
Sabo is a famous program alum and rec-specs aficionado, so he's got that going for him. He does not have any of that coaching stuff to recommend him, unfortunately. I'm guessing the guy who does get hired is not Sabo, nor is it someone who we've been talking about at all.
On the bright side, his most recent effort is the second-winningest season in Maryland history.]
2014 offers of the basketball variety. Michigan's firing out 2014 football offers left and right already, and meanwhile John Beilein's has put the finishing touches on another handcrafted piece of calligraphy, this one directed at Indiana wing Trevon Bluiett. He's the third 2014 kid to pick one up after MS SG Devin Booker and IL SF Keita Bates-Diop. Michigan will have to battle Indiana and others (but mostly Indiana) for the kid. They are… not last:
How does the Michigan visit compare with other visits you’ve taken this summer? “It would definitely be near the top of other visits, you know? Like I said, not too many coaching staff jokes with you so once you find a coaching staff that jokes around, it makes you more comfortable. Being around campus, that made me comfortable. So it definitely beat some of the other schools.”
Tom Crean has been locking his targets down of late so this one seems like a longer shot than Booker or Bates-Diop. That's just speculation, of course.
Even farther down the road, the courtship between Michigan and 2015 OH SG Luke Kennard took another step forward as Kennard knocked down three after three at Michigan's team camp. He was "by far the most impressive player at the camp"—one that included Derrick Walton and Mark Donnal—as he drove his team to the semifinals, and has this to say about the coaching staff:
“They are absolutely amazing. I love each and every one of them and they make me feel right at home, which I love about them,” Luke said. “They tell me I fit in with how they play, and I think I do, too. Like I said, I look forward to going to see them because that’s how much I like seeing them. It was good to see them.”
That goes above and beyond the usual palaver, it seems. May want to pencil him in to the 2015 class, if you're the kind of person with a spreadsheet column entitled "Michigan 2015 basketball roster." Surely there are a few of you.
Tim Hardaway Jr and Trey Burke have been hitting up the college-oriented skills camps that are popping up these days, and both have been performing well. SLAM magazine returned with an alphabetical list of the top 20 players he saw at a couple of the Chicago camps Burke and Hardaway were at:
Trey Burke, 6-0, Sophomore, Michigan
Burke was one of the nation’s top freshmen last season and after flirting with declaring for the Draft, looks poised to build on his debut campaign, as he showcased an improved outside stroke, which should help a loaded Wolverines squad attempt to get back to the program’s glory days.
Tim Hardaway Jr, 6-5, Junior, Michigan
A wing sniper with length and athleticism, Hardaway attacked defenders off the dribble for pull-up jumpers or dynamic forays to the rim, while showing an all-around game, as he made a strong effort on the boards and defensive end.
MOTS from Burke. If Michigan gets dynamic forays to the rim, rebounding, and defense from Hardaway they are going to be awesome next year… and won't need to worry about where those 2013 scholarships are coming from.
Burke also came in for praise from ESPN's Reggie Rankin, who included him on a select list of four impressive campers:
"He has a great command of the ball and is a terrific open court passer," ESPN.com analyst Reggie Rankin wrote of Burke at this weekend's Deron Williams' Skills Academy in Chicago. "He can also knock down open jumpers on the break or when reading the defense as he comes off ball screens, can nail ball-reversal spot up 3s and make a play when the offense breaks down.
"Burke has worked to become a complete point guard and his improvement is easy to see, along with his improved strength."
Men coaching people actually on the basketball team. Michigan's dynamic recruiting and teaching assistant corps picked up new contracts:
The new contracts will pay the three coaches a total of $470,000 in base pay for the 2012-13 campaign. Each assistant received a $10,000 base pay raise from a year ago, when the total pool -- per Michigan records -- sat at $440,000. …
Meyer and Alexander both signed four-year pacts, and will make base salaries of $160,000 and $155,000, respectively, in 2012-13. Jordan, meanwhile, inked a three-year contract and will also receive $155,000 in base pay next season.
They've got an interesting bonus system for sticking around, where there's a pool of 20k for each if all three are still around in three years, 20k for Alexander and Jordan if they're still around, and 20k in individual bonuses. I don't think Beilein's going to revamp his staff in the near future unless forced to. Head coaching gigs for Alexander and Jordan—Meyer is 58 and probably not destined for a head job—are the most likely way Michigan's basketball coaching staff will change.
Erp? Sounds like a number of Pac-12 teams are less than enthusiastic about the prospect of loading up on Big Ten teams in their nonconference schedules:
Multiple league sources have told the Hotline in recent weeks that several Pac-12 schools are … how should we say it? … less than enthusiastic about the partnership, set to take effect in 2017.
However, the schools are reserving final judgment until they see whether a strength-of-schedule component is included in the formula that determines which teams participate in the four-team playoff.
If SOS is given serious weight … if it’s a tangible part of the formula … then Pac-12 schools may be willing to consider a partnership in which the top programs draw B1G heavyweights every few years, sources said.
But if SOS is not included in the formula, then a full-blown Pac-12/B1G partnership — and I’ll explain what I mean by that in a minute — could be in jeopardy.
This would seem to affect the top end of the league more than the bottom, and would prevent the sort of titanic cross-sectional matchups that were envisioned when this thing was announced. If it looks more like Michigan's 2014-2016 schedule than "here's USC, Stanford, and Oregon" I'm even more of favor of adding that ninth conference game. Hopefully a committee is better able to take things like "you played LSU and Stanford did not" into account.
Playoff bits. So now the Big Ten is saying "screw playoffs altogether." Jim Delany is advocating for the four best teams in any playoff that does occur, and everyone hates the system of voting we have in place now. Delany:
“Everybody recognizes that the present poll system is not a good proxy,” he said. “It’s flawed, it’s not transparent, it has people who have a stake in the outcome voting, it measures teams before they play a game.”
I hope Bill Hancock has a fainting couch.
At this point it's clear that most fans don't have the same priorities in mind as the people in charge of the leagues they're fans of—see SEC expansion—and arguing with them on the internet is pointless. It's like trying to communicate with sentient mushrooms. Their desires are so alien that attempting to comprehend them leads to you shooting railguns at a distant planet for no reason other than fear.
Whatever happens, we can be assured that everyone was in favor of it at some point. Even the generally sober folks employed by actual newsgathering organizations are getting peeved at this point. Adam Rittenberg:
"A computer doesn't have an eye," Delany said. "So an eye test is missing if there is an injury" or other issues with a contender. Delany also said the impetus for change is that the BCS "has been battered and criticized" and treated "like a piñata" for the past 15 years. So to reiterate: The Big Ten's No. 1 preference would be to keep a current system that everybody hates and which uses a totally bankrupt formula to select its teams. Gotcha.
Sentient mushrooms, man.
IRONY EXPLODE. Dave Brandon, one of the Big Ten's most prominent complainers about a playoff:
"Every change I have ever proposed has been met with resistance," Brandon told the crowd… "I don't care what it is, any change that's been proposed, this has been a culture that wants to resist it, because we all want to go back to the way it was when we were there because that's friendly and that's comfortable."
Notice how he switches back to "I" from "we" when he's talking about all the great stuff he does and not the fact that six different uniforms in a season may have been a tiny bit excessive.
No move. UConn's AD has restated that the Huskies will not move their return game scheduled for next year from their home field. That's fine by me but now the UConn bloggers are looking at the $2 million buyout clause and wondering if the game will ever be played. I'd guess it will since there's not a whole lot of time to find a suitable replacement, but Brandon's had occasional grumbles about the indignity of playing at such a place since he arrived.
UConn's ace in the hole may be their athletic director. They hired Michigan alum Warde Manuel away from Buffalo, so Michigan may be more willing to go through with things.
Incoming pointage. Those Indiana junior/senior All-Star scrimmages have kicked off and the first one featured a lot of the above-pictured activities. Glenn Robinson III was 9 of 10 from the field en route to leading his team in scoring. He also added seven rebounds in 22 minutes. Junior rep Zak Irvin was his team's leading scorer as well, though he didn't shoot as well as GRIII.
Pee and flee. A couple of OSU players are suspended indefinitely—or at least until they pick up their whatever misdemeanor plea bargains—for urinating on the side of a building, then taking off when the cops arrived:
Police in Shawnee Hills, Ohio, a Columbus suburb, spotted the two players and a third man not connected to the football team early Saturday urinating outside a restaurant near Stoneburner’s house, located just off the course at Muirfield Village Golf Club.
Collins said the men dashed away when they saw a spotlight, unknowing it belonged to police. He said Mewhort and Stoneburner stopped about 40 yards away from the restaurant and did not attempt to hide.
This is not interesting—it's no defensive tackle Dukes of Hazzard attempt. I just wanted to call it "pee and flee." BONUS: these guys were peeing on the side of a building mere feet from a thicket dense enough to hide in. Sounds like they need to take OSU's Andy Katzenmoyer Memorial Drunken Decisionmaking 101.
5. Trey Burke, Michigan (84) Along with Cody Zeller, Burke was named Big Ten Freshman of the Year and second team All-Conference. He and Zeller are also, comfortably, the top two freshmen returning to school this fall. Burke came out of nowhere (or, at least, the "obscurity" of the non-McDonald's All-American section of the ESPNU Top 100) to be a superstar do-it-all point guard for an NCAA tournament No. 4 seed. He scored often, he scored efficiently, he passed, and he took care of the basketball. The Wolverines' round of 64 loss to Ohio shouldn't alter the fact that Burke had a fabulous season. Michigan returns their three key players from 2012 and adds a pair of recruits capable of making an immediate impact. There's a reason expectations for 2013 are high.
Cody Zeller is the only guy higher than him who will be in college next year.
"I'm sitting in his office, and there was a fridge right over there, and he's like, 'You hungry?'" Johnson said. "I'm like, 'No man, I'm not hungry.' So he's like, 'OK, I'm going to grab myself a Coke.' So he grabs himself a Coke and he sits down.
"He takes maybe two sips, and he's like, 'Hey Drake, you want something to drink?' And I'm like, 'No, I'm still good.' He's like, 'I think I'm going to get myself an orange juice.' I'm like, 'Dude, you have a Coke in front of you.' He says, 'It's fine.'
"So I'm sitting there, and maybe two minutes later, he's like, 'I think I'm going to get myself a drink,' and I'm like, 'Coach, you already got two drinks in front of you, man! Your thirst can be quenched by what's in front of you.'
"He says, 'I'm just going to grab myself some water. You want some water?' And I'm like, "Nooo, I have Gatorade in my hand, guy. It's fine.'"
My thirst cannot be quenched by what's in front of me, Drake. What is satiation? THE MOMENT BEFORE YOU'RE THIRSTY AGAIN. Now let me tell you about how you are a taller, quicker version of Jim Brown. /dondraper'd
Suggestion box.Cover It Live has decided to charge out the nose for use of its product. Running Signing Day liveblog alone would now cost $300. It would have cost the site almost a thousand dollars last November. All this for a moderated chat system. This is clearly not a good use of funds, so I'll be looking for alternatives. Let me know if you know of any.
Please don't take offense at clearly manufactured Queensbury-style smack-talk emanating from real journalists at ESPN. None of the journalists cares one whit about anything that is not the relevance of the serial comma in today's fast-paced society.
Gorilla smash. This blog's readership annihilated the annual EDSBS charity fundraiser last year, bringing hope to refugees and a Bo-themed skin to EDSBS. Michigan coasted past #2 Auburn by a full two grand, and lo, we were amply rewarded.
You can take the opportunity to defend your crown by hitting up the 2012 version; this year the winning team also gets an episode of Shutdown Fullback devoted to it ("in a good way!" Orson says) and a "custom essay focused on doing nothing but denigrating the things the winning school finds deplorable."
Just going to leave this screenshot here now.
Yes, that's real. Or at least it is for me. /shakes fist at google personalization
Unfortunately, only round dollar amounts are available this year so you can't punch in your favorite score from a rivalry game unless you want to go big baller… or commemorate the Yakety Sax game with your 38.00.
Note: make sure to leave the school name in the DESIGNATION line, lest your donation not be credited to the glorious university you owe your lives, fortune, and honor to. If you need further hate to motivate you, that guy whose operative theory about why Brady Hoke will fail is "recruits too many NFL-sized offensive linemen who remind me of a guy who didn't work out for OSU" is suggesting that OSU fans should donate to "embarrass Michigan." Also he has not read the instructions closely enough, the bastard.
Reinstated. Josh Furman is back and ready to go. Given the way this worked out, couldn't he have been practicing? He and the team would have benefited and… like… it doesn't sound like anything happened except some yelling into a dorm room (and, of course, the heinous crime against Furman's locks).
Somehow this sums up everything perfectly. SBN headline:
College Football Playoffs: Which 2 Bowls Should Be Added To The BCS?
Dime:Do you plan on leaving school for the NBA if you have another good year next season? TB: If I have a great season, and we go far, I probably will lean towards coming out. I can’t really speak on that right now, it’s too early. But I definitely will look into it and my coaches will help me look into it because they understand the type of situation I’m in.
It would be nice to get Michigan's hyped freshman point guard a little time to get his feet wet but I'll take it. Derrick Walton's happy about his choice right now.
The limit. It turns out I've got one when it comes to recruiting, and it's one the premium sites, Tremendous and UMHoops are now exploring on a daily basis. If I see a "2014" or even "2015" in front of a kid's name, I am unmoved unless they seem extremely good and likely to end up at M.
A comprehensive list of 2014 football recruits I am interested in hearing about at this juncture: Malik McDowell. Since some of them are ending up at M it is also interesting to figure out how good the next crop of Cass Tech kids is. IL CB Parrker Westphaljust got offers from half the Big Ten and is coached by Todd Howard (yes that Todd Howard), so he's getting there. I may be interested in 2014 Mississippi SG Devin Booker, but am not sure yet.
This will change after football players' junior seasons; in basketball it will change when Beilein can fire out offers in June. Right now it's just all so futuristic, man. Like finding an NCAA tournament loss to a major underdog hits only a pile of scar tissue where your heart used to be, I assume this is an effect of being a hockey fan. When Tristin Llewellyn committed he was supposed to be amazing. This did not happen. Need more data before emotions get all emotional.
Under that limit. I am interested to hear how Michigan's 2013 basketball commits are doing during their AAU season. Zak Irvin's play continues to improve:
Zak Irvin (2013, Wing, Eric Gordon All-Stars – Commit)
Zak Irvin is without a doubt one of the better players in his class. His jumpshot is water and when he gets it going from beyond the arc it’s almost impossible to stop him. His long arms make him a terror at the top of the zone on defense. In man-to-man sets, he was easily the best on-ball defender on his team. Irvin’s team is loaded, with two players headed to Indiana, one to Notre Dame and another to Purdue, but when the Eric Gordon All-Stars needed buckets it seemed like Irvin was the primary option. Irvin’s handle is solid and he looked okay running point guard sporadically, though he had a few turnovers. Two areas of his game to watch are his passing ability and rebounding. He made a concerted effort to rebound all weekend and wound up with 12 in the final game of the day on Saturday. He was also able to find his teammates for easy buckets in the post after using his quickness to get by his defender.
Love the idea that Irvin can be a 6'5" shutdown perimeter defender in the mold of a Bernard Robinson Jr. Michigan hasn't had an elite defender since. Also in that post, Mark Donnal gets in a bunch of foul trouble. UMHoops also has an article on Donnal featuring his relationship with Dan Dakich, who happens to be his AAU coach.
You realize this makes you Mubarak, right?Jim Delany:
Delany defended the Rose Bowl and compared the coming changes in college football to the Arab Spring, the revolts that erupted across the Middle East and North Africa last year.
“Not all change is manageable,” Delany said. “You want to control change. You want evolution, not revolution, because you don’t know what the unintended consequences will be.”
As always, Jim Delany should not say things.
Incoming defenders. The United States of Hockey also scouted the USA U18's defense corps, with all three of Michigan's commits turning in good performances. Trouba:
Jacob Trouba — It is plainly clear why Trouba is getting a lot of Top-10 buzz. He can do a little bit of everything. His pro-ready size and strength are going to be attractive to a lot of teams. He also plays with an edge and had several bone-crushing hits in the tournament. What people often forget is that Trouba is a tremendous skater. He has speed, sure, but there’s more to it than that. He’s able to find seems and turn it up ice quickly. Then there’s his cannon from the point. Trouba’s one goal at the tournament came off a stunning one-timer that required video review because it came right off the back bar in the net so quickly. He posted three points total. Knocks on his offensive upside are overblown, I feel. There are clearly many tools at this defenseman’s disposal. He should go early on Day 1. Committed to the University of Michigan.
Connor Carrick — Playing a strong game at both ends of the ice allowed Carrick to have a lot of success. The offensive-minded defenseman posted four points including a pair of goals. Carrick has good speed and some creativity with the puck. He also has pretty good strength along the walls, which makes up for his lack of height. Carrick also has a good feel for when to jump into plays and often makes good decisions when pinching. If Carrick ever got into trouble, he was able to recover with his feet. There should be a few teams that will be looking to pick up Carrick in the later rounds of the Draft. Committed to the University of Michigan.
Continues to sound like a bigger version of Langlais. Carrick's going to be important next year as Michigan tries to get that third pairing solidified, but if Michigan does hold on to all of their incoming defensemen they'll be in good shape.
Rutledge only got one start, a shutout—all games not against Canada were shutouts—in which he "bailed out" his team more than once. Click through for that report.