Nonconference Tempo-Free Takeaways

Nonconference Tempo-Free Takeaways

Submitted by Brian on December 12th, 2011 at 12:22 PM

Michigan-vs.-Oakland-1-597x549[1]Michigan-vs.-Oakland-8-597x398[1]

Quality looks. Photos via Dustin Johnson and UMHoops.

(Stats via Kenpom($).)

With a 90-80 win against Oakland on Saturday, Michigan has completed the competitive section of their nonconference schedule with the exception of their annual inexplicable nonconference opponent stashed in the heart of the Big Ten schedule. This year's: @ Arkansas on January 21st. Why does Michigan do it? I have no idea. It's a persistent mystery.

Anyway, we won't learn much of anything about the team we don't already know as they take on Arkansas Pine Bluff, Alabama A&M, and Bradley. The former two are ranked 300+ by Kenpom; Bradley is 209 and has a loss to Wofford on their resume. We have 95% of the data we'll have by the time Penn State rolls into down on the 29th. So what have we learned?

The Big Ten is insane. Michigan checks in at #39 in the Kenpom ratings, which is good enough for a projected conference record of… 8-10. Glurp. That's because there are five teams in the league currently ranked in the top 15: #1 Wisconsin, #3 OSU, #12 Michigan State, #13 Indiana, and #14 Purdue. Michigan is currently leading a second tier from 39 to 52 with Illinois, Minnesota, and Northwestern. Nebraska's by itself in the 70s; Penn State and Iowa are horrible.

The Big Ten has a monster lead on the #2 Big Twelve for the title of best tempo-free conference in the country. It is a brutal league. Without a hugely disappointing tourney, it will be a runaway winner in the KenPom rankings for the second straight year.

Michigan is not in the top tier because of their defense. Their offense is 21st nationally (about which more later); their defense is 80th. The league has four defenses allowing less than 90 points per 100 possessions*; Wisconsin and OSU are 1-2 nationally at 81 and 83.5. Michigan's giving up 95, which is good for ninth. They beat out only Northwestern, Iowa, and Penn State.

That's a disappointing backslide for a team that you'd expect to be better on D. Darius Morris was the only loss and Michigan went from one of the youngest teams in the country to middle of the pack, but Michigan was 34th last year. Small sample size caveats apply; IIRC last year at this time Michigan's defense was just as shaky and they pulled it together in the Big Ten.

*[adjusted for schedule strength]

They are #1 in the country at something. Go ahead, guess. You'll never get it. No, none of those things: Michigan is #1 nationally in making two pointers. I should have told you to sit down. I cannot be held responsible for people falling over at this news.

Now that you've recovered, it makes some sense, doesn't it? I mean, Jordan Morgan missed a bunny against Oakland and Greg Kelser joked about how that will cripple his 77% shooting, and you were like "whoah." There is one guy on the team with enough minutes to register in the stats who's shooting under 55% percent, that Jon Horford at a horrendous awful terrible 53%. Michigan's four highest-volume two point shooters are at 76% (Morgan), 58% (Smotrycz), 56% (Hardaway) and 55% (Burke).

This is partially an effect of the schedule. The defenses they've gone up against have not generally been high quality. It was somewhat ugly against Virginia, possessor of the one elite defense they've faced so far. Michigan went 12 of 28 from two and only stayed in the game with blistering three point shooting—they actually shot better from 3 in that game than 2, 46%-42%.

That's an abnormally good defense, sure, but half of Michigan's Big Ten games are going to be against Virginia-quality Ds. This is a three-yards-and-a-cloud-of-dust conference. That second half against Duke, when they tore up ALL OF THE PLUMLEES, is encouraging. They're #1 for some reason, it's not all schedule.

The rest of their offensive stats are basically in line with expectations. They shoot a ton of threes (20th), are only decent at making them (86th), rarely turn the ball over, rarely grab offensive rebounds, and rarely get to the line. POT, now and forever.

That's not a revelation. That's just how Beilein plays the game. We should be looking at these items in relation to last year. The four factors:

  • SHOOTING. Massively improved thanks to the aforementioned two-point fiesta. Third nationally.
  • TURNOVERS. Poor relative to last year. There is no easy finger to point: everyone's TO rates are up. Burke does have an alarmingly high 22.6; raise your hand if "freshman PG's most obvious flaw is an excessive quantity of turnovers" surprises you. Right, that's Josh Pastner and no one else.
  • OFFENSIVE REBOUNDING. Less putrescent than usual! Last year they were the Maryland-Baltimore County of offensive rebounding. This year they're Marist. This gives you no context at all. They're up three percent, good for a significant leap.
  • FREE THROW RATE. Also less putrescent than usual; they've gone from the Towson of free throw rate to… well, not good but also not terrible.

Smotrycz needs to stay on the floor. Smotrycz has improved massively in just about any category you care to name save one: fouls per 40 minutes. He's at 5.9 this year and was at 6.4 before staying out of foul trouble against Oakland. Minutes that do not go to Smotrycz go to Stu Douglass and Matt Vogrich, statistically inferior players in almost literally all possible ways. And those stats don't even account for the defensive problems Michigan has when Smotrycz is on the bench. Michigan will get significantly better if Smotrycz can get his minutes percentage from the 50s into the 70-75 range.

The same assertion goes for Morgan but at least he has a positional analogue on the roster. Michigan's backup 4 is 6'4" Zack Novak.

Defensive issues. The main one: too many quality three-point looks from opponents. They have not been burned by it yet but Oakland missed an array of wincingly wide-open three pointers, as did Virginia. Duke… did not miss, nor did they shoot a lot of quality threes. But the overall point is this: Michigan is facing almost as many threes as they jack themselves. If they're still near 300th in threes faced at the end of the season opponents will have made it rain and Michigan will be staring at a disappointing tourney seed.

The other stuff is the usual: they're mediocre at defending twos, rarely get turnovers, and foul too much. They're kind of short, kind of young, and not that athletic, so none of these things are surprises, but, like, Wisconsin. Michigan can be better defensively—they were better last year—and getting that leap from mediocre to quality will be the difference between a season spent idling near the bubble and waiting for Stauskas/GRIII/McGary and a decent shot at a Sweet 16.

Novak usage. Zack Novak's shooting 64% from two, 44% from three, and has a TO rate under ten. His offensive rating is off the charts… and his usage is in the "limited roles" range. While you can't really run an offense through him, if Michigan could focus a little more on getting him shots it seems like he would reward that effort. That pump-and-step-in jumper he's developed is money.

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

Some Oakland-specific things? Sure.

Trey Burke! That is all.

Trey Burke! No it's not. How crazy would it be if he was backing Morris and eating up half of the minutes currently being forked over to Douglass and Vogrich? Ah, hell. That crossover-in-a-phone-booth that led to a wide open Hardaway three was fantastic, as were many other things. He just needs to get an increment better here (TO rate) and there (three point shooting) to be a bonafide collegiate superstar.

NBA: you hate 5'11" point guards. Leave him to us for now.

Laval Lucas-Perry. The festival of charges and other ill-advised decisions combined with defensive lapses to paint a picture of why LLP and Beilein had a falling out that led to his transfer. I was going to point out that he would still be welcome on a team with zero bench but I looked him up and he's shooting 26% from three and 48% from two. Michigan's getting that out of Douglas.

He does get to the line a lot, FWIW.

Tim Hardaway, come out and play. In the second half it seems like Michigan tries to run its offense through Hardaway for three or four possessions in a row, which is because he has two shots and two points in the first 20 minutes. He refuses to force the issue, which is why his turnover rate remains abnormally low for a guy with high usage. I'd still like to see Michigan force Hardaway into the game earlier; once he starts shooting regularly other opportunities open up.

Brundidge: there is no Brundidge. They have already burned Brundidge's redshirt unless they're going to Devin Gardner him an injury, so insert usual concern about Eso Akunne getting the backup point minutes, such as they are. Akunne looks about as comfortable at the point as I would and the offense gets extraordinarily ponderous when he's in the game.

He hasn't missed a shot yet, though. Let's give him time at the two. I'm not sure if I'm serious here. Vogrich is one for a billion from three, so Akunne may actually provide more value at the moment.

Basketball UFR: Memphis

Basketball UFR: Memphis

Submitted by Ace on December 6th, 2011 at 4:17 PM

This game happened, like, two weeks ago, so apologies in advance for revisiting something that could not be less timely, but I had all these charts and stuff that took a really long time to fill out. This is the first of what I expect will be many forms of a basketball UFR, so suggestions are not only welcome, but encouraged. I'll be doing these with regularity come Big Ten season, and now that I have a basic template, they'll come down the pipe much faster than this one.

An explanation of my methodology is probably in order. The play-by-play breakdown is relatively simple—it's broken up by possession, one point can be earned or lost on each possession (lots of half-points are assigned, but I like this method since you want to average at least—technically a bit above—one point per possession), and I tell you the offensive set (more on that later) and defense (either man or type of zone, plus whether or not they pressed). FB == fast break. OOB == set from an inbounds play. I am not a basketball coach, and the last time I played competitively was in middle school, so corrections on terminology and the like would be much appreciated. Points do not coincide with made or missed baskets, but instead are awarded on the basis of creating shot opportunities—for instance, a pick to free a man, a cut to get open, or a nice pass may merit half-points, and creating a bucket on an isolation will earn a full point.

Shots are charted separately, and are broken down into three categories: dunk/layup, two-point shots, and three-point shots. They are further categorized by the level of contest from the defense—either no contest, late contest, or heavy contest—which, according to a tidbit from a BTN announcer, passed on to me by Brian, is how John Beilein charts shots.

Offensive Set Notes: Michigan starts nearly every possession, as you'll see in the chart, with a 2-1-2 set. It looks like this:

212

Douglass is the point guard here, and the man in the middle is always the center (in this case, Smotrycz). One wing starts up top, opposite the point guard (Vogrich) while the other is down by the baseline (Hardaway) across from the four (Novak). From here, Beilein has a seemingly infinite number of plays. On occasion, Michigan starts in a slight variant of this, which for lack of a better term (or lack of basketball knowledge) I called a 2-1-1-1:

2111

As you can see, the shooting guard (Douglass) has moved from the wing over to the top of the key, right in front of the center. This opens up the outside of the court a bit more and allows for some interesting double screens in the middle. For something completely different, here's Michigan running a 1-4 high, where everything starts outside the arc:

14high

We'll see if the distribution—almost entirely 2-1-2 in this game—changes at all when Michigan plays a defense that does something besides man. I have Memphis down for one zone press, and on every other possession they were in man-to-man. Josh Pastner isn't much into this whole "X's and O's" thing, and would much rather you leave him alone and let him continue recruiting McDonald's All-Americans.

Here goes (something that is probably) nothing...

Time Score Off Set Defense Player Result
20:00 1H 0-0 FB FB Hardaway FT (1/2)
Morgan (+0.5) wins the opening tip and knocks it right to Hardaway. Hardaway (+0.5, dunk/layup, late contest, foul) sees an opening, crosses over Joe Jackson, and drives to the bucket, where he's fouled by a late-arriving Tarik Black.
19:37 1-2 2-1-2 Man Burke 2-pt Make
The offense is stagnant for 15 seconds, with Morgan setting an off-ball pick for Smotrycz that is ignored and Hardaway posting up his defender without great position (Team -0.5). Hardaway sees Burke has the ball one-on-one, clears out to the corner (+0.5) and Burke drives to the bucket, spins past Jackson, and hits a running floater in the lane (+1, 2 pt., no contest, make).
18:58 3-2 1-4 High Man Novak 3-pt Make
Novak grabs a defensive board and charges hard up the court, but Memphis gets back. He hands off to Burke at the top of the key, where Morgan (+0.5) sets a screen that Burke takes. As Burke scrapes over the top of the screen to the left, Novak loops behind him and takes a handoff from Burke, while three Memphis defenders are caught up with Burke. Morgan dives into the lane, where he's open but with help coming, and Novak pulls up and drains a three just before a recovering defender can get a hand in his face (+0.5, 3 pt., late contest, make).
18:33 6-4 2-1-2 Man Smotrycz TO
Burke starts the offense from well beyond the three point line, dribbles to his right, and passes to Smotrycz, who had flashed from the baseline to the FT line extended next to the sideline. Memphis's Wesley Witherspoon plays him tight, trapping him without room to dribble. Smotrycz tries to clear Witherspoon out, but brings the ball down too low and has it slapped away right to a Tiger defender (-1, forced TO).
18:09 6-4 2-1-2 Man Hardaway Block
Burke starts down the left side and gives to Morgan, who has flashed out to the three point line. He swings it to Smotrycz (+0.5) on the right, who moves back towards Morgan—now setting a pick—before hitting Hardaway on a textbook backdoor cut (+0.5). Hardaway goes up for the dunk but is blocked from behind on a spectacular defensive effort (dunk/layup, heavy, block).
17:26 6-4 OOB Man Hardaway 2-pt Make
Burke attempts a one-man fast break, but has the ball knocked out of bounds on the baseline. Burke inbounds with Michigan lined up in a box, Morgan and Smotrycz in line with Burke, Novak and Hardaway on the other side of the lane. Novak curls around a double screen by Smot and Morgan before diving to the basket. Hardaway follows Novak, beating his man, gets the inbounds pass from Burke, and drains a corner jumper from just inside the line (+0.5, Team +0.5, 2 pt., no contest, make).
16:55 8-4 2-1-2 Man Hardaway Layup Make
This one is too easy. Burke dribbles up the court, goes to his left as Novak vacates to the top of the key, and Hardaway takes a quick jab-step towards midcourt before cutting along the baseline (+0.5). Burke hits him perfectly in stride (+0.5) and Hardaway hits the layup (dunk/layup, no contest, make).
16:29 10-4 2-1-2 Man Morgan TO
Morgan comes up from the FT line to the top of the key and gets the pass from Burke, but he's come out so far that he's nearly standing on the midcourt logo (which is annoyingly large, but not THAT large). Witherspoon slaps the ball away and starts a fast break for Memphis (Morgan -1, forced TO).
16:14 10-6 2-1-2 Man FC Press Burke 2-pt Make
Horford in for Morgan. Novak breaks the press from Memphis and eventually gives it back out to Burke, who's 28 feet away from the bucket on the left side. Horford comes over and sets a pick that does little (-0.5). Burke fights his way right around Jackson, however, and finds space in the middle of the lane to hit a short floater (+1.5, 2 pt, no contest, make). This is just Burke being a superior athlete, as he received little help.
15:34 12-9 2-1-2 Man FC Press Smotrycz Layup Make
Burke breaks the press down the right sideline and gives to Horford at the top of the key, who passes to Smotrycz on the right elbow outside the 3-point line. Burke clears out to the left corner, and Smotrycz makes a quick crossover to his right, getting a step and taking it all the way to the bucket for a tough layup (+1, dunk/layup, heavy contest, make). Not pretty, but effective.
15:01 14-9 FB FB Hardaway FT (2/2)
Hardaway pushes the pace off a long defensive rebound, beats everyone up the court, and draws a shooting foul (+1, dunk/layup, late contest, foul).
14:31 16-9 - Man Hardaway 2-pt Make
Douglass in for Smotrycz. Hardaway again going fast up the court after a rebound. The entire team is beyond the three point line as Hardaway dribbles to the top of the key, but Horford has the presence of mind to set a quick screen (+0.5) which gives Hardaway just enough space to get off a long two, which drops (+0.5, 2 pt., heavy contest, make). Probably an ill-advised shot with 29 seconds on the shot clock, but Hardaway is feeling it and he hits it, so he gets the half-point.
13:58 18-11 2-1-2 Man Hardaway 3-pt Miss
Burke swings it to Novak at the top of the key. Novak starts driving to the left and Hardaway makes a hard V-cut to clear himself a little bit of space at the three-point line. Novak gives it to him, and Hardaway chucks up a three with a hand right in his grill—it misses with nobody in position for a rebound (-1, 3 pt., heavy contest, miss).
13:25 18-14 2-1-2 Man Novak Layup Make
Smotrycz in for Horford. Burke gives to Novak on the right elbow, who passes to Smotrycz at the top of the key. Douglass (+0.5) sets a pick for a cutting Novak as Smotrycz swings it to Hardaway, who finds a wide-open Novak (+0.5, dunk/layup, no contest, make) for an easy layup.
12:52 20-16 2-1-2 Man Smotrycz 2-pt Miss
Burke hands off to Novak, who swings it to Douglass at the top of the key. Smotrycz sets a screen for Hardaway in the lane, then pops out to the three point line, where Douglass gives it to him. Smotrycz pumps and then drives, where he's doubled with Hardaway now open under the basket. Instead of passing, Smotrycz pumps, tries to draw a foul, and nearly misses everything as his five-foot leaner ricochets off the underside of the backboard (-1, 2 pt., heavy contest, miss). Memphis gets the board. Smot really forced that one.
12:30 20-17 - Man Hardaway TO
Akunne in for Burke. Instead of giving the offense a chance to set up off a missed Memphis FT, Hardaway drives into the left corner, where he picks up his dribble and is trapped by a double team (-0.5). He does find a cutting Smotrycz under the basket, but Memphis rotates nicely and Smotrycz (-0.5, forced TO) is stripped clean as he tries to go up for a layup. Might be a little harsh on Smot here, as Hardaway didn't put him in a great position and he did make a nice cut, but he's gotta be more secure with the ball.
12:06 20-19 2-1-2/OOB Man Akunne TO
Michigan works the ball around the perimeter, Amaker-style, until a Hardaway pass to an open Smotrycz is tipped OOB on the sideline with 8 seconds on the shot clock. Media timeout. Vogrich in for Hardaway. Akunne gets the inbounds, gives it to Smotrycz and gets it back immediately, and is stripped along the sideline as the shot clock expires (forced TO). Akunne -0.5 for not getting a shot off, Team -0.5 for putting him in that position in the first place.
10:55 20-19 1-4 High Man Douglass 3-pt Make
After Michigan swings the ball around the perimeter for a while, Novak (+0.5) sets a screen in the paint to open up Horford, who flashes to the top of the key while Douglass holds the ball on the right. Douglass gives to Horford, then cuts back around him, and Horford (+0.5) hands it back off and screens Stu's man. Douglass buries a wide open three (3 pt., no contest, make).
10:18 23-19 2-1-2 Man Douglass 3-pt Miss
Nobody is really moving without the ball, so Douglass (+0.5) drives to the basket with 16 seconds left on the shot clock. He's well-defended, but the defense collapses on him, so he kicks it out to an open Novak in the corner. Novak can't sink the shot, and Horford commits a foul for going over the back trying for the board (Team -0.5, 3 pt., no contest, miss).
9:30 23-21 - 2-2-1 FC Press/2-3 Zone Douglass 3-pt Miss
Lineup is now Burke, Douglass, Vogrich, Christian, McLimans. Yeah. Michigan breaks the press rather easily and Vogrich (+0.5) makes a nice skip pass to Colton Christian in the corner. Christian immediately kicks it out to Burke (+0.5), who finds a wide-open Douglass up top for a three. It clangs out and the rebound goes OOB off Christian (3 pt., late contest, miss).
8:35 23-21 FB/OOB Man Christian Layup Make
Burke tries to get a quick break off a Memphis miss and Vogrich is fouled driving the baseline. Hardaway checks in for Douglass. With Burke inbounding from the baseline, Hardaway (+0.5) comes from under the basket to set a screen for Christian, who dives to the basket and takes the feed from Burke. He goes up and hits the layup with a hand in his face (+0.5, dunk/layup, heavy contest, make.)
7:31 25-23 2-1-2 Man FC Press Hardaway TO
Again, Burke has no trouble breaking the press. The ball eventually is worked around to McClimans at the top of the key. He passes to Hardaway on the wing and goes to set a screen, but Hardaway chooses to spin away from the screen and into two defenders, getting stripped in the process and turning it over (-1, foi'mrced TO).
7:09 25-23 2-1-2 Man Hardaway Block
Hardaway once again finds himself with the ball on the left side, and again drives hard to the left side of the basket. He pulls up from around 12 feet and tries a jumper, but he's well-defended by his man and McLimans's man rotates over and blocks the shot (-1, 2 pt., heavy contest, block). Athletic play by the defender to block it, but also a bad force with 18 seconds on the shot clock.
6:36 25-25 2-1-2 Man Christian OReb, 3-pt Miss
Burke chucks up a deep three after going too far around a pick from McLimans (Burke -1, 3 pt., no contest, miss) but Christian makes a great effort under the boards to tap the ball to himself and haul in the rebound (+1). He manages to fend off three defenders to keep the ball and backs out to the three-point line, where he passes to an open Vogrich out of a double team (+1). Vogrich misses (3 pt., no contest, miss). Fantastic effort from Christian, however.
6:03 25-27 - Man Vogrich Layup Make
Michigan comes out of a timeout with Burke, Vogrich, Douglass, Novak, and Smotrycz. ESPN cuts back from the break as Vogrich gets the ball on the left sideline, played tight by his man. He clears the ball through and drives it straight to the bucket, getting his body between himself and the defender and going up strong for a layup (+1, dunk/layup, heavy contest, make).
5:17 27-27 2-1-2 Man Burke TO
Smotrycz sets a pick for Burke up top and rolls open towards the basket, but Burke ignores him, tries to drive it himself, and then commits a palming violation as he attempts to pass to an open Douglass in the corner (-1, unforced TO). A full minus for missing the open man and then committing the turnover, though I had no idea they still called carries at any level of basketball.
4:46 27-27 FB/OOB Man Novak TO
Novak starts the breakout after a defensive rebound, and Michigan has numbers. Novak gives to Burke, who makes the right choice to pass to an open Douglass on the elbow. Douglass draws the defense and finds Vogrich under the basket; he's fouled. After resetting the offense off the inbounds, Novak takes the ball from the left wing and tries to drive to the free throw line off a Smotrycz screen. Smot's man switches and steals the ball from Novak (-1, forced TO).
4:14 27-29 2-1-2 Man Douglass TO
Douglass receives a skip pass on the right side from Vogrich, then makes a sloppy bounce pass to Burke, who's just a few feet away from him. Burke gets a hand on it, but the ball goes OOB. Douglass -1, unforced TO.
3:24 27-29 1-4 High Man Burke 3-pt Miss
Burke dribbles to the elbow and spins away from a Smotrycz pick, choosing to drive under the basket, leaving his feet as the defense collapses (-0.5). He's bailed out by finding an open Douglass for three, but there's still no need to jump. Douglass misses (3 pt., no contest, miss), and Smotrycz (-0.5) gets hit with an offensive foul for blatantly shoving the guy boxing him out in the back.
3:02 27-31 2-1-2 Man FC Press Douglass 3-pt Make
Hardaway in for Vogrich. Hardaway gets the ball on the wing and Smotrycz comes over for a pick-and-roll. Smot (+0.5) draws two defenders as he dives to the basket, and Douglass rotates to the top of the key, where Hardaway (+0.5) finds him for a wide open look. This time, Stu knocks it down (3 pt., no contest, make).
2:08 30-31 FB FB Burke FT (1/2)
Smotrycz grabs a defensive board and immediately runs out on the break, as two Memphis players are caught under the M basket (+0.5). Unfortunately, a guard catches up to him and knocks the ball away as Smot falls to the ground (-1), but Burke is in the right place, grabs the loose ball, and takes it to the hoop, where he's fouled while attempting a short pull-up J (+0.5, 2-pt, heavy contest, foul).
1:49 31-31 FB FB Burke Layup Make
Douglass skies for a long defensive rebound and Burke immediately takes off downcourt, beating both Memphis guards down the floor. Stu (+0.5) lobs a beautiful pass that hits Burke in stride, and he goes in for a nice reverse layup without needing to put the ball on the floor (+0.5, dunk/layup, no contest, make).
1:26 33-31 FB/OOB Man Burke 2-pt Make
Hardaway launches a pass the length of the court to Novak, who dribbles to the FT line, waits, then tosses it to Burke, who cut to the corner. Burke makes a nice touch pass (+0.5) to Hardaway, who found space for an open three, but he misses (+0.5, 3 pt., no contest, miss). Memphis knocks the rebound OOB, with Smotrycz there putting up a good fight. On the inbounds, Douglass gets the pass after going around a double pick, then finds Burke—the inbounder—wide open for a 10-footer after drawing three defenders (Douglass +0.5, Team +0.5, 2-pt, no contest, make).
0:41 35-31 FB FB Hardaway 2-pt Make
Hardaway gets the defensive board and takes off along with Burke and Douglass against three scrambling Memphis defenders. He stops on a dime, nearly traveling but losing his man in the process, and rattles in an 18-foot pull-up jumper (+1, 2 pt., no contest, make). End of 1H, 37-31 Michigan.
Time Score Off Set Defense Player Result
19:47 2H 37-33 2-1-2 Man Morgan OReb, Layup Make
Starters back in. Burke gets himself trapped out near halfcourt with 10 seconds on the shot clock (-0.5), but spins and finds Smotrycz at the FT line. Smot drives and tries a spinning hook shot with the clock about to expire, but it rims out (+0.5, 2-pt., heavy contest, miss). Nobody blocks out Morgan, however, who grabs the rebound and lays it in for two (+1, dunk/layup, no contest, make). Nice job of Smotrycz to draw the defense when the offense had been stagnant, and good positioning by Morgan.
18:56 39-33 2-1-2 Man Burke 3-pt Miss
After an off-the-ball foul on Memphis, Burke inbounds from under the basket. Michigan again aligns in a box, and Novak splits through the two bigs (Morgan & Smot) while Hardaway pops out to the three-point line. Burke inbounds to Hardaway, who swings it to Smotrycz, who finds Burke open in the corner for a three, which he misses (Team +1, 3 pt., late contest, miss).
18:24 39-34 2-1-2 Man Novak 3-pt Make
After a few passes, Smotrycz gets the ball on the right wing. On the left side of the lane, Novak sets a screen for Hardaway, then pops out to the top of the key as both Memphis defenders follow THJ. Smotrycz finds Novak all alone for three, and he buries it (+1, 3 pt., no contest, make).
17:46 42-36 - Man FC Press Smotrycz 2-pt Make
Horford in for Morgan. Memphis presses after a made FT. Burke (+0.5) breaks it himself, streaking down the right side, sees a double coming, and passes to Smotrycz, whose man stepped out on Burke. Smot pump fakes and steps past a closing Memphis defender—a nice move—and pulls up for an easy 12-footer (+0.5, 2-pt., no contest, make).
17:18 44-36 2-1-2 Man FC Press Burke 3-pt Miss
Michigan inbounds with 22 on the shot clock after Smotrycz drives and has the ball knocked OOB. Burke gives it to Novak under the basket, but he can't go up with it and has to take it out. Ball is passed around the perimeter for too long, and finally Burke has to chuck up a desparation three from 30+ feet as the shot clock is about to expire. It misses badly (Team -1, 3 pt., no contest, miss).
16:16 44-38 2-1-2 Man FC Press Horford FT (2/2)
Burke again runs right past the Memphis press—not sure why they're still doing it—gets to the lane, and dishes it off to Horford under the basket (Burke +0.5). Horford goes up for the layup and is fouled (+0.5, dunk/layup, heavy contest, foul). Nice job of diving to the basket by Horford, and great penetration by Burke to set it up.
15:50 46-38 FB Man Horford 3-pt Miss
Douglass in for Smotrycz. Hardaway runs off a Memphis miss, finds Burke, who tries a running floater that comes up short (2 pt., late contest, miss). Horford (+1) snags the offensive rebound in traffic, dribbles once, sees nothing is there, and kicks it out to Hardaway, who passes to an open Novak for a look at a three. Clang (3 pt., late contest, miss).
15:24 46-41 2-1-1-1 Man Burke 3-pt Miss
Not sure what to call this, but instead of their normal 2-1-2, Burke starts in the center of the court and Douglass, instead of starting even with him on the opposite wing, stands right in front of Horford in the middle (pictured up top). Burke spends the entire shot clock dribbling around, missing an open Douglass early in the possession, and has to dish out to Stu for a deep three as the shot clock is about to run out (Burke -1, 3 pt., heavy contest, miss).
14:23 46-41 2-1-2 Man Burke 2-pt Make
Douglass has the ball up high on the right side. Novak begins a curl cut towards the basket that ends up turning into a sort of awkward pick for Burke (+0.5? Sure. GRIT.) Douglass passes to Burke, who banks in a long two (+0.5, 2 pt., late contest, make). Not a pretty shot on this particular occasion, but Burke gets great elevation on his jumper.
13:55 48-41 FB FB Douglass 3-pt Miss
Novak gets a defensive board and pushes the pace, passing it up to Douglass, who's standing about 28 feet from the basket. Douglass turns and... fires up a three. Huh? (-1, 3 pt., no contest, miss). Yes, Douglass is open here, but it's not hard to get open 28-footers at any point in the shot clock, and Michigan had Memphis scrambling to get back. Turrible shot selection, Kenny. Turrible.
13:29 48-41 2-1-1-1 Man Horford Layup Make
Akunne and Smotrycz in for Burke and Novak. After passing around the perimeter for a while, Horford comes up and sets a pick Hardaway (+0.5), who finds Horford open on the roll for an easy layup (+0.5, dunk/layup, no contest, make).
12:34 50-41 1-4 High Man Akunne 3-pt Make
Douglass (+0.5) pushes the pace off a Memphis miss, gives it to Hardaway at the top of the key, and THJ swings it to an open Akunne on the wing. Eso buries the three (+0.5, 3 pt., no contest, make). Half-points to Douglass for recognizing that Memphis wasn't getting back quickly and Akunne for finding the open area, but this was mostly a defensive bust by the Tigers, who had two men collapsing down on Horford in the paint.
12:11 53-42 2-1-1-1 Man FC Press Hardaway FT (2/2)
Novak in for Smotrycz. After a kick-ball violation on Memphis, Douglass inbounds. Hardaway sets a screen for Akunne, then pops out to the three point line, where Douglass inbounds to him. Hardaway dribbles to the FT line, pulls up, and gets fouled as he shoots a jumper (+1, 2 pt., late contest, foul).
11:38 55-44 3-2 Man FC Press Douglass 3-pt Miss
Morgan and Burke in for Horford and Akunne. Morgan starts the set down on the baseline instead of the center's normal spot in the middle of the lane. With time running low on the clock, Douglass drives to the right, is stopped, spins, and somehow hits an open Vogrich in the corner with a skip pass (+0.5). Vogrich can't connect (Team -0.5, 3 pt., no contest, miss). Ugly possession—with 10 seconds left on the shot clock, all five M players were outside the three-point line.
10:50 55-46 2-1-2 Man 3/4 Press Morgan Layup Make
After the ball cycles around the perimeter for a while, Burke calls for a Morgan pick with ten seconds on the clock. He drives to the left, beats his man, and wraps a pass around a defender to Morgan, who has crashed to the basket (Burke +0.5). Morgan collects it, goes up strong, and makes a tough lay-in with a defender right in his face (+0.5, dunk/layup, heavy contest, make).
10:03 57-47 2-1-2 1-1-2-1 Press/Man Hardaway TO
Vogrich and McLimans in for Douglass and Morgan. Burke, as usual, breaks the press as Memphis backs off a bit and goes into man. Hardaway gets the ball on the wing and Burke curls to the basket. He's open, but Hardaway doesn't give. Instead, he tries to pass to McLimans on a backdoor cut, but the pass is easily cut off. -1 Hardaway, unforced TO.
9:37 57-47 2-1-2 Man Hardaway Block
Michigan can't find an open cutter or a lane to the basket, and cycles the ball around the perimeter. Novak swings it to Hardaway in the corner and he tries a quick three, but he's well-defended and the shot is blocked (Hardaway -0.5, Team -0.5, 3 pt., heavy contest, block).
9:03 57-47 FB FB Burke Layup Make
Burke turns on the jets on the fast break, spins around a defender at midcourt, then has the ball knocked from behind right through a defender's legs to Hardaway for a layup (+0.5 Burke, +0.5 Hardaway, dunk/layup, no contest, make). That was totally unintentional, but I'm feeling generous and that move at halfcourt was pretty sweet, plus it's tough to give THJ a full point for having the ball roll right to him under the basket.
8:38 59-47 2-1-2 Man Douglass 2-pt Miss
Douglass in for Burke. Michigan gets a fresh clock after Tarik Black fouls Smotrycz on a halfhearted drive to the basket. After resetting up top, Douglass tries multiple times to get to the basket, is stymied, and settles for a 12-foot fallaway with a hand in his grill (-1, 2 pt., heavy contest, miss).
7:25 59-47 FB FB Hardaway 2-pt Miss
Hardaway goes on a one-man break, jump-stopping between three defenders and airballing his pullup jumper from the paint (-1, 2 pt., heavy contest, miss). Douglass grabs the airball and kicks it out to an open Novak, who pump-fakes a three, steps up, and can't hit from just inside the arc (2 pt., late contest, miss).
7:02 59-47 2-1-2 Man FC Press Novak FT (2/2)
Burke in for McLimans. Novak takes the ball from the wing and dribbles around Smotrycz to the top of the key, where he hits a back-cutting Hardaway (+0.5) with a great bounce pass (+0.5). THJ goes up for a dunk and is fouled (dunk/layup, late contest, foul).
6:28 61-47 - Man FC Press Smotrycz TO
Memphis is in a weak full-court press, but Smotrycz—the inbounder—doesn't have a man on him, so he curls back around and sets a pick (+0.5) for Burke, who's able to drive all the way to the basket (+0.5). Smot does a great job of trailing and finds himself wide open in the lane, and Burke puts a pass right on the money that goes right through Smot's hands and OOB (-1, unforced TO). Oops.
5:50 61-49 2-1-2 Man FC Press Hardaway Layup Make
Hardaway takes the ball on the wing and passes to Smotrycz, who swings it over to Novak as Hardaway makes a hard backdoor cut. Novak (+0.5) finds THJ, who spins off his man—who overplayed the pass—and goes up for a layup before the defense can fully rotate. Money (+0.5, dunk/layup, late contest, make).
5:12 63-51 - Man FC Press Hardaway TO
Hardaway gets the inbounds after a made FT, beats the press down the left side, then tries to stop, turn, and pass back to Douglass as a double comes. He's falling over as he does this and Memphis steals easily (-1, unforced TO).
4:55 63-54 4 Corners Man FC Press Burke Layup Make
Memphis again presses, and Michigan goes into the old four corners. Burke just beats his man off the dribble and goes right up the middle for a layup (+1, dunk/layup, late contest, make). He's gonna be good, that one.
4:35 65-54 2-1-2 Man Burke TO
Morgan has the ball at the top of the key and Burke (+0.5) comes open on a curl cut around a Hardaway (+0.5) screen. He takes it right at the basket, but 3 defenders collapse and Burke is stuck in no man's land when he jumps, giving it away when he tries to kick it out to Smotrycz. -1 Burke, unforced TO. Think he could've taken the shot if he went up strong, but he made a mistake in leaving his feet without knowing where he was going with the ball. Last two possessions are a good reminder of what it's like to have a talented freshman PG.
4:10 65-56 OOB Man FC Press Hardaway FT (2/2)
Memphis comes out of a timeout in the press again, but immediately fouls Hardaway when he gets the inbounds pass. Michigan is in the double bonus. Derp.
3:56 67-56 2-1-2 Man 3/4 Press Smotrycz 3-pt Make
Douglass dribbles around for a really long time without anything opening up, which I guess is understandable considering Michigan is trying to kill clock now. He nearly gets stuck in the paint, but just before the shot clock is going to expire he finds Smotrycz, who nails a dagger with a hand in his face (+1, 3 pt., heavy contest, make). End of charting, because this is remarkably time-consuming and the game is essentially over at this point.

So, are you going to do the alter-ego thing too, Ace?

You know, I hadn't really thought about it, but it is a really easy way to transition between...

Charts?

Yes, charts, but you're jumping the gun, alter-ego. We should probably figure out what happened above.

So, um, what happened?

Coaching happened, at least for Michigan. I'm not exactly sure what to call whatever Pastner does. Michigan hit Memphis with a wide variety of screens and cuts that took full advantage of their man defense, and the Tigers apparently don't play zone... ever. Beilein probably felt like he was back pwning NAIA fools again. As for individual player performances...

Wait, now you're jumping the gun. We have a...

Oh, right.

Chart?

Chart.

Offensive Creation
Player + - T Notes
Burke 9.5 5 4.5 Had some freshman mistakes, but overall quite good.
Hardaway 10 7 3 Best creator on offense, but forces plays too often.
Novak 4 1 3 Tons of half-points, GRIT. What did you expect?
Smotrycz 5 5 0 Pretty much as expected. Does a lot of good things, but also makes some glaring errors. Looks uncomfortable handling the ball, especially in the post.
Morgan 2.5 1 1.5 Not very active, does good job crashing to basket.
Douglass 3 3 0 Guard version of Smotrycz. Lots of positive half-points and inexplicable minus-ones. Still good for at least one absurd three-point attempt per game.
Horford 3 .5 2.5 Little post game to speak of, but very active off the ball. Much-improved.
Akunne 0.5 0.5 0 He's... useful? That's a bonus.
Christian 2.5 0 2.5 One fantastic hustle possession and a layup off a pick. Nice spark off the bench.
Vogrich 1.5 0 1.5 Pretty quiet day, but did have a nice driving layup.
McLimans 0 0 0 Nothing of note in seven minutes,
Team 2 3.5 -1.5 A couple of well-executed plays where there were too many players doing something right to break down credit individually. Also, a few plays of Amaker-ball, which are justifiably minused.
TOTAL 43.5 26.5 17 Really have no clue what this means yet.

This should not come as news to those who have watched Michigan play this year, but Trey Burke is quite good for a freshman, or just period. He was efficient shooting the basketball, took care of the ball outside of a couple bad plays, and didn't try to force the issue too much. In fact, he was better than Tim Hardaway in that regard, though THJ is the one guy on the team who can really create his own shot from anywhere on the floor, so that's understandable.

I was torn about who should start at center after this game, and though Jordan Morgan locked that job down over the last couple weeks, it's still worth noting that Jon Horford is a lot better than he was last year. He hits the boards hard, is a presence inside on defense, and now looks comfortable in the offense, which has opened up opportunities for him to score a few points. Horford is a much more explosive athlete than Morgan, so if he can develop a passable post game, I think he'll eventually overtake Morgan for the starting role. Even if he doesn't, he's a viable big man off the bench, something Michigan didn't really have last year.

Stu and Metrics may drive me insane before the year is out, at least if this game is any indication. Douglass can handle the ball and plays good defense, but he's not hitting his open looks (more on that later) and his shot selection can be highly questionable. He also looks completely out of sorts when he has to take the ball anywhere near the basket, an affliction that also seems to affect Smotrycz, who turned the ball over multiple times because he forgets to hold the ball above his head instead of keeping it low and allowing defenders to knock it away. When I'm looking at the TV and screaming "I WAS TAUGHT NEVER TO DO THAT WHEN I PLAYED REC-ED BALL IN THIRD GRADE," well, it's an issue. On the other hand, Smot does look better when he drives to the basket, and his finishing looks improved, so hopefully this is just him getting acclimated to playing in the post more often.

I'm lonely.

Sorry, totally ignored myself there. Should we talk about the shooting chart?

Yes, you negligent jerk.

No need to get pissy, self. Shot chart is broken up by the three different levels of shots. NC == no contest. LC == late contest. HC == heavy contest. You probably already figured that out. The (3F) for Hardaway under late contested dunks/layups means he was fouled three times while taking those types of shots, since those attempts are worth noting but obviously can't count against shot attempts.

  Dunk/Layup 2-point 3-point
Player NC LC HC NC LC HC NC LC HC
Burke 2/2 1/1 - 2/2 1/1 (1F) 0/2 0/1 -
Hardaway 2/2 1/1 (3F) 0/1 2/2 (1F) 1/3 0/1 - 0/2
Novak 1/1 - - - 0/1 - 1/1 1/2 -
Smotrycz - - 1/1 1/1 - 0/2 - - 1/1
Morgan 1/1 - 1/1 - - - - - -
Douglass - - - - - 0/1 2/5 0/1 0/1
Horford 1/1 - (1F) - - - - - -
Akunne - - - - - - 1/1 - -
Christian - - 1/1 - - - - - -
Vogrich - - 1/1 - - - 0/2 - -
McLimans - - - - - - - - -

Again, we'll see what trends emerge as I do more of these, but I was impressed by the number of wide open looks Michigan got in this game. The team actually missed a fair amount of wide open threes, or the score could've been even more lopsided. Also, only one missed dunk/layup on the day, and that came on a great block from behind—everybody finished well around the basket. The only players that could make you go "argh" are Douglass—gotta knock down more of those open looks—and Vogrich, who can't seem to find his shot. Oh, and ESO!

Can I introduce the "Let's go to the tape" section?

Do you do that?

I am well versed in the art of section breaking in 190 languages, dialects, and levels of sanity.

Okay.

Ga naar de video mijn kleine recensent

This section is going to be shorter than normal, because this is more of a test run and I forgot to cut video in the second half, but here are two plays that stood out. The first is just one of Beilein's plays working like magic, as Novak gets freed up by a pick on the backside of the play and Hardaway hits him perfectly for a layup:

That's just beautiful basketball—as I watched this game in slow motion, focusing on all the off-ball movement involved in Beilein's offense, I gained a huge appreciation both for his coaching and the execution by the players. If you're just looking at the ball when Michigan is on offense, you're missing out.

As for the other video I cut, well, this is just a fantastic pass by Douglass and a great finish by Burke, included because you all need to be as excited about Burke as I am:

While the layup looked easy, Burke's decision to not dribble and cut across the face of the retreating defender—basically cutting him off from any chance at contesting the shot—is a savvy move and very encouraging coming from a freshman. His basketball instincts are ahead of the curve.

Heroes?

Burke and Hardaway, who provided the bulk of the offense. Also Novak, who was deadly from three and did all the usual Gritty McGrittereckstein stuff. Oh, and John Beilein like whoa.

Goats?

It's tough to call anyone a goat after beating the #8 team in the country, but Douglass can't waste possessions like he did, and also needs to start hitting open threes. That's what he's here for, and it's long past time where we can use the excuse that he's not used to handling backup point guard duties and that's somehow affecting his shot.

Anything else?

This is obviously just an offensive UFR, as I worked on this during Ohio State week and there just wasn't any time to do the defense. In the future, I'm thinking I'll just re-create the shot chart—no need to do a possession-by-possession breakdown for the other team's offense—for the opposing team and break that down further based on what type of defense Michigan played. It'll likely be included with the offense as a general basketball UFR.

Consider this a test run. Please give feedback, especially if something is confusing or you have a correction about basketball coaching stuff that I probably messed up.

Unverified Voracity Has New Hockeybear

Unverified Voracity Has New Hockeybear

Submitted by Brian on December 2nd, 2011 at 4:31 PM

New Hockeybear. The Alaska hockey series is previewed by Yesman. Alaska means hockeybear. There is new Hockeybear.

Yeah, it's not as good as last year's, but they were due for a comedown after making the greatest hype video in the history of the world. I do like that it makes me think of Take On Me.

UFR update. It is not going to happen this week. It's a long story but I ended up having to disassemble my laptop almost wholly—I still have a half-dozen screws left over, looking for a home—over the course of the week. This was accompanied by the usual shouting and banging that precedes total laptop disassembly. Sorry; look for both halves early next week.

We are 2% of the way to this game. The thing the man said to the people at Tulane about wanting a game against Michigan turns out to be a real thing:

Rich Rodriguez wants a piece of his former employer.

UA athletic director Greg Byrne said Thursday he and the Wildcats' new coach discussed playing Michigan, which fired Rodriguez after the 2010 season.

"He brought it up like, 'Hey, let's look at this down the road,'" Byrne said. "I said, 'Sure.'"

But not a really real thing.

Byrne said the conversation lasted 10 seconds. He has yet to contact the Wolverines.

"It's a two-way path to play a game," he said.

I'd rather not dredge that up again, but if they want it enough to do a one-off at Michigan Stadium it's better than playing East Nowhere.

Something that turns out to not be true. Yeah: the seat filler thing was a hoax that lured me in. Mea culpa. Well played, whoever you are.

Iowa on the decline? The High Porch Picnic breaks out the recruiting stars for a rough evaluation of the amount of talent available for the Hawkeyes next year, finding that the offense will drop a little (from 3.0 to 2.9) and the defense will fall off a cliff even from its current dilapidated state. This year Iowa's average is 2.7; they graduate seven starters and will be dealing with this:

Defense:

Dominic Alvis:

Steve Bigach:

Joe Gaglione:

Carl Davis:

Christian Kirksey:

James Morris:

Quinton Alston:

BJ Lowery:

Micah Hyde:

Collin Sleeper:

Tanner Miller:

Average: 2.36

Standard disclaimers about stars not being the be-all and end-all apply but holy dang, man. Remember that window when Iowa was recruiting at a top 25 level? Not so much these days. HPP sums up:

Not only do we lose 7 starters to graduation but their replacements (based upon our current depth chart) aren't highly touted. For guys like Alvis, Hyde and Miller the stars don't seem to matter much. For everyone else, especially the rest of the defensive line, it's one big GOD HELP US. That's just something to think about following the bowl game. Remember when Vint wrote this article and Ross wrote this one? Yeah, just like Penny Lane said: it's all happening.

With a couple of disappointing years in the rear-view mirror already, unless that defense vastly outperforms recruiting expectations this could be the beginning of the end for Ferentz. While Iowa is grateful and patient it will be hard to look at the trajectory there and get excited about it.

BONUS IOWA WORRY: They lost a freshman WR to a transfer in a class Vint says this about:

Grant is the third member of the Class of 2011 to leave the program -- defensive end John Raymond left in September under similar circumstances (Raymon was from the Philadelphia area and got homesick), and Rodney Coe was unable to qualify and left for Iowa Western C.C. -- which, coming off massive attrition in the classes of 2008 and 2009, is a troubling number for a class that Iowa desperately needs on the field.

Boy, we've been there. Now if Ferentz can maintain his puntasaur ways against us we're in business.

Speaking of corn. Iowa State is this weekend. UMHoops has a full preview; the Cyclones are a hodge-podge of former Big Ten players like MSU's Chris Allen, Minnesota's Royce White, and PSU's Chris Babb.

They're better than they were a year ago but haven't really played anyone—Lehigh and Northern Iowa are their only top 100 opponents in Kenpom—and lost games against Drake and UNI, both in-state mid-majors. Their offense is humming along thanks to a 56.8 EFG%; their defense is still pretty crap. They let opponents shoot a lot of uncontested shots (223rd in EFG% D, 300th in turnovers forced, 22nd in FTAs allowed) and rebound well.

Michigan should win. This is a team that was 3-13 in the Big Twelve last year and they haven't so much as played a major conference school to prove they're much different. Kenpom has them an eight point favorite with around an 80% chance of victory.

More NBA draft. The Daily hits up Ford for his opinion on Burke:

“I spend the start of my year talking to our high school scouting guys about who are the freshmen to watch, who are one-and-done candidates — he wasn’t mentioned,” Ford said. “He was a steady kid, not flashy like a lot of the players can be. I think a lot of the scouting guys … see that and they say, ‘He’s not as good.’

“Well now when you see him play that way in college, it’s all poise. He’s unselfish, he’s getting people involved, he gets his own shot, but he’s not out there just primarily looking for his own shot.” …

“One of the NBA GMs said to me, ‘Well look, think of the 30 backup point guards in the NBA and then look at him and what he does and say, ‘Could he do that?’ And I think the answer is yeah.”

There's some one-and-done chatter, which is a bit scary. Michigan does not have a Burke waiting in the wings like they did last year and would have to go with… uh… Brundidge? That's a scary prospect since he's currently behind Eso Akunne. I still think anyone not going in the lottery this year will be inclined to hit up a much weaker draft in 2012, but can a brother get a four year player around here?

Exit Burns. The only head coach in the history of Michigan soccer is gone:

"As a Michigan alum, I'm proud of everything we've been able to accomplish within the soccer program," Burns said in a statement released by the Athletic Department.

"I will forever cherish the relationships that I have developed over the past 12 years with players, assistant coaches, support staff and fellow coaches within the department. However, it's time for a new direction in my life and leadership for Michigan soccer."

Losing Meram, both Saads, and his top incoming recruit was too much to deal with and the team collapsed from a College Cup appearance to a 5-14-1 record. Speculation as to his successor naturally focuses on Caleb Porter, the piped piper of Akron and the Olympic team's coach. It was Porter's team that made Michigan look like the USNT against Brazil in that College Cup game.

Many in a thread with a lot of people close to the situation say he won't leave, but there's got to be a chance. Michigan should punch him in the face with the highest salary in the country; this is a high leverage opportunity to make one of your programs a national power for a relative drop in the bucket.

Montoya on Yost. Bang:

“I’ve played in some great rinks in the NHL and with Team USA, but when you get those 7,000 fans in Yost Ice Arena, there’s not anything like it,” he said. “I’m glad I went to a program like that.”

Etc.: Other Brian unearths self for Genuinely Sarcastic column, receiving bonus points for reminding me of Bring Your Champions, They're Our Meat by referencing historical events with no apparent connection to the game in question. If Johnny posts I think we'll have everyone save IBFC covered in the aftermath.

Bacon on beating OSU. OSU fights to keep the Sarniak-Tressel emails secret under FERPA.

Things That Happened Against Virginia

Things That Happened Against Virginia

Submitted by Brian on November 30th, 2011 at 12:13 PM

…mostly sucked.

801-19S8fC.Em.55[1]613-1bqlN3.Em.55[1]

left: no. right: no.

It was the kind of game that leaves you writing a rage list a la Artur Boruc. Here's the Iowa version of this:

THINGS THAT DON’T WORK, FRAN MCCAFFERY

Posted by Mike Jones on November 29, 2011 in Basketball, Iowa

  1. Having your entire defense collapse on a player charging into the low post area. THIS LEAVES AROUND 3-4 GUYS WIDE OPEN TO SHOOT A 3-POINTER. WHEN EVERY TEAM HAS AN “UNUSUAL” AMOUNT OF SUCCESS BEHIND THE LINE IT ISN’T BECAUSE THEY’RE “JUST HAVING AN ON NIGHT.”
  2. Having your power forward take countless jumpshots. UNLESS YOUR POWER FORWARD IS TIM DUNCAN, HE SHOULDN’T BE SHOOTING 15 FOOTERS.

Etc., etc. I felt a lot like the above during the game last night as Michigan ran a zillion ball screens on which Virginia showed harrrrrrd, resulting in Stu Douglass dribbling the ball 30 feet from the basket with ten seconds on the shot clock. Apparently our offense only works when the opponent is drunk on coconut milk. /shakes fist

/continues shaking fist

/gets tired, shakes other fist

/realizes he is doing dance moves now

/halts

Anyway.

Tony Bennett is a war crime. That was hard to watch. Anything involving a Bennett coaching basketball is. I guess it works. I get that Memphis and UCLA are stupid teams with terrible defenses ripe for Michigan to pick apart and that Virginia is not, but what I don't get is how Michigan tore Duke apart in the second half of that game in Maui.

Guess: Duke doesn't really have a PG and put either Curry or Rivers on Burke, which led to a ton of quality penetration and nine Burke assists. In this game Burke had a tough time with Virginia's similarly lightning-quick PG and the offense was reduced to chucking it around the perimeter a la Amaker.

And we're in pine for next year mode. My inner monologue never gets more AAAARGGGGGH than when Beilein fields a lineup mid-majors would laugh at, like late in the first half when Christian, McLimans, Douglass, and Akunne were out there. Like… together. I know. Novak was the other guy on the floor.

It's times like that when the talent on the team still seems desperately deficient. Next year that lineup reads McGary-Robinson-Stauskas-something-something, which seems more likely to score on large athletic people. Or anyone.

Tim Hardaway Jr. fouled out five minutes into the second half. That is the effect of sitting a guy with two fouls for the final 15 minutes of the first half. All coaches do this, so this is not a Beilein-specific complaint, but good lord. Hardaway averaged 2.5 fouls per 40 last year and Virginia had a couple of shooters on the floor… is Joe Harris really going to draw a ton of fouls on Hardaway?

By sitting your best player the entire first half you're enacting the worst case scenario of leaving him in. Hardaway picked up one foul in the 20 minutes he was allowed to play.

Novak. Nails. Can't guard actual scoring power forwards.

Morgan and Horford. Keep repeating "bigs take time to develop" to yourself. They were in a tough spot against guys taller, older, and more athletic than them. Anyone with that kind of front line is going to shut off Michigan's frontcourt scoring, not that there really is any frontcourt scoring that isn't set up by the guards.

The 1-3-1. Equals six offensive rebounds. The best play against it when you've got seven-footers is to avoid the risk of a turnover by throwing up a brick and crashing the boards. I have no proof of this but it seemed a lot less effective than straight man to man. (We hope to get some proof of this in the future.)

My wildly bipolar relationship with Evan Smotrycz. I was at an Interpol concert a few years back when I ran across this couple. He: a slightly nebbishy lawyer sort in a button down and flat-front pants. She: dyed red hair on the edge of punky, little zebra-striped dress, pouty, vacillating wildly between emotional states. The terms of the relationship were instantly clear. She did whatever the hell she wanted and he put up with it because, goddamn, that dress. I present a metaphor for my feelings about sophomore Evan Smotrycz that seems a lot creepier than I thought it was going to be when I started it.

I loathed Smotrycz for much of Maui and expected to hop on the internet to find that others were ranting about his lack of development only to find the opposite ; in this game he was 4/4, 2/2 from three, and… fouled out in 22 minutes. One, a bailout of their 88% FT-shooting power forward with four seconds left on the shot clock, saw expletives arc gracefully across my living room. All basketball players look incredulous when called for a foul but Smotrycz takes it to another level, especially when he's just done something 1) obvious even to me and 2) really, really dumb.

He is putting on the floor a lot more these days to good effect and he's still the floor-spreading four Beilein wants. It's just that sometimes I want to strangle him. That's all I'm saying.

8 assists. Glarg glarg glarg glarg. When is the last time Michigan had more turnovers (11) than assists under Beilein? Half of those came from Burke, BTW. The rest of the team generated basically nothing.

Open threes. They has them. We don't. Very frustrating. Burke had his moments but isn't at the point Morris was last year. Morris created an absolute ton of shots. Not only was he third in assist rate last year but he launched a quarter of Michigan's shots when he was on the floor.

Burke was never going to fill that void himself, so who else steps up? It looks like the answer is "nobody." Maybe Hardaway, but Hardaway has kept up his freshman tendency of disappearing for long stretches. He doesn't have the handle to create shots in an isolation situation so he has to get things from the framework of the offense. Maybe that means good defenses can shut him down? (See also: his coach leaving him on the bench for 15 minutes in the first half.)

Unverified Voracity Tweaks Bo

Unverified Voracity Tweaks Bo

Submitted by Brian on November 29th, 2011 at 12:30 PM

Site note! OH MY GOD UFR UFR UFR OSU OSU OSU. Yeah, happening. I am going to take it a bit slower because, like, I can. Half this week, half next week.

The season's end usually means a slowdown in December since football is over, basketball is often wading through thickets of uninspiring nonconference opponents, and hockey is off for big chunks (this year they're also super depressing!). Also, the batteries. They need recharging.

Bid. The big prize in the School of Kinesiology's auction goes off the board in just over a day:

140094933.275.275[1]

That is signed by:

Anthony Carter (Signed on the #1), Charles Woodson, Jake Long, Chad Henne, Elvis Grbac, Zoltan Mesko, Anthony "A-Train" Thomas, Larry Foote, Brandon Graham, Jamie Morris, Rick Leach, Jarrett Irons, Jim Brandstatter, Adrian Arrington, Reggie McKenzie, James Hall, Bob Chappuis, Vada Murray, Morgan Trent, Tim Jamison, Will Johnson, Butch Woolfolk, John Wangler, Bennie Joppru,Stevie Brown, Chris Floyd, Glen Steele, Mark Campbell, Clint Copenhaver, Aaron Shea, Scott Dresibach, Jarrod Bunch, Victor Hobson, Mark Messner, Stan Edwards, Derek Walker, Greg McMurtry, Billy Taylor, Harlan Huckleby, Don Dufek Sr., Don Dufek Jr., Bill Dufek, Ron Simpkins, Phil Brabbs, Chuck Winters, Andre Weathers, Jim Betts, Carl Diggs, Eric Mayes, Rondell Biggs, Greg Mathews, Doug Skene, David Moosman, Ron Bellamy and Adam Kraus.

Zoltan, yo. You will have to be a big baller to pick it up, but most of the emails I get come from law firms, so… yeah.

Hayden Fry on Bo. This is pretty much awesome:

Michigan's long-running semi-rivalry with Iowa has always seemed to me like the most mutually respectful one M has, what with Bump and Fry and Carr pulling for Ferentz and whatnot. It's good to have them in the division.

Sacrifice Virginia. Basketball hits the court again tonight (7PM, ESPN2) in their second consecutive road game in the Big Ten-ACC challenge. They've got Virginia. If you're thinking that sounds like a pushover, no, not so much. Kenpom has the 5-1 Cavaliers 37th and gives them a decent edge (61%) on their home court. Michigan probably has a better chance than wobbly early-season numbers suggest since they're still heavily counting Michigan's pre-Maui struggles.

While Michigan's playing its first true road game of the season, Virginia hasn't played a major conference team yet. They've annihilated a couple of bad teams, lost a squeaker to TCU, and cruised by Drexel, Drake, and Wisconsin-Green Bay. Defense is their calling card—they're currently 8th.

Sensing that attention would start turning to the hoopycagers, UMHoops dumped a bunch of stuff out yesterday, including a Maui Invitational recap

The Freshman Point Guard is Just Fine

Trey Burke hasn’t been perfect. He’s turned the ball over on 21% of his possessions, is shooting 60% on free throws, made one of eight threes in Maui and has the tendency to commit silly fouls. Despite those freshman mistakes, Burke has proven that he’s ready to play at this level. His quickness, playmaking ability and competitiveness have already proven vastly important through Michigan’s first six games.

Burke handed out more assists during the Maui Invitational than any player from any of the eight participating schools. He averaged 35 minutes per game in Maui, tied for the U-M lead, which serves as a ringing endorsement of John Beilein’s trust. The turnovers will decrease and he will find his three point shooting stroke (1-8 3pt in Maui) because he’s just too talented of a shooter not to. Burke is also the sort of player that can get a basket out of nothing – give him the ball in an isolation when the offense is struggling and he’ll make something happen.

…and a look at Michigan's diverse NBA prospects. From that post, here's the Daily hitting up Chad Ford to talk Hardaway:

“He’s got good size for his position, he’s athletic, he can shoot the basketball, and he can put the ball on the floor, get to the basket,” Ford said. “He’s got a lot of the tools that you sort of look for in a wing. If he was a better ball-handler — and it’s ironic, because his dad was amazing — that’s probably his biggest weakness. I think he (also) needs to get a little more consistent from 3-point range. “But I think he’s a pro.”

“He won’t need the money, and a lot of times that’s a big issue for players,” Ford said. “He’s got his dad, (so) he’s going to have access to more NBA guys giving him their opinions, which means he probably won’t get bad info. I probably say he stays, but I’m always surprised.”

Ford's plugging him in the same range Darius Morris was projected in as last season developed. As he mentions, money's not an issue, and this time around the NBA lockout helps. Last year the lockout pushed a marginal first-rounder like Morris into this years draft because a lot of blue-chips sat it out; this year those blue-chips will flood into the draft and push the Morris-Hardaway range back to school. I guess Burke fits in that range now, too. (Rivals basketball recruiting: you suck.) Sounds like Mitch McGary had a tough tournament over the last week, one that seems the draft consensus on him also in that fringe first-round range.

I'm still getting a handle on this edition of Michigan basketball, but it seems to me like Hardaway's increased ability to get his shot inside the arc is the non-Burke key. Memphis and Duke tried to shut off Michigan's threes only to get beat up on those overplays. Dylan notes Michigan's red-hot two-point shooting in Maui; Hardaway led the way at 27 of 44—a better than 60% clip.

Hardaway seems to have added a mid-range pull-up game that will be unstoppable since he's a 6'6" leaper. Just has to hit those shots. I expect the team's three-point shooting will come around to where it was last year. At this point Vogrich/Douglass/Novak is established as a floppy-haired Cerberus that will shoot between 36 and 38 percent collectively. Hardaway and Burke are the wildcards there. Is Hardaway the elite guy from the Big Ten season or also in that okay-to-good range? And how good of a shooter is Burke?

BONUS: Drexel's head coach is named "Bruiser Flint." Serious.

This is going to go well. They put Big Ten offensive lineman of the year David Molk in front of a camera and Tim Doyle asked him goofy questions.

Call me butterfly. I dare you.

Barely concealed contempt FTW.

Obligatory section on Meyer. He'll be some level of good. It's vastly more important for Michigan to have its house in order, which they seem to. Insert your preferred baseless assumption about Meyer's flakiness/health issues/lack of recruiting acumen here to make you feel better. At least we won't be one-upped in this department:

Rittenberg writes that if there's anyone who knows Michigan defensive coordinator Greg Mattison's system, it's Meyer. The two worked along side one another when Meyer was the head coach of Florida.

If Mattison stays at Michigan, perhaps Meyer could give the Buckeyes the advantage come next season, as OSU tries to avenge their first loss to UM in eight years.

PROTIP: if your assertion can be flipped 180 degrees and retain equal plausibility, find another assertion.

The one thing hiring Meyer does do is make OSU fans' assertions that they really gave themselves a tough punishment by firing/retiring Jim Tressel even more obviously crap than when they were originally peddled. The NCAA's reaction to a head coach lying to keep his most important players eligible, then lying again to get them eligible for a bowl game, is going to be pathetically weak even with the tattoos and cars and "charity" events on top of everything.

Countdown to resumption of normal activities in 3… 2… 1…

The neck, it sticks out. This year's most interesting recruit ranking kerfuffle is located in the general vicinity of Toledo, where Chris Wormley is the Ohio Division 1 defensive player of the year over Se'Von Pittman, Tom Strobel, Joe Bolden, and De'Van Bogard. Those four are all top 100 types. Wormley had M and OSU offers on top of that but still sees this massive rankings spread:

  • 247: #59 overall, #3 SDE, #3 OH
  • ESPN: 4*, #16 DE, #7 OH
  • Scout: 4*, #161 overall, #22 DE
  • Rivals: durf. 3*, #22 strongside defensive end (IE: approx #44 DE)

That's a powerful outlier there. Hopefully it's wrong.

Why the Big Ten is not so good, Part XXVII. The massive connections that come from a brief tenure at Cincinnati may land Pat Narduzzi the Illinois job:

As Illinois' search for Ron Zook's replacement begins, a source said the program is looking at candidates that include Michigan State defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi, Rutgers head coach Greg Schiano and Toledo head coach Tim Beckman.

Narduzzi's Big Ten affiliation and ties to Illinois athletic director Mike Thomas make him a likely target.

He served as the defensive coordinator at Cincinnati from 2004-06, overlapping with Thomas' tenure with the Bearcats that began in 2005. He was reportedly a candidate for the Cincinnati job that eventually went to Brian Kelly, who now coaches at Notre Dame.

Yes, this would be another disappointing mid-level Big Ten hire with names like Mike Leach, Kevin Sumlin, and anyone who's proven they are actually in charge of the thing they're supposed to be in charge of out there. Narduzzi is a defensive coordinator working under a former DC. That always makes me leery because you don't know how much of the team's success in their chosen field is because of the guy you're hiring.

Beckman would probably be a better hire: he's turned around Toledo, has a ton of recruiting connections in Ohio, and did establish himself as a BCS level coordinator at Oklahoma State. Schiano is not realistic. He has security at Rutgers and Illinois is a death trap.

If Illinois does go with Narduzzi that is both of Dantonio's coordinators out the door in a two year period. Not sure how much Narduzzi would hurt for the reasons given above, but it certainly can't help. It would be strange if Dantonio had more of a coaching tree in year five at MSU than Carr did, like, ever.

More Buckeye butthurt. Meinke collects the various lolrus OSU player twitter posts after the game. You've read the Boren ones; the others:

Added Ohio State tight end Jeff Heuerman: "Karma is gonna be a (expletive) for that little 'celebration' at the end."

Players said the controversial celebration -- you can catch a piece of it at the 34-minute mark of this YouTube video -- is something they have done after each Friday practice this year. Coach Brady Hoke said he was fine with his team celebrating their win that way.

"I don’t have any problem (with it) because it wasn’t disrespectful to anybody," Hoke said. "It’s something they do every Friday.

"No. It wasn’t disrespectful to anybody. It’s something those kids have done for 12 weeks.”

Ohio State, though, clearly was offended with the episode, which occurred in front of several players at midfield.

It led to Ohio State cornerback Brad Roby tweeting: "I will never lose to those scrubs again."

: (

Etc.: Stuffing the Passer. Michigan-ND is Pat Forde's game of the year. Dreaded Judgment OSU game column. Dymonte Thomas badgers Bri'onte Dunn on the twitters. Dunn says he doesn't want to play in a spread. (Shhh.) Kyle Kalis is solid.

Unverified Voracity Thumps Tigers

Unverified Voracity Thumps Tigers

Submitted by Brian on November 22nd, 2011 at 11:30 AM

image

Sponsor thanks. It's The Game week, when tailgates are packed with people you haven't seen all year and space is tight. If you plan with our local sponsor Park n Party you get peace of mind and a total lack of implied eyebrow cocking at your lack of support. Visit their Ohio State reservations page. Or I'll lift that bad boy.

NOM. So this was weird.

Explanation:

"This program's been starving for a while," Robinson said Monday. "It's time for us to make something happen.

"We've been starving. It's time for us to eat."

BONUS THING YOU CAN HEAR IN YOUR HEAD LIKE FARNSWORTH:

Michigan hasn't beaten the Buckeyes since 2003, when Robinson still was in the seventh grade at Deerfield Beach Middle School.

"Oh man, that's crazy!" Robinson said.

Kablam. Memphis: you officially suck worse than Western Illinois. Sorry.

This would likely not be true if Trey Burke wasn't as horrendously underrated as Tim Hardaway was last year. Check the postgame presser transcript at UMHoops for Trey Burke's opinion on that item.

The constant referencing of five-star Joe Jackson makes the lines to read between less than cryptic. Good thing Rivals dumped him lower after his Ohio Mr. Basketball high school season. Credibility: shot. ESPN is currently the worldwide leader in Michigan-basketball-related recuiting cred.

Anyway. Big win against a team whose flaws won't be exposed much against a Conference USA schedule and should end up a nice neutral-site feather in the cap when it comes tourney time. Most impressive aspect of it: defensive rebounding. Even with Morgan out big chunks of the game and Michigan playing with Smotrycz at the 5 a for a not-inconsiderable period of time, Michigan rebounded something like 80% of Memphis misses. That should mitigate your otherwise understandable Smotrycz frustration.

Chad Ford checked the game out and reported back on a couple of players the NBA finds notable. On Burke:

What stood out most was Burke's poise in the face of an athletic and aggressive defense from Memphis. A number of NBA scouts are keeping a close eye on Burke. While he's not an elite draft prospect yet, the potential -- thanks to a great NBA body, quickness and poise -- is there.

    On Hardaway:

Hardaway grew an inch to 6-foot-6 this summer, but where he's really grown is in his shot selection. Last season, Hardaway shot 42 percent from the field. He's now at 49 percent for the season and is playing under control more and more. While scouts saw him as a marginal pro prospect coming into the season, they are warming to him. Several told me after Michigan's practice on Saturday that they were impressed by his maturity and leadership. If he keeps playing like this all week, he could be a potential late first-round pick.

I've heard that the Hardaway plan is three and out, which makes sense in that context. Establishing yourself as maybe a late first rounder is usually not a reason to leave unless you're jumping into the weakest NBA draft in a long time, like Morris.

Ford also pointed out the various massively ranked Memphis players who struggled against Michigan, particularly post Tarik Black, who "should have dominated the Michigan bigs." He made one field goal.

Beilein owned Josh Pastner, which makes sense. Pastner is a glorified agent. Seriously:

"We're not a big zone team," said Memphis coach Josh Pastner, whose team went 19-for-57 from the floor. "(Michigan is) very good at what they do."

That is not about Memphis playing zone. It's about them playing against it. Josh Pastner: agent.

Other Memphis items: UMHoops recap and a David Merritt photo gallery. Michigan plays Duke at 7 tonight.

Seniors. The Daily on Michigan's seniors:

“There were rumors that Denard (Robinson) was going to transfer,” said fifth-year senior defensive end Ryan Van Bergen. “There was going to be people going all over the place. Everybody was going to jump ship.”

“We’ve seen it before — we saw it when coach (Lloyd) Carr left and Rich Rodriguez came in — where everyone who was on that swing fence, where they could either leave or stay, they left,” added fifth-year senior center David Molk. “And we kind of disbanded as a team. And it wasn’t good for our team in a lot of ways.”

In early January, Van Bergen and Molk called a team meeting to make sure everyone bought in — not to a coach, but to themselves.

“We didn’t really have (a coach),” Van Bergen said. “There was speculation it was going to be the coach from Stanford or LSU. And we’re just like, ‘We need to stick together. Whatever happens, we’ve got a good thing going that people don’t necessarily see.’

“We wanted to see this thing through.”

One more win.

We be having the moneys. Random bit of an enormous XKCD chart on money:

image

Injury whine. I try not to use the word whine, but Nebraska complaining about Michigan simulating injuries in Saturday's game is a straight-up no-evidence whine about getting annihilated. Michigan had all of two defensive injuries on Saturday. Jordan Kovacs went out. Kovacs:

  • is one of Michigan's best players
  • did not return for the rest of the drive
  • was clearly getting attended to on the sideline
  • had been on the field for like twenty plays all game because of Nebraska's offensive incompetence

Sure, that's definitely an injury Michigan faked. The other one was Brennen Beyer; I watched that happen from the stands and knew he was hurt as soon as it happened. This is not MSU falling over and winking about it in the postgame.

Why you should not be mad at Borges for Illinois. Is anyone? Probably not. In case you are, this bit from A Lion Eye in a post containing various items on their impending coach search emphasizes the wind conditions in Champaign:

Wind.  It plays a role in 60% of the games played in Memorial Stadium.  There are no hills in east central Illinois, and because of that, the wind rolls in off the plains unabated.  And the design of the stadium doesn’t help – the balconies concentrate the wind towards the center of the field.

As head football coach, I will make that wind my obsession.  The wind is there for nearly every October and November game, so when those games arrive, my team will have an advantage. 

I will have had my quarterbacks work on giving it a little extra and taking a little off.  I will train my punters to read the flags and set their angle accordingly.  And my returners – yes, I will pull my returners out to practice on a windy day, put them on the turf inside the stadium, and have each and every one of them learn how far a ball will drift (or die) because of the wind.  My kickoff returners will be ready at the 20 instead of the 8, my punt returners will never let a ball sail over their heads, and my field goal units will be well-versed in the wind swirl that sometimes happens at the south endzone.

Michigan played Illinois on a particular windy day even for that section of the country; after the MSU game and the way the defense set up against the Illini offense any complaints about play selection are complaining for complaining's sake.

Penn State bowl apocalypse scenario. I wondered why Jerry Palm had Penn State in the Hawaii bowl when they're going to be 9-3 at worst; Ryan Terpstra pointed out an article on CBS sports suggesting bowls will look at the Nittany Lions like poison.

I thought that was silly because this is not 'Nam. There are rules. Rules that I thought would preclude the Big Ten bowls from selecting a 7-5 team over a 9-3 team. There is a rule, but not one strong enough to help Penn State out:

CITRUS BOWL — Can select any eligible team after the BCS except a team that has two fewer wins or two more losses than another eligible team.

OUTBACK BOWL — Can select any eligible team after the Capital One Bowl except a team that has two fewer wins or two more losses than another eligible team. BUT if a second Big Ten team moves up to the BCS, the two-win/loss differential no longer applies.

There are no rules past those two bowls. Penn State is boned since Nebraska and the title game loser will be more attractive candidates.

Even so, I'll believe someone takes Purdue over Penn State when I see it and if I was Delany I'd be leaning on the Fiesta Jr. or Gator to take the Nittany Lions. Dropping them out of the bowl selection order will hurt the league's bowl slate and probably their record.

Worst cheer ever. You know that thing Akron State does when they sing about how they don't give a damn for the whole state of Michigan? Yeah, somewhat dumb. One percent as dumb as this in the aftermath of Tennessee's OT win over Vandy:

The team goes on to sing, "Don't give a damn for the whole school of Vanderbilt, the whole school of Vanderbilt, the whole school of Vanderbilt. Don't give a damn about the whole school of Vanderbilt, we're from Tennessee." Catchy, right?

Tennessee would like you to know that their pathological hatred for Vanderbilt extends to the entirety of… Vanderbilt.

The game, understood. Ramzy on the weekend:

The reality is that like Notre Dame, Michigan has long been everyone's rival, and that's fine for everyone. But Michigan - not the recent odorous, incompetent Michigan, but the traditional pain-in-the-ass Michigan - cannot reciprocate. It can have big national games, it can even have a state championship, but it can only have one arch-rival.

Hoke understood that, and he's given each opponent the appropriate focus and esteem. This isn't great news for Ohio State, who had made this rivalry one-sided in part because Tressel also understood the philosophy that Hoke has clearly embraced.

He is now at the brink of a ten-win season in what had been scheduled to be a year of cleaning up the wreckage of the last three years. Neutralize Ohio State to end his first run and the tone for the Hoke era is established. It would be the ultimate validation of his stewardship and confirmation of his methods.

Should Michigan lose - as an 8.5-point favorite at home to an Ohio State team that is as listless as it is lacking any cohesion - then not only is Hoke's eventual legend weakened, but the success of the 2011 season will be questioned.

This game is ripe for Michigan to take, and convincingly. Failing to do so would lacerate healing wounds. Schembechler won his first Ohio State game. So did Gary Moeller and Lloyd Carr. Rodriguez did not, annually losing in a disastrous manner so abysmal it practically had style points.

Whole thing recommended.

Tagged. OSU's Mirror Lake, where people will jump in stuff on Friday:

DQWO3[1]

Via a reader. SWAT teams are been deployed to erase this as we speak.

Etc.: Alumni Association interview with Desmond Howard. Dave Brandon talks economics and stuff, but the Daily's four page transcript gives you access denied after page one. WSJ bombs Paterno with an interview with a "former chief disciplinarian" who Paterno got fired for wanting to, like, discipline people and stuff. Rich Rodriguez hired at Arizona.

Michigan Basketball Season Preview

Michigan Basketball Season Preview

Submitted by Ace on November 11th, 2011 at 3:05 PM

L to R: Greatest photo evar(!), Trey Burke, Evan Smotrycz

Brian has decided to activate the "ninja" half of my job description and deploy me as MGoBlog's go-to basketball guy this season, a role which will only increase as football season comes to a close. Michigan's basketball season officially kicks tips off tonight against D-II opponent Ferris State in a game that would be far more interesting if it took place at Yost instead of Crisler, but that's non-conference basketball scheduling for you. That means I should probably post a season preview.

Last year saw an extremely youthful Michigan squad overcome the losses of Manny Harris and DeShawn Sims and a six-game midseason losing streak to make a shocking run to the NCAA tournament—highlighted by a season sweep of Michigan State—where they bombarded Tennessee in the first round before falling just short against top-seeded Duke. The Wolverines were poised to bring back every major (and minor, really) contributor from the 2010-11 squad until Darius Morris—the team's leading scorer and only true point guard—decided to leave for the NBA, turning Michigan from a potential Big Ten dark horse into, well, a darker horse, if that makes any sense whatsoever.

Still, the Wolverines return everybody except Morris, add a pair of high-profile freshmen in point guard Trey Burke and combo guard Carlton Brundidge (as well as forward Max Bielfeldt), and have an obvious go-to guy in place in sophomore Tim Hardaway Jr., who is poised to take over the reigns from Morris as the focal point of the offense. This is enough to earn them a preseason #22 rating from Ken Pomeroy, good for fourth in the B1G behind Ohio State (#2), Wisconsin (#10), and Purdue (#19), and just ahead of the Spartans (#24). How will the team fare? Let's start by breaking it down by somewhat-vague position groups:

The Rotation

Point Guard

Yes, point guard gets a section to itself, and this will be the most scrutinized spot on the floor for the Wolverines. As expected, John Beilein has named freshman Trey Burke, a four-star recruit and last year's Mr. Basketball in Ohio, as the starter, and he's under an extraordinary amount of pressure to come in and adequately replace Darius Morris. Their styles couldn't be much more different—Morris is a 6'4", physical creator who used his size to create interior shots (both for himself and others) but struggled with his outside shot, while the 5'11" Burke relies on his quickness and shooting ability to create his own offense. Burke actually fits better into Beilein's offense, but the looming question is whether or not Burke will be able to set up his teammates like Morris (6.7 assists per game last year) while not making too many freshman mistakes with the basketball.

It's likely that Stu Douglass will reprise his role as sixth man and primary backup at both guard positions. Douglass isn't an ideal creator at point guard—last year, he had a higher turnover rate (17.0%) than assist rate (10.9%)—but he's a streak shooter who can occasionally catch fire from deep and as a senior he's well-versed in the offense. Now that he's got a year of experience at point guard—a position he had never played until last season—under his belt, he should be an adequate backup for Burke. Douglass is the team's best perimeter defender, as well, but he must develop more consistency in his shot (48.9% from two, 35.8% from three LY) to become a real threat on offense.

Wing

Michigan's only other scholarship senior is the King of the Gritty White Guy Platitudes himself, Zack Novak, a 6'4" shooter/rebounder/unlikely-dunk-contest-winner/sideline-freakout-artist who has spent much of his Wolverine career playing wildly out of position at power forward. Now that Michigan finally has some depth up front, Novak can play the two or the three, and this should help open up his offense—other than seldom-used Matt Vogrich, Novak had the best three-point percentage on the team last year at 38.5%, but he often seemed to get gassed and disappear offensively due to having to guard players half-a-foot taller than him. Unfortunately, he's not a threat inside the arc, posting a paltry 38.0% shooting mark on two-pointers, but his remarkable ability to get rebounds amidst the trees makes him a valuable player on both ends of the floor. I expect Novak will average double-digits in scoring while grabbing 5-7 rebounds per game and providing valuable defense.

Your other starter on the wing is Tim Hardaway Jr., who greatly exceeded expectations as a freshman—averaging nearly 14 points and four rebounds per game—and will now become the team's go-to scorer. Hardaway spent much of last season as a spot-up shooter, and connected on a decent 36.7% of his threes, but this year he'll be asked to do much more creating with the ball in his hands. This was an area he improved upon as the season wore on last year, but he'll still have to get much better now that Morris isn't there to take away a lot of the defensive pressure. Still, Hardaway is the clear best player on the team—he's on both the Naismith and Wooden award preseason watch lists—and he should average at least 15 points a game. The big question here will be his shot selection, as he displayed a propensity for "what was that?"-type jumpers at times last year and could feel more pressure to jack up ill-advised shots as the team's main scorer.

Douglass, again, should be the primary backup at guard, but don't be surprised if 6'4" junior Matt Vogrich sees a greatly increased role this season. Vogrich was a dead-eye shooter from distance last season, hitting 38.7% of his threes, and was much-improved defensively after looking lost as a freshman two years ago. He's still limited in terms of his skill set, but in Beilein's system his sharp shooting will be a big asset off the bench.

The wild card here is four-star freshman Carlton Brundidge, who stands at only 6'1" but is a strong slasher who is at his best when attacking the basket, something you can't say about anyone else on the roster. Brundidge barely played in Michigan's exhibition game against Wayne State last week, but I think his role will increase as the season moves forward—he's one of the more talented players on the roster and could see a lot of time next to Douglass when the senior shifts over to the point, as their respective size and skill-sets make for a solid backcourt pairing.

Bigs

(I'm throwing the nominal power forwards in here too, just in case there's some confusion when I call, say, the 6'6" Colton Christian a backup big.)

The starter at the four is 6'9" sophomore Evan Smotrycz, a very solid outside shooter (38.1% from three) who many have tabbed as the X-factor for this year's team. Smotrycz reportedly gained 30 much-needed pounds in the offseason, which should help his post defense greatly, but there are still major questions about his athleticism and ability to create shots on offense. Smotrycz doesn't have much in the way of a post game and hasn't displayed the quickness to face up and drive past a player with regularity, and we'll have to see if he's improved in those areas over the offseason. While I still don't think he'll be a major threat in the post, his size and shooting ability are very intriguing, and I think Smotrycz could emerge as the team's second option on offense. Defensively, he should be fine as long as he's not asked to take on quick small forwards or hulking centers, and Beilein now has enough flexibility with his lineups where that shouldn't be a huge issue.

At center, it's a battle between redshirt sophomore Jordan Morgan and true sophomore Jon Horford (brother of Al) for the starting spot. Morgan was the man there last year, and was extremely efficient shooting the basketball (62.7%), but most of his opportunities were either created by the now-departed Morris or the result of offensive rebounds. While he was decent in his on-ball defense, Morgan was extremely foul-prone and did not provide much of a shot-blocking threat. If tabbed as the eventual starter, Morgan should be solid, but he's got his limitations and could really feel the absence of Morris more than anyone else on the roster.

Though it came as a bit of a surprise, it was Horford who started against Wayne State, and he'll take the opening tip once again against Ferris State tonight. An extremely raw prospect out of high school, Horford showed occasional flashes of rebounding and shot-blocking brilliance last year, but often looked awkward with the ball in his hands and frequently settled for outside shots, which he rarely made. Like Morgan, he was very foul-prone, so we'll likely see both big men get major minutes this season, but Horford seems to have the higher upside—he's more athletic than Morgan and has a better shooting touch while providing a much-needed shot-blocking presence on the interior of the defense.

There are two bench players who should see occasional minutes this year: 6'6" sophomore power forward Colton Christian and 6'10" center Blake McLimans. Christian doesn't provide any real threat offensively, but he's a capable rebounder and defender who could turn into an interesting role player if he shows the ability—and willingness—to hit any sort of shot. McLimans is big, which is always nice, but he was supposed to possess a good outside shot and ended up going 1-for-19 for three last year. Since he only shot the ball 41 times total (making 13), this is a bit of an issue, and defensively he's not as strong as either Morgan or Horford. We'll see if Beilein trusts him enough to put him in the rotation, or if he decides to go small and occasionally move Smotrycz to the five, something we saw a fair amount last year.

Outlook

I hate to kind of punt on this one, but man, who knows? The 2008-09 team was supposed to be mediocre at best, then made a surprise run to the tournament and even knocked off Clemson once they got there. The 2009-10 team brought back pretty much everyone, had a lot of preseason hype, and fell flat to the tune of a 15-17 record. With Harris and Sims gone last season and pretty much the entire team either freshman or sophomores, the 2010-11 squad looked to be terrible, so of course they reeled off 21 wins and once again advanced to the second round of the NCAAs.

This year's team appears poised for a potential top-25 season and another tournament run, but much of those expectations rely on a smooth transition from a star in Morris to a true freshman in Burke while other players—most notably Hardaway and Smotrycz—pick up the scoring slack and keep the offense running smoothly. With a difficult non-conference slate that includes a brutal draw in the Maui Invitational, plus playing in a Big Ten conference ranked by KenPom as the nation's toughest, this looks to me like a team that will spend much of the season squarely on the tournament bubble.

Exceeding those expectations means that we either see vast improvement from key role players, a huge breakout from Tim Hardaway, or a fantastic freshman year out of Burke—none of those are out of the question, but none are certainties, either. If Michigan suddenly finds that they can't create inside scoring chances without Morris's penetration, or Hardaway spends the season trying to carry the offense by chucking up less-than-ideal shots, Michigan could fall short of their goals as the fanbase begins to look ahead to the arrival of Mitch McGary, Glenn Robinson III, and Nick Stauskas in 2012-13.

All I can say for certain is this will be an interesting year, and lucky for us, this is a group that is extremely likable and fun to support. The future is very bright, almost regardless of what happens this year, but we'll just have to see if the Wolverines continue to make a push towards the top of the Big Ten or stay in a holding pattern until blue-chip reinforcements arrive.

Unverified Voracity Declared War Without Causus Belli

Unverified Voracity Declared War Without Causus Belli

Submitted by Brian on March 25th, 2011 at 4:23 PM

Live streaming goes just far enough. There is a live stream of IL PF Max Bielfeldt's announcement, which is going to happen in about ten minutes here. Michigan and Illinois are the contenders with most signs pointing to Michigan despite Bielfeldt's last name being on more than one building in Champaign. Bielfeldt compares himself to Luke Harangody and put up monster numbers as a senior, but recruiting sites say he's an "average at best" athlete. Think Graham Brown, I guess, except apparently he's got a decent shooting stroke that extends to the three point line.

If Bielfeldt goes blue there will undoubtedly be all the info you could want on UMHoops shortly after. Meanwhile, I've got a hockey game to panic about. [UPDATE: Bielfeldt has committed.]

I hope this is one game. Trey Burke highlight reel ahoy:

Probably one game, right? I bet they cut out a couple misses but probably one game.

Even in the unlikely event this is a season's worth of highlights, that's still pretty encouraging. Burke shows a three-point stroke, crossovers, spin moves, a nice pull-up jumper, and a floater in the lane. The diversity of his offensive game is impressive, and if these stats are right…

Burke is averaging 23.6 points, 6.8 assists, 3.1 rebounds and 2.6 steals. He is shooting 58.7 percent from the field, 46.6 percent from three-point range (54 of 116) and 73.3 percent at the free-throw line (88 of 120).

…dang, we may have just ganked* the next Talor Battle away from Penn State. (I only doubt because a separate article has even more ludicrous shooting percentages, FWIW. I believe the very slightly more pessimistic version but there's some wobble that makes me think they may have overlooked some attempts.)

48% from three plus that highlight video plus winning Mr. Basketball over a bunch of other D-I commits including a guy headed to Michigan State equals one extremely underrated recruit—Burke is a three star on Rivals. ESPN does have him a bit higher as a four star ranked #85, and boy were they right about Tim Hardaway Jr. Let's hope their streak continues.

In other basketball recruiting news, Carlton Brundidge just saw his high school career end in painful fashion. He tied Southfield's state semifinal against Kalamazoo Central with a 17-foot pull up, missed a backdoor layup on the ensuing possession, made both halves of a 1-and-1 to re-tie the game, then saw Central get a putback off an airball for the win. Burke plays his semifinal tonight at 8:30.

*["Ganked" should have made the transition from thing you say in sixth grade to critical part of the language by now.]

black-news

Frank Beckmann thinks this is racist

The tipping point. I've read Ramzy Nasrallah's stuff on and off for a very long time now and while some of his opinions make me roll my eyes I'm sure that's mutual. It's a natural consequence of being on opposite sides of the rivalry. That said, he's always been worth reading even when we disagree, and when he posts something titled The Case For Regicide that signals a huge shift in the portion of the Ohio State fanbase that doesn't have neckbeards. That shift is from "this shall pass" to "this seems too dumb to tolerate; we're screwed, at least insofar as a football program with OSU's natural advantages can be, which isn't that much."

I've been pretty strident in my opinion that Tressel should be fired and now it seems fairly likely he will. He's already been tried, compared to Nixon, and executed in the media. In that event the big questions lie in the eventual results of what seems like it will be a labyrinthine NCAA investigation and whether or not Tressel will axe Gordon Gee on his way out. I'm guessing "disappointing" and "yes."

More pads. More pads:

At the 35 second mark Denard runs a zone read for many yards, and then a power play gets destroyed. I'm just sayin'…

Seriously though, seeing a zone read makes me happy even if they hardly ran it last year. Tough talk and an open-minded offensive coordinator are where it's at.

Fort? No fort. Last year Michigan had an open practice in Michigan Stadium that you could buy your way into by shelling out for the big baller seats or donating to Mott at the Spring Game. Rodriguez hated it and I had to wait until the rest of the internet had responded to round up third-party impressions because I'd been asked not to relate anything I saw myself. So that was a one-off, right? Hoke's back and so is The Fort and that'll never happen again:

Fans attending the game will be asked to make any donation the hospital. Donations at the following levels will come with a correlating gift:

$5: A 5”x7” Fathead Trading Card of either Charles Woodson or Desmond Howard.
$20: A Fathead Teammate Block M (roughly 12”x7”).
$100: A Fathead Junior Big House Mural (17”x30”).
$250: Four passes to a pre-season scrimmage
$500: Two pre-game sideline passes (does not include game tickets) to one of the following four games: Western Michigan, Eastern Michigan, San Diego State or Minnesota.
$750: Two pre-game sideline passes (does not include game tickets) to the Nebraska game.

Except apparently it will. Never underestimate the power of club seating. I went last year with Greg of MVictors and FOB Craig Ross. It was rainy and strange but I thought it was worth it because I'm insane.

Etc.: Holdin' The Rope on the basketball season. Yes, that is now kind of an awkward blog name. Bacon on the Fab Five. He has a different memory of Jalen Rose. AA.com profiles the receivers.

Unverified Voracity Has Field Goal Pox

Unverified Voracity Has Field Goal Pox

Submitted by Brian on December 16th, 2010 at 12:42 PM

A horribly enlightening graph. FEI and I were getting along just great until Mr. Fremeau had to go and put our kicker situation in a neat graph. Sit down and get a bucket, as this is a graph of Michigan's attempts against those of FEI #1 kicker Alex Henery of Nebraska:

awful-kickin

This is nothing you didn't already know, but Michigan threw away 16 points on field goal attempts this year and was forced into some uncomfortable situations on fourth down because of those big red dots. I'm not sure if those were actual negatives because sometimes this happened:

Romer disciples would say being forced to go for it in that down and distance is probably a net benefit since anyone attempting a 50-yard field goal is going to have difficulties. There were certain situations less friendly, however, and Michigan still had to go because asking for anything more than an extra point was doom.

Michigan might need a kicker in this class.

A minor debunk. One of the rumors wandering around message boards was that Calvin Magee went down to Gainesville a couple weeks ago, supposedly to interview for a job. Given what we know about the Florida coaching situation (Meyer was days away from retiring) that doesn't make any sense and can probably be dismissed, and I can confirm from an excellent source that Magee never met with anyone at Florida. File that in the dustbin of history next to All Of Iowa Is Suspended.

It's a tragedy when you don't get along with your groin. The injury that held Bryan Hogan out of the Big Chill will sideline him for "at least a month," according to AnnArbor.com. That sidelines him for the GLI—a tournament Michigan should win even without him—and an early January series against the State team Michigan just beat 5-0 and is languishing near the bottom of the league standings. It sucks for Hogan to miss out just as he was establishing himself the starter but if he's got to be out a month this is the one to miss.

It is again the groin, but a different bit of the groin:

"But he made one move and he could just feel it."

Berenson said Hogan partially tore a tendon or muscle in his groin, but that it has nothing to do with the injury Hogan suffered last year.

Groin.

A midseason review of the hockey team on AA.com points out that however frustrating the first half of the season has been Michigan's come out of it in decent shape. A quick glance at College Hockey Stats shows that Michigan's scoring margin is amongst the national leaders:

# Team Games GF GF/G GA GA/G Margin
1 Yale 12 59 4.92 25 2.08 2.83
2 Union 16 65 4.06 34 2.12 1.94
3 Boston College 16 60 3.75 34 2.12 1.62
4 Miami 18 69 3.83 41 2.28 1.56
5 Wisconsin 20 69 3.45 42 2.1 1.35
6 Nebraska-Omaha 16 59 3.69 39 2.44 1.25
7 Minnesota Duluth 18 67 3.72 46 2.56 1.17
8 New Hampshire 16 57 3.56 39 2.44 1.12
9 Dartmouth 11 40 3.64 28 2.55 1.09
10 Robert Morris 16 54 3.38 37 2.31 1.06
11 Maine 16 57 3.56 41 2.56 1
12 Michigan 19 63 3.32 45 2.37 0.95
13 Rensselaer 16 49 3.06 34 2.12 0.94
14 Princeton 13 41 3.15 29 2.23 0.92
15 North Dakota 20 69 3.45 53 2.65 0.8
16 Notre Dame 19 68 3.58 55 2.89 0.68

[Michigan opponents in italics.]

They're 12th, and that's with a few minor schools and ECAC pushovers in front of them. They're 11th in KRACH, which seems about right—a solid tournament team but not a top seed. (My usual complaint about KRACH is it overrates nonconference games and piles WCHA teams atop the rankings, and this is again true.) I'm still concerned that any mildly competent defensive team can reduce Michigan to pinging shots from the point and hoping something wacky happens. This will have to be true…

"I think we expected to be a little further ahead - but not a lot," Berenson said Tuesday. "You can't say, 'Oh, we're going to expect to lose four games in the first half.' I mean, which games are you expecting to lose? I wasn't expecting us to have four ties. … Our best hockey is still ahead of us.

"I think we've seen some glimpses, some good signs, and I think the second half will be our best half. But we're right there. We're knocking on the door. We're not bad."

…if Michigan is going to go into the tournament expecting something good.

Tearing it up. Michigan's current* 2011 signees continue to raise their stock of late. It was Trey Burke making a late-summer push at AAU events across Ohio, but as they enter their senior years its Brundidge making waves:

Brundidge opened the season up with 41 points in a blow out win over Mount Clemens but the competition began to heat up this week as Southfield traveled to Romulus, a consensus top 5 team in the state of Michigan. The burly guard answered the challenge as he poured in 29 points, 8 rebounds, and eight assists in a 78-70 victory. Unofficially, Brundidge was 6 of 12 from the field (2-6 3pt) and 11 of 13 from the free throw stripe.

Vince Baldwin took to the twitters to rave about Brundidge's passing in the aftermath.

As for Burke, he's shooting 79(!!!) percent in two games so far. Adding that guard tandem to Morris, and Douglass and you're verging on… loaded? Can we possibly say that about Michigan basketball? I'm confused.

*(There's still the possibility of a third if Michigan finds a guy—probably a Euro—they want.)

Meanwhile on Kenpom. Michigan poked its hypothetical head above .500 after the Utah game and is now sitting at 17-14 with seven conference wins. Every time I check it it seems they've moved up a spot or two thanks to other teams falling back; they're up to 59th now, twenty spots higher than they were about a week ago. Saturday's game against Oakland is a big one—the Grizzlies just beat Tennessee and played Michigan State to the wire. Win that and it's time to start eyeing an NIT bid.

In other tempo-free stat news, Big Ten Geeks points out that while North Carolina Central is bad, they have never been quite as bad as they were against Michigan—their 0.78 points per trip was a season worst. This is a Beilein team built on… defense? As long as the team is bricking wide-open threes by the bunch, apparently. On WTKA today Beilein said a couple items of note:

  1. They'd gone straight man to man the whole year because the team is very young and they'd rather do one thing well than a few things poorly.
  2. "This is Division I basketball" and when you have a wide open shot you have to take it. It doesn't sound like he's displeased with anything from the first half except the fact the ball didn't go in the basket. You could chalk it up to it being just one of those things… if this wasn't the third straight year Michigan hefted a ton of threes (16th nationally) and didn't make any of them (255th).

One step ahead of you. AA.com suggests a fix for the Big Ten logo fiasco:

The Big Ten can backtrack with a press release that says something to the effect of “we are sure honored to have such passionate fans, and we’ve heard their voices.”

Then hold a contest. Fans submit their best ideas for new division names and new logo - there are plenty of good ones floating around the Internet in recent days, ideas that exceed the cartoonish one delivered by the conference.

Hmmm. The M Zone tweaked the popular Tscherne entry by fanning the team logos out underneath the shield:

anthonytscherne

Now you can remember who's in what division. These are ordered alphabetically but maybe they could put the division champs on top every year? Or they could just go with the horrible periwinkle.

Etc.: The 85k number cited by Guinness is provisional "with the numbers continuing to increase." Dear Lynn Henning: I would have rewritten your column like so: "Yes." Further adventures in scouting Mississippi State continue with a breakdown of Dan Mullen's TE shovel pass, AKA "binky," which he's still running to good effect.

Unverified Voracity Sees Red Shirts

Unverified Voracity Sees Red Shirts

Submitted by Brian on October 26th, 2010 at 1:47 PM

branch-morelli 
obligatory

Wait just a second. Yesterday it looked like Bolden would play this weekend, but today JoePa says he probably won't:

He was tested for concussion symptoms Sunday, Paterno said, and "still had some memory problems." He is scheduled for further testing Wednesday.

"If I had to make a guess, I’d guess he’s not gonna make it," Paterno said. "But that does not mean that I know what I’m talking about."

I did not add that last bit in for the lulz, Paterno really said it. Or the Centre Daily Times put in for the luz. One of the two. Without Bolden Penn State reverts to their summer depth chart:

  1. Sheridan
  2. Threet

In this case it appears that starting Sheridan is the right move. McGloin is walk-on Forcier; Newsome is slow Justin Feagin. If Bolden does not play, the Penn State game goes to 100% must win for Rodriguez. Also my sanity.

Law those suits up yo. This is the best lawsuit against the NCAA ever:

A class-action lawsuit was filed against the NCAA in an effort to change the policy that places a one-year limit on athletic scholarships and subjects them to an annual review.

The plaintiff hails from an unlikely place for a pissed-off cut player to come from: Rice. Joseph Agnew was a defensive back who claims his scholarship was "cancelled" but he was allowed to maintain it one more year after appealing.

His suit challenges not only the one-year limit on scholarship commitments but the whole 85-scholarship cap. I'm wildly in favor of changing the former and allowing NCAA programs to offer 2, 3, and 4-year commitments that only the player can voluntarily terminate. Putting the level of a school's commitment in writing would go a long way towards preventing Saban-like overstocking; what remained would at least be explicit and less surprising. I'm less enthused about getting rid of scholarship caps but wouldn't mind too much since the end result would be more money headed towards players instead of coaches.

This is the NCAA's goofy defense of itself:

"However, it should be noted that the award of athletic scholarships on a one-year, renewable basis is the more typical approach taken within higher education for talent-based and academic scholarships in general."

While this may be true, no one's running around prohibiting people from offering longer commitments.

Speaking of Alabama. This guy has nothing to do with anything and would have been in TWIS if the MZone had run across him yesterday but they did not:

Sometimes the combination of cheap video cameras, college football, and youtube is… well… it's something.

Burke workin'. 2011 PG commit Trey Burke is playing well enough to get hype on the internet:

Burke continues to deliver and proves to be not just the best guard in Central Ohio, but the best player. He impacts every game in a significant manner, but in most cases, he impacts every possession. Burke knocked down big shots, scored driving to the basket, and even rebounded the ball very well from his guard spot. It seems like every event or game we cover of Burke’s the Michigan commit knocks down a big shot.

Those guys even "coin Burke as 'Baby Big Shot'," which verb noun object.

Missing on Dom Pointer leaves a nasty hole in that class but the two guys Beilein locked down seem well above the standard set by his first class. If there's some hope on the court this fall Michigan should be on a steady upward trajectory the next few years. Which is kind of a crappy spot to be in going into year four but there it is.

The shirt. Tim put this up in the press conference recaps, but to re-iterate:

"He's doing well. His back has been a little sore, so he's been a little limited." RR couldn't answer whether he'll try to earn a medical redshirt this season, and be a redshirt freshman next year.

I will answer this: Gardner will try to get a medical redshirt like whoah. The rule is 30% of the season rounded up, which is four games in football; Gardner did not play after the BGSU game. This is simultaneously tragic and wonderful, since 2014 should feature redshirt senior Devin Gardner instead of anyone else. The Year of Incessant Pleas/Complaints About Devin Gardner's Redshirt is now mercifully over, NCAA permitting.

Meanwhile, Ricardo Miller is probably laid up with a back injury or tendinitis or flying monkey syndrome since he inexplicably appeared on kickoff coverage against UMass and hasn't seen the light of day since. I assume Michigan will ask for a medical redshirt for him as well.

Etc.: Presser video from Rodriguez, Smith, Robinson, and Schilling. Texas fans are cranky about everything, from the piped in music (on homecoming!)…

Let’s start with a piped-in, pre-play musical montage of AC/DC, Moby, and various Euro-trash Trans music that was combination of minor league hockey meets random Greg Davis play-calling. Marching bands are college football, leave that two turn table and a microphone bulls-- to glowstick infected raves and HenryJames wedding receptions.

…to the inexorable march of time and disintegration of all things, but mostly college football programs. That last link tries to figure out whether Mack Brown is John Cooper or Jim Tressel and settles on "both."