John Beilein landed a huge recruit.
Bill Self missed on one.
I'll address both developments and more in the Five for the Weekend column.
1. How significant is Thursday's news that Michigan's John Beilein has secured a commitment from Mitch McGary?
It's so significant that it can't be overstated, and it's the latest bit of evidence that suggests I'm probably going to be wrong about Beilein's tenure. Simply put, I didn't believe it was a good fit when Michigan hired Beilein. I thought the coach at Michigan should be a man with a history or obvious ability to get into a city like Detroit and recruit that city the way that city needs to be recruited, and I didn't think Beilein was the guy for the job.
|John Beilein landing a No. 2 prospect in Mitch McGary is huge. (Getty Images)|
But then Beilein took Michigan to the Round of 32 last March. And then he returned enough of that roster to get the Wolverines ranked 18th in this preseason's Associated Press poll. And now the No. 2 overall prospect in the Class of 2012 is set to enroll before next season. So, yeah, things are looking up in Ann Arbor. I would like to tell you I saw this coming. The truth is that I did not.
2. Should fans of teams that lose exhibitions to Division II schools panic?
Sometimes yes, sometimes no. Because sometimes they're an indication that tough times are ahead and other times they're just, well, mostly meaningless results. So I guess what I'm saying is that I don't believe Butler would consistently struggle with Division II opponents just because the Bulldogs lost to Northern State on a buzzer-beater the other night. Do I think the Bulldogs are down relative to the past two seasons? Yes. But I'd still pick them to win the Division II national title, and I still think they'll win the Horizon League title, too. What happened against Northern State is a reminder that Gordon Hayward, Shelvin Mack and Matt Howard are gone, but it's not indicative of what Butler will be. I mean, Brad Stevens is still the coach. He'll get things straight and recover nicely, I'm certain.
3.And who won't recover nicely from an exhibition loss?
Probably UTEP, because Tim Floyd lost every relevant player from last season's team that won 25 games. Every. Relevant. Player. So he's in a total rebuilding mode in El Paso. That UTEP lost Thursday to Division II Eastern New Mexico was not nearly as much of a surprise as Butler losing to Northern State. The Miners should be better than that, no question. But they're going to struggle this season just like they struggled Thursday night.
4. John Calipari said Michael Kidd-Gilchrist must start for Kentucky. If that's true, who must sit?
That's a tough question -- a tough question Mike DeCourcy tried to tackle after Calipari made that comment following Kentucky's win over Transylvania, and if you read Mike's column you know there's no simple answer because UK has six starter-worthy players for five starting positions. The most sensible basketball move, I think, would be to start Kidd-Gilchrist at small forward, surround him with Marquis Teague, Doron Lamb, Terrence Jones and Anthony Davis, and then bring Darius Miller off the bench. But can you really sit a senior captain who was MVP of last March's SEC tournament? Would that damage Miller's ego and mess with chemistry? Only Calipari can answer those questions. But he's juggled lineups and egos before, so I suspect he'll figure it out.
5. Should Kansas fans be concerned about KU's recruiting?
Jeff Goodman, Matt Norlander and I tackled the subject in this week's podcast, and we all admitted we can't make sense of the Jayhawks' recent recruiting woes. I never thought Bill Self would struggle to get players. But the Class of 2010 featured only two prospects (both of whom are no longer with the program), the Class of 2011 was Naadir Tharpe and a bunch of guys who didn't qualify academically, and Kansas just missed on its top target for the Class of 2012 -- namely Kaleb Tarczewski, a 7-foot center who picked Arizona instead. The byproduct of all that -- plus Xavier Henry and both Morris Twins leaving school early -- has Self suddenly operating with a very un-Kansas-like roster, and he'll likely have one next season, too.
So exactly how'd we get here?
Again, it's difficult to pinpoint.
But I asked one coach about it Thursday night, and here's what he said: "When you're at a place like Kansas you might only really target two or three guys in every class, and you spend a lot of time on them. But Kentucky is spending a lot of time on them, too -- as is Arizona, North Carolina and Duke. Those are heavy hitters. So it's very easy to get beat, and when you get beat in November or later you might not have too many good places to turn. I think that's some of it. But Bill will be fine. He'll get things turned around, I promise."