Michigan Basketball: Don’t Pinch NBA-Bound Wolverines Sophomore Nik Stauskas

April 15, 2014 by  
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Hey, Nik! Destiny's on Line 1.

Audio: Michigan coach John Beilein on advancement

The seven-year-old Nik Stauskas can stop dreaming.

It's time for (little whatever-his-parents-called-him) to wake up and start living out that wild, never-going-to-happen childhood fantasy of playing in the NBA.

The Michigan sophomore isn't a pro yet.

But he inched one step closer Tuesday at the Crisler Center, announcing that he'll forgo his final two years of eligibility, sign with an agent and enter the 2014 NBA Draft.

It takes careful planning to turn dreams into reality, and Stauskas wasn't about to gamble his future. No, he spent way too many hours in a slumber-induced paradise to compromise his ultimate goal.

"You know, I remember when I first committed to Michigan--I was 17 at the time--and I was thinking to myself 'is this the right decision?' You know, 'is this the best decision to achieve my dream of playing in the NBA?' Looking back at it now, I don't think I could have made any better decision than to come here," said Stauskas, who bid a fond farewell to the program that made him a collegiate superstar.

"These coaches have done wonders for me. On and off the court, I've made unbelievable relationships with my teammates and students at my school. I've got a first-class education here. My two years couldn't have gone any smoother than they went. I'm just so happy for everything that I've experienced and I'm really excited to see what these next years in the NBA will bring for me."

The 6'5," 220-pound Canadian Sharpshooter entered Ann Arbor with a storied history with the long ball. His YouTube videos served as proof--and there aren't many truer shooters than the kid from Ontario who ended up developing a well-rounded skill set complete with drives, dishes and dunks.

"We saw glimpses last year, " coach John Beilein said. "We thought he could be a special player. What he needed was an opportunity. With Tim and Trey going pro, he had a great opportunity."

Stauskas is projected to be a mid-first-round-pick in June's draft. In 2013-14, he averaged 17. 5 points per game and was named the Big Ten Player of the Year by coaches and media.

There was no doubt that he was No. 1 in the league. He proved it by playing some of his best ball against the top competition. He lit up Michigan State with games of 19, 25 and 17 points. As a result, the Wolverines won two of the three meetings (stats via ESPN).

In the tournament, he didn't dip below 14, and he put up 24 during a losing effort to Kentucky, which lost to UConn in the national title game.

Stats (via UM media release)

75 games, 69 starts

Career averages: 14.1 points, 2.9 rebounds, 2.3 assists per game

61 double-digit games, 17 with 20-plus

83.16 free-throw percentage (No. 2)

44.1 three-point percentage (No. 5)

172 three-pointers (No. 8)

390 three-point attempts (No. 10)

1,060 points (No. 43)

Follow Maize 'n Brew's Adam Biggers on Twitter @AdamBiggers81

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Frontcourt Depth In The Age Of Departures

April 15, 2014 by  
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Michigan has already lost Jon Horford and it reportedly going to lose Glenn Robinson III. What does this do to Michigan's lineup for next year?

Jordan Morgan was always there.  When you look back on this past season, that is, the more you think about it, one of the most important pieces in MIchigan's run.  Yes, development by Nik Stauskas and Caris LeVert gave Michigan its primary scoring weapons, but without Morgan to help the team weather McGary's injury, things could have been much worse.

Of course, it was that McGary injury, the one that shelved him for the season back in December, that was supposed to be the death knell to Michigan's conference and NCAA tournament goals.  McGary was and is an intriguing prospect in the middle, a man-child full out boundless energy and a knack for highwire offensive rebounds, igniting the fast break, and "how'd he get there so quick" steals that quickly lead to layups on the other end.

What Jordan Morgan did (with the help of Jon Horford) wasn't so much replace Mitch McGary.  Morgan just brought a different skill set.  One that was played closer to the ground and relied less on beating people with energy than beating them to the spot.  Morgan's game is one that can be distilled down to bodies moving around a plane.  Take away the skills such as shooting and dribbling and make basketball a game about position, both offensive and defensive, and Morgan would be in heaven.

In the end, Michigan got its replacement up front by not really replacing what it lost with more of the same.  MIchigan adapted (albeit around a thoroughly known commodity to both coaches and players).  There will be less familiarity this time around as Michigan looks to once again replace its production up front without Jon Horford (for sure), Glenn Robinson III (very likely), and possibly Mitch McGary (we will have to wait until another day to find out this).

The McGary Question

Bear with me on this, because I know I am restating a tired, obvious point: Mitch McGary returning to Michigan for one more year would be a pretty big deal.

Let's skip over the obvious reasoning.  Mitch has, at least for a short stretch of his career that just so happened to fall during the NCAA tournament, put together something as close to an all-American caliber stretch as Michigan has seen from a frontcourt player in a long time.  Granted, there are sample size and injury disclaimers that abound, but those are better left for another day.  We know what Michigan could get out of Mitch, and that range falls between "all" and "nothing", and that even a semi-healthy McGary can be a big deal (look at the way he played early this season while working back from injury).

So yes, McGary skills are important, but what is perhaps more important is the versatility that this gives Michigan with its lineup.  McGary has a reliable 15 foot jumper, but he hasn't proven to have real stretch-four range yet, and Michigan would be better served keeping him close to the basket because of his offensive rebounding ability.

Thankfully, Michigan has another big man waiting in the wings to step up.  Mark Donnal redshirted this year and caught some buzz late for things he was doing in practice.  He came to Michigan as a true stretch-four, capable of shooting from outside and playing defense/rebounding on the interior, and if McGary sticks around next year it will give Michigan more versatility with its lineup.  WIth Donnal and McGary, Michigan has options to play either big or small.  When one of the two needs a break the other can play the five and Michigan could bring in one of its bigger wings like Zak Irvin or Kam Chatman to present a look more in line with what Michigan has shown on offense the last two years.  However, that also lets Michigan get 20-25 minutes of floor time with both of them playing, giving Michigan some badly needed size up front while still giving the Wolverines four shooters.

It would be a different look than what fans are used to, but it could also be brutally effective as well as a big step forward in rebounding for Michigan (an area that has routinely lagged behind on Beilein teams).

Bielfeldt An Option?

With Horford leaving, Michigan really has only one remaining post player on the roster that has both playing time and a certain future to be around next year*.  Bielfeldt is a 6'7 banger from Illinois that has gotten mostly garbage time minutes outside of a few occasions where injuries and foul trouble have stretched Michigan's frontcourt thin.  Of course, Bielfeldt's statistical output has been so small that he doesn't even register on Kenpom.

At this point Bielfeldt still seems like a guy best suited for a bench role that doesn't exceed 10 minutes per game.  While he has shown promise as a rebounder despite his size, it is too large a disadvantage defensively.  Furthermore, he doesn't have the outside shot to slide into the four position on offense which would give him a bit of protection in the form of another post defender to draw the toughest defensive assignments down low.

Michigan would need to see development in Bielfeldt's outside shot to warrant any consideration of larger scale playing time.

*(Yes, a transfer is technically possible, but Bielfeldt hasn't yet graduated so he is unable to transfer and play immediately, and since he has already taken a redshirt, he would lose one of his two years of eligibility if he left.  Seems unlikely he would leave, but stranger things have happened.)

Burning Shirts

So, say the worst case scenario happens and Mitch McGary decides to leave despite the uncertainty surrounding his draft status.  MIchigan will be thin up front, but it will still have a few bodies to move into the lineup.  Most of those bodies will be fresh out of high school.

The obvious candidate for early playing time is Ricky Doyle, a three-star forward recruit out of Florida that comes in with more of a big man, back to the basket game.  He had quite a bit of interest from some other solid basketball programs (Purdue, Stanford, Miami, Notre Dame) but has managed to stay under the radar.

It is unclear just what Doyle could bring to MIchigan's lineup.  In a perfect world, Michigan would be allowed to stash Doyle away on the bench for a year to develop his game a la Mark Donnal.  This world is not perfect, so the 6'9 230 lbs big man could be pressed into the rotation if Michigan is without McGary.  If Michigan gets McGary back and he is healthy through the year, the best guess is that Doyle redshirts.

Part of the reason Michigan will be able to do this is because Kam Chatman provides a bit of versatility on the wing.  Chatman isn't as strong as Glenn Robinson III, and would likely not directly impact the frontcourt lineup, but the 6'7 wing is lauded everywhere as a four-star prospect and in Rivals top 30 players nationally in the 2014 class.  He would be a hard player to keep on the bench, and working him into the lineup in a similar way Michigan did with Zak Irvin would help relieve pressure on the wings while also allowing Michigan to potentially go small with Zak Irvin stepping out and playing a bit of the four position.

This isn't ideal.  GRIII was a more physical presence on the boards and defense than Irvin last year, and while another year of development in the weight room will help, Irvin isn't really a stretch four just like GRIII was.  Only in GRIII's case, having NBA-caliber mesurables is a pretty good way to be effective just about anywhere on the court the coaches tell you to play.

However, as a stopgap for when McGary or Donnal need a rest, Michigan could get 10-15 minutes a game out of this lineup and it wouldn't look much different than Michigan's offense this year.

The last name to watch is DJ Wilson, a 6'8 freshman that looks to be a true four without a great outside jumpshot and also somewhat physically unimposing at this stage in his career (because, duh, high schooler).  Of all the incoming freshmen, Wilson most needs the redshirt year.

--

Michigan's frontcourt for next year will become clearer in the near future.  Once GRIII makes his decision official Michigan will wait on McGary.  If he too goes to the NBA, the Wolverines still have options, but that isn't necessarily comforting.

Unlike last year, Jordan Morgan isn't there waiting for an opportunity to write his final act.  Jon Horford will play out his final act elsewhere and Michigan will find out what life is like without a fifth-year senior to ride in and save the day.

Monday Michigan Football Recruiting Roundup Likes Its Chances

April 14, 2014 by  
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The MRR updates you on the very latest regarding Michigan football recruiting. Is more good news coming to Michigan in the coming days? Who is Michigan planning to see throw? That and more.

Hayes Sets a Date

2016 RB/LB Daelin Hayes announced on Twitter yesterday that he will be making his college announcement on April 27 at an upcoming camp hosted by Rivals.

Realistically, the only three schools who have offered is Michigan, Michigan State and Tennessee battle. Since the beginning of his recruitment, it has always been assumed -- but never confirmed -- that it would be a in-state battle between Michigan and Michigan State for Hayes.

Here's why I like Michigan in this case.

To simplify everything, Hayes has been a regular on campus for quite some time now. Even extending as far back as last year. In an interview Hayes did with 247's Steve Wiltfong when he first received his offer ($), Hayes made it clear he was very comfortable with the Wolverines already.

"This is a school I feel very, very comfortable at, and it’s one of the best school’s I can be at education wise, and that’s a huge thing for my decision-making process."

Now, less than a month later, Hayes will be announcing his decision.

Another potential selling point for Hayes to Michigan is the fact his cousin, redshirt junior RB Justice Hayes, plays for the Wolverines currently. This family connection doesn't necessarily mean it is a guarantee, but it certainly helps when Hayes has someone to sell the program to.

At the end of the day, I do expect good news for Michigan on the 27th. I think Hayes' pre-established relationship with the coaches, the quality of education and having a family member already on the team will help persuade Hayes to Michigan's corner.

Michigan Offers Haughton

It appears that defensive back help for the 2015 class is not over yet. At least for the safety position that is.

The coaching staff extended an offer to 2015 3-star S Kahlil Haughton on Friday. Haughton, a Texas native, does not know much about the Wolverines and discussed the offer ($) with 247's Steve Lorenz.

"I talked to Coach Manning, and they said they really loved my film," he said. "They asked me what my interest was in Michigan, and I told them that at this point, I don't know a lot about them but that I want to learn more."

Despite that, Haughton does know some about the program.

"They do have a lot of tradition and have always had an amazing football program," he noted. "Their fan base is amazing and is something that stands out. Playing in front of more than 110,000 people every home game is something that would be a lot of fun, so I definitely plan on looking into a visit to see what Michigan has to offer me."

This recruitment is one of the "wait and see" varieties. Texas and California are one of the more difficult states to recruit if you're Michigan because of the in-state powers who poach all of the talent in the state. In the case of Haughton, it is possible that he could very well come up for a visit, but it is also very likely he doesn't leave the state.

Haughton boasts around 16 offers from schools around the nation, but the one to keep an eye on would be hometown Baylor. The Bears have a fairly solid grip on the Waco area so it is tough to imagine him getting out of that area, let alone the state itself.

Nussmeier to Evaluate Malzone

It appears that Michigan is finally starting to get the ball rolling on evaluating quarterbacks for the 2015 class. According to Rivals' Andy Reid in a recent interview with 2015 3-star QB Alex Malzone, Michigan, along with 10-15 other schools, should be on campus today ($) to evaluate Malzone's arm.

"We are building a relationship and talking about his plan," Malzone said. "We talk a lot, and he is pretty pumped up about seeing me throw, and I am excited for it, too. That is the next step.

Does this mean an offer is on its way?

It's possible, but I wouldn't put much stock into it right away. This situation could be similar to what Wilton Speight's was last year, who received an offer after his live throwing session with the coaching staff. Or, it could be just another option for Nussmeier to add to his short list of quarterback options.

The quarterback recruitment has been a strange one. No one really knows which direction they are headed.

However, if Nussmeier wants to offer Malzone, he better do it quickly. He could possibly be making a decision in May. Unless another major program (like a Michigan or someone else) comes around and offers, then this process will slow down a bit for him.

Malzone touched on that briefly with Reid.

"I have been to a lot of places, and I feel like I have a pretty good hold on the colleges I like and where I feel good," he said. "I want to find a place where I can see myself going for four years. I have visited a lot of the colleges that are coming to see me throw. I have gotten a good look at the schools and campuses. I am looking for a football program that suits me offensively. A place that would be the right fit."

Be sure to follow Maize n Brew's Joshua Henschke on Twitter, @JoshuaHenschke.

Michigan starts out hot, but cools off in second half; loses to Ohio State 15-6

April 13, 2014 by  
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The Wolverines were looking to avoid a fifth-consecutive loss on Saturday, but got blown out in the second half.

It was yet another beautiful day for lacrosse in a sign that the long winter may finally be over. Please, please be over! Saturday's temps and conditions were great for everyone, but the game itself warmed up and became too blistering hot for Michigan to stay in it.

Although Carter Brown put the Buckeyes on the board first, Ian King and David Joseph followed up with scores of their own and gave Michigan the 2-1 lead. King's score came at the 8:40 mark of the first period and right from the top of the crease, while Joseph's score was at the 4:54 mark of the same quarter on a hands-free score after burning past his defender. Jesse king tied it up for Ohio State, but Riley Kennedy, Kyle Jackson, and David Joseph (for the second time) had Michigan rolling.

It looked like it was going to be yet another conference win for the Wolverines, but Ohio State played more consistently, the defense shut out the Wolverines in the second half, and the offense's 9-goal tear was a part of a larger 13-1 run from that aforementioned 13:27 mark in the second quarter. The lone Michigan score came out of the stick of Mikie Schlosser, who was able to beat OSU goalie Scott Spencer up high. Jesse King was the Buckeyes' leading scorer with 5 goals; Carter Brown, Ryan Hunter, and Turner Evans each had multiple goals for Ohio State.

Michigan Ohio State
Goals-shot attempts 6-26 15-49
Shot % .231 .306
Shots on goal 15 30
SOG% .400 .612
Man-up opps. 0-2 1-2
Ground balls 16 33
Turnovers 15 14
Caused turnovers 3 6
Face-offs 9-25 (.360) 16-25 (.640)
Clears 14-18 (.778) 13-15 (.867)
Saves 15 9
Penalities-Minutes 2-3:00 2-2:00

Michigan just could not get anything going on face-off. Brad Lott finished the day 9-23. Will Biagi got into the action, too, but was 0-2 when he was at the dot. I hate to think of how much better this team could be this year if only they had some consistency in this area. This is clearly something that will be a focus going into next season.

For some reason, Michigan was not able to maintain positive possessions in the second half, turning the ball over eight times, but what felt like a much higher number than that. In fact, I was surprised to see that it was "only" eight times, as I had actually lost track of how many times I saw a pass go past the intended player and out of bounds. The ground balls also dried up, with the Wolverines able to grab only six to Ohio State's 19 in the second half.

There were a few things to take away from Saturday's game:

- Well, Michigan started out hot. Although the Buckeyes struggled, credit should go to Michigan for being able to play consistently and find Scott Spencer's weaknesses, even if for a little while.

- With Bellarmine being a disaster in the ECAC, Michigan has a spot in the ECAC tournament that starts on May 1. Since the ECAC gets an automatic qualifier into the NCAA tournament, Michigan still has a chance, albeit remote, to turn this season into something very special.

- Much like in Michigan last week, this week's game in Columbus coincided with the football spring game. But, Ohio State does it right. Instead of playing the lacrosse game after the spring game, giving everyone a chance to leave the stadium, Ohio State held the lacrosse game before the spring game. Just look at the attendance numbers--Battle at the Big House: 1,636; Showdown in the Shoe: 17,641. And as the BTN crew pointed out, they stop counting people at halftime, so that number was very likely much higher by the end of the game. The Michigan athletic department should keep that in mind for next year; the best way to promote the program is to have eyeballs on the team. With next year being the first year of Big Ten lacrosse, perhaps a big-time match-up with someone like Hopkins or Maryland can be scheduled to generate excitement. If you need help with that, give me a call, okay Mr. Brandon?

Michigan's next opponent will be the 13th-ranked Yale Bulldogs in Michigan Stadium on April 19 at 4:00 ET. Preview to come later in the week.

Michigan Football: Justin Hilliard, Jashon Cornell and Darian Roseboro are Must-Gets for DC Greg Mattison

April 13, 2014 by  
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Michigan's loading the backfield, but the defensive front needs attention. Good thing for Michigan, Greg Mattison is a great recruiter and knows exactly what he wants for Team 136.

Note: Part 1 of this two-part post, which focuses on Michigan's top three 2015 offensive targets, can be found here.

Sculpting a program-best secondary seems to be the intent of Michigan's staff.

During the past few years, the Wolverines have collected '97-team-like defensive backs. The next wave--not to mention the developing youngsters already in Ann Arbor--may not top Chuck Woodson's buddies, but it'll certainly make an impact while carving out a name for itself.

Already stuffed with a pair of 4-star corners and a 4-star safety, Team 136's defensive backfield serves as yet another example of recruiting dominance by Brady Hoke and his staff.

Garrett Taylor, the most recent commit, is the No. 6-ranked corner of 2015. Shaun Crawford is No. 9. Tyree Kinnel is the No. 11 safety.

Thus far, they're the top three--and only--defensive commits. But they're already "here." So let's take a look at the best of the best available targets. Need, skill and fit will be taken into account.

And, as always, feel free to debate the choices in the comments section and cast a vote below.

Recruit info via 247Sports.

View Michigan's roster, via MGoBlue.

More Depth at LB, Please

Justin Hilliard.

Say it again: "Justin Hilliard."

If you're not already familiar with him, get familiar. He's definitely an up-and-coming star, and he's the type of Ohio linebacker who'll fit perfectly within Mattison's scheme.

Along with others, Iowa has jumped in the picture. But the Wolverines remain among Hilliard's top choices. Hoke can sell the linebacker history and potential to make an immediate mark--young linebackers, such as Ben Gedeon, are getting chances.

Why not Hilliard in the fall of 2015?

There is plenty of room in the rotation--which isn't really a rotation, it's more like a pool. As we all know, the position highlights the defense. Sure, the D-Line looked sharp during the spring game, but until proven otherwise, Mattison's muscle is at linebacker.

Goods on Hilliard

Ht./Wt.: 6'2"/230 (No. 2 OLB, No. 1 overall in Ohio, No. 26 nationally)

High School: St. Xavier (Cincy)

Interest: Warm

Strength: Runs, hits, makes plays--he's another Jake Ryan-type. But maybe slightly more athletic.

Hilliard is fresh off a visit to Notre Dame. Needless to say, the Irish have a lot to offer as well. He's expected to cut his list to five within the near future.

D-Linin'

Jashon Cornell remains in arm's reach for Mattison, who could certainly use more help at defensive end. By time 2015ers hit, Frank Clark will be gone and Mario Ojemudia will be a senior; and that'll widen the path to PT for youngsters such as Taco Charlton, Matt Godin and Henry Poggi, among others.

The defense is progressing, and stabilizing the ends of the line is always the key to run-containment and pass-rushing efficiency.

That being said, Cornell is just the type of guy made for the Big Ten. But maybe not. According to 247Sports, he has "warmer" interest in the Irish.

Goods on Cornell

Ht./Wt.: 6'4"/270 (No. 3 WDE, No. 1 in Minn., No. 30 nationally)

High School: Cretin Derham Hall (St. Paul)

Interest: Warm

Strength: Athletic enough to play outside and inside. Instinctual pass-rushing tactics.

Rosy for Michigan?

Darian Roseboro is a priority, especially from my perspective.

Battles are won in the trenches, and the Big Ten is one of the most physical leagues in the country. Mattison would be in DC Heaven if he lands the 6'4," 265-pound junior in 2015.

Lately, the Wolverines have been anything but intimidating up front. Given the recent signees, that's a head-scratcher that's difficult to comprehend.

Roseboro, a North Carolina kid, could stay down south and sign with Auburn, NC State, which seems like the favorite, or Duke.

Ohio State is after him, too.

Goods on Roseboro

Ht./Wt.:6'4"/265 (No. 7 SDE, No. 3 in NC, No. 109 nationally)

High School: Lincolnton

Interest: Warm

Strength: Disruptive, physically imposing, plays "bigger" than actual size.

Note: I searched YouTube for quality footage of Roseboro--couldn't find it. But check out his tape on Hudl.

There haven't been many rumblings about Roseboro and Michigan lately, but he recently said that he planned to visit. He hasn't yet. Kentucky just offered on March 26.

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Your Friday Drinking Instructions Mourn A Tradition Unlike Any Other

April 11, 2014 by  
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Urp. It's IPA season in America, Tiger's not in the Masters, and MnB mancrush Jon Horford bids the Program happy trails.

You know how sometimes you blink and things just happen? Kind of a weird last few weeks for sports and life. Consider:

  • NONWOLVERINE SPORTS: Baseball's starting up again, and it's Detroit week over on Grantland starting today. But Tiger's out of the Masters, which is truly an American tragedy. Good night, CBS ratings. The Red Wings clinched their 23rd consecutive playoff appearance despite playing mostly with Gustav Nyqist and the Grand Rapids Griffins' entire team. Those Griffins are pretty good.
  • MADNESS: Both Michigan and the fellas from East Lansing went deep into the NCAA tournament, but were upset in the Elite Eight by teams that ended up playing for the national title. Consider the expectations for both schools entering the season, and then sit back and be proud. Then consider that Adreian Payne and Keith Appling have been to fewer Final Fours than Spike Albrecht all by his lonesome. Commence cackling.
  • O-LINE HELP?: Michigan is after a grad-year transfer C from Alabama, which could immediately fill a void on the O-Line and cost the liquor industry in my town a sizeable amount in lost earnings. DG's a happy man right now.
  • HAPPY TRAILS: Jon Horford, long-admired here at MnB despite an up and down career, is finishing his NCAA days elsewhere for reasons heretofore unknown. Good luck in your future, young man, and thank you - while those who stay will be champions, your contributions to the program both on the court and as a Michigan Man will not be forgotten.
  • IPA IS TERRIBLE, AS IS ZACH: Our writers all agree on things, including the fact that IPA is horse piss. Peter's astute analysis wins him a beer on Zach next time we all get together. As an aside, it's pretty great of Zach to promise beers like that. It'd be terrible if that turned out not to be true.
  • WHAT DID CHUCK BERRY SAY EVERY NIGHT?: In the best article I've read in quite some time, SBN journeys into the shadowlands of the SEC and meets with the guys that really run football programs - the bag men. Of course this is going on. But let's not be foolish enough to assume it isn't happening in Ann Arbor or East Lansing or Columbus or anywhere else in the country. This is a huge industry. Call it what it is. And until Northwestern changes the world and Mark Emmert is visited by the Ghost of Christmas Future, this ain't changing. Let's take care of these kids - it's hypocritical and paternalistic to hide behind amateurism rules when shit like this happens every day. In fact, right now, somewhere on your campus, a recruit is likely getting slipped money. Don't believe me? Ask Ed Martin.
  • PREACH: I can't find the video, but Charles and I finally agree on something besides the deliciousness of donuts and pizza. That's the moral obligation the NCAA should be focusing on.

I seem to have misplaced my snark. Ah, well. I owe you one, editor overlords.

Your Recommended Beer of the Week is a nod to all things spring and summer and a slap in the face to those who thought I'd actually write nice things about Sculpin. It's Oberon season again! Rejoice, and take that first sip while listening to Ernie:

I don't love wheaty beers, but there is absolutely nothing wrong with Oberon or the very underrated Whitsun Ale by Arcadia. Please hurry and get to the East Coast, delivery truck.

Question - Zach, how did you vote in our poll nine times?

Screen_shot_2014-04-11_at_12

Stay tuned, Michigan Faithful - the Return of the Return of the Podcast is coming, now with even more trash talk! Until next time - cheers!

Michigan Football: Mike Weber, Damien Harris and George Campbell are Must-Gets for Wolverines OC Doug Nussmeier

April 11, 2014 by  
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Why stop now? Michigan's been taking care of business on the trails since Brady Hoke hit town (Edit: Most of the time). With Doug Nussmeier, expect to see that, and then some.

Rest well, little Princess Lacey.

--Adam

_____________________________________________________________________________________________

Note: We'll start off with the top three offensive prospects with this post and follow up with the top three defensive recruits this weekend.

Recruiting, recruiting, recruiting--it's like that's all we ever seem to discuss these days when it comes to Michigan football.

Part of that reason is simple: Brady Hoke can recruit, and so can his staff. The latter part to the equation is this: The Wolverines haven't played great ball under Hoke, so talking about guys who can improve the program is all the rage.

And rightfully so. Team 135 has a few doozies on its newcomers list. Team 136 looks sharp, too. Hoke's brought in major athletes during the past three years--eventually, those players will contribute to wins and meaningful advancement.

That being said, let's talk recruiting. Actually, more specifically, let's talk about some of the top offensive targets for 2015. After that, feel free to ponder the possibilities--Shane Morris or Wilton Speight throwing to George Campbell, for instance.

The Backfield

We all know that Mike Weber, a 4-star, and Damien Harris, a 5-star, are of high priority for offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier, who may prove to be "insane" when it comes to directing his ball-carriers. He had a pretty good two-year run in Tuscaloosa; he's probably expecting something similar in Ann Arbor.

Goods on Weber

Ht./Wt..: 5'10"/205 pounds (No. 12 RB of 2015, per 247Sports)

High school: Detroit Cass Tech

Interest: Warm

Strengths: Tough style, Detroit attitude--Cass Tech product.

That says it all.

Goods on Harris

Ht./Wt:.: 5'11"/205 pounds (No. 1 RB of 2015, runs a 4.40-second 40)

High School: Madison Southern (Berea, Ky.)

Interest: Warm

Strengths: Speed isn't a problem. He's shifty. He bounces off tacklers, who have a difficult time corralling the workhorse.

It's been some time since we've heard major updates on either, but, if Hoke correctly plays his hand, Michigan will snag two top-tier running backs in the same class.

Of course, that was the norm for Nuss at 'Bama. And really, in 2013, Hoke pulled the trick by getting Derrick Green and De'Veon Smith, each of whom were top-15 RBs of their class.

Hit TVH's Twitter page, and you'll see tweets about Harris' mother, who carries influence in her son's recruitment. Personal comfort is one thing, but Harris has said that he wants his mother to be happy as well.

What a good kid he is. So far, so good. According to recent reports, Mom approves and Hoke's program remains in the running for Harris, who has high interest from Florida, Kentucky, Auburn and Ohio State, among others.

Let's Play Catch

Paging George Campbell...paging George Campbell...

A perfect-for-the-position prospect, he would complement an already buff load of receivers. That's a position that Michigan has recruited well--and one that's only getting better.

When Campbell committed, I wasn't surprised. But then he backed out and reopened his options, just as Harris did.

And I wasn't surprised then, either.

Goods on Campbell

Ht.:/Wt.: 6'3"/184 pounds (No. 1 WR of 2015)

High school: East Lake Tarpon Springs (Fla.)

Interest: Cool (icey?!)

Strengths: Incredibly athletic, let's make that clear. Campbell possesses a long stride and reliable hands. Those are ingredients for a great receiver. And, in all honesty, he's probably better than anyone Michigan has recruited under Hoke.

If not the best, he's very close. Campbell is destined for a prolific three-year NCAA career.

Hoke and Jeff Hecklinski have been keeping tabs on the sure-handed Sunshine Stater, who's been mum on Michigan lately. Be on the lookout for future developments.

Follow Maize 'n Brew's Adam Biggers on Twitter @AdamBiggers81

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Friday Michigan Football Recruiting Roundup Works Hard for an Offer

April 11, 2014 by  
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The FRR updates you on the very latest regarding Michigan football recruiting. Michigan makes the cut again for a 4-star receiver, I credit a kid for staying persistent and much more.

Michigan Makes Top Five

In a previous roundup I had mentioned that 4-star wide receiver and Michigan offer Juval Mollette had a top ten list that featured Michigan. That list has now been trimmed to five. Mollette told ($) 247's North Carolina affiliate, CarolinaBlue, who exactly made the cut. The schools are:

  • North Carolina
  • Clemson
  • Michigan
  • Virginia Tech
  • Ohio State

It is not really a surprise that a North and South Carolina team is featured on his list. Both are essentially in his back yard considering he is from North Carolina. He even touched on his two favorites in the article as well:

"Carolina and Clemson. Those are my two favorites. Carolina has been recruiting me real hard from day one. I get to visit them a lot more than anyone else because they are not that far from my house."

What does this mean for Michigan? It's absolutely going to be a battle for the talented receiver. Clemson is a strong presence with the talented players in the Carolinas, so my gut feeling says that he will eventually land with the Tigers. It is very close to home and their program appears to be heading in the right direction.

However, with that being said, this is far from a lock of any kind... right now. A team like Michigan could absolutely swoop in and take him away. Especially if they can knock a visit out of the park like they have done recently. Mollette said in the article that he has not visited Michigan yet, but will plan to in the future. That time on campus will be critical to landing him, considering Clemson and North Carolina are a stonesthrow distance away (he can visit them whenever he wants.)

Below is a highlight tape from Mollette:

Moorman Working Hard

There is a chance he probably won't be included into the 2015 recruiting class, but I give 3-star OL David Moorman a ton of credit for staying dedicated and working hard towards earning an offer from both Michigan and Michigan State. Moorman recently spoke with ($) Rivals' Tim Sullivan about his recruiting process. A lot of that has to do with patience.

"I think a little bit of both waiting, and showing what I can do," he said of what Michigan's staff needs from him. "Obviously if I impress them when I come to camp, I'll show them what I can do. They did come watch me practice last year and I went to camp last year. I think they like me a lot. I've just got to keep showing that I'm able to show my athleticism.

Moorman has visited campus many times and it is clear that an offer from Michigan is something he covets. However, that might be difficult to earn considering Michigan is currently in a numbers crunch for scholarships for the foreseeable future.

An offer will really depend on where other targets land and how well he performs in the summer camp he plans on attending. Could Moorman be another Freddy Canteen, Brandon Watson or Channing Stribling? We shall see.

The kid has been working his tail off trying to get Michigan's attention, it appears to have worked. I truly feel that if Michigan had a much larger class, they would at least send out an offer early for him (and he probably would be on board.)

Here is a little more of what Moorman had to say about the coaching staff to Sullivan:

"The coaches talked about how right now they have to figure out some numbers stuff," he explained. "They mentioned how I'm one of the top guys locally for them, and if everything goes well over the summer, we can look at some spots potentially. Then I can potentially earn an offer."

Something Worth Mentioning

2015 4-star linebacker Joshua McMillon will be visiting campus this weekend who confirmed the news (FREE) to 247's Clint Brewster. McMillon will be staying Friday and Saturday night in Ann Arbor, which is a fairly big deal in itself. Alabama is the rumored leader in this one, but anything can happen once you get someone on campus.

A highlight tape for McMillon can be found, here.

Be sure to follow Maize n Brew's Joshua Henschke on Twitter, @JoshuaHenschke.

Jon Horford To Transfer For Final Year Of Eligibility

April 10, 2014 by  
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Michigan's most experienced returning player for next year decides to go elsewhere for his final year, leaving Michigan potentially thin up from if Mitch McGary decides to head to the NBA.

Michigan's first departure comes as a bit of a surprise as Jon Horford has decided to play out his eligibility elsewhere.

"Jon has been an integral part of our many accomplishments over the last four years," said Beilein. "He brought great enthusiasm, leadership and work ethic to our program. Jon is a wonderful young man, who has a very bright future ahead of him. With his graduation this May, he will have the opportunity to play immediately at another Division I program. We will be rooting for him every step of the way."

Horford was likely going to have a serious role on next year's team as the only returning five outside of possibly Mitch McGary.  The Wolverines will be getting Mark Donnal off a redshirt and adding freshman Ricky Doyle, but the optimal scenario was to work Donnal in as a 4/5 tweener and redshirt Doyle to put him on the same track as Donnal.  Michigan may still be able to get away with a Doyle redshirt, but that would require McGary and possibly Robinson III both returning for another year.

On another note, it is sad to see Horford leaving to play elsewhere.  Last season was certainly Jordan Morgan's swan song, but in the wake of McGary's injury, Horford took a big step forward and actually played at the same level as Morgan for Michigan's long winning streak.  He was also a fun player to watch as he could both contest shots and was good for one improbable post up move every game or so.  I had high hopes that Horford, like Morgan this year, would get a redemptive fifth year in maize and blue.  Horford has seen a lot as a Michigan basketball player, and while he wasn't as central in Michigan's recent four year run of success, he was still a part of the team.

"My time at Michigan has been the most beneficial period of my life in terms of athletic development and overall enlightenment," said Horford. "The bonds created over the last four years are everlasting, and the memories made are truly priceless. As on all journeys, new paths must be taken and intuition must be trusted. I leave Michigan with nothing but love in my heart."

Best of luck to Jon Horford.  It was a helluva ride, and I'm glad you were a part of it.

Maize n’ Brew Preview 2014: Post-Spring Game Roundtable

April 10, 2014 by  
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In the aftermath of the 2014 spring game (or whatever that was), some of the Maize n' Brew staff took a few moments to reflect and answer some general questions in a roundtable.

Last week, we did a roundtable where we talked about our fears, hopes, and expectations for the upcoming spring game. Now that the spring game has come and gone, this is the obvious follow-up roundtable.

If you didn't get a chance to see the spring game, you can do so here.

Anyway, onto the roundtable discussion...

Talk about your initial impression. Generally, how are you feeling after this game? How much has your confidence in Michigan football risen or fallen since viewing it? How does it impact your expectations for the season?

Zach: I want to say that it hasn't changed my expectations, but I'd be a lying liar-face if I did. The offensive line looked really bad, and while there are plenty of caveats and excuses to throw out, bad is bad is bad and until I see otherwise I have my expectations set to doom. Yes, shame me for predicting 10 wins just four months ago.

Peter Putzel: We shouldn't judge too much based on what we saw on Saturday. My confidence is right where it's been for a while--low. However, I have high expectations because it just can't get any worse than it was last year, right? Anything less than nine wins will be a disaster.

Hollywood Hokester: Expectations are about the same. Defense looks to take a step up, offense looks to become more consistent. I think I saw evidence of both of those things on Saturday. If the OL can maintain at the point of attack, it can get the offense in much more manageable situations, and as the QBs and WR learn the rhythm and timing of the offense (and they will be repping it a ton on their own over the summer), you'll really start to see that improvement.

Joshua Henschke: We all know that Michigan's way of conducting a spring game is different from other schools. With this scrimmage/practice session, it doesn't really impact me or sway me to believe anything about this team upcoming. It is such a small sample size in the grand scheme of things. There's a long way to go until August, and there are still people that need to get to campus who could make a difference on the offensive and defensive side of the ball. I will avoid further judgement until the games really matter.

Adam Biggers: I feel confident that Michigan has enough talent to win nine games. Solely judging Michigan by Saturday's "game" wouldn't be wise. However, the O-line was spotty at best. That's being really nice. Also, I liked Willie Henry. I thought the rest of the D-line played well.

Big House Jack: Well, like everyone else I had concerns about the offense, and after viewing the spring game it's not like those concerns were alleviated. Michigan was playing short-handed (on the offensive line, especially), and so in that regard we couldn't get a full picture. This team has a long way to go, but I still fully expect them to make an appearance in the Big Ten championship game. They have a new offensive coordinator and plenty of motivation; nothing is stopping them.

So, we got to see the offensive line. Talk about that. How are you feeling about them? Do we have any reason to hope for a decent offense now that you've seen an all-too-brief glimpse of the line?

Zach Travis: I did a post Wednesday on the line and the crux of it was "they're bad, but hope isn't entirely lost." Michigan obviously has a ton of youth issues, which isn't always the worst thing in the world because young players tend to grow into better players while older guys that aren't good just stay bad. I liked that there didn't seem to be the same level of horrible blocking busts (probably attributable to a simplified scheme). I didn't like that nobody got any push at all and that this unit seems to have as much grasp on pass blocking schemes as I do translating ancient texts from Sumerian to Greek.

Of course this is the spring game so who knows what happens between now and the end of August.

Peter Putzel: I actually feel pretty good about the offensive line relative to 2013, but only as long as the offense is run from under center. It seemed to me that the line did a much better job blocking when the QB was under center rather than running a play out of the gun.

Hollywood Hokester: To the untrained eye, or in a vacuum, the OL looked pretty bad. But you really can't take it in a vacuum. I can tell you that the OL is slowly but surely getting better. If you grade out the OL and compare the grades to last year (which is something I anticipate doing at some point this off season), you'll note that there were far fewer busts and 0 scores, the "kill" plays that Borges talked about. They still need to start winning assignments, but as of now, at least they are getting into assignments.

Joshua Henschke: One word: Yikes.

They were beaten pretty badly on some plays by Frank Clark and Willie Henry. Also, Bryan Mone and Maurice Hurst were able to make an impact on this offensive line as well. Does this mean the offensive line is bad or the defensive line has vastly improved? Maybe a little bit of both. I will wait to see what happens against Appalachian State before I start to worry about the offensive line. However, it wasn't a good start.

Adam Biggers: If the running backs can get out of the backfield quick enough to dodge the swarm, Michigan should be okay behind the line. De'Veon Smith and Derrick Green can take contact, so yards-after-contact (YAC) shouldn't be a huge issue. Well, we hope--right?!

I'm waiting to see Erik Magnuson at full health. Logan Tuley-Tillman, Ben Braden, Jack Miller--everyone needs more reps.

Big House Jack: The offensive line wasn't great, but were we really expecting them to make leaps and bounds from being terrible to world-beating within the span of a mere six weeks? Come on, guys. Of course, I too was watching the offensive line with heavy scrutiny, but one player that stood out to me (in a positive way) who everyone seems to have overlooked was Patrick Kugler, No. 57. He was playing center and appeared to be doing a decent job, at least individually.

Talk about the offense as a whole. Has your confidence in Nussmeier risen or fallen after viewing this?

Zach Travis: I'm not going to cast judgment yet. I do like that the offense seems to have a bit more of an identity and consistently tries to do a lot of the same things. Part of this is the spring game dumbing down of the offense that always comes with a first year coordinator. Part of it is trimming the fat from Al Borges's playbook.

Peter Putzel: I wasn't overly impressed with the QB performance, but I'm sure that will come along as the practices move along. The running game doesn't look as though it's going to be a between the tackles type of game, but an outside game. Justice Hayes and De'Veon Smith both had a good day, so the running game may actually be able to average more than 2 yards per game, which would be nice.

Hollywood Hokester: It takes time to learn the rhythm and timing of an offense, and when you are trying to learn that while looking at moving parts on defense, it's going to look ugly. Pass pro didn't help much. I really don't think there is much to see here.

Joshua Henschke: I don't think my confidence in Nussmeier has risen or fallen. It's such a small sample size and the offense was incredibly vanilla, so we didn't really see a whole heck of a lot. Especially considering the offense has a long way to go to be game ready. This is another topic where I will save judgement until the games count. But, one has to believe that the offense will be in much better shape in the long run.

Big House Jack: We seem to have a decent amount of weapons at wide receiver. We have a experienced quarterback who needs to cut down on his mistakes, but he still hasn't lost any of his ability. I saw this as a "one step forward, one step back" kind of thing. The things that we're doing well are tempered by the things we struggle to do well, and at this point it's hard to see tangible improvement. I don't think we're getting worse, however, and that's a plus in my book.

Well, on a more positive note, the defense seemed to win the day. How are you feeling about that side of the ball?

Zach Travis: It didn't get humiliated by the offense, so I'll take it.

More specifically, I like seeing the DL dominate the OL because that means I don't have to panic over an entirely different position group. I think Michigan's corners are going to have themselves quite a year, and as long as Michigan can find a safety to play next to Jarrod Wilson, the secondary should be the strongest it has been in a long, long time. Linebackers? Did any even get blocked in the spring game? I'm being serious, I didn't see linemen getting to the second level at all. Until I see these guys take on blocks in their new roles on defense I'm not saying anything.

Peter Putzel: The defense was the most impressive. I'm sure it's because they've seen the offense a ton, so have gotten used to some formations, etc., but they still did a damn good job out there and will probably be what gives Michigan the chance to win games in 2014.

Hollywood Hokester: Linebackers are still learning their new positions. That may be the deepest position group, and possibly even the best position group come Fall, but they also look to have the most to learn as far as comfort and confidence ahead of them.

Joshua Henschke: It's hard not to be impressed with the defense. They were physical, aggressive and flew to the ball. It basically rendered the offense useless. I think we will see a much better defense this season, a small mindset change of being more physical will make a lot of difference.

Adam Biggers: This secondary will be good with or without Jabrill Peppers, who may want to play LT and QB.

Big House Jack: What else can I say that others haven't? The defense just looked better. I don't think anyone can view the limited action of the spring game and conclude anything about the defense that isn't overwhelmed with positives. Strong defensive line that actually got penetration, linebackers that didn't have to do much because the line was doing most of it, and a secondary that was making plays. That's a bona fide defense any way you cut it.

Last time you mentioned a thing that you'd like to see. How did the spring game satisfy or fail to satisfy you in the regard?

Zach Travis: It was boring, the offense was vanilla and didn't look all that great, and the defense controlled things throughout. So in other words, it was pretty much what I envisioned. The hope was for more OL competence, but no one got injured or spontaneously combusted, so that's a good thing, right? ...Right?

Peter Putzel: I was very dissatisfied with Devin Gardner's play out there on Saturday; I really wanted to see him command and impress during something that is relatively meaningless, and that just didn't happen. That's not to say that I think there is going to be a QB battle, or that he isn't the best option, but I'd put a bunch of money on the fact that Nuss is going to have Gardner on a shorter leash than Borges did.

Hollywood Hokester: I actually like watching drills, so in that regard I'm an outlier. That said, the BTN coverage was awful. We watched drills but weren't at good viewing angles to see anything. They didn't let you listen in. They cut away far too often to meaningless stuff. And then when there were plays they still did it. I admit it wasn't the most exciting spring practice ever, but BTN really botched the coverage big time.

Joshua Henschke: With not seeing much from the tight ends, I will say I was very impressed with the defensive backs, Jourdan Lewis in particular. The very first play of the game was an interception that he jumped in front of. Even though they were burned on some occasions by Canteen, I was impressed with how physical they were and the youth seemed to be more confident in the defense.

Big House Jack: Well, I wanted to see a cohesive game-plan from Doug Nussmeier, but that might have been asking too much for where Michigan is as a team. Right now Hoke and the staff are focused on getting the basics down, and hopefully the players will be farther along when fall camp starts. I also kind of wanted to see some better runs from Derrick Green and De'Veon Smith, but that didn't really happen either. Hopefully that was due to a near-elite defensive line that we seem to have. We'll get a lot more answers during the game against Appalachian State.

Have thought about the spring game? Agree or disagree with something we said? Share your opinion and let us know in the comments!

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