Unverified Voracity Outperforms Expectations Comment Count

Brian January 17th, 2014 at 12:31 PM

The best guy. When it comes to outperforming seed expectations, John Beilein is it.


He was eighth before last season's run, so this is a list that can change quickly even for a veteran. Beilein also has the relative advantage of having a low average seed compared to guys like Krzyzewski and Calipari, who are impressively high on the list for teams that get such high seeds.

Draft bits. Large chunks of the basketball team are playing or not playing their way into the Interesting Decision section of NBA draft hopefuls. Certainly-gone Mitch McGary's back injury now sees him slip off many first round boards and Nik Stauskas turning into Darius Morris + 45% three point shooting has put him on many radars.

UMHoops runs down the opinions out there at the moment:

  • GLENN ROBINSON III has seen his stock drop into the fringe of the first round, as he no longer has Trey Burke feeding him regularly. A lot of the evaluations seem to have some lag in them, as they complain about his inability to shoot. Chad Ford: "can’t hit a shot right now and is stuck in tweener land until he develops a reliable jumper." Okay, but I'm kind of expecting him to hit at least one 18-foot pullup per game these days.
  • MITCH MCGARY is old, turning 22 in June, and will have a difficult decision. Some guys say he should absolutely return, others go with the tough decision song and dance. McGary either not on first round boards or hanging on at the very end at 29 or 30.
  • NIK STAUSKAS comes up when people get detailed enough to list second-rounders. He's not in anyone's first round right now, though he's on the fringe of it at Draft Express and moving up into the mid-40s on Chad Ford's board. That, too, may be lag as Stauskas's offensive arsenal continues to expand. (Will the NBA care about his defense? I don't actually know.)

If Robinson continues playing like he has been the last couple weeks he'll bounce back into the late lottery range he was in last year and be gone; if the other two want to be first round picks it sounds like they would both lean to a return. Early yet, obviously.

It may have been brutally disappointing and eventually soul-crushing, but at least it was fun for neutrals? Michigan makes the top ten in Bill Connolly's top 100 games of the season, in a loss, naturally. They also check in at 24 (a win!), 17 (a win… against Akron), 42 and 43 (OT affairs against PSU and Northwestern), and 92 (the inexplicably included Iowa loss that was brutally unwatchable all the way through). That's six games, which seems like a lot for a totally nondescript 7-6 outfit.

Gallon continuing on. Always difficult to make a living in the NFL as a 5'7" guy, but Jeremy Gallon just might do that. He's at the Shrine Bowl this week, trying to make a name for himself. He is doing so:

One of the shortest players on the field, Gallon has probably been told he's “too small” his entire life, but he certainly doesn't play like it, displaying a competitive chip on his shoulder in every drill and each snap. Despite his shorter stature (5-foot-7), he has good-sized mitts and is a natural hands-catcher. Gallon has excellent controlled momentum in his routes to catch-and-go in the same motion to be a threat after the reception. As one scout put it on Tuesday: “I know he's small, but look at the production. The kid's just a football player.”

This opinion is not a solitary one:

-The best receiver today was Michigan’s Jeremy Gallon, who consistently got the type of separation I was optimistic we’d see this week. The smallest receiver here, Gallon needed to prove he can get free route-wise other than on underneath drag routes and deep comebacks. So far, he’s done it this week. Much of it is thanks to his quickness at the top of his routes. He snaps his head around so quickly, transitioning from a smooth, appearing-to-be slow start into a quick burst away from his defender.

Gallon's not going to go early at his height but I bet he goes in the mid rounds and hangs around forever as a slot receiver.

Yeah, sure Wake Forest, go for it. Even if ESPN was trying to get the ACC to poach Big Ten schools, that was probably some mid-level exec humoring the dude he was talking to at that moment. "Yeah, Wake Forest dude," said the incredibly bored man, "you should totally turn the tables on those jerks, and it will totally work. A-C-C."

We have the money. You have the numbers. Fight. They're having some sort of NCAA jamboree in San Diego this week, and the primary topic is schools with buckets of money no longer putting up with the idea that the Indiana States of the world should be able to rein them in.

At the annual NCAA convention, a sub-committee of the Division I board of directors proposed a rough governance model that would give more autonomy to the five power conferences -- the SEC, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12, ACC -- and give a stronger voice to athletic directors with respect to how student-athletes are supported.

IE, we want to give some more money to these guys and if you can't afford it pound sand. This in particular is a good idea:

The ongoing education element would allow student-athletes to leave school for an extended time, but retain their scholarship so they could graduate. For example, a player drafted could go on to have a career, but not give up the academic portion of their scholarship and they could return to finish their education at a later date. A player leaving early would still give up their athletic eligibility, but not their academic eligibility.

Regretful and broke now that you're 25 and your pro career didn't work out? Come back to school and get serious, on the NCAA's dime. Jam that through as fast as possible and make it retroactive.

Meanwhile in Emmert complaining. The jamboree is derided as "all for show" by industry insiders in a Stewart Mandel article, with various athletic directors upset. Which ones makes all the difference:

"A lot of us are concerned about where this is headed," College of Charleston AD Joe Hull said after the first seminar broke up. "We're concerned about where this thing will end up."

These are the right people to be upset. UConn AD, Michigan alum, and potential future Michigan AD Warde Manuel got in a zinger that Lloyd Carr would approve of:

And Connecticut AD Warde Manuel cynically suggested the word "revenue" should probably be included among those core values. So at least some people that work in college athletics are just as jaded about the state of college athletics as you are.

Other issues on the table include redefining agent rules (please) and changing coaching personnel rules to limit the increasing use of gray-area guys.

Chris Brown on Pete Carroll. Carroll is a 4-3 under specialist who has huge corners that he plays press coverage with in a cover-3, which seems like a direction Michigan might be headed what with Mattison's under adherence, Michigan's tendency towards cover 3 this year, their obvious desire to grab jumbo corners (Stribling and Conley Dawson), and Jabrill Peppers coming in next year.

Sherman’s skills allow Carroll to put his spin on old, conservative Cover Three: While this is zone coverage, Seattle’s cornerbacks play tight press coverage on the outside wide receivers as long as a receiver’s initial steps are straight downfield. Notice the coverage drops from the underneath defenders in the GIF below: This is a zone defense all the way, except for those press corners.


They are not likely to be as good, of course, but Mattison does want to be aggressive—remember the ND touchdown in 2011 where all eleven Michigan players were within five yards of the LOS?—and if he acquires confidence in his secondary, they might end up with something not entirely unlike what Seattle does.

Just try not to play Tyler Lockett next year.

Etc.: Women's hoops pop up from out of the tourney to a nine seed on The S-Factor after beating Purdue. Long live the Nussmeter. Explaining things. What's bad about Michigan's defense.


Victor Hale II

January 17th, 2014 at 12:46 PM ^

Jeremy Gallon snapping his head around quickly....a skill that is useful for not only playing football, but also for video-bombing Devin Gardner.


PS - assuming Gallon does make the NFL and sees the field enough, how long before the talking heads make some "half pint" joke?  I haven't heard one yet, in 4 years of watching UM games, which shocks me, actually.


January 17th, 2014 at 1:28 PM ^

Steve Smith of the Carolina Panthers. They are similar in many respects except one, perhaps, the kind of attitude it takes to not only succeed but prosper in the NFL. Smith plays with a fiery competitiveness that few can match. His duration as a productive wideout over more than a decade is a testament to that. He is a legacy player for the Panthers. He will be part of the franchise for as long as he wishes. 

The first time I saw him play in person against the Lions, he just amazed with both his speed and ability to catch and separate from defenders. He catches every ball  with his hands. I just think Gallon is a clone of Smith. And if he can develop and build on the the kind of inner confidence he now possess (which is what it takes to make it the NFL, he will be a longterm performer as a pro. 

There are lots of guys in the NFL like that. Gallon can go get the ball and has sticky hands. Sure-handed slot guys who can avoid being roughed up and make plays prosper in the league. And I don't think size is an issue with him like it is with Denard, just because Denard hasn't quite figured out where he fits in the pro game yet. 

Space Coyote

January 17th, 2014 at 1:42 PM ^

Smith was at least an inch taller, and also ran a 4.39, which I don't see Gallon running. I like Gallon, but he's not a Smith caliber athlete. He'll have to make up for that with technique and catching.

That said, I don't think the Smith comparison is all bad, I just think Gallon is Smith-lite.


January 17th, 2014 at 1:00 PM ^

are all underrated on the draft boards.  Other than Trey Burke, Stauskas looks like he might be the best player in a Michigan uniform in a couple decades.  He's an offensive machine who's also turning into an assist machine.  Maybe there's just a bias against lily-white Canadians.  If he slips past the lottery, he's a huge steal.  As for GR III, he's new and improved since last year with more aggressiveness showing an ability to create his own shot with drives and mid range jumpers.  As for McGary,  he's still the beast who tore up the NCAA tournament and who's only temporariily sidelined.  His back surgery was successful and odds are that he will back in beast mode before too long.

Maybe I'm an overly optimistic homer but that's the way I see it.  I'm especially surprised by the blind spot scouts have on Stauskas.  He's a special player.


January 17th, 2014 at 1:11 PM ^

You write about Beilein outperforming expectations as a sign of his skill as a 'big-game coach.' But one major lesson of the sports statisticians is that big-game-osity is mostly bunk. Outperforming is simply good luck at opportune times and is predictive not of future big game success, but regression to the mean. We're lucky to have had a very fun 2012, but in the future it's better to have great teams than overperforming ones. 


January 17th, 2014 at 1:52 PM ^

a tangible "skill" involved in being able to play at a high level under increased pressure. some people tend to crumble, and others tend to rise.

the problem is not that these variances exist, but that the sample size for concluding these bigosity skills are too small and we rely heavily on data from, in this case, something like 13 games. It's not great logic to look at only 13 games and conclude one thing when there is a whole career of evidence.

So in the end, I agree with your point:  just because someone has done well in a big game situation once doesn't mean they won because they have bigosity, so it isnt a good predictor that they'll do well again.

Space Coyote

January 17th, 2014 at 2:00 PM ^

As far as handling big game pressure. Maybe there's something to it, but especially in basketball, how much is it "a coach knows how to better handle big games". There is probably something to have been there before and how to handle players, but things like scouting, personal prep, etc, aren't going to be drastically different than they would otherwise.

And in basketball it's not like football, where there is a month off between the big game or something. And it's based on fewer players on the floor, with those players playing both ways, etc. It just puts more emphasis on the players and how they personally handle the moment. And in college sports and college basketball, where there is major turnover, I'm just not sure how much you can take from statistics, though I'd assume it is something, otherwise I don't think the guys with generally high seeds and play in the tournament often would be as high on that list.


January 17th, 2014 at 2:08 PM ^

there are some unique coaching demands that don't get tested in other parts of the season. primarily, you have a very short window to scout your opponent and come up with a game-plan. i think we saw against vcu just how masterful coach b was at putting together a great plan in a short window (although he probbbbably thought we would play them and had something already prepped.)

there is also something to be said for knowing your team's chemistry and subbing and such.

but yes, there is a much bigger impact of pressure on players than coaches, one would think.


January 17th, 2014 at 3:14 PM ^

The idea that Coach B prepares well for big games, but that those skills don't apply as well to less important ones seems unlikely to me. 

Of course, someone with the time could do this analysis. You take a dataset of coaches historical tournament success up to a certain date (say the middle tournament appearance in their career) and see if that predicts future tournament success, defining success as outperforming their ranking. (As in the table, this is different than doing well. Of course Coach K does well in the tournament, the question is does he outperform his regular season.)

The outcome would be a dot plot of performance relative to ranking before the timing cut-point vs. after. I would expect regression to the mean so you basically see random dots. JMBlue is predicting a correlation. FWIW. 


January 17th, 2014 at 3:39 PM ^

Not sure what you are getting at with your first paragraph. The argument is not that he's particularly good in big games and underperforms in others. With one very notable exception (2012), he's done well in every tournament appearance, relative to expectations. The linked article details how he has exceeded expectations:

1998 – Sprung a 3v14 upset with Richmond (17 of 116 14 seeds have done that)
2005 – Went to the Elite Eight as a seven seed with West Virginia (only seven of 116 seven seeds have done this, to which I say “Pittsnogle”)
2006 – Reached the Sweet 16 as a six seed with West Virginia
2009 – Sprung a 7v10 surprise with Michigan
2011 – Won an 8v9 toss-up with Michigan
2013 – Reached the championship game last year as a four seed (just three of 116 four seeds that accomplished this feat)

That's six times out of eight appearances (and six of the last seven) in which his teams have exceeded expectation. The two others are when he lost his first NCAA tournament game back in 1996 as a #13 seed (i.e., he performed as expected) and the first-round loss in 2012 - which is a pretty clear outlier here.

Given this record of performance, yes, I would expect Beilein's teams to continue to be a tough out in the tournament.


January 17th, 2014 at 2:19 PM ^

Outperforming is simply good luck at opportune times and is predictive not of future big game success

Actually, it is a very good predictor. I would certainly predict that the coaches in the top 10 of this list will continue to succeed in the tourney. Incidentally, while Beilein was "only" 8th in the country in this going into last year, he had been in the top 5 before that, but the 2012 upset dropped him. I distinctly remember seeing him ranked very highly by this same metric going into the 2009 tournament game against Clemson's Oliver Purnell, who was down on the bottom of this same ranking. Result: a win for Beilein.  

If anything, it's results that run contrary to these that are the flukes.  Beilein's first-round loss in 2012 sticks out like a sore thumb in an otherwise superb tourney history for him.


Ron Utah

January 17th, 2014 at 1:11 PM ^

This seems to be Mattison's preference.  While we played a lot of cover two in 2013, he has brought a safety into the box many times, and seems to like to do it with both safeties.  It seems clear to me that he likes to use a safety in his run fits, and that leaves a single-high safety.

That said, he needs to have corners that can stop the deep ball for that to work.  Sadly, the jury is still out on Countess and Taylor in this regard, but Lewis and Stribling look like guys who will be able to shutdown the deep routes one-on-one sooner than later, since they were both just inches away from those plays all year.

Single-high safety opens-up huge pressure options for a defense and allows you to disguise and use more exotic blitzes...it's a tough defense to read in the box.  But you better be able to get to the passer and have competenet LBs/SSs to carry the seam, because 4-verts is awfully popular in the college game right now.

Space Coyote

January 17th, 2014 at 1:15 PM ^

Like Donovan, Izzo, Pitino, Coach K, and Calipari are that high on that list is a testament to their ability to coach. Really impressive those guys are up there.

As an aside that got long once I started it: This is outside of maybe Calipari, who has always had super talented teams but maybe gets the benefit of having slow starts due to youth or weak conferences; plus I hate him and don't want to give him credit because he's as big of a cheater as there is and always gets away with it; essentially, he's what's wrong with college sports.


January 17th, 2014 at 1:40 PM ^

I used to think of Calipari that way. Now I think he's the only honest man left. He takes players who want to get into the NBA and have the talent to do so, tells them that he can help them achieve their goals quickly, then does so. 

Everyone else, especially the NCAA itself, is hiding behind fake moralizing to maximize their profits and take money out of the hands of young people who almost always need it much, much more. Calipari recognizes that. Chris Webber did, too. 

Space Coyote

January 17th, 2014 at 1:53 PM ^

While he doesn't lie to kids about wanting to go to the NBA, that's only part of the problem. And that's not even a Calipari problem, that's a problem with a system which uses college basketball as a one-year tryout, but that's not Calipari's fault.

My problem with Calipari is that he's shady and dirty as hell. He cheated at UMass, got them in trouble, and bolted unharmed. Then he did the same thing if not to a worse extent at Memphis, then bolted. The fact that he has cheated, bent the rules, and done so to an extent to get caught even without all the hubbub that had to occur to the fab 5 for them to get caught, doesn't help his case. He has taken no personal accountability, willingly cheated, all for personal benefit.

And while Chris Webber is one of my all-time favorite players, and I do agree with many of the things he says, zero personal accountability isn't exactly correct either. And besides, that's from a player, not a coach.

Cal is a slimeball. You can put morality to it to attempt to justify it, but that maybe only gets you part way. I still don't think he gets past slimeball, so IMO, slimeball is giving him the benefit of the doubt. Calipari not only cheats (look, there's cheating all over college sports), he takes it to another level completely. I don't think Calipari is the way he is to be morally righteous or because he sees it as a problem with society, otherwise he wouldn't have skipped off to the NBA. He's doing it for himself. That doesn't mean he doesn't care about his players, but that doesn't get him off the hook in my book.


January 17th, 2014 at 1:56 PM ^

are arguing about two different things.

when some people think of the "calipari way," they think of bringing in 1-and-dones for the explicit purpose of being a 1-and-done and using that year to make kentucky a ncaa championship competitor for calipari, and using the exposure as a stepping stone to the nba. i agree that that is one of the only honest systems left in the game

when you hear the "calipari way," you think of the cheating involved in hoarding those 1-and-dones, and not so much the intent.

so i agree with you both: i think the method of winning in macro terms is fine and all, but all schools should have an equal opportunity at that method, so when you have recruiting violations and cheat to bring your teams in, that isn't okay.

Space Coyote

January 17th, 2014 at 2:03 PM ^

But that's not Calipari cheating or doing anything dishonest. That's an issue with the NBA rule more than anything, but also to an extent of the NCAA and how it handles student athletes and so on. I do think it hurts the game and the sport, but besides Calipari doing it, I don't really put fault on him for it being the case.

The kids have to go somewhere because the NBA has a rule in place, it's either Kentucky or somewhere else. That doesn't change with or without Cal. I'd like to see it change (I really like the baseball rule: either go pro right out of HS, or you have to play three years in another league, though two years may be sufficient), but that's a completely different topic, like you're saying.


January 17th, 2014 at 3:05 PM ^

I'm not pretending that Calipari is doing this out of the goodness of his heart or to help those in need. That would be silly. The fact remains that he violates rules that exist so (mostly very rich) so others can profit off the labor and talents of (mostly very poor) kids. By those values, I consider his sins smaller than NCAA, the press, and fans of other teams consider them. 

If we agree the rules are silly, then that's a broad debate about the ethics of violating rules that you don't believe in. I think we can agree that the internet is the perfect place to have that debate constructively, where it will make a major difference in the world. 


January 17th, 2014 at 1:20 PM ^

He's 6'6" so getting his shot off shouldn't be a problem.  In the NBA nobody is going to have their defense key in on him like colleges are doing now.

I wish another offensive threat would emerge on our team to take some pressure off of Stauskas.  I'm disappointed that Zac Irvin is content with camping behind the arc for the entire game, he's athletic enough to get to the rim.


January 17th, 2014 at 1:57 PM ^

against the Oklahoma Thunder. In the second half, they scored 19. 

So, was the difference in scoring about improved defense by the Thunder or just bad offense and poor shooting by the Rockets? Probably a combination of both. One usually leads to the other. And I don't know what to make of Michigan's apparent defensive lapses in recent games, unless it's not really a point of emphasis as sharing the ball and getting the best shot possible seems to be. 

Tomorrow in Madison, Michigan will have to play a different game than it has since conference play started. This will be the toughest test since the Arizona game. 

And Michigan will face an offense in the Badgers that likes to post up all their guys and work the ball low to their big man. The Badgers last year were worse than slow: they were the most boringly methodical team in the country, which worked the clock on every possession before taking any shot. This year,  with a more veteran group, they have sped up their attack, are more transition oriented,  and upped their tempo and Michigan is now the team that plays slow. 

What it really is about, of course, is effiiciency. Michigan isn't really playing slow. It's just taking to heart what Belein preaches: valuing every possession and getting not just a good shot, but the best shot possible. On defense, I think Michigan plays fairly well on ball. It's usually when the ball gets reversed and someone gets screened that Michigan has issues. Because this team isn't big, doesn't rebound well offensively and can be challenged  going to the hoop, Michigan isn't a good matchup with Wisconsin. 

I hate the Badgers but they are effective, so Michigan will have to play its best game to win tomorrow. 



January 17th, 2014 at 2:50 PM ^

When the opportunity is in front of them.  But not in Stauskas' case. 

No one thinks he's a first rounder right now and for good reason.  He's simply too far away from being a viable 3-and-D guy in a league where people like Jon Diebler never see the light of day and Jimmer Fredette (currently hitting 49% of 3s) don't see playing time.  If he was 6'9 and could play stretch 4 it'd be different.  He's not quite the elite shooter that Kyle Korver is.  He's not quite the elite shooter that Ben Gordon or Jimmer Fredette are.  Maybe he can be a Klay Thompson but he has to prove it over a season or two.

Stauskas either has to get much better defensively or he has to show he can be an elite scorer against elite competition.  He has struggled against Duke, Arizona, and Stanford this year while feasting on inferior competition.

Thompson and Gordon played 3 years in college - that should be the minimum for Nik.  Besides, the '14 draft is pretty loaded.  If he comes out now he's probably headed for Europe or NBDL and may never see the light of day.


January 18th, 2014 at 12:48 AM ^

Bad comparison. Stauskas is a good shooter, but most agree Curry could be one of the best shooters of all time. Curry drops 30+ all the time on elite defenses. Basically Curry is a legitimate all star, leader of his team, and one of the best players in the NBA. Stauskas has a long way to go to just be a starter in the league.


January 17th, 2014 at 2:19 PM ^

as a fan you just kind of wish these guys would want to stay together as long as possible to see how far they might get as a team, not that getting to the Final Four and championship game will happen annually. 

But when you look at certain teams, you know they are going to be tough outs in the tournament. And I think Michigan could play itself into one if the goal was simply winning and not just making this a one-and-done opportunity. If you are constantly rebuilding, it's hard to develop the perennial strength that certain powers have created with their influx of talent. 

One more year together with Michigan's big three, Robinson, Stauskas and McGary, there is no telling how far this team might go. Perhaps to another Final Four. Of course, I am looking at that from a selfish standpoint as a fan with no real stake in how the players view their future goals and desire to get paid as pros. I just think the NBA is a total meat grinder circuit with little soul compared to the collge game. 

Obviously, this is a very biased POV. 



January 17th, 2014 at 2:51 PM ^

The days when guys were going to play for 4 years before leaving are over. But the issue of guys leaving early is really dependent on the kind of team and program you are building and how you sell it. 

Obviously, if you have a Naismith winner on your team, and he agreed to come back for a second year when he could have left after his first, you are glad for the memories he provided and you not only wish him well you follow his exploits at the next level. Trey Burke has already demonstrated he belongs in the league and is already productive. 

The thing that I see so often though are guys who leave and then find themselves buried by NBA expectations which don't translate from their college experience, mostly because they haven't matured yet, emotionally or physically for the pro game. 

Tim Hardaway spent three years at Michigan and I would say his departure or return after last season could have gone either way. As it turned out, it was a good move, because he became a first round pick and he seems to be getting some time as a rookie. But he also has a dad who played in the league at a high level, and can help him deal with the ups and downs of being an NBA pro. 

Michigan's big three are all talented enough to make NBA rosters and you want them to succeed and do as well as possible. I just think the biggest difference between college and the pro game besides a longer, physically-draining schedule is maturity, which playing college ball gives you time to develop. And the fact that Michigan now has a bunch of guys who have played and left for the NBA, they have a better feel as a program and personal factor how to manage these expectations and yet preserve both individual and team goals. 

They are all going to get paid. So, I guess it depends on how soon you feel like you want to start collecting one. 

Blue Durham

January 17th, 2014 at 3:19 PM ^

That list of college coaches outperforming expectations in the NCAA tournament is, up and down, quite the list of coaches. The fact that Beilein tops it is incredible.


January 17th, 2014 at 3:53 PM ^

and the defense the Seahawks are now employing, I am curious did he use this D strategy at USC?  His offense at USC was decidedly pro style/west coast with QBs like Matt Leinart, but now he has the definitive read option with Russell Wilson at the reins-clearly a change from his college coaching days.  I recall the 2004 Rose Bowl Michigan's recievers (Braylon Edwards, Jason Avant, Steve Breston) seemed to be blanketed as M lost 28-14 and I believe they were lucky the score was that close.  Is this a newer type D concept or something from before?


January 17th, 2014 at 4:04 PM ^

 I think the biggest factor for success in the tournament is having your team peak at the right time, which is tournament time. Although at the end of last year it didn't seem to me that Michigan was peaking, I remember Beilein being very confidant. And it bore out. I also think Izzo is so high on the list because of the tough early schedule State always has. Suffering a couple of early losses may hurt your seeding but it sure makes your team tougher in the end.


January 17th, 2014 at 10:32 PM ^

"The ongoing education element would allow student-athletes to leave school for an extended time, but retain their scholarship so they could graduate. "

I think this is a fan-frickin-tastic idea. Few athletes have Woodson-length careers. Average of 3.5 years and done in the NFL. Getting a degree from MSU only gets you so far, but it is still better than just a high school diploma. Barely.