Unverified Voracity Now Has No Reason To Talk About The Spring Game Comment Count

Brian April 11th, 2018 at 1:24 PM

Wait wait I have a Spongebob meme for this? Man, Colin Castleton released a senior highlight reel and after the third Nowitzki pogo-stick jumper I was all


Did I do that right, fellow kids?

Anyway, here's a guy doing things once you get past the usual open-court dunks:

Castleton displays several different skills that should translate to higher levels, most obviously the shooting and Wagner-like ability to drive to the basket. He might even be better at changing directions? Wagner had a straight line drive and a behind-the-back move that was clunky but effective because of the surprise factor. Castleton looks more fluid. Toss in that EYBL block rate a tick higher than Bol Bol and… uh, yeah.

Caveat from certified insane person Colin From Twitter, who watched a full game:

There are reasons that Castleton isn't ranked where Bol Bol is.

Still, Castleton suddenly seems like this class's most crucial recruit. Seriously: since Michigan doesn't have access to five-star posts, maintaining the five out offense is their best way to compete with teams that do. Castleton promises to do that while adding a ton of rim protection (relative to Wagner, at least). He'll need a year or two of Camp Sanderson before hitting his potential. When he beefs up, look out.

Someone print this out and engrave it on every basketball croot's head until the end of time. Jonathan Tjarks on the weird predicament one-and-dones who disappoint slightly at NBA draft factories:

Trevon Duval declared for the NBA draft last week, but the Duke freshman’s decision was made for him back in January. That’s when Coach K completed a recruiting hat trick by signing Zion Williamson to what was already the top recruiting class in the country, which featured the potential top two picks in next year’s draft (R.J. Barrettand Cameron Reddish) as well as the best pure point guard (Tre Jones, the younger brother of former Duke standout Tyus Jones) in the class. Neither Duval or Gary Trent Jr., his backcourt partner, were able to build up their draft stock at Duke, but both have decided not to give it a second try. They are essentially being pushed out the door by a program that no longer needs them. …

Playing at Duke was a worst-case scenario for Duval’s draft stock. He couldn’t do the things he did well, while his weaknesses were on full display. That’s how he went from a potential lottery pick before the start of the season to no. 50 overall on ESPN’s Top 100 prospects list. Freshmen in that range typically go back to school to work on their games. Most NCAA coaches would love to have a sophomore like Duval running their team and would have tried to sell him on returning by structuring their offense to emphasize his strengths. The situation is different at Duke.

Duval at least got to play and score some and will probably go in the second round. Charles Matthews evaporated off draft boards and had to take a redshirt year at Michigan, a place that actually cared to develop him. It's a big risk to go into a situation like Duke or UK where you get recruited over annually, and that's biting guys on the regular.

Contrast Matthews's situation at UK with what's going on with him at Michigan:

"I just kind of saw what they did with people in my position. I just wanted to come here and learn, get a fresh start," Matthews told ESPN. "I feel like my knowledge has grown a lot more. More open to learning and understanding the game. Really just getting a better grasp of that."

Matthews quickly emerged as one of Michigan's most integral pieces early on this year. He's playing a much different role, with 21 percent of his total offense coming as the pick-and-roll ball handler. He regularly initiates offense in both the half-court and transition. Thanks to his improved ball skills and ability to see over the top of the defense, Matthews' pick-and-roll passes generate 1.25 points per possession for Michigan, which ranks in the 90th percentile in all of college basketball.

"I was always more comfortable with the ball," Matthews said. "I'm happy I've been able to play in two different systems. Play pick-and-roll, play off the ball. I feel like with my increasing handle I'll be able to play with the ball even more."

It's Matthews' steady improvement as a shooter that really has unlocked the rest of his game. Although he is not a natural scorer and he still needs to up his efficiency, Matthews is far more comfortable both with his feet set and off the dribble than he was in the past. He's capable of rising up off the bounce in midrange spots or stepping into spot-up 3s when given time and space -- 56th percentile in unguarded catch-and-shoot jumpers -- which bodes well for his NBA outlook if he can continue to progress.

That would never happen at Kentucky. Calipari does a good job of getting his various insane athletes to shed AAU ball and play defense as a unit, but it seems like he hardly has time for anything else and ends up running fairly rudimentary offense for guys who don't tend to improve in the rare case that they come back for a second year. I'm thinking of the conscience-free iso offense the Harrison twins ran against Michigan in the Elite Eight.

I'm not a "when do we see the recruiting benefits?!?!" person—the 2018 class is already enough to make Michigan a top five team for a couple years—but it would be nice if Beilein's development caught the eye of one or two five star types a year and convinced them to pass over the bag for a better chance at a long NBA career. It still baffles that Tyus Battle signed up to run desperate isos at set defenses while spending much of his time practicing a defense the NBA outlaws.

The Mooney thing. News that Michigan is involved with a grad transfer is fairly surprising, but here it is:

Among the head coaches [South Dakota G Matt] Mooney, a 6-foot-3, 210-pound shooting guard, met with were Bobby Hurley, Greg McDermott, Archie Miller, Chris Beard and Dana Altman. He also met with assistants from Iowa State and TCU, plus FaceTime’d with Chris Collins.

“I took a bunch of notes from every meeting,” Mooney said. “I’m going to rank them. I have list of my priorities what I’m looking for and then rank out which school is best.”

But the meetings aren’t done. Fresh off playing in the National Championship game, John Beilein will “tentatively” meet with Mooney next Tuesday.

“I think I’m going to give Michigan a serious look,” Mooney said.

Michigan's scholarship count currently stands at –1; even if Moritz Wagner declares for the draft there isn't a spot unless someone transfers. Michigan will know about the first bit of that by April 22nd at the latest since Wagner's already used up his Get Out Of NBA Draft Declaration Free card. I would in fact assume that Michigan's involvement with Mooney means that non-Wagner attrition is likely. With Eli Brooks and Austin Davis both coming off freshman* years at spots where age is very helpful the obvious candidate is Ibi Watson.

FWIW, Mooney is coming off a 30% usage year in the Summit where he shot 50/36 and hit 83% from the line. A top 50 steal rate also perks the ears up. That's on another level from Jaaron Simmons, who had less usage and an ORTG ten points lower in the MAC a year ago. Mooney also wouldn't be trying to play point guard.

Even if Michigan has the room it seems unlikely that Michigan can offer Mooney anything other than backup SG minutes. Some other team out there is almost certain to have a more attractive depth chart. OSU is involved, and they can say they played Andrew Dakich for 20 minutes a game last year. OTOH, Evan Daniels said Mooney seemed "VERY intrigued," his caps, in a comment about that article on 247.

*[Redshirt freshman in Davis's case, but he's a developmental big who didn't look out of place during his brief time on the floor.]

Also on Davis. Those transfer rumbles were always silly and now he's explicitly debunked them:

Davis vowed to continue working hard and get ready for next season. Michigan will be coming off a 33-8 season and will be a Big Ten contender once again.

“I’ll be here,” Davis said. “I committed to Michigan, and I’m not going anywhere. This season just showed me what I need to do differently.”

Don't give up on bigs. They're big people, people. It takes time. 

Got 99 problems and a meniscus in fact happens to be one of them. Ben Mason out for a month or so:

ANN ARBOR -- The Michigan football team will be without Ben Mason for the remainder of spring.

Mason, who will be a sophomore this season, plans to have surgery to repair a torn meniscus he suffered in practice, head coach Jim Harbaugh revealed this week on his "Attack Each Day" podcast.

"He was cracking skulls, doing Ben Mason stuff," Harbaugh said. "As spring ball was going, he complained a little bit about his knee. His knee just didn't feel right."

Shouldn't have any impact on the season… and now it doesn't even have an impact on the Spring Game. RIP, spring game.

Etc.: One last look back at the tourney run. Josh Rosen on nuking mars. Kansas and NC State get added to the FBI probe. Good overview of B10 basketball next year from InsideNU, though it doesn't take Ryan Taylor's transfer to the Wildcats into account. Pac-12 network not so hot.

Ignas Brazdeikis measures in at 6'7", 223 at the Hoop Summit. He will not be shy. Mo Hurst back in the first round.



April 11th, 2018 at 1:42 PM ^

no fucking way should staee be the projected #1 team in the B1G next year. the game has passed izzo by and they’re going to lose all their talent from last year

Maison Bleue

April 11th, 2018 at 3:18 PM ^

Ours is better, Iggy and Dejuilius are way under ranked (Iggy isn’t even given a rating at Rivals). Bingham is somewhat of a project and we all know how “great” Izzo is at developing highly ranked projects. Loyer is good but he is 5’10”. Whose minutes is he taking? Winston’s? Is going to play the 2 at 5’10”? We are better than MSU next year without Wagner, with him, we are much better.

Blue In NC

April 11th, 2018 at 3:23 PM ^

Not sure I agree.  MSU returns some decent talent (Langford, Winston, etc) plus Michigan tends to start slow and if Wagner leaves will be replacing a lot.  I think there is a very good chance that Michigan ends up with the better team by year end but it may not start out that way.  And I am completely okay with that. 


April 11th, 2018 at 4:59 PM ^

Yeah, I'd agree that MSU is the favorite because teams like Michigan and Purdue lose so much. I don't think they'll have the best team at the end of the year (I see ceilings for Winston and Langford that they are getting close to), but Izzo can apparently get his bag men out in full, and so they'll always have talent in EL. He'll waste it, but it will still be around.


April 11th, 2018 at 6:27 PM ^

I love MAAR and he was great this year, but there's a chance Poole is better than him next year.  Duncan made major strides but was still a role player that didn't bring much to the table when not hitting threes.  His minutes will likely be upgraded by an Iggy/Livers combo. Their leadership was no doubt really valuable, but talent-wise, we're upgrading at the 2 and 4 spots.

Wagner would be a big loss, but...

...MSU loses two first rounders!  They are losing more than Michigan, even if Ward stays and Wagner leaves.  If they both leave, or it's the other way around, it's not even close.

Unless Langford has a huge breakout season or MSU's freshmen are instantly great (when is the last time that happened?) AND Michigan's freshmen are worse than expected, I agree that Michigan should be better.

This is definitely a Tom Izzo benefit-of-the-doubt projection that he deserved 5+ years ago, but doesn't deserve anymore.


April 11th, 2018 at 9:30 PM ^

such a great track record with 1st/2nd year guys who are highly ranked.

Seriously, there is no way that MSU is the top team. Their 2018 B1G record was a scheduling mirage and no Bridges, JJJ, Schilling and Carter (/s) for next year. Winston needs help to get his offense and the group’s poor D was shrouded by JJJ’s shot blocking.

I am more concerned about OSU with Holtmann’s coaching and enough depth so even Dakich wouldn’t get 20 min per game.

Mr Miggle

April 11th, 2018 at 3:07 PM ^

Here's an article discussing the current rules.


A key exceprt. The NCAA will allow college basketball players to enter and withdraw their names from the NBA draft an unlimited amount of times over the course of their four-year careers.



April 11th, 2018 at 2:00 PM ^

I do think if he hits something close to his ceiling (a guy that can shoot, drive and defend), he would easily be the most impactful of the current class.  Bigs with those skill sets are just so valuable.

But he almost certainly wouldn't reach that ceiling for a couple years.  And at that point, playing five out is probably less important than it is for next year when we'll be starting two iffy 3 pt shooters in Z and Matthews.

Beilein's offense doesn't need a perimeter threat at the 5 to be elite.  We were elite in 2014 with Jordan Morgan setting picks and finishing at the rim when called upon.  That was viable (and the roll was more open) because we had 4 other threats. Derrick Walton was a 41% guy as a freshman that year, Stauskas was Stauskas and Caris was a 41% guy too.

Next year if Z is still a guy teams can sag off, it makes those rolls more difficult to score on (but still not impossible as evidenced by the Purdue BTT game).

I also think we'll see some Brandon Johns at the 5 next year.  I think he'll be the primary back up to Teske to give us more of a small-ball 5 out look.


April 11th, 2018 at 2:29 PM ^

but if casleton can provide 5-10 minutes of just stretch three shooting that could be enough (ala Matt haarms at purdue this year)

otherwise you hope teske and davis might be able to provide to the rim stuff

or, alternatively, we have the small ball PG-Poole-Matthews/Johns - Iggy - Livers Line up

Depending on where Dejulius is, you could try to pair the right point guard with the right set up (and hopefully Z shooting gets better)


summary, be great if castleton could at lease provide nice outside shooting while not being a sieve on the defensive end

yossarians tree

April 11th, 2018 at 2:46 PM ^

I too think Davis is being overlooked prematurely. Dude is big and strong and appears to be fairly athletic. I think Beilein will have a plan for him--kind of ask him to do a couple things well until he gets some confidence and then late him be a typical Beilein late-bloomer big man. Castleton does have a pretty sweet stroke but man he is a bag of bones and will get pushed around early.


April 11th, 2018 at 2:19 PM ^

"It's a big risk to go into a situation like Duke or UK where you get recruited over annually, and that's biting guys on the regular."

And yet next year all the one and done's will end up at Duke, UK, Kansas and the other schools they always end up at.

I mean shoot.  Given what happens to players when they go there versus the actual development and COACHING they get at Michigan you'd think these guys are getting paid or something to go there.


April 11th, 2018 at 2:34 PM ^

I understand the animosity others have for the One and Done mentality, but to say "Calipari does a good job of getting his athletes to play defense..." is a huge understatement.  Anyone who has coached (yes, I have) knows how difficult it is to get even one freshman to play team defense let alone 4-5.  Nobody (and I mean nobody) teaches this better than Calipari - pay attention to what NBA scouts say.  They all testify to this.  


April 11th, 2018 at 2:44 PM ^

I remember watching their loss to K-State in the round of 16. They played ferocious defense for the last 10 minutes of the game. Had they played that way for the whole game, they would have won by double digits. Yes, I agree with you that he coaches defense. The deal with all those freshmen is that they don't have the experience that tells them they have to play that hard for the whole game.


April 12th, 2018 at 2:31 AM ^

just waiting to be able to go pro, with the main goal probably being not to get hurt.

It is very impressive what Calipari does on defense with these guys players.  I thought Brian said that and don't think it was a massive understatement though.


April 11th, 2018 at 2:52 PM ^

You have chosen a very odd hill to die on in a Michigan blog.   

Brian pays Calipari a compliment about his ability to get kids to buy into defense and you say this is a huge understatement?     Kentucky didn't have the #1 defense in any ratings I saw and are probably in the top 5 nationally in athleticism so how is it underrating Calipari to say they play good defense?

If your a Kentucky basketball fan why weren't you more upset for Brian ripping his offensive development because he has to have a rudimentary system on offense to have any chance to succeed?


April 11th, 2018 at 5:08 PM ^

I mean, he does do a good job of teaching them defense, but even the it doesn't always take. UK defenses have fluctuated from elite (#1 in KenPom 4 years ago, #7 two years back) to fine (the other two years they were 39 and 222. Their offense is usually pretty basic, and while scouts love the athletes at UK they almost always say the Kentucky guys have to learn on the offensive side. So it isn't that unfair to say that Cal does a good job teaching defense but is mediocre at the rest.


April 11th, 2018 at 3:33 PM ^

The answer to some of these problems is to openly pay players so that they have a reasonable choice entering schools and whether to stay of leave.  The other is not allowing high schoolers to enter the draft, and, if they don't sign a pro or agent contract, enter school.  For obvious reasons, both are needed.  Maybe that would work, but there are no easy answers.

It can be argued that the Duke and Kentucky players knew what they were getting into.   It can also be argued that Truval could have stayed and gotten an education.  Both are fair points in a way, but these are high school players who have had only one dream: play in the NBA and very little reality-testing.

 I'm hoping that Truval considers transferring somewhere or learns how to shoot the lights out this spring or in his first year.   The predictions for where he will be drafted range from late first to the second, with the second round being from more credible sources.



April 11th, 2018 at 4:16 PM ^

Nebraska should be noteworthy next season if only because they will have two front-runners for the Name of the Year award: Thorir Thorbjarnarson and Johnny "Sookie" Trueblood. If Sookie isn't his nickname, it really ought to be. Great Odin's raven is that first name wonderful.

Maison Bleue

April 11th, 2018 at 4:38 PM ^

Don't forget Jordy "Biakabutuka" Tshimanga and Duby "Brothers" Okeke.

They really could be a team to watch with Isaiah Roby, Glynn Watson, James Palmer and Isaac Copeland returning. They just need to figure out how to win some games away from their home floor.