future of UM Bball?

Submitted by mhwaldm on February 23rd, 2009 at 11:21 AM

I realize that this is not the conclusion to the season that we were all hoping for, but there is no denying that the improvement from last yr is incredible, despite a minimal upgrade in personelle. But my ultimate concern with the limitation on UMs success in the future, is that we havent been able to pull in top tier talent. Over the past few years our recruiting has been pretty steady. We seem to consistently hall in a player in the top 100 and then a few outside. But I really don't see how we can become a national contender, even with Belien's ability to get the most out of his players, without our recruiting picking up. even if you just look at the big10, OSU already has 2 top 10 commits in the 2010 class. Illinois, Purdu, Wisco all have commits in the top 50.

Now I realize that its hard to hall in that type of talent when you havent made the ncaa tourney it wut seems like forever. but we also have things to offer that should play to our advantage: guaranteed playing time early on, a top-tier coach, the potential of being part of the UM Bball turn around. Wouldnt a top player love to be guaranteed a starting spot on a D1 school on the rise. Look at how LLP got stuck in back of the rotation. And wouldnt any top three point shooter kill for the chance to play in the belien system.

Hopefully recruiting will gradually improve as our team does, but until then, i just dont see how we can expect to compete with the top teams in the country.


Musket Rebellion

February 23rd, 2009 at 11:51 AM ^

Beilein is a little behind on 2010 recruits because it took him a while to close out his 2009 class. The 2009 class is the most solid class we've had in years though. Darius Morris is the PG of the future (as in, next year) Matt Vogrich is considered one of, if not the, best shooters in the country and we added some much needed size too. Combine that with Ben Cronin coming back, and only losing two walk-ons and Jevohn Shepherd and we look pretty well off next year.

2010 was always the year that people were looking at as the year we should make the tourney, the wins over Duke and UCLA brought public opinion beyond what it probably should've been. This was always an NIT team based on talent. Yes, they still have an outside shot at the tourney. Yes, I'm still optimistic, but if you look at last year we never should've been in a place to make a tourney run this year. The job Beilein has done is outstanding.

Anyways, Beilein has had success everywhere without getting top tier talent. For the class of 2010 we have two open slots and we are high on the list for a lot of top national talent. Dylan @ www.umhoops.com does an incredible job of breaking down our recruiting so you should check him out if you haven't already. His 2010 hotboard is pretty inspiring for our chances for that particular class.


February 23rd, 2009 at 12:13 PM ^

I agree with this post, but with a couple of reservations. I definitely think that any team with two walk-ons among its "leaders" is in trouble because it indicates a lack of the scholarship-worthy level of talent that is needed to compete on a regular basis in major college basketball.

I would also like to see UM get a lot bigger; it is no accident that seven players from the 1989 NCAA Champions were listed at 6-9 or taller. And it does concern me that UM never seems to be in the mix for top ten talent like they used to.

But I think that is changing. Beilein gets more, schematically, out of the talent he has than most coaches in the NCAA. In addition, his series of drills and requirements for making the team develop players a lot better than most programs seem to. Teams like this can often do really well without getting any divas or top ten recruits. Besides, if you get too many "rock star" recruits, they just become one or two year "rentals" and leave for the NBA.

Beilein has the program back on the right track to being equals with MSU. I think his system is superior to Izzo's and I think that UM will beat MSU on a regular basis when their talent level gets to about 85 percent of MSU's because of the superiority of that system.

I think the most relevant question that can be asked of UM basketball is this:

Which UM player's name will be the next verb, ala getting "Pittsnogled?"

Cronined? Vogriched? Morrised? Harrised (if he stays through his senior year)? Douglassed?

The possibilities are endless.......

El Jeffe

February 23rd, 2009 at 1:00 PM ^

Wow. An honest exchange of ideas and opinions that hasn't (yet) devolved into a Macho Internet Man pissing contest. Refreshing.

I like the post and replies. Let me suggest, however, that one thing that remains to be seen is what the ceiling is on Beilein's recruiting ability. At the height of his powers at WVU he brought in Gandy, Pittsnogle, Ruoff, Alexander, and Mazzula. And, he definitely squeezed a lot out of those guys, esp. during the Gandy/Pittsnogle years. What we don't yet know is if he will eventually be able to compete with the Williams/Self/Calipari/Donovan/Krzyszeszababaski types, or whether we're looking at more like an Izzo-level maximum.

FWIW, I bet Izzo-style is a good target, for reasons mentioned earlier--Beilein doesn't seem like he will attract the top-10 McDonald's types who only want to be in school for one year. And, if we do reach Izzo's level, that's a good thing. I've been increasingly unimpressed with Izzo's game coaching. For a while there he was wringing every last bit of talent out of his middling classes with scheme and pure effort, a la Dick Bennett's teams at Wisconsin. But, now that he has the race horses, he doesn't seem to be able to know what to do with them. Not that he isn't successful, but I don't see State making a major run at a championship again under Izzo--I think he's reached his ceiling and won't compete regularly for the crown with any of five or ten other teams. And, I can imagine that the free-flowing, jack-happy style of Beilein will ultimately be more appealing to the Raymar Morgans and Kalin Lucases of the world than the lunch-bucket sets and ear-splitting excoriations of Izzo.


February 23rd, 2009 at 2:13 PM ^

Beilein is 56 and has been coaching for a long time. I think we've all seen exactly what he can and will do. He'll pull in better talent at UM than he did at WVU. But I don't expect that he will somehow cause Michigan to jump into the national top 10 picture -- at least not consistently. I expect Beilein to run a classy program. Consistently get Michigan into the tourney. Occasionally challenge for -- or win -- the Big 10. And I think that is exactly what Michigan wants out of him.

But to compete with the likes of Williams/Self/Izzo and the like? I don't see it. Besides, did I mention his age? I don't know how long he will coach, but I think we're all probably lucky if he coaches into his early 60s.

big gay heart

February 23rd, 2009 at 3:04 PM ^

I can't say I've ever disagreed with anyone more than your assessment of Tom Izzo. He is, and remains, one of the best in-game coaches in the country. This team will compete for a Final 4 berth this year and probably again next year. Izzo undertsands that you need to control the half court game to win in the NCAA tourney; that's why he demands his teams play like during the regular season. The team's issues this year have been squared around Lucas and Moragn's wild inconsistency, not a lack of in-game management by Tom Izzo.

As it relates to this line "And, I can imagine that the free-flowing, jack-happy style of Beilein will ultimately be more appealing to the Raymar Morgans and Kalin Lucases of the world than the lunch-bucket sets and ear-splitting excoriations of Izzo," I'm not sure what you're trying to say. Izzo has put a ton of kids in the NBA and he teaches them skills that will enable themselves to maximize their potential. He's got Saginaw on lockdown. MSU will always attract great players and whether or not Tom Izzo yells at them will continue to be a non-factor.

Like it or not, Tom Izzo is a fantastic basketbnall coach who will continually compete for the National Championship. No, he may not usurp the machine that is UNC but, really, who is?

El Jeffe

February 23rd, 2009 at 10:57 PM ^

except that if my assessment of Izzo was the thing you disagreed with more than anyone, well then you live an incredibly conflict-free life. Nicely done.

But, I do think I overstated my point a bit and you missed my point a bit. My quibble with Izzo is actually not about his in-game coaching. That was a flat-out error on my part. It has more to do with his approach to the offensive end--he is very set-heavy and I actually don't think has gotten the most out of the raw athletic talent he manages to recruit, at least to the degree the other top coaches have (Calipari, Williams, Self, etc.).

So again, he is undeniably a great coach, but I think he has more or less reached his ceiling. Your hypothesis is that MSU will "compete for a Final 4 berth this year and probably again next year." My hypothesis is that they won't. Or, of course they will compete, but I think they'll fall far short. Ultimately we'll see who's right.

Finally, my post was really about tempering the optimism of Beilein by noting that we don't really know what his recruiting ceiling is, now that he's finally at a school with high name recognition. I don't think he'll be able to compete with the top schools, but I think he might be able to approach an Izzo-style consistently top 20 but rarely top 10 sort of plateau. And that would thrill me because, despite the fact that I think Izzo and MSU are a notch below the elite programs right now, he and they are still far above where UM is, obviously.


February 24th, 2009 at 8:31 AM ^

I do not know Bball like I do Fball but your discussion sounds a lot like my feelings about Tressel. Tressel repeatedly brings in top knotch classes and has more talent than 99% of the NCAA and yet they are consistantly underachievers. All Buckeye fans will talk about their BCS national championship but they have not done anything since then. Yes they have beat us repeatedly but we are not getting the talent they have been and if you look at our bowl record over the last 10 years, we have been a little lack luster. I think we have won 2 of our last 10 bowls.

El Jeffe

February 24th, 2009 at 10:48 AM ^

The only reason the comparison is apt is that Tressel has made those BCS bowls largely on the basis of dominating the B10, just as Izzo has. On the other hand, Izzo's success was much more extended and repeated, in the sense that his teams made 3 final fours in a row, I think. That is a tougher achievement to me than making 3 BCS championship games in 6 years because of the playoff system in hoops. That is, if you run the table in the B10 (lately not nearly the feat that losing one game in the SEC or B12 is, especially because of the conference championship games), you're pretty much a lock for if not the championship game then at least a BCS bowl.

Anyway, I think both of them are great coaches, but I feel like Izzo's potential has been more visibly reached than Tressel, for whom the jury is still out a bit, at least for me. It's really just based on a feeling I get when I see MSU play teams like Carolina, I guess sort of like when OSU plays teams like USC or Florida or LSU... Uh...

Again, perhaps the common denominator here is the B10. I'm not sure that at this moment the gauntlet MSU has to run in hoops or OSU in football prepares them for the big shows or exposes their weaknesses quite in the way that the ACC does for Carolina/Duke in hoops or the SEC does for Florida/LSU in football.

El Jeffe

February 24th, 2009 at 5:20 PM ^

that SOS only proves your point if you win. MSU has wins over two good B12 teams (Texas and KU) and one middling one (OK State) and two colossal flops to ACC teams (Maryland and Carolina). The rest of their OOC schedule were the typical tomato cans. So, let's say they were 2-2 in meaningful OOC games. Not bad, but not a house afire either.

My bigger point is this, though: if you're going to argue that the B10 regular season schedule is equivalent to the ACC or Big East regular season schedule, or that the B10 regular season schedule in football is equivalent to the SEC or B12 regular season lineup (importantly, with conference championship game) then I am going to disagree with you.

In MSU's case, if they had to play the functional equivalents of Duke, UNC, Wake Forest, Clemson, Boston College, and Maryland, or Connecticut, Louisville, Pitt, Marquette, Providence, and Syracuse twice a year, they would probably routinely finish in the top half, but not the top tenth of the B10. I could make the same case for OSU in football. If they were in the SEC they would not finish 11-1 every year and lose in a BCS game. They would finish 9-3 and win their bowl game.


February 24th, 2009 at 5:42 PM ^

All I'm saying is that you are arguing that MSU has a good record because of an easy schedule, but the numbers disagree with you. MSU is 21-5, which is a good record, and only 4 teams in the country have a harder schedule than they have, all of whom have worse records. This year, the Big Ten may not be as tough as the ACC, but it's close, and MSU made up for it by playing a number of good teams OOC, something few ACC teams did.

And you can't list the top teams in the Big East without mentioning the 10 shitty ones either. How is it that Marquette plays in such a tough conference yet their SOS is 89? They actually play most of the good teams once and most of the bad teams twice. This can happen when you're conference has 16 teams.

It would be difficult, based on resumes, to argue that MSU would finish below 2nd or 3rd in either the ACC or the Big East. Sure, they got crushed by UNC, but Duke basically did as well. Wake and Clemson each have 5 wins over top 50 teams, Duke has 7 and MSU has 9. Don't make arguments with purely subjective claims, they hold little water.

El Jeffe

February 24th, 2009 at 10:50 PM ^

I'm sensing that I'm arguing with Internet Arguing Man (plus also "Coach"), where all must be BLACK or WHITE. So, I will try once more and then we can agree to disagree anonymously as if any of this mattered anyway.

Never once did I say that "MSU has a good record because of an easy schedule." What I said was "I'm not sure that at this moment the gauntlet MSU has to run in hoops or OSU in football prepares them for the big shows or exposes their weaknesses quite in the way that the ACC does for Carolina/Duke in hoops or the SEC does for Florida/LSU in football."

I also suggested that State's (and let's not forget OSU's in football, the other part of my argument) record may be somewhat (NOT entirely) inflated by the relatively few very good teams in the B10. You are, of course, correct that there are a number of cream puffs in both the ACC and Big East. Similarly, the SEC has some pretty shitty football teams. However, these observations are irrelevant to my argument. What's relevant are the large number of good teams.

Again, my argument:

1. The ACC and Big East, at least, have been for the past few years, stronger than the Big 10 in basketball, and the SEC and Big 12 have been, for the past few years, stronger than the Big 10 in football.

2. Therefore, the winner(s) of the Big 10 in either sport will have a somewhat gaudier record than they would if they were in one of those other conferences, leading to some problems in the post-season. This has been an issue more recently, and specifically with MSU in hoops (17-4 record in the tourney from 1999-2003; 7-5 record from 2004-2008) and OSU in football (Florida, LSU, UT)

And that's pretty much it. And yes I know about small sample sizes. Finally, here's one piece of objective evidence. Here are the records from the ACC/Big Ten Challenge since its inception (ACC records listed first):

1999 5-4
2000 5-4
2001 5-3
2002 5-4
2003 7-2
2004 7-2
2005 6-5
2006 8-3
2007 8-3
2008 6-5

Total: 62-35

Interestingly, State's record is 5-4 (best in the B10), which is about what I would have expected. Strong, but not dazzling. Yes, different years, yes small sample sizes, etc. But prima facie evidence for my argument nonetheless.



February 24th, 2009 at 6:01 PM ^

"I'm not sure that at this moment the gauntlet MSU has to run in hoops or OSU in football prepares them for the big shows or exposes their weaknesses quite in the way that the ACC does for Carolina/Duke in hoops or the SEC does for Florida/LSU in football."

This is just flat out wrong. The Big 10 schedule does a fine job of preparing MSU's teams for the tourney. They regularly outperform their seed expectations. North Carolina and Duke regularly underperform in the tournament even though they almost always get to play their opening games instate.

Izzo may have reached his potential in conference (no titles since 2001) but to say that he can't compete nationally is a joke.

El Jeffe

February 24th, 2009 at 11:00 PM ^

Last 5 NCAA appearances:

MSU: 7-5
Duke: 9-5 (I'll definitely give you VCU last year)
UNC: 15-4

The 5 before that:

MSU: 17-4
Duke: 17-4
UNC: 13-5

Again, the point of my post was not that MSU is not good, nor that they have an easy schedule. It was a comment/speculation about the relatively recent past (see also Football, OSU) and an admittedly low-certainty prediction about the relatively near future.


February 25th, 2009 at 10:45 AM ^

Your argument is based on your assumption that Michigan State has been the top team in the Big 10 for the last decade year in and year out. That's just not true. They haven't won the conference since 01. That 7-5 record from 04-08 is not of a regular conference champion receiving high seeds. It's a team in the middle of the pack that gets a seed from 5-9 and wins, on average, more games than it should have. When they were actually winning the conference they made it to 3 straight final fours. I guess the big 10 failed to prepare them back then.

If you want to say that Izzo has maxed his potential, that's fine. I don't agree, but that's fine. But to say that he won't be able to compete for a final four in the future because the Big 10 fails to properly prepare his teams for the tournament is just stupid.

BTW, the Big 10 is 2nd in conference RPI this year.

Edit: If you're going to compare MSU to UNC and Duke, you should be aware that the talent gap is huge. Those schools regularly trounce State in recruiting.