Unverified Voracity FIGHTS IN THE STREETS Comment Count

Brian March 28th, 2018 at 12:25 PM


Illinois State to the Final Four [Marc-Gregor Campredon]

Talkin' 'bout Yak. Sam Webb interviews Illinois State head coach Dan Muller, who actively tried to get his assistants the jobs at Michigan they in fact got:

“I was talking to him about the next step in his career and what he wanted to do, what his aspirations were as a coach, and how I could help,” Muller recalled. “He said, ‘hey, what do you think about Michigan?’ And I said, ‘I think that would be a great place for you. Have you ever met Coach Beilein? (He said), ‘no.’ I said, ‘okay look, in this business I am going to tell you the odds are you won't get the job because you've never met him. A lot of times coaches hire guys that they know or have met at least.’ I said, ‘if you want, I'll call him and just see.’"

“I called Coach Beilein that day and left him a message. He called me back a couple days later and said thank you very much, but I've got a couple of guys I think I'm going to hire. I actually recommended DeAndre Haynes, also, who was on my staff. I said, ‘coach that's fine. If anything changes give me a call. I think both of these guys would be terrific for you.’

That is incredible on many levels. Beilein listened to a cold call about a couple of guys he didn't know, did the requisite research to bridge that gap, and hired both of the Illinois State guys on offer. And the guy who'd hired them in the first place and saw them build a team that absolutely should have gotten an at-large NCAA bid in the MVC was selfless enough to kick that process off.

Additional YAK. Yahoo's Jeff Eisenberg has another long feature on Michigan's defensive coordinator:

The first priority Yaklich drilled into his team before Saturday’s game was to take away Florida State’s vaunted transition attack. The Wolverines responded by not surrendering a single fast-break point to a Seminoles team that scored 14 two nights earlier against Gonzaga.

The second point of emphasis from Yaklich was keeping Florida State from generating second-chance points. Michigan held the Seminoles below their season average in offensive rebounding percentage despite playing four guards for most of the game.

Yaklich’s final objective was to successfully foil Florida State’s pick-and-roll game and force the Seminoles to win the game shooting contested jumpers. The Wolverines fought over screens, made crisp rotations and recovered to shooters quickly, contributing to the Seminoles scoring almost nothing easy at the rim from start to finish.

“You have to take away the roll man against Florida State,” Yaklich said. “They’re so big and long. You watch them on video, and they’re throwing dunks in from five or six feet away. We just had to stop their momentum to the basket and then it’s the effort we always talk about on defense of getting back to the shooters.

“We have a phrase that we yell every day in practice every time a ball screen is set, and that’s “Do your job.” That means you’ve got to sprint to where you’re supposed to be right away. Those practice habits helped.”

Uh… what? Yahoo collects a bunch of coach quotes about the Final Four teams, and the guy talking about Michigan is a little cheesed off at the end:

Prediction: Loyola can beat their asses. Everyone saying this is a mismatch is wrong. Loyola has a bunch of like pieces, which screws up Michigan’s offense. It’s going to be a defensive-type game, which means that anyone can win. Look at the teams Michigan feasted on: Texas A&M, Purdue, Michigan State and Nebraska in the Big Ten tournament. If you play big like those teams, they are going to annihilate you. If you switch and junk it up and play almost guerrilla-warfare coverage on defense, they’ll struggle to score. If you can switch, which Loyola does 1 through 4, this game will be close.

I have a lot of problems with these assertions. One: Nebraska switches one through five better than anyone else in the Big Ten because Isaiah Roby is an elite defender. Two: Loyola's center is a plodder who's extremely ill-suited to switching. Three: who cares about switching 1-4? How many PG-SF pick and rolls do we think Michigan is running?

Also this was a bit of an odd assertion:

One thing we noticed was that they’re unbelievably handsy and grabby. I was almost taken aback at how physical they are. You don’t expect it. It’s going to be a physical game, you have to be ready to fight in the streets.

Can't say I've noticed a FIGHT IN THE STREETS kind of defense except for that one game against MSU, but I guess that's the word on the street. Mostly they just contest stuff. That doesn't make them WVU.

Best friends forever. Tim Hardaway Jr drew up a play for Trey Burke during Burke's 40-point double-double:

Of course it was a long two off the dribble.

Speaking of. Burke as Allen Iverson is happening:

The Knicks gave up 137 points to lose… but hey, Trey Burke! Pay no attention to his reliance on midrange jumpers.

Doubling down. Myron Medcalf managed to write a 3,000 word story about the rise of the three pointer in college basketball without a single one of them being "Beilein." Michigan is in the Final Four! Beilein's had one team in the last 15 years that wasn't in the 90th percentile in 3P%! Pittsnogle! Pittsnogle.

Instead, Medcalf's 3,000 word story includes quotes from Jaren Jackson, Miles Bridges, and Tom Izzo. I'm not even mad. I'm impressed.

Minnesota makes a hire. The Gophers' new hockey coach is St Cloud State's Bob Motzko. Motzko was SCSU's head coach for 13 years, during which the Huskies made 8 tourney appearances, including five of the last six years. Motzko never paid off his regular season success in the tourney as he reached just one Frozen Four and didn't get to the title game, but worst tourney in sports, etc. He's now got access to the biggest talent base in college hockey—seems like a pretty good hire.

Etc.: Miles Bridges declares for draft, hires agent, avoids going 1-5 against Michigan. Saban admits some offers aren't committable, which is fine. ESPN on Wagner. Baumgardner on the building blocks. Top talent now almost entirely avoids college soccer. Regional photo feature. The Great Tennessee Coaching Search Dump. Nick Boka profiled. Franz Wagner highlights.



March 28th, 2018 at 1:32 PM ^

It was here on some post about Duke changing to the 2-3 zone this year.  Although, in my understanding, Duke did that because Bagley sucks in man-man defense and they needed to protect him.  (I had previously erred in saying Carter was the culprit, but Bagley is the post player in question.)  In any case, 2013 Michigan beat the Cuse 2-3 because McGary couldn't be stopped at the FT line.  He either passed it over someone's head for a layup, took the FT himself (the quintessential mid-range jumper), or passed back for a 3.  Nothin' Cuse could do to stop any of it!

If only this team could rain 3's like that team could...   


March 28th, 2018 at 2:07 PM ^

Do people not remember that syracuse game? We didn't wreck their zone. We were in the 50s before they started fouling and shot 40% overall and 30% from three and had to have Jordan Morgan take a questionable charge call with 15 seconds left to win. 

We won that game and it was great but we didn't dismantle the zone like people want to claim. 


March 28th, 2018 at 2:31 PM ^

it gets said on here all the time that McGary was the Greatest Zone Buster Ever.

But that's urban legend. It's a fishing story.  It's like catching a 6 inch minnow that turns into a 50 lb monster in a few years.

He hit a couple 15 footers and made a few nice passes out of the high post but he had a very mediocre 10 points on 11 shot equivalents and 3 TOs for a 102 Ortg on a team that scored 61 points on 1.02 points per possession. 

It wasn't a great individual performance and was an even worse team performance considering we were the BEST offensive team in basketball that season.

We won that game on the defensive end by giving up 0.93 ppp.  You are absolutely correct.


March 28th, 2018 at 2:38 PM ^

was about a 10 minute stretch in the first half where we were truly dismantling it.  McGary and Robinson were playing a nice two man game (free throw/baseline) and McGary was passing very well out of it to set up Levert and Sauce for open threes (Levert's went, Stauskus' did not).  We were on the verge of blowing them out toward the end of the first half.  We played really poorly offensively in the second half though.  Lot of hero-ball from Hardaway and Burke and none of it was falling.   McGary didn't play as well in the second half but he didn't get many touches in the middle of the zone either.


March 28th, 2018 at 2:49 PM ^

You are both right, as I recall. The first half Michigan put up 36 points and drained some threes. They built a lead that was in the context of how the game was played unlikley to be overcome; they led by 11 at the half. The second half Michigan got cold and hung on because McGary made some plays going to the rim from the FT-extended area. 


March 28th, 2018 at 2:18 PM ^

man requires you to teach bigs a lot more rotations, switches and how to defend the pick and roll.  Much easier to tell guys like Carter and Bagley to basically just guard anything that comes within this 10 foot area.  And they had the length to do that effectively.

Wolverine In Exile

March 28th, 2018 at 2:02 PM ^

Defensive schemes are limiting dunks and 3-pt shots and conceding the mid range with the expectation that the shooting percentages with current talent make that shot a "bad investment". But since everything is cyclical, there will be one or two talents that will be able to make mid-range shots at a better than acceptable percentage and the balance will start again. 


March 28th, 2018 at 12:39 PM ^

Motzko is a good hire for Minnesota and I'm impressed that they made it so decisively. He had taken control of the state, no small feat at SCSU. 

As a guy who wants Michigan to beat Minnesota four times every year, this is the guy I didn't want to see at the other program. Thus, I think they made a good choice.


March 28th, 2018 at 1:36 PM ^

They interviewed Motzko (was also a long time Gopher Assistant before becoming SCSU coach), Grant Pultony, Northern Michigan coach and former Gopher on their back to back championship teams, and two assistants. 

Of those four Motzko is just too accomplished; stands out easily from the other three.   Pultony would be too much of another PJ Fleck hire, young accomplished coach.  He may be their next hire after Motzko (Age 57) is done.

Shop Smart Sho…

March 28th, 2018 at 12:39 PM ^

I would hazard to guess that US Soccer needs to learn the same lesson that USTA learned when it comes to working with colleges. Unless the player in question is a generational abberation, you're better off nudging them toward spending at least some time in college. If for nothing else the social growth that occurs and the physical training they'll get at big D1 schools.

Colleges shouldn't be relied upont to develop the very top end of the talent pool, but they're better equipped to train the athletes that make up the bulk of the playing base. College soccer coaches just need to be approached and supported as equals by the national organizing body to make it a more interconnected system.


March 28th, 2018 at 1:07 PM ^

That article makes a very good case that the NCAA can facilitate that process by changing the schedule so that soccer doesn't shoehorn 25 games into the fall, which seems to have really negative consequences on players' health and development. (It should also change the stupid substitution rules so that college soccer has the same rules as every other high level competition).


March 28th, 2018 at 2:38 PM ^

Unlimitied substitution should be the US standard for all levels of soccer all the way to professional.

One reason normal sports fans find soccer so utterly boring is the players have to stand around and conserve energy to make it the whole 90 minutes.

Hockey style substitutions would add energy, excitment and scoring the game, and the fan base would grow.

Before you get all "soccer elite" on me, think for a moment where the 3 point FG in basketball came from? The elimination of the two line offsides in hockey? 

Sometimes sports rules innovations that originate in countries outside of a sports' core geographic base end up getting adopted worldwide, and the sport is better for it.



March 28th, 2018 at 3:14 PM ^

Agree completely. Further, if the US tried something this radical it would set their international game back considerably by developing players for a system that they can't use outside of North America. It would be like the Big Ten going to flag football only; might be entertaining in conference, but the players developed would rarely have any chance in the NFL.


March 28th, 2018 at 3:29 PM ^

Unlimited substitution harms the game in two distinct ways.

1. Unlimited substitution hurts college soccer players vis a vis players in other venues who don't play with it. This seems self-evident, but i'll spell out how it manifests itself. On of the common most criticism of US players is that they're tactically naive. College soccer players never learn how to maintain tactical shape while conserving energy (which isn't about standing around but about making choices about expending limited energy and still being in position to play). They also don't learn tactical adaptation, since coaches are more apt to substitute if a particular problem arises rather than teaching players to figure out what's going on and adapt on their own. 

2. It also hurts the game itself. College soccer is largely played (and those who go to games know this is true) using tactics that emphasize aggressive pressing and very direct play. On its face, this sounds exciting, but it's anything but. The hockey equivalent is dumping the puck and trying to win the puck in the corners. Certainly a part of the sport but not the most skillful or interesting. Hockey would be far less interesting if this was the primary strategy that teams used. But that's what unlimited subs do for college soccer. Studies have shown that NCAA soccer has worse passing stats than MLS (obviously, and one can only wonder what this would look like in comparison to a top 5 league) but, more importantly, the gap widens enormously in the second half. (see chart below) NCAA teams in the second half average 45 passes every 15 minutes, about one-third of what you'll see in a single build up at higher leagues. The passing stats goes down because unlimited substitution means that the most skillfull players (who stay on the field the longest) are playing with an energy deficit vs. the players who are frequently subsituted, therefore, there's much less space to play in, and teams are apt to just lump the ball forward into the mixer in the penalty box.



March 28th, 2018 at 7:04 PM ^

Aha. Now that you have pointed out that rolling substitution will hurt the game, FIFA will surely bring it to every level of play. 

Frivolity aside, US market is still a huge unpenetrated market for FIFA. So if they want to get a foothold in this market, they will do everything they can and then some to tweak the game to appeal to the US market. 

All these games are entertainment. Every day new forms of entertainment are coming to fore. There are more things a human can do in the 24 hours. So the existing forms of entertainment are fighting for time with newer forms of entertainments.

Even though the fans may not like it, even though the purists won't like it, every game will change to suit the times. Either that or it will get stale and die. 

Shop Smart Sho…

March 28th, 2018 at 1:31 PM ^

I'll be honest, I don't know much about US Soccer because I only watch good soccer. I'm not surprised that they fall in the same camp as every other US sports organization that I've dealt with or read about though. As a nation, we suck at organizing on a national level, and only really do well because of a massive middle class population that is addicted to sports.


March 28th, 2018 at 12:40 PM ^

Selfless, sure, but if I'm an aspiring college assistant coach, suddenly I want the job at ISU.  ISU assistant coach isn't a destination job for anybody.  Understanding that, and working with it instead of trying to fight it, is a great way to attract talent and build loyalty.  Ben Muller clearly gets it, and his teams will be better for it.  Good for him. :)


March 28th, 2018 at 2:38 PM ^

will help him attract other up-and-comers?  Because I agree with that to an extent.  But a lot of coaches (and managers in lots of companies and industries) try to hoard their talent because recruiting and finding replacements is hard. Good on him for making the short term sacrifice for his guys when there may never be any long term payoff.

Given how bad ISU was this year, the move could be considered a bad one by his employer if he doesn't find adequate replacements.


March 28th, 2018 at 3:28 PM ^

Yes, that's exactly what I'm suggesting.  And if he ends up in hot water with ISU, he'll find another place to be successful with that kind of attitude.

I agree that it's an uncommon strategy, but it's one that's extremely successful.  (It's actually pretty much the same thing we've seen Harbaugh do, and it's one of the reasons that people have wanted to come work for him).


March 28th, 2018 at 12:44 PM ^

is that Yahoo guy is so mad at us?  He basically said "two fairly similar teams with similar strengths and it will be a good game" but he said in like the meanest way possible.


March 28th, 2018 at 2:54 PM ^

It was some assistant.  Head coaches aren't doing that interview.  And this was not a very bright one given that he got Nebraska totally wrong.

Also, to Brian's point, them switching 1-4 doesn't matter that much considering they start a plodding 260lb center who is the exact kind of defender that has struggled to defend Wagner and our pick and rolls (Haas, Nick Ward, Kaleb Wesson, etc).

If this guy can't get Wagner into foul trouble like the FSU bigs failed to do (couldn't get Wagner to bite on those three post-ups to start the second half) or if he can't score on Wagner like Haas could, they may have to pull him and try to go small like FSU did.


March 28th, 2018 at 12:44 PM ^

The Medcalf article referenced here is an achievement in and of itself. A gift that keeps on giving this March. For those keeping score he predicted Arizona to the final four, Michigan State over Gonzaga in the championship game, then doubled down by ranking Michigan 15th out of 16 teams in the Sweet 16 and now writes an entire column attributing college basketball three point shooting exclusively to the Golden State warriors. It is, as listed, impressive.


March 28th, 2018 at 12:46 PM ^

Anyone know what his plans are? He's definitely a more skilled player than Mo at his age and I've heard he may go directly to the NBA. But given what his brother did, what are the chances he plays college basketball or more specifically come to Michigan?

N. Campus Tech

March 28th, 2018 at 12:55 PM ^

"Bridges is the first MSU player to turn pro early since Deyonta Davis left following the 2015-16 season. Tom Izzo’s other players to leave early were Jason Richardson and Zach Randolph in 2001, Marcus Taylor in 2002, Erazem Lorbek in 2003, Shannon Brown in 2006 and Gary Harris in 2014."

That's not a very impressive list. Is that the full list? That can't be. I think Michigan has had more guys leave early since 2013 than Izzo since 2001.


March 28th, 2018 at 1:43 PM ^

MSU surprisingly hasn't had a bunch of guys leave early. Still, considering that the vast majority of guys in the league don't become stars, their list is about what you'd expect. You have one multi-time all-star in Z-Bo, a player who approached all-star status in Richardson, a quality young player in Harris, and some who-dats. Case in point, Duke hasn't put a single player in the Hall of Fame.


March 28th, 2018 at 3:31 PM ^

or probably not even bad compared to expectations based on incoming recruits.

Duke being a good case of getting guys that often make ideal college players but not necessarily great pros. Although that's changed quite a bit since they've gone after one-and-done's aggressively.  Kyrie is probably going to be a Hall of Famer.  Jayson Tatum is a promising guy that looks like he could be a regular All-Star.

Look at at some other traditional powers in fact:

Kansas - other than Imbiid and Wiggins, they don't have many guys that aren't role players at best.

UNC - they haven't had a star in the NBA since Vince Carter!

Going the other way, where did all the best NBA players go to school:

KD - Texas

LBJ - No college

Steph Curry - Davidson

James Harden - Arizona State

DeRozan - USC

Kawhi Leonard - SDSU

Anthony Davis - UK (hey, literally the only of the arguably the top 10 NBA players to go to a big program)

Russel Westbrook - UCLA (ok, a traditionally big program but probably not really in the last 20 years)

Rudy Gobert - international

Giannis - International