Coaches' timeouts are worse. Basketball teams should get one, full stop.
Stop! Have you considered you many not have to do this? [Fuller]
Always something to complain about.
Now that Stauskas has escaped from the Lilliputians and the offense has duly gone back to Brobdingnagian, are there ways to get the defense performing, say, at a top-50 instead of 100-ish level? 75? Or do you think at this point they just are what they are?
Ace: I think the Indiana game, despite the win, rid us of any notion that the defense will have a postseason breakthrough. The Wolverines are who we thought they were: a superlative offensive team with some major defensive issues. Michigan couldn't stay in front of Indiana's guards, failed to get back in transition—including after multiple made baskets—and had to go to the high-risk 1-3-1 for the entire second half to create enough empty possessions to somehow win while giving up a 66.3 eFG%. The Hoosiers entered the game with a 48.0 eFG% in conference play. That's bad, mmmmkay?
So, yeah, the defense is an issue, and projects to be going forward. Michigan was a much better defensive squad last season, and while they gave up a respectable 0.98 ppp in the NCAA Tournament, that figure swells to 1.03 after excising the first weekend. Also, that run featured the unleashing of Mitch McGary, Embodiment of Chaos, and this year's squad doesn't feature anyone with his ability to force turnovers, which proved key in the run to the title game. (Caris LeVert leads this season's squad with a 2.2% steal rate; McGary was at 3.4% last season, Trey Burke at 2.8%.)
With Michigan preparing for a potential three games in three days, followed by a prep week for the tournament that's likely to be geared more towards rest and scouting than working on defensive fundamentals, I don't think they're going to come up with a magical solution to the myriad defensive issues. The offense is capable of carrying this team into the Final Four. That's a good thing, because that will have to be the case if we're going to see a repeat of last year.
[jump…preferably before the shooter does]
This baby's still got a few surprises
Brian: I am generally with Ace. They are what they are. Ben Wallace is not walking through that door. But there is a wildcard that Ace mentions and dismisses too quickly: the 1-3-1. That defense has been a regular feature of games Michigan is flailing in, and about two thirds of the time it proves perplexing enough to the opponent to get Michigan back in games. Pitt last year, FSU and Indiana this year. It promises a rescue or two in the tourney, a tight turnaround situation against teams that don't necessarily know who they're playing or see a junk zone, like, ever. It could prove a critical secret weapon in games where Michigan's defense isn't up to snuff.
|The hope is what Michigan gives up in this (which frankly they're giving up anyway), they'll make up with a few more turnovers|
Ideally that would not have to be the case, but we're short on ideals on that side of the ball. Maybe the 1-3-1 is not suited for competing in the Big Ten, and thus got dumped by Beilien, but the guy made a living off the thing as he ran through tournaments as a scrappy underdog. Applied in ten-minute bursts, it could give Michigan the distance it needs as a scrappy underdog on defense... that just happens to have a nuclear-powered offense.
That nuclear power is what got Michigan past Indiana and promises a tourney run. Yeah, Beilein's West Virginia outfits were good on offense, even very good. But they do not hold a candle to what he's been able to construct at Michigan. The Elite Eight WVU team was eleventh in the country on O... and almost nine points per hundred possession adrift of this year's Michigan offense. The ranking isn't much higher but things get spaced out at the edges of the distribution. Dropping nine points of efficiency would take Michigan's offense down to 29th nationally; adding nine to their defense would shoot them up to sixth(!). Would you feel better about this team if their Kenpom profile said 29/6 instead of 3/94? You probably would. But those teams are ranked the exact same.
That's why the 1-3-1 can be a critical game flipper: it doesn't have to be good consistently. It just has to disrupt the opponent long enough for Michigan to run away and hide, as it did in a ten minute stretch of the second half against the Hoosiers when they scored ten points. At the very least it's a card to play when straights get dire.
Mathlete: Unless Michigan makes it one win further than last season, when they lose, it will almost certainly be at the hands of this defense. This is not news. The question is, what are the conditions at which the dangers on defense become greater than the potency of the offense. With the offense having surprising resiliency, especially with their perimeter orientated nature, the question comes back to who has the guns on offense to exploit Michigan's defenses weakness.
|This season's so weird that Wisconsin (6th on Kempom) is one of those elite offensive teams. [Fuller]|
Taking a look at Kenpom's offensive ranks, Michigan has virtually no chance of facing any of the really elite units until at least the second weekend. Assuming Michigan makes it there, that's when the going gets interesting. Brian has done a great job focusing on the matchups and I think that is especially critical for this year's squad. Possibly helping Michigan's case this season is the lack of a really elite top tier of teams. It feels like this tournament could be really wild. If Michigan can survive the first two matchups, the defense would have to survive two more potentially dangerous foes to make a return Final Four trip.
I don't see any way that the defense becomes anything less than a liability all year, but as long as the offense keeps clicking, the future is bright. Michigan won't have any room to spare on defense so the offense is going to have to be on every game. Brian's point about the 1-3-1 being a trump card is a key point. At some point the defense is going to have to put up a stretch like they did in the second half this weekend to allow the offense to get its rhythm back. The 1-3-1 can look bad at times but hopefully strategic deployment can provide the opportunity for the reversion to the mean for an early game offensive showing or a chance for a positive high variance outcome in the later stages.
BiSB: I like the 1-3-1, and I always enjoy seeing it deployed. It's the blue shell of the Michigan defense; it only appears when they're behind, but it's guaranteed to make up some ground on the leaders. But I don't see it as being viable as anything other than a stop-gap measure. There's a reason it worked against Pitt, FSU, and Indiana: those are three teams that aren't... oh, what's the polite way to say this... let's say 'basketball smart' (remember when Syracuse sprung a 2-3 zone on Indiana with only a few decades notice, and befuddled the bejeezus out of Dwight Schrute, et al?). Beilein has been running the 1-3-1 for a long time, and he doesn't feel comfortable with it this year. He mentioned on WTKA on Tuesday that there are parts of the 1-3-1 they haven't even installed yet.
|Fortunately for Michigan, outside the Big Ten are lots of dumb people. [Fuller]|
That said, the 1-3-1 doesn't have to be a panacea. Michigan games are almost like big-time men's tennis. If Michigan breaks serve a few times, they can gain a little separation and trade baskets until the horn sounds. That's what they did against Michigan State, and it served its purpose. Plus, the threat of a bizarre zone will force teams to spend practice time worrying about the thing that will probably appear on three possessions. There's also something to be said for Beilein schematic sub-ness; if you're going to give a team three days to scout and game plan for an new opponent (and 36 hours to do the same for a second team), you want John Beilein on your side.
Michigan has been winning with this formula for two years now. So no, the defense won't be great, and no, I don't think it matters more than it has thus far. They just won the Big Ten by 3 games with this terrible defense. They went to the title game with a similarly terrible defense last year. Snail tempo track meets uber alles.
Seth: Some things are what they are. The 216th two-point defense in the country doesn't suddenly start holding everybody under 50, whatever tricks are up their sleeves. Except…
Except they were the 200th two-point defense last year going into the tournament. Then they had a tourney stretch where they gave up 56 to the Jackrabbits, 53 to the Commodores, 59 to the Gators, and 56 to the Orange. Kansas scored 76 in regular time. Louisville put up 82 and the run was over. They finished 175th in that stat.
All season long we've been saying that Trey Burke and Mitch McGary aren't walking on that floor, and all season long John Beilein has been making do. At the dawn of the Big Ten Tournament this team has a conference crown by three games and is in position for a possible 2 seed, a 3 at worst. Last year was a 4.
What happened last year was McGary beast mode:
That is probably bad news since it's unlikely—short of McGary himself returning—that Michigan's bigs will suddenly transform into rebounding, turnover-inducing terrors while maintaining their offensive efficiency. Stauskas is what he is and since he's the engine of the offense you don't want him exerting so much on defense. There's a distant possibility that Irvin will suddenly get really hot, but Michigan's best chance for the kind of marginal improvement that leads to a tourney run is to turn something they are awful at into something they are mediocre at.
|McGary isn't there to help, but Horgal Morford has been pretty alright despite being exactly the kind of guys Big Ten refs love to hate on. [Fuller]|
So let's find those. That horrible 2-pt defense is related to that 293rd ranking in blocks—that's not going to change. They're 320th in opponent free throw percentage—if that's luck it'll matter but I think that's just an effect of Michigan not fouling bigs very often because we can't afford to end a game without Horford or Morgan. Steal rate is 255th; Walton's probably a year away from Burke-like picking, but flashing the 1-3-1 some against certain teams might inch that up.
Here's one: they're second to last in the country in DREB % from the 4 spot. Typically, Robinson isn't interested in boards. There's no way to turn him into, well, Glenn Robinson (11.2 rebounds/game his last year at Purdue), but there's also no substitute for his ability to leap like Luigi and hover like Peach beside a rim. Anecdotally I've seen him doing a marginally better job of boxing out; the returns could be on their way, especially with the motivation of the NCAA tourney run. If GRIII goes ham en route to securing that 1st round draft spot Michigan's defense could go from laughable (for a tourney team) to something between a chuckle and chortle. Pair this offense, this coach, and a favorable seed with a just-a-bit-cruddy defense instead of a crappy one and we could be in for a long dance.
2015 Quarterbacks: Wimbush, Waller Next?
Sam Webb knows things. So, when he pens a DetNews article on 2015 quarterbacks that features two unoffered prospects, it's a good bet that Michigan is strongly considering them for the next wave of offers. The first quarterback mentioned is dual-threat NJ four-star Brandon Wimbush:
One that appears to be becoming an increasingly viable option is Jersey City (N.J.) St. Peters standout Brandon Wimbush. Ranked a four-star prospect and the No. 14 quarterback in the country by Scout.com, the 6-2, 205-pound signal caller currently holds offers from Ohio State, Penn State, Miami, Virginia Tech, Michigan State, and a host of others.
“Wimbush has a big-time arm and showed it his junior season, which was his first as a starter,” Scout.com East Regional Manager Brian Dohn said. “He has huge hands, spins the ball well, can throw the 15-yard out on a line, and throws a nice deep ball. He is also a threat running and can make defenders miss. He needs to improve his intermediate throws and his accuracy, but could become a program-building quarterback.”
His highlights are above, and it'll take four plays at most before you're convinced he goes in the "DO WANT" category. After initially planning to make an early decision—which likely would've been in favor of Ohio State—he's taking his time after "other schools came in to play." Michigan would have their work cut out for them if they offer—the coaches plan to see him throw in the spring. Wimbush seems like a prospect worth putting in the effort; Webb notes he doesn't plan on visiting Ann Arbor unless he receives an offer.
Also featured in Webb's article is dual-threat CA four-star Travis Waller, another quarterback prospect seeing an uptick in Michigan interest since the Doug Nussmeier hire. Based on the type of quarterback Nussmeier appears interested in—big-armed prospects who can run—and this quote from Waller, you can get a sense of how the new OC wants the offense to look:
“(Michigan) came out about a month ago and then I talked to Coach Nuss on Twitter,” Waller said. “I gave him a call and we talked about how definitely I can fit into their program and make things happen – (how) I can help make them become a winning football team. (We talked about) how I bring my athleticism to the table, extend plays, and do the spread offense. He also told me, ‘We’re not just spread. We also do under center, single back -- that type of stuff.’ I was actually excited to hear that. I actually do like to drop back. Being in shotgun is fun, but I also like to go under center. So that’s what I like to hear. Coach Nuss said we’re going to get this thing started.
I'm all for keeping spread elements a part of the offense, and Michigan's focus on quarterbacks that threaten in the run game is fine by me.
Also in that article: Alex Malzone, who recently received his first major conference offer from Wake Forest, still wants one from Michigan and plans to visit for a spring practice, as does Waller. Meanwhile, QB guru Steve Clarkson goes full Fred Jackson when discussing his pupil, David Sills:
“I will tell you, if you like Johnny Manziel, he is a taller version of that without the off-the-field stuff.”
Sills's situation is one to monitor going forward; he has an offer from Michigan, but it was extended by Al Borges, not Nussmeier. Sills has, in my opinion, the least impressive film of the quarterbacks fielding serious Michigan interest; he's also among the lowest-rated. My guess is he'll have to show a whole lot more to Nussmeier in a throwing session if that offer is going to be committable. He's slated to visit on Thursday, so we might get some clarification on his situation soon.
[Hit THE JUMP for a new 2016 offer, updates on Mike Weber and Keisean Lucier-South, and more.]
My regional breakdown, still.
After I did that regional study of football talent production by state, Michael Elkon (Braves & Birds, SB Nation, regular HTTV contributor) asked if I'd do the same with hoops recruiting. I responded that I'd love to, but we just had our first child and I need some time to stare at her. This is also my response for why I didn't have any content last week. In fact it is my excuse for everything; to those who don't have kids I can say "you don't understand" and they have to shut up because this is the ultimate trump card. Those who are already parents keep quiet because they're in on it. Having kids is AWESOME!
Anyway it's back to work, and because it's me that means charts. So back to charts.
This is NOT exactly accurate
Data are from the Rivals (most easily accessible) databases since 2003. Putting lists of football and basketball recruits against each other is not a one-for-one comparison. Basketball has more teams, fewer recruits per team, way more international players, and players who went directly to the NBA or committed to Kentucky or some other stupid one before they're done with the pretense.
Top basketball players are also far more likely to go to prep schools, and these are often nowhere near their hometowns. The Rivals database lists actual hometowns for many prep players, but not international ones, so, e.g., Canadian from Canada Nik Stauskas registers as a Massachusetts recruit despite being from Canada. Where a hometown was noted I used that. Some states will appear disproportionately large because their prep programs draw kids from around the region, but that is also an advantage to the schools near the prep programs.
Talent Supply By Region
As with football, the Southeast appears to produce a disproportionate amount of talent compared to its population, but to nowhere near the extreme as it is with football. Observe:
|Region||% U.S. pop
|% of Top ~400
|% of Top ~400
|Atlantic||22%||20% (-2)||15% (-7)|
|Midwest||18%||18% ( - )||14% (-4)|
|Northeast||5%||6% (+1)||1% (-4)|
|Pacific||19%||14% (-5)||14% (-5)|
|Plains||17%||17% ( - )||18% (+1)|
|Southeast||19%||25% (+6)||38% (+19)|
The Atlantic, Midwest, and Northeast are considerably better represented, suggesting a marginally higher basketball orientation than the national average. My guess is this has a lot to do with the fact that it doesn't snow in gyms.
The list of top states in proportionally producing more basketball talent was heavily influenced by the prep school effect: New Hampshire (more than 3x their share of hoops talent) was done by three schools: Tilton, New Hampton, and the Brewster Academy. Most of Nevada was Findlay Prep, and Bishop Gorman sent most of the rest. Leaving those aside, the big basketball states (proportional to their population) were Kansas (209%), D.C. (202%), Mississippi (185%), Georgia (183%), Iowa (172%), Virginia (166%), North Carolina (154%), and Indiana (150%).
There's a reverse prep effect at the bottom: Vermont and Rhode Island were drained by New Hampshire it appears, and Delaware seems to have sent their kids to Virginia or D.C. The remainder to produce less than half as much talent as you would expect from their populations: Alaska (17%), Montana (25%), Colorado (34%), Nebraska (40%), New York (41%), South Dakota (45%), and New Mexico (47%).
Michigan (3% of the U.S. population, 2.4% of the top basketball talent) was about in the middle, about even with Wisconsin, Oklahoma, Missouri, Ohio, and Arizona. Straight-up Michigan is the 14th biggest producer of basketball talent, and the 12th biggest producer of football talent. I thought the more interesting stat was within the Midwest (that above table), where Ohio produces nearly half of the top football prospects the basketball talent is shared.
[jump for where they go]
Post game celebration. Confetti ho.
Morgan's singing voice is not the strong point of his game, but we'll forgive him.
Beilein said he will give away the coach of the year award as a trivia door prize at the radio show.
The first words out his mouth when asked about the award were about Tim Miles; he seemed almost annoyed he'd been handed a plague.
Meanwhile, Nik Stauskas is your Big Ten player of the year, Caris LeVert is second-team All Big Ten, and Derrick Walton is on your all-freshman team. On the snub side of things, Jordan Morgan is passed over for all-defense and Irvin for all-freshman.
It was probably tough for anyone to look at Michigan's defense and provide an all-D nod to them, even if most of the things going on weren't Morgan's deal. Irvin losing out to Purdue's Kendall Stephens is hard to defend since they were the exact same player and Stephens hit 37% of his threes to Irvin's 41%. But whatever, man.
Mmm, foreboding. John Gasaway puts together a list of the top players in college basketball($) that includes one Nik Stauskas, and sums him up from the opponent's point of view well:
At the moment, I'm not sure there's anything else in Division I ball quite like the deep foreboding experienced by opposing fans when the first 3 falls for Stauskas.
He's an Illinois fan, so he may be extrapolating from his most recent Stauskas experience.
Major blow to a contender. Kansas's Joel Embiid has a stress fracture in his back and is a "longshot" for the first weekend of the NCAA tourney. He's just plain out for the Big 12 tourney. If Kansas maintains their spot on the two line the toughest seed they can face before the Sweet 16 is a 7, but they just got beat by WVU in a game that would have been a blowout if WVU could handle a press.
For Michigan, a Kansas loss in the Big 12 tourney helps them in their quest to scoot into a Nova/Wichita region, and possibly Indianapolis. It would at least take a Villanova loss before anyone starts talking about a potential one seed for Michigan.
It's desperation time for hockey. [Bill Rapai]
The other bracket. Michigan is just about hanging on to a spot in the hockey tournament despite their inability to beat some of the worst teams in the country. They are 14th in the Pairwise at this moment; current hockey bracketology has them matched up against Union in Bridgeport, Connecticut.
At 14th, Michigan could withstand one bid thief but not two. There is an extra conference this year, and thus an extra tournament to worry about. At 14th, there's probably a 50-50 shot at a bid. Ferris State is the only WCHA team in the top 16; St. Cloud and North Dakota are the only NCHC teams in the top 16. The ECAC has three teams slated for the tournament, as does the Big Ten. Bid thieves are everywhere.
That's if Michigan maintains its current position. The bad news: this weekend's opponent is an excellent Minnesota team. The good news: a split will be massively helpful thanks to the new quality win bonus. Get swept, though, and Michigan will be either right on the bubble or right outside it.
These are the wages of going 5-4 against Penn State and Michigan State. If Michigan ends up on the outside looking in again, that is 85% of the reason why.
Worst best mascot ever. I see shots of old mascots that seem designed to engender years of nightmares and pine for their return. South Dakota School of Mines and Technology has my back.
His name is Grubby. Seriously. If Dave Brandon could guarantee that hypothetical Michigan mascot would be a homeless Wolverine named "Diseasy" I would support a mascot for M. Alas, it will just be a wolverine in a bread bowl.
Well that's (partially) random then. If you were wondering if student sections could affect free throw shooting, the answer is probably no since Northwestern crushed all comers in this department while MSU finished last.
While most of this looks like random variation, those gaps down to Nebraska and Northwestern are pretty wild. I wonder if that's repeatable. 148 attempts is kind of a lot for that to be totally random.
Next year's schedule. Michigan's preseason tourney next year will take them back to Brooklyn. They'll play a couple of warmup tomato cans at Crisler before taking on one of Villanova, VCU, or Oregon at the Jay Z Center in the "Legends Classic"*. I'd imagine they'll split Michigan and Villanova with the hope the two meet in the final.
*[Which sounds like a fictional tournament hosting Generic State, East University, Ivy Tech, and COLLEGE COLLEGE.]
Well, yeah. By FOIAing the Ann Arbor Police Department, MLive discovers that Michigan's Office Of Institutional Equity asked them for the Gibbons police report in October, which doesn't clarify anything as to when the athletic department knew about what was going down. The most interesting bit of the story is actually a comment from an MLive person:
For context, the Ann Arbor News has been requesting several documents and communications via FOIA from U-M, but they have declined all of our requests citing sections of the Freedom of Information Act that allows U-M "to refrain from disclosing information that would constitute an unwarranted invasion of an individual's privacy." We continue to file FOIAs with U-M, but it appears in this case our best bet for information is requesting it from other sources that U-M has communicated with in regards to this case, including the AAPD.
Other FOIA-covered organizations offer up their data. Michigan has a culture of secrecy that has nothing to do with the privacy of individuals, but rather seems to be focused on covering for people who may or may not have screwed up, whether that's in taking four years to act on the Gibbons information or as part of the massive PR debacle that ensued after actually acting.
Etc.: Scouting Jeremy Gallon. McGary and Robinson on list of folks whose draft stock has slipped. Kam Chatman named to one of those basketball all star type things. Lax getting competitive this year. Sloan Sports Analytics conference suffers fate of all things. Jordan Morgan's top moments.
Originally, this just contained the McGary "SOON" text until I sent it to Brian:
Brian: first one needs to have like three paragraphs of text from horford about existentialism
Me: I can do that
Me: Taoism work? [link]
MGoBlog, catering to a very specific audience since 2005.
[Hit THE JUMP for Jordan Morgan GIFstravaganza, all the Andrew Dakich reactions fit to GIF, John Beilein technical spectacularr, the pick, and more.]
WON THE CONFERENCE/INDIANA
Incorrect assertions that Michigan won the conference by two games since this was taped before the MSU and Wisconsin results were in. Increase marveling 50%. Standard charge bitchin' session. GRIII: on tear? Can we say that? Stauskas defeats point guard gambit. John Friggin' Beilein. Defense… uh. Could be problematic.
We are in favor of winning the tourney. Assertions about tiredness are just urban legend. Teams we'd like to see Michigan drawn against (Syracuse, VCU, Cincinnati) and teams we wouldn't (Kentucky, Duke, Arizona). Looking at the conference.
"Across 110th Street."
"Lake Michigan," Rogue Wave
"Adrenaline Nightshift," Japandroids
The usual links: