Wednesday, July 14, 2021

#2

Distraction, distraction, distraction.

Does Stephen A. Smith really make $12 million?  Anyone who calls it a career or, worse yet, devotes their life to it is going to run out of things to say.  And a blowhard like that never has anything to say.

So let's get to it:  recruiting, recruiting, recruiting.  Used to be that news about the 5-stars was exciting but now we are relegated to who is wearing what gloves.  The star from Grosse Pointe South has remained solid and is becoming a leader, so that is good news.

Recruiting has been excellent the last few years under Harbaugh--generally hanging around the Top 10, a star or two, and a solid group of 4-stars.  I usually count top three hundred recruits and serious and NFL potential, and if they stick around a program like Michigan for four or more years in most cases they are pretty good.  Some, and if you look back they (e.g., Peppers, DPJ) are usually promising recruits if not top fifty.

Attrition has been average.  It is older than a cliche:  usually they are buried on the depth chart.

It is anyone's guess why it hasn't worked out better.  We are getting to the point where even undrafted free agent will be unattainable.

The other day I happened to see that Mike Sainristil and JJ McCarthy were ranked around 25th as most important players going into the season.  Sainristil has a total of 15 receptions in two years and has probably dropped the same number.  McCarthy has never played and no one has even seen him practice.

Brandon Brown, that pundit of Michigan forecasting who somehow arranged a gig with Sports Illustrated announced recently that Michigan is 'not supposed to be very good' this year.  

Who the hell knows?  They're doing it in reverse.  New coaches and a hoard of new players.  All these returning players but none stand out.  The 4-stars didn't work, let's try 3-stars...  Wow, that new coach from Kentucky can really recruit.  It takes "potential" to a new level and meaning.

As I look at the roster there are three players with experience and who stand out.  They are Aiden Hutchinson, Hassan Haskins, and Daxton Hill.

Oh, something else I read recently is that Jim Harbaugh is on the hot seat.

Monday, June 21, 2021

Harbaugh 2021 #1

Note:  The author does not intend to suggest that Jim Harbaugh is #1.

I have written this before and I will probably write it again:  sports are a distraction from the real world.  I think that is why I have a problem with bloggers with a compunction to perform a web search and write things even they don't want to read.  Same goes for people who call themselves writers too.  Write something if you have something to write.

Victors Weekend or Weekendpalooza or some such thing happened to kick off the post-Covid football year.  Snoozefest is an understatement.  Having a relative in the Detroit area--the definition of a hot prospect--is scraping the bottom.

Who knows--I'll take a stab--knows what the current team holds, but the future doesn't look rosy either.  Perhaps I'll get into it in future editions--Harbaugh took a paycut and a lot is riding on this year.  He says he will show it and I don't like what I see.

I feel compelled to recognize that coaching changes have been such a disaster in the past at Michigan, and many other places too, that it is unlikely Harbaugh is going anywhere.  That will make for a long season.  The point is, fans or just followers expecting more than a .500 Big Ten team better get used to it.  He is moderately capable, runs a clean program, and the alternatives are about the same.

By position group, the current team does not look promising.  While there are reports of barracks full of returning players, the offseason was a minus if not an embarrassment.  There is the guy who transferred in only to transfer out and the 350-pound career transfer student.  Overall, the talent in vs. the talent out from all sources is a loss.

The problem with Harbaugh?  It is undefined or undiagnosed.  The annual downturn in play on the field is exceed only by the coaching turnstyle.  One of the came and then left immediately, or never showed-up in the first place, I can't even remember.  I do know that there is a defensive coordinator with no experience ever in the role or as a college coach.  The offensive coordinator--he is not a household name where I live--has shown nothing; the dink and drop attack, otherwise known as athletes in space, is a myth.  

Harbaugh, the leader survives, with a grin on his face.


Monday, May 3, 2021

the team

 

DeVante Jones didn't have the quote machine working properly during his second recruiting, but he is an outstanding pick-up.  I don't see him going pro--a year or two with a step up in competition, exposure, and coaching will be very good for him.  He looks like a high character, grad transfer person.  The highlights are impressive; shooting, ball-handling, and passing.

The film clips for Jones look a lot like the high school clips of the incoming freshman.  There is a lot of standing around watching guys score.  You can't always predict...  And it always takes time.

It is hard to see how Juwan Howard can hold it together:  six highly-recruited freshman, a Covid returnee, and a transfer.  It is a new way of doing things, and at the same time it is a return to the rumors, rankings, and optimism surrounding a championship-caliber team. 

That means roster speculation.  For instance, Zeb Jackson has a lot of potential and as his game grows he will have opportunities behind Brooks and Jones.  But what happens to Frankie Collins?

Caleb Houstan looks awesome as a scoring forward.  Brandon Johns will have a chance to expand his game as the 4.  And Hunter Dickinson is back.

Freshman shouldn't be counted on to start or lead.  It is a perfect setting for them to do it as it comes...  

But how long will anyone stay on the roster?  You cannot predict it.  Instead they are just problems and opportunities.  Simply reload.

Franz Wagner?  Saying nothing is a classy move.  Classes end soon.  Rumor is he is a conscientious student.

Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Devante Jones

https://247sports.cohttps://247sports.com/Article/Basketball-recruiting-Texas-Michigan-Memphis-Baylor-Devante-Jones-164444647/m/Article/Basketball-recruiting-Texas-Michigan-Memphis-Baylor-Devante-Jones-164444647/

Not what I want to see.  Some day I'll pick apart the statements.

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

The Basketball Roster 2/2

For posterity.

I didn't think Chaundee Brown would come back.  I don't a thing about his classwork and I probably couldn't find out much if I tried, but he doesn't seem like a masters degree kind of guy right now.  He is correct in that he has had enough amateur basketball training.  At Michigan he showed that he is outstanding at learning and fulfilling a role--a defensive stopper, energetic 6th man, and 3-point shooter.  He is a talented basketball player, although not a superstar shot creator, assist man, or speedster; he is motivated and concentrates.  Brown would have been an asset for Michigan next year, but it is time to move on.

Ditto Mike Smith--I didn't think he'd be back--but for only slightly different reasons.  He already has a degree from Columbia and about half of a masters from Michigan; he has been very capable as a student, the door is always open for more, and it is enough for now.  He wants to be a pro basketball player for a few years and he knows he will be a life of short contracts and hanging-on.  No one is going to change that ambition.  Like Brown, he has achieved or come close to maximizing the college game along with an element of diversity.  At Michigan he was an excellent point guard and steadying influence.

According to the news, Austin Davis was glad and seemingly surprised to be offered a 5th year.  He represented Michigan well--always prepared and trying.  He got absolutely everything he could out of an amateur basketball career.  Particularly without Colin Castleton, Michigan had to have a back-up center, he was a known person, and it was a smart decision by Howard.  Michigan will need to replace him; out with the old and in with the new is the way it works.

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

The Basketball Roster, Part 1

Sports is a diversion and I am in the mood for a little of that.  I just got done searching for a picture of the Brooklyn Center police chief that was probably on Daily Mail.  If so, it is bound to be there again today and also every day for the next week.  The picture was one from a day or two ago where he looked sleep-deprived and really worried.


 

I solved the glow plug situation on the big Mercedes with another and better mobile mechanic.  It is nice to have options.  More to the point personally, it is great to be healthy and nice to have money in the bank, a booming stock market, and a government handing out more.

Back to the task at hand.  Everyone is scrambling with the free year.  It is more on top of more in terms of the ubiquitous portal and the self-expression involved in every 18, 20, or 23 year-old getting what they want.  Don't attend any no cellphones allowed parties or "meetings" because there are going to be rumors and scandals up the ying-yang; you may want to record them.

There will be expansion and profiteering too, as that defunct, sarcastic and funny, anti-communist Michigan sports blog would have described it.  Opportunities will come to life or be shot down.  Most likely, the rich will get richer.

Aside from late-night jitters against UCLA, Michigan played with such aplomb during the one tournament that counts that they will get attention if he calls.  In the much, much bigger picture Juwan is a hot coach and a ticket to the NBA is what they all want.  Michigan football, by comparison, is in danger of flat-out losing it, but in basketball, Ann Arbor is on the map.  Howard, if successful, is attempting to carve out a niche in NBA/college coaching that has never really been done before.  That may be a stretch and or wishful thinking, but compared to Spokane or Lawrence...

(Sorry, Patrick Ewing and Georgetown looked awful.  Look at John Beilein and his coaching search...  Can you see him at a small college just enjoying coaching?  I can't.  Being in Ann Arbor and on BTN is apparently just fine.  BTW, he wanted the NBA too.)

A look back says that Mike Smith and Chaundee Brown were lucky transfer hits.  A lot of the names Michigan didn't get looked ordinary.  

Currently, Juwan Howard's family outweighs roster sense but last year there was room.  Once the toothpaste--scholarship--is out of the tube it is hard to put back in.  Again, a wrath of recruiting no-shows caused it and both the planning and the solutions looked awful.  Adrien Nunez is number two.  I have never seen an upperclass player so incapable of playing in a real game ever.  He did not do it the whole season.

OK, this isn't about counting.  It is about having choices.

Wednesday, March 31, 2021

UCLA 51 Michigan 49

 

This was as good as it got, from a Michigan perspective.  They were cocky in the beginning and tense and scared after that.  Johnny Juzang was a big part of it, but the whole UCLA team was responsible for the win.  

After LSU and Florida State, Michigan faced a real coach and was out-coached.  For a moment the basketball bench looked like the football sideline, a place filled with coaches, trainers, and players who are either injured or never play.  But what could they do?  

The only reliable scoring came from Dickinson or even Davis, perhaps with a little help from Johns or Wagner, under the basket.  There was very little passing and, aside from two aggressive 3's from Brown and one open shot from Smith, there was no 3-point attack.  The hard-headed plan, or the reality, offered nothing more.

Kick-outs.  High post from Johns or Wagner...  They didn't do anything.

Tyger Campbell chipped in with a 3 and other scoring too; it was supposed to be a favorable match-up for Mike Smith and Campbell won.

UCLA center Cody Riley was in foul trouble the whole game and that was a favorable match too and then Juzang was injured and...  On many occasions Michigan players stood there and watched the jumpshooters hoping they wouldn't go in.  UCLA won the loose ball scrambles too.

Franz Wagner showed leadership through his actions the last few games.  Of course his overall game always helps.  In this one he did not rise to star or go-to guy level.

Turnovers.  Missed free throws.  Open 3's that weren't close.  Terrible shots, the worst of which was Brooks trying to throw it over and behind his head at the basket.  I can understand the strategy:  Michigan had plenty of chances.

Despite the piss-poor TBS production, one of the announcers got it right.  Someone said, RE UCLA coach Mick Cronin, "Get used to it.  We're going to play ugly."  They did.  They won and they deserved it. 

Always a bad sign.  Over confident.


Tuesday, March 30, 2021

 

 




Sunday, March 28, 2021

Michigan 76 Florida State 58

Reactions

Florida State did not show leadership or a go-to guy.  Some of the players were making gestures to the officials and whining after foul calls.

There is something wrong with FSU's reliance on size.  It does not guarantee rebounds.  Gray, for instance, is overweight.  They are slow.  Ball-handling and pressing are are not done well.

Leonard Hamilton is out of place on a college campus.  I am hesitant to learn more about his relationship with Juwan Howard.  In this one, Howard out-coached him.  Whatever Michigan had going on with people standing under the basket and/or dunking, it worked. 

Michigan did not shoot well from the free throw line and Franz Wagner and Eli Brooks were 0-6 from 3pt range.  It could have been worse.

Hamilton was classy and complimentary after the game.


Prediction

If Michigan plays smart, they will win.  It has not happened often this year, but if they crumble--foul trouble, lack of movement, an injury, for instance--they will lose. 

Using your brains includes making free throws.

Franz Wagner and Hunter Dickinson need to play intelligently and composed, the former against Scottie Barnes and the latter around the basket.  Austin Davis too; this is a game where his size will be needed.

This is not a bad match-up for Michigan.  Cover the shooters and lay off the others.

I hope Michigan wins and I do not like Florida State basketball.  The coach reminds me of a mafia leader.  Everyone is recruited based on height--it is more of a show of intimidation rather than basketball.  The team does not represent or embody the college experience at all.

Michigan 75 Florida State 70.


Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Michigan 86 LSU 78

Had to do a double check:  Cameron Thomas and Javonte Smart played 40 minutes each and I do not remember seeing that in a box score.

They are the two most obvious recipients of strong-ass offers.  There is no team otherwise.

So it is nice to win against a team like that.  It would also be nice to be able to find a video of the whole game and not settle for 8 minutes of highlights.  That makes it harder to explain the whys and wherefores.

My reaction live was that it was easier than I thought it would be.  Steve Lappas is excellent as a TV analyst and at one point he said Thomas is tired.  So why not take him out?  I mean, that is not coaching at all.

Chaundee Brown and Eli Brooks both had great games.  Brooks is lethal if left open, so how about guarding him?

Lappas also said, after the first 10 minutes Michigan made Thomas work for everything, i.e., a team effort to deny him the ball and stick a hand in his face.  It worked.

Michigan getting great shots is a result of plays that screen, require motion, and create open shots.  LSU just shoots; Michigan plays unrelenting defense and eventually a lot of those shots miss.

Smart and Thomas were both 12 for 23 from the floor.  As Brian at mgoblog correctly stated in his pregame post, a lot of those shots, drives to the basket notwithstanding, are dumb, selfish, poorly-conceived 2-pointers.

Michigan's plays result in rebounds and put-backs.  LSU's offense creates scoring that can be demoralizing, plus rebounds for the other team.  Usually, and with Isaiah Livers, Michigan is better at the open-floor game too, but they still have "athletes."  In this one they had enough to stay with LSU during their spurts.

At the end of the game LSU had no clock management, 3-point strategy, turnover creation, or coaching.  Again, without the full game...  At the end they did very little.  It was a tough, back and forth game, but the ending was relatively easy.

Cam Thomas can go to the NBA.  Will Wade can go f*** himself.  Michigan advances.

Florida State.  We've seen them before.  Size isn't everything.

Sunday, March 21, 2021

Image of Isaiah Livers

Yes, Adrien Nunez should be paid.  Jace Howard too.  How about Austin Davis, he deserves something for enduring that fifth year?

By whom?  Maybe the answer is more commercials during the games.


There is little question the NCAA is an illegal monopoly and idiots like Kenny Smith and Charlie Barkley make out like bandits.  Change is underway, but it is a complicated process involving the whole country.  For young Mr. Livers, it smacks of selfishness and desperation, and make no mistake, it has nothing to do with whether he plays tomorrow or not.  It is not metoo, it is me now.

I will not be shopping for Zavier Simpson memorabilia.  I doubt they are big sellers, but it is fine if you want to do it and there may be wounded souls who buy them or worse yet, consider them payment for memories.  You are not going to make any money, or provide for a family, or launch a sustainable career by selling $25 pictures of yourself.  It is perhaps a side benefit if you have whopping name and image recognition, but you have to get there first.  Is a couple three years in the NCAA system going to hurt you that much?

If I needed a soundbite from the past I would probably google it, download a picture, and maybe write something about why it is relevant now.  I can see why a super fan, like those residing in an Ohio bar, might want to buy a picture and hang it on the wall.  One of Simpson getting snuffed on a layup or hook shot would be a conversation piece.  Anyway, a Michigan fan would only do it as part of an obsession or chronology.  Those of us who follow closely know that the college game is nothing but a few years and then it is on to the next.  It does not mean any individual is being picked-on because that is how it works for players, coaches, and whole teams.  Cliches about winning are not needed. 

The only thing that stays constant is the logo and the institution behind it.  It is a failure in many ways but it has been around for 160 years and, in an extreme rarity these days, because it survives through education, it is well equipped for the future.  That is what is so god damn selfish.  Everyone there is doing the best they can for the biggest universe possible.

It makes for good news, just ask mgoblog.com.  Maybe not good, but lots of it.  The sports teams are "transitional."

To quote Piers Morgan, these are the days of "whine-athons" and "bilge water."  Everyone is doing it, and for the right reasons and sometimes better done in private than on TV, it is a step forward.  But be careful, you may just get what you wanted...  an image for all the wrong reasons.

For Livers it hit him, or rather, he realized the transition.  There is more on the record and findable in terms of interviews.  There may also be a little second-guessing in terms of when the injury started, the treatment or lack thereof, and the 23-day covid layoff.  It is also a reminder that he missed 10 of 27 games last year too and...  The team will still play, but those are not pluses on a professional basketball player's resume.

I have already moved on.  Anxious for the tournament, I was looking for injury updates and hoping for a return because the team can be electric with Livers as a part of it, but the T-shirt put an end to that.  Michigan is still in it and I'll be watching and probably blogging on Monday, even though they did play like Big Ten thugs against Texas Southern.

MIchigan 82 Texas Southern 66

Chaundee Brown was a thug.  So was Austin Davis.  Hunter Dickinson too.

New instructions from Coach Howard:  I want to see a daily video of you smacking someone with an elbow.  

Texas Southern showed a lot of heart by fighting until the end.

The fracas surrounding the mutual parting of ways between John Beilein and the entire Cleveland Cavaliers organization was because coach called the players slugs or thugs...

Thugs, thugs, thugs.

Thursday, March 18, 2021

Pre NCAA Tournament

A Player's Coach

The Michigan team is reflecting its coach.  Juwan Howard has more in common with the players than John Belein did.  Nonetheless, for the latter, 68 is not too old to hang it up, if he so chooses.  And just to finish that thought, enjoy him as a commentator while you can because it is the best insight into Michigan basketball we will ever see, and right now he is all in for his former, but still home, team.

For Howard, this quality will be behind his longevity and the rises and falls.  Last year's team, like this one, did not finish the season with a bang.  And Coach has had hits and misses on the recruiting trail -- misses mean players sitting on the bench like Nunez (a leftover sure, but a complete zero this year) and the coach's son, both of whom would mean disaster in a NCAA tournament game.  Zeb and Williams could signal the same, although each seems capable of certain things which have not been incorporated into the team.  The transfer route, like that of the five-stars, is undependable (ask Richard Pitino).  

Anyway, the bench is thin.  Over-depending on just a few guys may be Michigan's downfall in the tournament.

This "next man up" business that tries to replace Isaiah Livers with Brandon Johns is what the players want to hear.  People do not learn and a "miraculous" recovery would not surprise me, but it certainly will not happen this weekend.  If they say 3 weeks, why not 2?

Which is fine, because a couple of weeks for Livers to rest is a long time.  Michigan doesn't get to pick which one of the two worst team's in the tournament, according to the guru, but they have enough weapons to compete for now.  

It is a good draw -- the best that could be expected.  The all-powerful committee gave Michigan respect like most schools would not have received.  They lost 3 of their last 5 and the win against Maryland was not a pretty sight.  The vaunted Big Ten can do no wrong against the rest of the country...

That is not true, of course.  Anything can happen, including Michigan avoiding Illinois again and winning the national championship.  

Texas South vs. Mount St. Mary's kicks it off in about an hour.

Thursday, March 11, 2021

BTT Time

#1 seed Michigan plays on Saturday at 3pm at Mackey Arena.

 

Sunday Morning.

It was an extremely gallant effort.


Saturday.

Coach Howard might approve.  He wanted more aggression and he chose to display it.  Dumb.  It shows worse problems.

Michigan fans, at least most, are rabid dogs.

Livers is injured; so is one of the uglies.

The talking heads are out in force.  I get nothing from them, including John Beilein.  Just tell me when the game starts.

We are expecting two feet of snow.


Friday.

I don't like the thug stuff.  Juwan Howard, that means you.  He is a violent, angry person.

I hope it is displaced aggression meant for Underwood or Izzo.

Maryland is my previous home.  Mark Turgeon is a class act and Maryland is and has been a strong basketball school.

Michigan 79 Maryland 66.

Mike Smith was great.  Wagner, OK.  Livers less than that.  At the time, Chaundee Brown and Austin Davis filled-in and motivated.

That Darryl Morsell guy is...  

Doesn't matter, it is just a basketball game.

 

Earlier.

 

The first day is not over and Michigan is going to play the team that just beat them, in order to get a chance against the team that beat them before that.  They are still the favorite and that title was earned.

So why did Maryland beat State?  Tom Izzo says "blame me" and that is not a clue.  Who the heck is Malik Hall with 19 points?  Whoever he is he was not a factor in the two games against Michigan and that probably affects the answer.  Henry and Langford, two players better than anyone on Michigan at creating their own shots, did not show up in force.  Rocket, Bingham, and Hauser were barely in attendance either.

For Maryland, the guards dominated.  Michigan could be a little thin there.

Aside from Indiana, who are now falling behind by a sum at home, the only game that is/was interesting is Minnesota - Ohio State.  Pitino, like Miller at Indiana, is already half-way out the door.  Ohio State is the ugliest team I have seen so far this year.

Iowa features that 7-foot cornlover on an extra dose against Dickinson and Michigan.  Ohio State has the tatooed white weightlifter and a host of other oinkers competing at the trough.  

It was close.  Minnesota was without Liam Robbins and Gabe Kalscheur.  Good, Ohio State is beatable with a full team.

Sunday, March 7, 2021

Part 2

What we learned:  Eli is not coming back, at least not in this one.    Zeb was ready and can play.  Assuming Brooks is going to be OK--he is not going to die, or be permanently disabled--that is most important.

The climax:  When the Wagner 3 bounced off.

But it never is quite over, as long as time remains and otherwise.

Binham played great.  Henry is very good.  Rocket, and Hauser made the difference.

Free throws...  A Langford three.  It is over.  Sparty 65, Michigan 61 is a guess.  4 points, now and 29.7.  Turnover!  Three... no.

Actual, 70-64.

There are sites that post things about pounding Sparty ass and others that appreciate the competition and entertainment.  You know who you are.

Juwan was kind of a shit afterwards, to use his word.  I think Michigan players played hard.  And it was close until the end, they just lost.