Eating Crow: Revisited


#1

I decided to cease all talk of JB just after Tyus Battle committed, and a few might remember the pre-cursor thread that I created entitled ‘Eating Crow’, in which I gave JB the ultimate props for landing Battle almost a year ago.

I think we should re-examine JB as a coach, and the direction the program is headed under his watch……………hence, ‘Eating Crow, Revisited’.

This is an effort to quantify JB in order to bring clarity to the various factions of JB support (or lack of) in the UM community. There are the ‘JB lovers’ (deserves the benefit of the doubt, and in no way should he be terminated), the ‘things need to improve’ group (if no tourney in 17, we should let him go), and the ‘JB should be fired now’ group (JB is past his prime, cut losses and let him go now)

Disclaimer - I will be brutally honest, part of the reason I’m creating this thread is based on the months/years of flack I took from so many board members when I consistently attempted to warn folks that we may not be trending in the right direction. Fast forward a few years later, and much of my concern was probably well founded.

I. Let’s first examine JB under an objective lens with raw numbers, data, etc.
In 9 seasons at UM, JB has compiled a 186-121 overall record for a winning percentage of 60.6. With respect to conference play, JB has compiled an 88-74 record (Regular season) for a winning percentage of 54.3. JB has made the tournament 5/9 seasons, or 56% of the time. JB has a 10-5 record with respect to the NCAA tournament, for an average of NCAA 1 tournament win per season.

Raw Yearly Averages:

Overall Wins: 20.7
Overall Losses: 13.4
Conference Wins: 9.8
Conference Losses: 8.2
Tournament Wins: 1.1
Tournament Losses: .56

Median Numbers:

Overall Wins: 21
Overall Losses: 14
Conference Wins: 9
Conference Losses: 9
Tournament Wins: 1

Analysis – the average and median numbers are strikingly similar. JB is essentially a 21-14 guy that will provide a .500 conference record and gets you to the second round…………….according to the numbers, a JB coached team is essentially a bubble + team most years.

II. Subjective Look at JB – most people (or at least a good portion) are of the opinion that JB’s first year should not be applied when examining/critiquing him as coach, because that year is an aberration for a variety of factors. Initially, I tended to agree with this, but as time goes on I have realized that the NC year (2013) was also an aberration based on everything in totality. In an effort to be fair, let’s examine JB’s record exclusive of his worst year (2007-2008) and his best year (2012-2013).

Raw Averages Excluding 2007-2008 and 2012-2013

Overall Wins: 20.7
Overall Losses: 12.7
Conference Wins: 10.1
Conference Losses: 7.6
Tournament Wins: .7
Tournament Losses: .57

Median Numbers Excluding 2007-2008 and 2012-2013

Overall Wins: 21
Overall Losses: 14
Conference Wins: 9
Conference Losses: 9
Tournament Wins: 0
Analysis – once again the numbers are strikingly similar, JB is pretty much a 21-14 guy with a .500 conference record when you exclude the outliers. The big difference is that when you exclude the 2012-2013 season, JB’s tournament record looks very suspect…………in fact he doesn’t even record a single tournament victory in a typical season under the median numbers, and less than a single victory using the raw average numbers.

III. Independent Variables and Trends

A) OFFENSE
Kenpom Offensive Efficiency Rating Yearly Average: 52.78
Kenpom Offensive Efficiency Median: 35

In this particular case, I think we should exclude 2007-2008 for KP Orating purposes, because it is not likely we will ever see a JB coached offense be that bad (#186) again, that is a true outlier in every sense of the word. This is the reason we see the big discrepancy between average and median above

Kenpom Offensive Efficiency Rating Yearly Average Excluding 2007-2008: 36.13
Kenpom Offensive Efficiency Rating Median Excluding 2007-2008: 35

Trend – JB has fielded the 1, 66, and 28 team from 2013-2016. With respect to offense, I’m willing to give JB the benefit of the doubt considering injuries.

Analysis – on average a JB coached team is going to be above average/good, and I’d gravitate more towards good, as we’ve had at least 4 years in the top 30 under JB, especially when we account for injuries. In general, I think we will be a good (not great) offensive team under JB, and I think that will be relatively stable in the future.

B) DEFENSE
Kenpom Defensive Efficiency Rating Yearly Average: 79.9
Kenpom Defensive Efficiency Median: 69

In this particular case, I’m not going to exclude the 2007-2008 year, as it isn’t an outlier considering we’ve actually been worse on D during the past 3 years when compared with 2007-2008
Trend – JB has fielded the 109, 107, and 130 team from 2013-2016
Analysis – on average a JB coached team is going to be below average/bad, and I’d gravitate more toward bad, as we’ve had at least 4 years where we finished over 100 in Drating, with an additional 2 years over 60; things appear to be getting progressively worse by the year, and is reaching levels of incompetence if we’re being completely honest. The defense is an absolute joke, I think we can all agree there. John Beilein is simply a bad defensive coach.

C) RECRUITING

I’m going to use ESPN as my framework, because…………well, I think they are the best service in terms of basketball recruiting and they have the most expansive database, and it saves me a lot of trouble looking up rankings, etc. from Rivals (awful), Scout, and 247 (too new anyway).
Notes – I decided to start from the 2009 class, as the program was in a bad place, and applying 2008 simply wouldn’t be fair IMO…………in other words give JB the benefit of the doubt for that year, as I think its reasonable under the circumstances

2009 average recruit ranking – 472.25/1 top 100 player
Darius Morris - #100
Matt Vogrich - #213
Blake McLimans - #507
Jordan Morgan – 1069

2010 average recruit ranking – 289.75/2 top 100 players
Evan Smotrycz - #84
Tim Hardaway Jr – #93
Jon Horford - #380
Colton Christian - #602

2011 average recruit ranking – 188/2 top 100 players
Carlton Brundidge - #75
Trey Burke - #84
Max Bielfeldt - #405

2012 average recruit ranking – 238.4/3 stop 100 players
Glenn Robinson - #18
Mitch McGary – #27
Nik Stauskas – #76
Caris Levert - #330
Spike Albrecht - #741

2013 average recruit ranking – 47/3 top 100 players
Zak Irvin - #22
Derrick Walton - #30
Mark Donnal - #89

2014 average recruit ranking – 225/1 top 100 player
Kam Chatman - #38
Ricky Doyle - #150
DJ Wilson - #181
Aubrey Dawkins - #194
MAAR - #531

2015 average recruit ranking – 117/1 top 100 player
Moritz Wagner – NR……….based on my own discretion I will place Mo at #85. For comparison, Aaron White was ranked #225, which is criminally underranked, while Jake Layman was ranked #67 (just about right). Since I don’t think Mo will be quite as good as Layman, I’ll go #85
Duncan Robinson – based on my own discretion I will place Duncan at #150. For comparison, Jon Diebler was #40, whereas Matt Vogrich was #213. I think we all know Robinson is much closer to Vogrich than Diebler, especially on defense. I placed Robinson here because it is his first year playing and therefore I’ll consider him a FR for recruiting purposes

2016 average recruit ranking – 136/1 top 100 player
Xavier Simpson - #45
Jon Teske - #119
Austin Davis - #143
Ibi Watson - #238

Trend – JB is obviously trending down in terms of acquiring top 100 players post 2013, with only 1 in each class for the past 3 years. What he has done is fill the remainder of the class 100-200 guys rather than 250+ types. Unfortunately, this just isn’t working. The 100-200 guys are being asked to be starters/primary players, when they should be supplemental pieces.

Breakdown:
1 - 25 Players – 2 (Irvin, GR3)
26 - 50 Players – 4 (McGary, Walton, Chatman, Simpson)
51 -75 Players – 1 (Brundidge)
76 - 100 Players – 7 (Morris, Smot, THJ, Burke, Nik, Donnal, Mo)
101 - 150 Players – 4 (Doyle, Robinson, Teske, Davis)
151 - 200 Players – 2 (Dawkins, Wilson)
201 - 250 Players – 2 (Vogrich, Watson)
250+ Players – 8

Analysis – in order to get a good visual of what the recruiting means on a functional basis, we have to examine the composition of the team when it was elite (2012/13-2013/14), when it was good (2011-12), when it was above average (2010/11 and 2015/16)
ELITE 2012-13 – 4.5 starters were top 100 players (Burke, THJ, Nik, GR3, while Jmo eventually ceded his spot to Mitch, hence the half), while we had #330 (Caris), #380 (Horford), and #741 (Spike) playing bench roles
Totals – 5 top 100 players, 4.5 starters with 300ish bench players
ELITE 2013-14 – 3.5 starters were top 100 players (Walton, Nik, GR3, Mitch for part of the year with Jmo the other part), while filling out the starting rotation with the #330 player (Caris). The bench was composed of another top 100 player in Irvin (#22), #380 (Horford), and #741 (Spike)
Totals – 4 top 100 players, 3 top 100 starters with a 300 mixed in, another top 100 of the bench, a 350ish sub and Spike

GOOD 2011-12 – 3 starters were top 100 players (Burke, THJ, Smot along with Stu and Novak), while the bench had #213 (Vogrich), #380 (Horford), and Jmo
Totals – 3 top 100 players with a 200 and 350ish off the bench

ABOVE AVERAGE 2010 – 11 - 2 starters were top 100 players (Morris, THJ along with Jmo, Stu, Novak) with another top 100 player off the bench in Smot, and we filled the bench out with #213 (Vogrich)
Totals – 3 top 100 players, 2 top 100 starters and 1 off the bench
Totals – 3 top 100 players, with 2 top 100 starters with another off the bench and a 200 off the bench
ABOVE AVERAGE 2015 -16 – 2.5 starters were top 100 (Walton, Irvin, Donnal for half the year with #150 (Robinson), and #531 (MAAR) filling out the lineup), with the bench being #150 (Doyle), #194 (Dawkins), #38 (Kam)
Totals – 4 top 100 players, 3 top 100 starters with an additional top 100 off the bench and 150-200 guys off the bench

Seems VERY obvious to me……….in order to compete for B10 championships and tourney runs, you must have 3 top 100 starters at minimum and most likely 4. There is a very strong correlation to support that based on the results above. Contrary to what most believe, depth is mostly irrelevant……….results weren’t really swayed one way or another whether our bench was filled with top 100 guys or 300ish guys…………that’s because JB’s rotation is so short.

Moving Forward – it seems that our sweet spot is the 75-100 range, we have a high ‘hit rate’ in that range, with Burke, THJ, Nik, Dmo all falling in that range. I think Mo will pan out as well. I think the area we have to obtain more talent from is the 50-75 range (AKA the Jordan Poole’s of the world)………….haven’t had much luck in that department. This should be an area where we feast considering our resources, coach, playing style, etc. We aren’t likely to get top 50 guys on a regular basis, but I don’t see any reason why we can’t consistently get 50-75 guys. Our roster is filled with mid-major + guys, but we NEED high major talent in terms of starters/primary players.

IV. COACHING/CONCLUSION

Analysis - Seems fairly obvious JB’s downward trend in recruiting has a strong correlation with team performance, particularly on the defensive end of the court. I think we all realize JB needs to acquire more athletic players that have motor……………whether he is able to do that, only time will tell. Additionally, JB needs to be more flexible in terms of what type of system he runs in order to make the team more appealing to recruits. Its very unlikely any competent big with athleticism will come here considering JB’s current system/practices.

My Personal Take – I’m in the JB needs to change camp…………he’s earned the benefit of the doubt through next year. However, if we fail to make the tourney next year, I think its time to move in a new direction. AD Manuel comes from a basketball school (UCONN) and JB isn’t his guy. I think most people like JB as a person, and therefore have more loyalty to him than they might otherwise. Its ok to have a gimmick system provided the team is winning, but once the elite talent leaves, the gimmick systems tend to go very bad, very quick. In general, every team needs balance in order to compete, and we simply don’t have that under John Beilein. I have seen this numerous times……………Antoni (that’s right no D!), once he divorced Nash he was fired from his next 2 jobs. Hoke was fired soon after Denard left. When Byron Scott divorced Jason Kidd he basically became the worst coach in the NBA……………and the list goes on.

I think a lot of what you think of JB is based on standards - for those that are ok with being a perennial bubble/bubble plus team, JB is great. For those that want a perennial S16 team, JB probably isn’t going to meet those expectations based on his history with UM.

IN THE WORDS OF A BOARD MEMBER NOT TO BE NAMED – 6 TOURNEY WINS EVERY 3 YEARS IS THE STANDARD FOR WHICH JB SHOULD BE JUDGED………………………SOUNDS LIKE SOMEONE IS FALLING VERY SHORT OF THAT STANDARD AS OF LATE.


#2

Well said and well put. The numbers never lie and it shows what is true about JB. His recruiting is an obvious downfall. What intrigues me is the whole if we miss the tourney this year (which looks like it will happen) and next year he will be gone. Who will we have next year to lift this team and be the primary player. It all tags back to recruiting misses. Zak was a big recruit #22 in the nation and plays like a complementary player. Kam was another big miss. You said this very well and made it easy to see.


#3

Excellent post Matt. Love all the information. Here is another to keep in mind. Beilein has never been at a D1 place for longer than five years. It’s always been five years and out. Hopefully leaving the program better than when he got there. These last few years have been unchartered territory for him (not defending him, just stating info) with being at UM for a long time (for him).

The hardest part for Beilein over the past few years is that his best player (in Levert and his second best last season) has been out for basically two years. That changes things. The argument against this, where the recruiting depth then? Theoretically, let’s say Indiana lost Yogi this year or Wisconsin didn’t have Kaminsky last season. Replacing your best player is really tough for any coach (look at Duke with not having Jefferson, very different team and where is their depth?).

There are just so many factors in building and maintaining a program. Recruiting is the life blood of any program and as Matt has shown, it hasn’t been the greatest the past few years. Is that Beilein being able to seal the deal with recruits or are the assistant coaches not doing their job up to the standards that they created? I would think Beilein will evaluate his assistants (all areas) after the season just like he did when two guys that he brought with him from WVU left.

All in all, Matt’s post says a lot and everyone appreciates the work put into it. Thanks Matt.


#4

Hard to disagree with much there.

JB has always been a “rescue” coach. To my knowledge, he hasn’t taken over programs that were successful and taken them up to another level. He’s taken over programs that have been bad and made them respectable and turned them around. He’s more than done that with Michigan, and now he has to deal with higher expectations. I think he gets a definite pass for last season. But this season was not acceptable. When Caris went down, nobody was expecting us to be conference contenders. My expectations went from 4-6 seed to 6-8 seed. And that was still attainable. But we’ve melted down during the home stretch.

I’m not too concerned about next season, actually. I actually think Walton and Irvin (if healthy this offseason) will achieve consistency for next year. I don’t expect a huge jump from Rahk, but he will make small improvements in each area which will equate to solid improvement overall. I think Donnal will be average and serviceable next season. If he can hit his jumper consistently, I think we will like what we have with him (at least on offense). A lineup of Walton-Simpson-Rahk-Irvin-Donnal isn’t that bad to me (depending on your expectations, mine are a solidly “in” tournament team, not a conference contender for next year). That’s a solid perimeter defense, even though it’s small. Obviously we’ll run into some problems against bigger front lines like Purdue and MSU.

But beyond those five, I don’t know what we will get. Robinson and Dawkins cannot both get significant minutes unless they are both making their 3s. I think I just go with the hot hand for the rotation and the other one gets spot minutes. Doyle…idk. Wagner has some pretty solid potential. I hope he takes a big step forward because I think he could defend the four against those bigger teams. Doyle needs to become serviceable. He did not improve at all this season. Wilson and Chatman, who knows at this point. I have to imagine at least one of them will transfer. Each have some interesting components in their game but I don’t think either of them sees the floor unless they can hit open shots. I wish Wilson would move to the four and become effective there to help out against some of the bigger teams.

Other than Simpson, I don’t see the freshman class contributing. Watson doesn’t offer anything different than Dawkins and Robinson IMO. Teske and Davis need development and there’s a logjam ahead of them already.

My concern is beyond next season. We will lose Irvin and Walton. We will have senior Rahk, senior Robinson, senior Dawkins, senior Donnal, senior Doyle, senior, Chatman, junior Wilson, junior Wagner, sophomore Simpson, sophomore Watson, sophomore Teske, sophomore Davis, freshman Poole.

I don’t see a lot of difference makers there. We will be a veteran team. But that’s only good if the veterans can contribute. I don’t think every single one of those guys will be there for 17-18, so we HAVE to get some instant impact players with the one or two remaining recruits in that class. At least one. If not, we need to get a grad transfer in. Izzo had a couple subpar recruiting cycles in a row but he mitigated them by getting Forbes and Harris. Without them, they’re a fairly mediocre team.

One change I’d like to see JB make is that if he’s going to go for shooters, they’ve got to be 3 and D types. Not 3 and little else. Everyone agrees that our defense needs to get better. REcruit guys that can play it. And coach it. NBA teams love the 3 & D players and they would really help us in our system on both ends of the court. I don’t know if we are getting these types of guys and we are just not coaching teh defense or what.


#5

I’ve been off the board for a long time because this season has disappointed on so many levels. I couldn’t stand to even read much commentary as the season has gone down the tubes.

Matt D I’ll admit I used to get angry at some of your commentary during the “good times” the last few seasons. Now I see you just saw the future coming so props to your foresight.

I am in the camp of thought that Beilein should be gone after this season. I doubt that will happen because I think the “benefit of the doubt” group still has much larger numbers. With that said I believe Beilein is an outstanding coach at a certain level. His ability to get guys to play above their potential is there. While most do not I do believe Beilein has gotten more out of this team then their natural talent allows. However the difference is these guys playing above their talent still isn’t enough in the Big Ten or at Michigan. This team at a Mid Major is a dangerous winning team. Not so much at this level. That all ties back to the inability to recruit guys that can play at this level. Even when we recruit the “under the radar” guys like Burke, Stauskas, and GR3 (under the radar at least at the time of their commitments) their is a difference between them and the guys we get now. They possessed athleticism and skills that translated to college and you could see it even in high school. We don’t see that out of the current guys. It’s like Beilein started to believe his own hype that he could take any recruit and “coach” them up. He doesn’t go all out for the talent we need because he thinks he can take his 3rd or 4th options and win. This goes to him being out of touch with today’s kids. He doesn’t play the game so to speak and that’s fine for him but he will not win at Michigan without it.

While Beilein is thought of as a offensive coach the entire lack of attention to defense now hurts his offense. Without the ability to get guys who fight for rebounds, get blocks, or play man on man to force turnovers we can’t get out in transition. Without being able to get out in transition we become a half court team which all circles back again to we don’t have the athletes to win by being solely a half court team. We can’t break down defense, get to basket, or dump the ball down low for easy buckets. Again no athletes, no back to the basket guys, and no guys who can take over the game on the offensive side because Beilein and his “style” don’t connect with those type kids.

The next few years are going to be very rough from an Michigan basketball enjoyment stand point. Unless Beilein has a drastic shift in style and attitude or a change is made at the head coach spot to a guy who plays the game then this type season will be status quo. What a few years ago looked like a program with so much potential on the rise back up was truly a mirage.


#6

I think you’ve got to give JB a pass for last season. Losing Caris and Walton with an inexperienced team was a recipe for disaster. No excuse this year though.

And if you fire a coach two years removed from one of the better stretches in program history, you’re gonna have a tough time bringing in a coach without paying way above market value or giving him a Kirk Ferentz monster buyout, which could potentially hurt the program if you screw up the hire. Coaches like security and they’re gonna raise eyebrows at us for getting rid of JB so quickly.

And I don’t think it’s a matter of not going all out for difference making talent. We recruited Brunson, Thornton, Battle, Langford etc hard. We didn’t get them. The problem is that they were our Plan As and the difference between our Plan As and Plan Bs were massive. Our Plan Bs should be better options. It’s like we went from Plan As to Plan Cs. JMO


#7

I wouldn’t disagree with anything except I think you have to include the 2012-13 season because Belien recruited and coached all of those players. I don’t see why you wouldn’t count that year.


#8

A tour de force, well argued Matt. This would be a great document to print and mail to the AD, if you were so inclined.

I don’t know if ranking is the only criterion by which we should judge recruiting, though it is perhaps the most quantifiable. As you’ve shown, the downward trend is real and disappointing. I also think it is compounded by targeting weaker/less athletic guys when, as you have shown in your player reports, there are even sub-100-ish guys who could give us a major physical boost – especially defensively and on the boards – if only Michigan bothered to recruit them.

It just seems that the staff sets a very low bar for athleticism and an ultra-high bar for “fit” and off-court stuff, leading to a distorted pool of potential recruits compared to what our rivals are looking for and getting.

Those clamoring for change are simply frustrated by this approach (whether you call it quirky, lazy, rigid, or misguided) and the related uncompetitive product on the court. (And by “uncompetitive”, I mean getting run out of the gym more often than not by all teams in the top half of the conference.) The total neglect of defense probably doesn’t help either.


#9

I would say that year was a mirage from a recruiting standpoint. Perhaps Beilein gets lucky with a class like that again. However that puts us on a trajectory to only be relevant in the Big Ten and on a national level every few years and I don’t think that is a path any of us want to take. 12-13 gave us a look at what could be but isn’t.


#10

I did, it didn’t move the averages/median at all. At this point, JB is what he is.


#11

With that class, they recruited GR3, Stauskas, and McGary for at least three years. Caris and Spike were starting to get recruited during/after the season. Work has to be put in for the long haul and hope that you find gems like GR3 before anyone else.


#12

Totally agree with you with regard to injury, BUT even with Caris we were getting ran out of the gym by legit teams. Do I think Caris would’ve helped - of course, but only marginally. The defense is simply incompetent and he wouldn’t provide relief in that regard.

Totally disagree with respect to ‘this is JBs only long term gig’…when you’ve been a head coach for 30+ years the experience card just isn’t acceptable.


#13

Mediocrity is becoming acceptable here and with the endless resources and history of Michigan, one wouldn’t think it would be so difficult to stay I the 50-150 range for a 9 man rotation but we can’t even do that. I don’t think he should be fired UNLESS we have someone in the upper tier of coaches willing to come here. Maybe even a young, up and comer with a lot of energy could start to bring in some of these kids in but I can’t see why we continue to miss on top 50 guys.


#14

I guess I was just saying I could see excluding his 1st year, but not the 2012-13 year due to the circumstances. I honestly can’t remember what there record was his first year but was thinking that if you excluded that year and counted 12-13 it would change the averages a little. Either way, it still has no effect on what is going on with the program now. It is disappointing no matter how you slice it!


#15

I agree. It’s starting to be embarrassing. Get wiped off our own court by Iowa, who had been struggling mightily, just doesn’t seem like that should be acceptable. I understand he’s been a good coach, but our program can’t get into the pits before something is done about it.


#16

Matt great write up. In the end as I posted earlier in 34 years he has been to the tournament 10x. We are exactly where JB has his team’s. The above further proves it.


#17

That’s an irrelevant statistic. He spent his first 10 years in D1 in one-bid conferences. And who knows about Le Moyne’s conference in the 80s, when only 32 teams were in the D2 tournament IIRC.

7 tourney bids in 13 seasons at WVU/Michigan is a much more useful perspective IMO. Particularly, 5 in 8 (potentially 9 if we don’t get in this year) at Michigan. That’s not good enough for where we want to go.


#18

Though I’ve been wrong on occasion (Kam Chatman in particular)…the amount of flack I took over DJ Wilson and my associated assessment was borderline insane. That being said, a LOT of folks owe me an apology on that one.


#19

Good points


#20

I’m in a different group. While I have little faith that things are going to get much better under JB I also think he deserves another year. However, the bar should not be simply making the tournament but making a sweet sixteen at least and a strong showing by the 2016 class.

What is so frustrating is that you could see this all coming when the staff had failure after failure on the recruiting trail from 2013 on despite having recent on court. success. What a wasted opportunity and frankly one that JB and his staff will never get again