Unverified Voracity Has Smart, Is Determination

Submitted by Brian on February 12th, 2013 at 12:07 PM

Totem animal qualities. I thought this was an interesting shot from the extensive ESPN galleries put up in and around the OSU/Indiana games. It's a switch board; each player has an abstract quality they would like to embody they are supposed to dwell on:


Yes, it bothers me that some of these things are qualities one can possess—toughness, perspective, pose—and others are not. You cannot have "smart"; You can be smart. One can have determination; you cannot be determination.

Given the WE ON shirts, we can put grammar next to drawing free throw attempts as Michigan's main weaknesses.

Trice nyet. Travis Trice will miss The Big Game tonight. That leaves MSU with little on their perimeter bench other than Denzel Valentine, a slick-passing wing type with a whopping 31 in the TOrate department. So maybe not as slick passing as you'd hope if you're Tom Izzo. MSU also has Russell Byrd, who's like Stauskas if Stauskas was hitting 18% of his threes.

Expect both backcourts to get scant rest, then. Projected MSU minutes without at least one of Appling/Harris: 0. Impact won't be large except in the unlikely event that Harris or Appling gets in foul trouble.

In the negative column, it doesn't seem like Jordan Morgan will be available, either, after Michigan "shut him down."

Foul: nyet? The foul-or-defend up three late discussion has been raging for years, to the point where Ken Pomeroy's effort starts its title with "Yet another. " Most studies show there's little difference; further most give the slight edge to playing D. Kenpom's results:

         W    L   OT   Win%   Cases
Foul    122   5   10   92.7    137
Defend  598   2   77   94.0    677

That gap is narrow enough that the gap could be chance, but you can say that there's no evidence fouling is better in practice. Note that Michigan's recent misfortune does not make these statistics since this data only covers possessions that start with between 5 and 12 seconds on the clock, which will no doubt give our local Bo Ryans the wiggle room to say this does not apply. While I'm still on Team Foul, the margins here are so narrow that it doesn't seem that important. Certainly less important than the pending invasion of the planet.

I mean, NBA types are two of 64 on similar shots since 1996. Debating whether or not that late game strategy is correct is like debating whether the windows are ready for a hurricane when you live in Michigan.

More games: da. We've heard it before only to have it go poof, but yet another round of stories endorsing a nine or ten game conference schedule has burst onto the internet, leaving a legendary trail of leadership viscera behind:

After spending Monday in meetings with coaches and athletic directors at conference headquarters in Park Ridge, Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany told the Tribune the status quo of eight conference games “is not even on the table right now.”

It will be nine or 10, with the decision to be made this spring.

Insert the usual AD assertions that without seven home games they will have to dress all of their teams in sackcloth and ashes, but it looks like at least nine games are on the way.

Also on the table: November night games, early conference games, and the usual chatter about having an East-West split. The bizarre bit in there:

Central time zone schools Nebraska, Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois and Northwestern could be joined by Indiana, Purdue, Michigan or Michigan State. Delany said the conference would try to “figure out a way” to maintain rivalries between in-state schools.

Michigan State keeps getting lumped in with the schools that could be put in the other division… and Michigan is actually in here as well. No further words need to be spent on how dumb it is to have Michigan and Ohio State in opposite divisions; assuming that's not the case, hopefully MSU isn't allowed to nonsensically flee the division Michigan is in and expect to maintain an annual rivalry with them.

A little more detail on the divisions model that seems to have the most favor this instant:

Although the Big Ten presented the athletic directors -- and several university presidents who came to the league office Sunday -- with several models for divisions, don't be surprised if the league decides to keep things simple with an East-West alignment following the additions of both Maryland and Rutgers in 2014. The simplest solution -- one the athletic directors are discussing -- is to assign teams based on their time zone (Eastern or Central).

The lone caveat: there will be eight Big Ten teams in the Eastern time zone -- Maryland, Rutgers, Penn State, Ohio State, Michigan, Michigan State, Indiana and Purdue -- and only six in the Central time zone (Nebraska, Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Northwestern and Illinois). So one team from the Eastern time zone would need to move.

That article from Rittenberg also plays up the possibility that Michigan State will end up in the other division. This would either stick Michigan with a protected crossover—thus trading games against interesting teams in the other division for constant Purdue/Indiana games—or bust up the in-state rivalry. Neither is appealing. Let us condemn Michigan State's Rose Bowl hopes to death and keep them in the East.

The worst part about this is I can no longer dump on Indiana State as much. Indiana State, of course, submitted an override to the barely-passed multi-year scholarship legislation reading as such:

The current system works.  We don't need to get into bidding wars where one school offers a $75% for 2 years and the other school then offers 85% for 3, etc., etc.  This puts the kid into a situation where they almost need an agent/advisor just to determine the best "deal."   Again, if it isn't broke, don't fix it. [Indiana State]

Since I've used the tree people as the primary example of why the NCAA's governance structure is permanently broken: programs with nothing in common with each other are under one large dumb tent. So I am dissapoint, Big Ten, that you are trying to fight the recent recruiting deregulation:


We are specifically concerned with the following three proposals and ask that they be tabled along with Proposal 13-2:

Proposal 11-2: Athletics Personnel - Limitations on the Number and Duties of Coaches - Elimination of Recruiting Coordination Functions

Proposal 13-3: Recruiting - Deregulation of Modes and Numerical Limitations on Communication

Proposal 13-5-A: Recruiting - Elimination of Printed Recruiting Materials and Video/Audio Legislation

We have serious concerns whether these proposals, as currently written, are in the best interest of high school student-athletes, their families and their coaches. We are also concerned about the adverse effect they would have on college coaches, administrators and university resources.

There's nothing in the first and last proposals that has material impact on prospects or their associated hangers-on, and the horrors of communications deregulation seem eminently preventable. "Hello, Coach X. Please limit your contacts with me to X in timeframe Y, or I will not consider your school." Or, like, turn your phone off when you don't want to use it.

The assertions about "adverse effects" on people in the athletic department who now have to hire "u r gud art fertbar"-texting interns and print glossy media guides are more credible, but shortsighted. If you want to play on level ground on the big stuff you have to let the NCAA dump big sections of meaningless secondary violations.

In the building. Zack Novak returns to the scene of the Aneurysm of Leadership tonight:

"It's going to be so weird, I've only been to one Michigan basketball game in my life watching it, it's going to be odd," Novak said by phone Monday. "But I know this would be a big win for them, and I know they'll be ready to go.

"I know it's disheartening to lose a game the way they did at Wisconsin, but it's a great opportunity for them to go in and get a win on the road at Michigan State. That would totally bring the team's psyche right back to where it needs to be. It'd get their swagger back, and that's big."

His team in Holland has a week break.

Ondre is smaller. Down to 315 from 347.

Etc.: Four down at Alabama, leaving just six left to cut. Tifos at Georgetown. The Daily bombs hockey after suffering yet another sweep. Twice. Michigan's commits are lighting up high school basketball—Derrick Walton has had triple-doubles in two of his last three games, and Irvin puts up 30 a game it seems.  Paterno business is "200 pages of nothing." Hate quantified. Players only.



February 12th, 2013 at 12:18 PM ^

Okay, so NBA players are 2 of 64 in the same situation that Brust was. How is it possible that we've been snakebit by that shot twice in the past 3 years? (Brust on Saturday & Evan Turner in March of 2010)

MI Expat NY

February 12th, 2013 at 4:59 PM ^

The Turner shot was a higher percentage look.  He was moving towards the basket and we didn't make a real effort to defend.  He'd probably hit that shot 15% of the time.  Brust's shot was much more difficult moving towards the sideline with real defense being applied by LeVert.  That's bad luck, and it happens.  In either case, I do think not having someone on the ball is a valid criticism.  A lot has to go right with under 3 seconds left from the opposite baseline.  I don't see why we should ever voluntarily make it easier and let the offense pretty much execute their desperation play the way they want to.


February 12th, 2013 at 1:40 PM ^

Why do people more and more try to equate "socially constructed" with valueless in some important  way? Perhaps that demonstrates that it lacks a certain objective quality, but it certainly doesn't mean it lacks real qualities of the sort that would make it important. Just because something isn't "inherently correct" doesn't mean it isn't significantly correct.


February 12th, 2013 at 2:21 PM ^

Spoken like someone who has never had to grade papers written by students with a poor grasp of grammar. You will quickly appreciate the need for proper grammar when you're stuck having to parse meaning from of a jumble of poorly constructed sentences and incorrect conjugation.

Feat of Clay

February 12th, 2013 at 12:44 PM ^

I have a feeling that the fuse box was Coach Alexander's thing, and I think in general ol' Coach BA cares a lot less about grammar and word forms than he does MESSAGING.

He also talks about himself in the third person, which makes him seem like a magical person for whom the usual rules of language usage do no apply.



February 12th, 2013 at 12:44 PM ^

Attn math people. Is it possible to maintain a Big 10 schedule in which only 2 Big 10 teams have protected crossovers? 

Because if it is, then splitting Purdue and IU is the perfect solution. The IU-PU game can be their game on the final weekend, freeing the rest of the conference up for intra division matchups in which most rivalries will get played. This would be a great final weekend, covering many of the league's trophy games: 

-The Game

-UW-Minny for the Axe

-Iowa-UNL  for whatever that trophy is. Heros Game?

-NU-UI for the Land of Lincoln


-MSU-PSU for the land grant (haha)

-Maryland - Rutgers for the Amtrak Train

That's a weekend that trumps any other conference for finishing with significant, traditional matchups (compare to the SEC where half the teams are playing FBS teams in late November).

I don't think anyone would object to Purdue and Indiana being locked into a recurring crossover, and there's no other game that really requires a crossover, freeing up a more even rotation of games. But I'm not sure if the scheduling works over time with only one crossover.



February 12th, 2013 at 1:06 PM ^

It's possible to protect only one cross-over rivalry.

So let's say the divisions are as you propose, and the Purdue-Indiana game is the only protected cross-division game.  Let's also say there is a 9-game schedule.

Michigan would play everybody in the East Division 9 times in 9 years (Rutgers, Maryland, Penn State, Ohio State, Michigan State, Indiana).

Michigan would play everybody in the West Division other than Purdue 4 times in 9 years (Illinois, Northwestern, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, Nebraska).

Michigan would play Purdue 3 times in 9 years.

That's a total of 81 games in 9 years, for 9 games a year.

You can make the rotation work, but the rotation would not be very regular.  You don't have a cycle shorter than 9 years that you can use (18 years if you include home and away during every cycle, the way they do now).  The schedule would repeat after 18 years, and certainly the 14-team alignment won't last from 2014 to 2031.  Teams will be added or subtracted before the first cycle ends.

I also tried it with a 10-game conference schedule, and it works just as well.  The home-and-away cycle is 24 years instead of 18 years, and Michigan would play the Western teams other than Purdue 14 times in 24 years, and they would play Purdue 12 times in 24 years.


February 12th, 2013 at 1:19 PM ^


Hopefully, that's the solution. It works to set up an appealing final day slate of games. It also works because, to be frank, I don't think there are any teams that are going to lament playing Purdue or Indiana 3 times over 9 years rather than 4.

It does give PU and IU a slight competitive advantage, in that a historically weak team remains fixed to their schedule, but it's far more competitively equitable than anchoring every team to a protected crossover. And it allows those teams to maintain their most important annual game.


February 12th, 2013 at 12:46 PM ^

I wish Kenpom would also look at the numbers as it relates to guarding the inbounder or not.  Just as "convential wisdom" in the NFL that dictates punting on 4th & 1 is almost always wrong I would expect that there is similar data that can be compiled on guarding vs not guarding the inbounder.

It would seem to me (anidotal evidence notwithstanding) that placing a single player in a zone defense while everyone else plays man is of little real value.  But if you're able to disrupt the inbound pass thereby making the pass-catch-shoot less fluid you reduce the longshot odds even further.  Go back and look at the shot on Saturday.  The ball was caught in stride and he was able to rise and fire (albiet drifting right to left) with an absolutely clean look.  While not a good shot by any means it's not like this was an one armed heave.  

As pointed out by MaizenBlueJ we've been beaten now twice on the same play in the past three years.  And the one constant was we didnt guard the inbounder in either case.


February 12th, 2013 at 1:12 PM ^

Do you guys think Beilein is just some lunatic and despite 30 years as a head coach he has refused all logic and talks amongst his peers to come up with this defense that everyone else thinks is stupid?  So all the internet geniuses are smarter than Beilein, Pitino, Knight and the rest of college basketball that has tried this at one point and been burnt.  

The reason Mcgary is back there(he's not underneath the basket  to start, he drifts there once the pass is completed) is to prevent players from breaking open and getting a wide open look down in our end.   That's why in football you keep a safety back. 

Please check out this clip.  


Player on the ball didn't work there so that must be a stupid strategy as well.   Why have a guy guard the guy throwing the ball in he doesn't have enough time to get the ball back?    Stop with the blame game.

Your whole logic is based on them getting a good look.   Beielien instructed them to foul.   So your strategy discussion isn't even relevant.



February 12th, 2013 at 1:28 PM ^

Did you even bother to read my first paragraph?

" I wish Kenpom would also look at the numbers as it relates to guarding the inbounder or not.  Just as "convential wisdom" in the NFL that dictates punting on 4th & 1 is almost always wrong I would expect that there is similar data that can be compiled on guarding vs not guarding the inbounder."

I'm asking for empirical evidence to see which side is correct.  Obviously given that some coaches prefer to guard him and some (like ours) do not there isnt consensus even amoung coaches so why get your panties in a bunch cause I happen to fall in the camp that thinks gaurding him is the best option?

Also - by your logic every coach always makes the right decision (hey...they're coaches what do WE know) so punting on 4th & 1 is always the "smart" choice......right?


February 12th, 2013 at 2:51 PM ^

I was replying to Yost who has been all over these boards like Beilien is a moron.  

As to your point,  your 1st paragraph does not relate at all to the rest of your post.   You should have stopped after the 1st paragraph. 

I am not saying the coaches are always right.  What I am saying is that fans on the internet and call in shows have said not guarding the inbounds pass is 100% the wrong play.   "I've coached high school ball for 20 years and Beilien choked on Sat.  Everyone knows you guard the inbounder."   That's what I have been hearing.  Since I see coaches using all sorts of strategies I don't think it's everyone.

The other point was that the strategy Beilien was usin gwas so we could foul.  There were going to be no passes so the extra guy was on the floor to get the foul quick.   Wisconsin has a lot of very tall gys so havina guy back was a pretty good call in my book.


MI Expat NY

February 12th, 2013 at 5:09 PM ^

You don't get guys breaking open toward the bask if you don't do a hard deny on the inbounds pass (which we didn't do in either of our two loses anyway).  The best strategy in the less than 3 seconds, full court scenario is to put a guy on the ball and force who ever catches it to catch the ball going away from the basket.  It forces the inbounds man to execute  a tough pass in the face of pressure and the offense either to perfectly execute a play (i.e. Valpo) or make a true desperation heave.  We haven't done that in either loss.  Against OSU, Turner was able to catch the ball in stride going up the court and take a reasonable long shot at the buzzer against lax defense.  Against Wisconsin, we did better, but Brust was still able to catch a relatively easy pass going toward the sideline and get up something less than a complete desperation heave.  I think we could have done better defending both shots, starting with making life more difficult on the pass.


February 12th, 2013 at 7:28 PM ^

That's not the reason at all. There's zero reason to prevent a 2 up 3 with that little time left. Score 2 and be down 1 fouling us with a second left. Better odds. He shouldn't be playing safety...he should playing kick returner, stopping any "kick" at the 3 point line, and if anyone goes past it, let him go. Defend a guy shooting 3, and if someone goes past him, who cares?

Problem is he doesn't actually move back after caught. He's already deep in the paint when the pass is made, then is worried about rebounding a miss for some reason.


I think you should front the guy, but if not the extra man has to be doing SOMETHING to help defend. At that point you don't need a big guy rebounding, you need a quicker guy who CAN be a safety and get over and double team faster.

I don't get saying a guy made a mistake means that he's a crappy coach, or people are acting like OMG he should be fired!!!! No one has said that. It's not like the weekly fall FIRE BORGES! thread. (Who also knows more about coaching than anyone on this site but there aren't any posts like yours when people are saying far more than "hey, maybe we should do that better."

And I bet Pitino still wakes up with cold sweats thinking if he had fronted Hill he might not have ended up with two defenders between Laettner and the basket instead of one preventing the pass. I know I do because the Fab Five would have handled that team...if they had even beat Indiana.


February 12th, 2013 at 12:49 PM ^

My suggestion on the conference lineup is to move BOTH Indiana and Purdue West, preserving that "rivalry".  Then I'd move Northwestern East.  Why?  Northwestern is in Chicago whcih effectively makes them closer to the Eastern teams than both Indiana and Purdue (and arguably MSU) because it's so easy to fly to Chicago.

Shop Smart Sho…

February 12th, 2013 at 1:12 PM ^


Your assertation that we have to go along with the changes to get rid of the extraneous rules doesn't compute.  There is no good reason to to allow schools to contact a player at an increased rate.  Your idea that kids are going to turn their phone off if they don't want to be contacted seems terribly naive as well.  Kids don't turn their phones off, ever.  I have to make kids run at practice because they have their phones on them, and I'm a tennis coach.  These kids live on those damn things.


February 12th, 2013 at 1:24 PM ^

I was just going to say, I don't even think teenagers know that phones can turn off, and would be horrified to learn that they could do that just by accidentally pushing a button.  "Off" is the state in which the phone exists when the battery runs down, and is to be avoided at all possible costs lest they feel unconnected from the grid.


February 12th, 2013 at 1:25 PM ^

Forgive me if this has been answered on this site before, but is there any analysis of what percentage of shots teams take in transition?  It seems Michigan has enough high percentage shots to have a higher number of free throw attempts, but maybe too much of that is in transition? 

Zone Left

February 12th, 2013 at 1:32 PM ^

My issue with the recruiting changes is that the coaches will be forced to "keep up with the Joneses" and increase the volume of communication to absurd levels just to show requisite interest. Sure, kids can control their recruitment to a point, but then coaches have to deal with the fact that 17 year-old kids are stupid and don't mean what they say. Plus, there's no enforcement mechanism to force coaches to stop calling. The top kids are going to get literally hundreds of phone calls / texts each week.

I think unlimited contact is great if the NCAA creates a "do not call" list for prospects to sign onto when they enter the NCAA Clearinghouse. Every week, the kid logs on and adds/deletes the names of any schools he doesn't want contact from. That list is then sent to the schools with a 2-3 day grace period. A certain number of phone calls to recruits on your schools do not call list equals one scholarship off for that recruiting cycle.


February 12th, 2013 at 1:42 PM ^

I think our Michigan basketball players can absolutely strive to embody each of the qualities on that board, from "toughness" to "smart". The utility of the board clearly relies on the subjective weight each word carries with a particular player, which seems to be quite useful for personal motivation.

No, the words are not all grammatically similar possessable qualities, but who said they have to be? On Michigan's board, each word is unique to a particular player, and each player is only supposed to draw on their word to play with motivated discipline to best help the team.

When Jon Horford is on the floor, the coaches want the word "BELIEF" to flash through his head. Why? So he thinks about: Belief in the system. Belief in his own abilities. Belief that if he does his job, the team will make a play. Belief in his teammates. Perhaps one or more of these has been a weakness of Jon's, but if he's coming to play with that word on his mind, he'll help the team by playing with belief.

On the other hand, when Spike Albrecht is on the floor, the coaches want "SMART" going through his head. Why? So when he's playing point, he thinks about playing smart. Make the smart play. Read the defense, and make the smart pass. Don't try to rely so much on your physical tools, but on the smart coaching you've received.

Spike obviously spells one of the leading candidates for POY on a team seemingly destined to make a tournament run. The team can only get there if the guy running the system plays "SMART."

And so on and so forth. Personally, I love that the coaches had the creativity to put up this board. I love how the players seem to buy in to it. Think about each player and their word, then watch them play. It's effective.

Blue boy johnson

February 12th, 2013 at 1:47 PM ^

I might be alone here, and maybe it is because I don't gamble, but I don't much care to study stats before a game, after the game I'm very interested in who did what statistically.  I  will pour over the stat sheet after the game in rapt curiosity, taking on the task before the game is a cure for insomnia for me.