Unverified Voracity Thanks John Wilkins

Submitted by Brian on March 13th, 2013 at 4:07 PM


Say this for the man: he dances when you tell him to dance. (AnnArbor.com)

Thanks for the service. One of the secret joys of being a Michigan fan has been the excellent service provided by John Wilkins and the alumni band when the students aren't available. Wilkins always brought an entertaining flair to the job he created 21 years ago. He has just retired, and he'll be tough to replace:

Deciding to retire from the pep band was not easy for Wilkins. “I will miss the Alumni Pep Band very much,” he said. “The opportunity given to me to conduct a Michigan band at Michigan games, to play this great Michigan music, was a dream that I had since a little boy, a dream come true. Over the years I have developed incredible friendships with the players and will miss working with them on a regular basis. I'm glad that I have been invited to come back every year to conduct the entire Alumni Band at the football game in October on homecoming weekend.”

Also I have that tie.

It's kind of like the Heisman I guess. Denard will be on the cover of EA's most recent slight rehash of NCAA Football 2003. Smile incoming:


He joins Desmond Howard and Charles Woodson. The game will pay tribute by having linebackers jump impossibly high to snag interceptions off everybody.

There were vote shenanigans that threatened to propel Texas A&M's Ryan Swope over the top, but EA promised they would eliminate fake votes, and by "eliminate fake votes" they meant "put Denard on the cover even if he finished last because this is EA, and EA gets dollars son even if it means turning a single player game into an always-online fiasco because we are mad at pirates."

He probably doesn't realize he's twisting the knife. After three straight weekends in Ann Arbor, Drake Harris finally gave the "it's not you… it's me" speech to Michigan State, decommiting. Except he said it was actually you, Michigan State:

"Since I'm just playing football now,” Harris told reporters after his regional basketball game Monday in Grand Rapids, “I want to play at a bigger school, win a national championship."

Analysts are saying don't count your 6'4" elite wide receivers before they hatch, but it looks like the field is catching up to Michigan now. They'll have an opportunity:

“I don’t have a frontrunner, I don’t even have a top list right now. I’m supposed to go down to Florida on March 22, and then Ohio State sometime in April and Notre Dame sometime in April. I’m not sure what I’m going to do in the summer. I’ll probably go out and visit some schools out West.”

Harris says he'll enroll early and plans to commit in October. Long way to go.

[Ace, you can just C&P this section into Friday Recruitin'. Sorry.]

Well, yeah. Trey Burke is a first-team All American to the Sporting News and the Big Ten's player of the year, the first time in 24 years a Michigan player has brought that award in. The last guy was Glen Rice, which also yeah. Burke said "I feel honored" in response to being honored. Tautological point guard is tautological.

It really came down to Oladipo versus Burke, and while I love Burke with a Denard-crush intensity you really can make a case for Oladipo, who shot 66% from two(!), was the #5 guy in true shooting percentage, has a near-top-100 OREB rate—something Michigan felt the lash of on Sunday—and is a defensive superstar. It's that versus Burke's huge usage and incredible assist rate and turnover avoidance. It's Woodson versus Manning for the Heisman, except Indiana fans probably won't be bringing it up 20 years later.

Well… uh. Tim Hardaway also made first-team All Big Ten on one of the two ballots. This I am not so sure about. Aaron Craft got the nod on the media ballots—a weird situation where the better defensive player gets the hype and the coaches go for offense—and to me that's a lot more justifiable than going strictly by scoring average. That's how you pick Hardaway over, say, Gary Harris, who shot 74/52/42 on FT/2s/3s versus Hardaway's 69/50/38 on virtually identical usage. Hardaway did rebound a lot better, but what rebounds exactly was Gary Harris supposed to acquire as a the two-guard in a lineup with Payne, Nix, and Dawson?

I haven't watched Harris that closely but I doubt Hardaway brings much defensive value he doesn't. Eh. Awards are pointless, see…

The CCHA's continuing inability to do anything right. This is far less egregious than the various Hunwick-related snubs last year (Hunwick was a top-three Hobey finalist and not the CCHA goalie of the year), but Boo Nieves was honorable mention All Rookie this year despite having the second-most points of any freshman in league play. Alaska's Tyler Morley's 8-7-15 was better than Nieves's 8-14-22.

In other news, highlights of Michigan's 3-2 win over Northern on Friday contain one Michigan goal and two by NMU.


Where was this all year? Hockey resoundingly swept Northern Michigan over the weekend in two games I did not see because I assumed Michigan would not have a home series last week, because when has Michigan ever finished between 6th and 8th in the CCHA? LOL that idea.

In any case, Michigan's Saturday demolition of Northern was so comprehensive it makes you a little mad. Michigan outshot Northern 23-6 in the first period and 16-3 in the second, whereupon it was 4-1 and all over but the shouting. If you can do that now…

Anyway, Saturday's game was a weird one with two penalty shots:

Copp converted the second once the goalie went for a poke and missed it, leaving his five-hole exposed. He also scored a grinder earlier.

Center Ice has recaps of Friday and Saturday. They've recovered from that January funk and go to Western this weekend. CI:

A few guys are really standing out on a weekly basis, Copp, Racine, Nieves, Merrill, Guptill, they just are playing on a level that no one else is coming close too. I vividly remember our series against Western earlier in the year because every stoppage of play a Bronco went to a Wolverine, chirped at him and gave him a shove. No one did anything about it. Today I thoroughly enjoyed seeing any Wildcat who went near Racine get a push and shove, most of the the time it was Andrew Copp doing it. Little things that make a big difference.

The Guptill-Copp-Deblois line sees Guptill on a seven-game point streak; Nieves was sick last weekend but played through it.

Vincent Smith AMA. #2 popped up on Reddit yesterday to do an AMA promoting his Pahokee kickstarter, and the first question is… not about Clowney. It's about what kind of sub he ate. Well done, zparts. The second question mentions Clowney, but also finger guns. There was also the inevitable MGoBlog question that got the inevitable "I don't really read it" answer.

There is another. Derrick Walton senior highlights:

He won't be Trey, but if Hardaway and Robinson are back he won't have to be. If he can be a better version of Yogi Ferrell (18% usage, 26 Arate, 43%/32%) Michigan shouldn't have too much of a dropoff on offense what with everyone else back.

Etc.: Denard pro day interview. Who wants to dwell on the Indiana game? Special teams… not bad? Jordan Morgan : Space Jam :: Brian : Big Lebowski. Hockey's had a lot of breakaways of late.


snarling wolverine

March 13th, 2013 at 4:36 PM ^

Hardaway has one big advantage over Harris: he's a junior and Harris is a freshman.  All else equal (or even remotely close to equal), the voters will always reward the veteran.  Didn't Burke get snubbed from the first team last year?


March 13th, 2013 at 8:31 PM ^

Yeah--he has similar numbers as Gary Harris, but THJ has to guard the best option in the backcourt of the opposing team or guard the best 1-2 options overall on the opposing team.

He also has to bring it consistently, because his teammates that are freshmen often play like that, like freshmen.

He has to bring rebounding too, because if not, Michigan weakness at rebounding becomes glaring.  With 5 freshmen in the main rotation, THJ has to go get that ball over the bigs on MSU, IU, OSU, MN, etc.  This is moreso during the injury of Morgan.  Basically, THJ has to lead Michigan along with Burke.

Harris did not have the obligation to lead this season, b/c MSU has experience.  The experienced bigs on MSU can also block out the opposing bigs more effectively than Michigan's bigs, so Harris doesn't have the same onus on him as THJ to rebound or defend.  Harris plays with the following rotation of upperclassmen: Appling, Payne, Nix. 

So the numbers may be similar, but THJ has to play better for Michigan to have a similar record as MSU. 

That's how I see the comparison, fwiw.   


March 13th, 2013 at 8:48 PM ^

thj hasn't done a great job doing any of the things you listed this season, so it seems to me to sort of nullify your point.

on ball defense? meh

rebounding? serviceable in most games, but has many lapses.

consistent offensive production? mehhhhhh

and yet we have a similar record to state....


March 13th, 2013 at 11:50 PM ^

You seem to be missing my point: MSU has a senior and 2 juniors leading 2-3 freshmen.  Michigan has Burke and THJ (Morgan missed too much time to insert here) leading 5 freshmen.  To have similar records, THJ has to be the 2nd piece of arguably the best backcourt in the conference.  The coaches probably thought as much.

Here's what they probably saw:

THJ is the second best scorer on a team that lacks elite-team defense.  Without consistent scoring to make up that deficiency, Michigan obviously loses more. He can rebound and take the ball up the court in transition (which is how/when Michigan thrives).   He also averages 4.5 rpg. 

Upon further reflection, it's THJ or GRIII taking on the best player at positions 1-4 (note: only Indiana has its best player at the 5 arguably).

As for leadership,without THJ, the team loses at then #9 Minnesota (21pts on 7/8, 5 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 steals, 2 blocks, 6 turnovers). 

In other big B1G games: @OSU, THJ had 12 pts, 5 rebs behind Burke's 15 and 4. @ Indiana, he had 18 points behind Burke's 25. 

THJ was huge in the game on 2/5 vs. OSU scoring 23 pts. when the freshmen couldn't get it going.  He hit a career-high six three pointers that night.  Stauskas hasn't done that despite his talent from deep.  @Wisconsin, THJ had 18pts, 4 rebs, 3 assists to Burke's 19pts, 5rebs, 4 assists, 2 steals.

In fairness, he did not show up at all @MSU.  But only Burke did.

Against MSU at home, THJ was the only player besides Burke to have an assist; THJ had 2 and Burke had 10.  THJ also led the team in rebounds in that game with 7 alongside Morgan's 7 rebounds. His shooting % was not great in getting 6 points though.

After Burke's leading stat line @Purdue, THJ had 16pts, 5 rebs, 1 assist, 1 steal to Stauskas's 17 pts, 1 reb, 1 assist 1 steal.

@PSU, THJ and Burke led the team.  THJ had 19 pts, 7 rebs, 3 assists, 1 block and 2 TOs to Burke's 18 pts, 2 rebs, 6 assists, 1 steal, and 6 TOs.

Home vs. Indiana, THJ and GRIII had similar stat lines behind Burke's leading stat line.

He was Two-time Big Ten Player of the Week (Nov. 12, Jan. 21) ... Starting all 25 games played.  Only Burke surpassed this number of B1G player-of-the-week award, winning it 3 times.

THJ is the second best player on a 25-6 team, one with the youngest rotation in the B1G--the best conference in the NCAA.  It's arguably the best season of B1G teams in the history of the conference too. 

All due respect: your comment seems like a broad opinion without much to back it up.  Some fans are never satisfied with a player's great season.


March 14th, 2013 at 1:15 AM ^

timmy's currently on a 10 game streak of shooting 32% from floor and 21% from three (i hope chitownblue2's numbers are right)...he is the prototypical streaky shooter. inconsistent defines his offense.

on d, sure he guards teams best players...but he--along with our other perimeter defenders--does an average job at best. that contributes to our porous team defense.

as for rebounding, he puts up better numbers than an average 2 guard, but as you yourself have said, our team depends on him to get more boards than any other 2 guard. and considering we are 8th in the conference in rebounding...yeah.

finally, he is the second best player on the 5th place team in the conference. i don't know what the point of saying the rabble rabble best group of B1G teams in the history of the conference...because it's not like thj is anywhere near the discussion for best players in conference ever. additionally, we may be the best conference and teams relative to other conferences, but this is the weakest year of cbball in terms of talent in recent memory.

so yeah, i love me some thj, but i agree with brian that he didn't really earn first team honors.


March 14th, 2013 at 3:41 AM ^

You're judging THJ based on team accomplishments? By that standard, Burke doesn't deserve POY.
1st team B1G recognition is an individual award.
It's an award for a full season, not a 10 game window. Also, offense entails much more than shooting. One example is taking the ball and reading a defense in transition, even if THJ gets no statistical credit for doing it well on a given play. Outside of burke, only THJ directs the transition offense well.

You're now also suggesting that THJ can't rebound or defend sufficiently bc the team doesn't do either sufficiently? That's ridiculous. Again, the team plays many freshmen. THJ's individual abilities cannot make the freshmen grow up faster.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but the difference between first and fifth place is 2 or less games. It's so close, there are 4 top ten teams in the B1G tourney, which is unprecedented.

1st team B1G is about the best individual players (not the best success of the team of an individual player). Otherwise, Burke shouldn't be POY. Burke however is the best player in the league ...on a fifth place team, ranked #6 in the country.

I think Brian is more of a football guy than a bball guy. Maybe you too.

Blue in Yarmouth

March 14th, 2013 at 8:36 AM ^

I've followed these posts and I have to say you're running in circles a bit. It was you who kept suggesting that THJ was deserving in part because of his role guiding his team to a 25-6 record, then you come down on the other guy and say it's an individual award. 

You also say it's an award for a seasons work, not a ten game stretch, but 10 games is a third of the season...that's not insignificant. THJ is the prototype of a streaky player who goes long stretches where he simply disappears, then starts forcing shots to make things worse.

On the defense, all I can say is that if you have watched the games and think that THJ's on-ball defense is a strength (or even good) I don't know what I can say other than you are probably the only Michigan fan that believes that. Our team defense stinks and THJ is a part of that. 

Your next paragraph again points to the teams record as a reason for THJ getting the award after you arguedin your first paragraph  that this is an individual award...Then, in the very next paragraph you echo that sentiment again...that it's an individual award....Truly you have a dizzying intelect. 

Bottom line for me is the only reason THJ gets the award is because he is an upperclassmen while the other was a freshman. I love THJ, but I didn't see near the growth I hoped to out of the young man. Same streaky player, still poor defensively, still poor shot selection...I love the guy and hope he sticks around another year, but I agree with Brian on this and the flip flopping nature of your argument doesn't help your cause.


March 14th, 2013 at 11:55 AM ^

definition: The circumstances that form the setting for an event, statement, or idea, and in terms of which it can be fully understood and assessed.

You can't pin blame on THJ for team statistics like team rebounding or team defense.  Lapses by his younger teammates in these areas doesn't make THJ a worse rebounder or defender.

You can however pin blame on THJ if he himself is a poor rebounder or turns the ball over.  For a 2 guard, he rebounds at a high rate.  I don't think he turns the ball over very much; certainly he's improved from last year.

Contrast these ideas with the obvious fact that THJ is a leader on the team.  The team's record is 25-6.  I guess you can call a record a statistic, but context gives these statistics different weight in this particular discussion.


March 13th, 2013 at 5:00 PM ^

thanks for your work, Mr. Wilkins.


also, from #2's AMA, i guess someone likes the bumblebees:

Of all of the uniforms that you wore, which was your favorite? Also, numbers on helmets: yay or nay?

[–]VSMITH2[S] 13 points ago

The Michigan state throw backs and under the lights were both my favorite.

Numbers on the helmets yay


March 13th, 2013 at 4:29 PM ^

I hate to say it, but I have to go with Craft.  He's the best player on the floor most nights.  It's hard to quantify what he brings to OSU, but it's a hell of a lot. 


March 13th, 2013 at 6:34 PM ^

Dakich's commentary during the IU/OSU game was spot on.  Watch how Indiana tried to speed up the game and Craft's response.  One of the problems with Burke is how you can control the pace at which he plays.  Craft would break IU's press and then get into the offense.  Whereas Burke will play right into their hands.  One of the reasons OSU will go further than us.


March 13th, 2013 at 4:39 PM ^

But in a game that's primary "put the ball in the hoop" don't you have to be higher than 11th in points average to be taken seriously as the player of the year?


March 13th, 2013 at 6:31 PM ^

For whatever reason, I've been feeling slightly more optimisitc lately. As in, I feel like the odds when from 0% to maybe 0-5%. I think the rough end to the season makes me want to believe maybe he might want another shot

Realistically though, he's got nothing left to prove at this level. He should go, as much as I dislike saying that

Blue in Yarmouth

March 14th, 2013 at 8:46 AM ^

I agree that there is little chance of him coming back, but as far as nothing left to prove I disagree. From an individual perspective you're spot on, he has nothing to prove and will no doubt be a high draft pick.

It's easy for me to sit back and say I would stay if I was him but honestly I would. I would give it one last shot to win the NCAA title with this team (that is if they don't win it this year of course). 

My only issue with Burke is sometimes he tries to do too much, and maybe that's the instruction he's getting from JB, I don't know. That is the only issue I htink he has with his game, that he doesn't let it come to him, but forces things just a little too much at times. 

I love the guy and hope he comes back for one more run, but I agree completely with you...chances are very slim. 


March 13th, 2013 at 6:16 PM ^

All due thanks and respect to Mr. Wilkns for leading the BBall Band. Don't mean to jump on this so soon, but his ideal replacement can be found at George Mason. UM Music School alum Michael "Doc Nix" Nickens leads the Green Machine BBall Band, and they are completely off the hook:



March 13th, 2013 at 6:32 PM ^

Is a pretty awesome guy.  Remember seeing him man the Alumni Band during the dark days of Brian Ellerbe.  

Always great to see guys like him being a positive influence in Detroit schools.  Bet those Mumford kids really appreciated him too.


March 13th, 2013 at 6:33 PM ^

I almost always stayed on campus over winter break, and I got a kick out of watching Wilkins direct the band during the 3-4 home games we usually had over the break.

Space Coyote

March 13th, 2013 at 7:21 PM ^

I'm hoping he goes pro (don't think he will), because I think he's just starting to really get going (injured a bit early this year I think). He has a very pure shot, gets it off quickly with a very consistent motion. He's a good athlete at the 2 and can get to the bucket. He's a plus defender from what I've seen as well (though this is a bit difficult to tell because Appling, Dawson, and Payne are all good defenders, so Harris may be getting the weak link more often than not).

At an NBA level I think he is only an ok athlete, but as he gets in the gym he is going to be a very good shooter for some team (teams in the NBA are always looking for shooters) and he has the strength and length to d-up on the other end. If I was a late lottery pick I'd take a real hard look at him.


March 13th, 2013 at 7:42 PM ^

Just par for the course. Michigan has been one of the dominant programs in the CCHA for 20 years, and George Gwozdecky and Bob Daniels have been coach of the year as many times as Red has been: twice. Meanwhile, Jeff Jackson and Bill Wilkinson has been COY three times, and Blasi four times. Bizarrely, Red was not COY for either of his NC teams. Go figure.


March 13th, 2013 at 9:10 PM ^

"It's Woodson versus Manning for the Heisman, except Indiana fans probably won't be bringing it up 20 years later."

Considering how bitter some of them were about Oladipo losing, they actually might stay bitter that long. Wouldn't put it past IU fans.

Big Blaze

March 13th, 2013 at 9:40 PM ^

Who is the unfortunately tiny sized (#5 I think) playing for Walton's team...
And where can I vote to bring him to Michigan to be the next Avery Queen.
I need the fat headband and outrageously long shorts as well.

Love Walton's game. Plays with dare I say it, "swag" and has excellent vision; all the better to find Nik and Glenn camping out in the corner every offensive set. Of course I anticipate half his passes going off the butter fingers of Morgan/Horford/McGary more times then not; mostly due to sheer lack of anticipating a pass coming their way. *face palm*

Bando Calrissian

March 13th, 2013 at 9:55 PM ^

John Wilkins is one of the most inspiring, energetic, and fun people I've ever been around.  I can't think of anyone more worthy of the attention he's getting at his retirement, and I wish him the best.  It's good to know we'll still get a little bit of John every year at Homecoming.  

Everything's always fun with John Wilkins, and that's his lasting legacy.


March 14th, 2013 at 11:17 AM ^

Officially John is retriing after 21 years of service to the alumni band, but he's been involved with Michigan for even longer.  My frist encounter was as a freshman in the MMB in 1989 -- almsot 24 years ago. 

A buddy and I have a favorite Wilkins quote (admonishing us to play louder, with FOCUS), "I WANT YOU TO PART MY HAIR!"

Great guy, and as Bando says, you just can't find a guy with more inspiring energy.

Note that, as far as I know, Wilkins has been doing this on a volunteer basis this whole time.


March 13th, 2013 at 11:34 PM ^

The comments on that EA/Simcity article are dead on. I watched EA take C&C away from us a piece at a time, and I can just feel the metallic tang of those late-game stumbling blocks added in for more game length at a reduced budget. And the glitches. Oh, the glitches.