Mike Lantry, 1972
Indiana could have used Creek (#1, left) or Abell (right)
Michigan's next Big Ten opponent is Indiana, an outfit that's 3-5 in conference, 13-8 overall, headed for an NIT bid at best. While Indiana lost buckets of talent to graduation, they didn't have to be this bad. Tom Crean screwed himself.
I give Tom Izzo a lot of crap around these parts for his constant histrionics, but 90% of that is pure rivalry spiciness. I hate Tom Izzo, because he is extraordinarily easy to hate. But I simultaneously treasure Tom Izzo because he is easy to hate in that way. When not indulging in rivalry business, I don't actually mind the guy. He is clean. Full stop. I don't want to hear anything about Appling and Payne; we've got our own issues in that department. I hate the fact that he gets away with being on the court and his kids can grab without the Big Ten reacting, but that's just basketball stuff.
I hate two Big Ten coaches more than Izzo. One is obvious: Bo Ryan, promulgator of murderously slow swampball and headman of a program that just accidentally happens to put more feet under jumpshooters' ankles than anyone else in the country. But y'all know that because you've read one thing I've said about Wisconsin basketball.
The second is Tom Crean, who brought SEC-style oversigning to the Big Ten. Last year he shuffled off a recruit who met NCAA regulations but ended up at a prep school and is now at Syracuse. This year he needed to dump another guy and ended up ejecting two, Remy Abell and Maurice Creek. But unlike Calipari or Saban, Tom Crean is so inept that his callous disregard of the whole college thing is actually hurting his team.
You see, Rudy, Indiana can't shoot worth two damns. They're 223rd in three point percentage; they are 308th in 3PA/FGA. They're only being kept that high because Yogi Ferrell made an unexpected and impressive burst from a 30% shooter to a 41% shooter. Nobody else on their team can shoot. The only guy who even bothers to try is Will Sheehey, the mediocre senior-to-be who didn't get cut.
The rest of the team occasionally chucks one up in an unsuccessful attempt to keep 'em honest, with results much like the ones Michigan saw against Purdue, their most recent opponent and the other team in the state of Indiana that couldn't hit the broad side of that dude named Pork Chop in eight tries. This is the main reason Indiana is adrift. Teams pack it in against them with impunity.
You did it to yourself
The help Indiana needs was sitting on Indiana's bench last year.
Abell's currently sitting out a year before getting on the court for Xavier, a 15-5 Big East team currrently ranked about 40 spots above Indiana on Kenpom. Abell hit 16 of 33 three-pointers as a 12-minute-per-game sophomore last year; he had a healthy FT rate and an ORTG of 116. This would be a close second to Ferrell this year in terms of IU ORTG, and if Abell's three point shooting was anywhere near what it seemed like it might be he would be a 30 minute per game staple just to spread the floor.
Meanwhile, Maurice Creek was as a fifth-year grad student and therefore immediately eligible at George Washington. Last year the Colonials were below .500 and out of the KP100; this year they are 17-3, in the top 40, and a clear Bracket Matrix at-large. Maurice Creek starts. He takes more shots than anyone on the team, hits threes at a nearly 40% rate, and is nationally ranked in eFG%. He is exactly what Clappy needs on his team of tall athletic guys who seem to be encountering a basketball for the first time every night.
Creek could have been a sentimental legend at Indiana, the guy who came back from injury after injury to spearhead the team as a fifth year senior and preserve their tourney streak. Instead, he's a vastly improved GW's go-to guy as Tom Crean's inept Hoosiers founder.
There isn't really a point here except maybe you should run around in circles and go "eeee" a bit because sometimes the universe does poke the right people in the eye. Clap on, Clappy, as Mo Creek plays in a tournament you won't get invited to.
1/30/2014 – Michigan 75, Purdue 67 – 16-4, 8-0 Big Ten
Albrecht is one of six Wolverines hitting 38% or better from three [Bryan Fuller]
When your friend asks what Purdue is like this year and you tell him that they are the same bunch of inexplicable bricklayers they were a year ago, there's always that trepidation in the back of your mind. Did I just doom Michigan to witness the Johnson and Johnson and Johnson three point spectacular first-hand?
For one, one of the Johnsons is gone. For two, if you spent this game looking exclusively at the rim Purdue was shooting at you'd come away with the impression that their form was borrowed from Rory Delap.
Michigan struggled with the ensuing rebounds because the normal rules about how to position yourself no longer applied. Missed shots generally pop off the top of the rim and go to the back side. These were going anywhere; on one memorable occasion Michigan gave up an offensive rebound because the shooter left a ten-foot floater so short that it bounced right back to his chest. On several other occasions Michigan players had to snap their head back lest a basketball travelling at speed ricochet into their faces. I'm pretty sure at one point Jordan Morgan asked a Boilermaker "you know we're not playing squash, right?" He responded by flinging a ball really hard in the general vicinity of the backboard.
That's just how it goes for Purdue these days. They're 10th in the conference at making twos; tenth at making threes; dead last at making free throws. They were much the same last year save for the presence of DJ Byrd, who vaguely propped up their three-point percentage. That solitary bit of green in Purdue's shooting stats in the post-Hummel era comes with a massive caveat, though: Purdue took fewer threes than all but six of the 345 D-I basketball teams.
Threes are good shots. Very successful bug people masquerading as humans have built entire programs around not allowing them to be launched while launching many themselves. Purdue regards them as poison, because for them they are.
Meanwhile, when Nik Stauskas comes off a screen and takes a pull up long two I'm not even mad anymore.
I feel this deserves a group hug of some variety. I hate long twos. They are odious rejection of math, unless Michigan is shooting them. Nowadays I just think "well, that's probably going in." Michigan shot over 60% from two for the fifth time(!) in eight conference games and stroked over half of their three pointers for the second consecutive outing. The following players launched jumpers that I felt were probably going in as soon as they left their shooters' hand: Stauskas, Robinson, LeVert, Horford, Morgan, Albrecht, Irvin, Walton. That is everybody.
Purdue fans must have looked on at this like cavemen discovering fire, or amoebas recently out-evolved. As a Michigan fan I remember what it was like, and think there but for the grace of six to eight players on Michigan's roster go I.
You keep telling yourself that the thing is unsustainable and then they keep proving you wrong. At some point is the expectation that Michigan can beat just about anyone by launching whenever they get a window of space? You keep waiting for that game where their shooting fails them and they collapse in a heap, but Michigan just banged in 11 of 19 threes at the Breslin Center. When is it going to get, you know, hard?
At some point, surely. This is the belief required both by reason and superstition. But every time Stauskas goes from velocity to perfect airborne stillness it gets a little harder to remember that.
But Mitch, I am contemplating the duality of existence. Ask for Mitch/Horford shots and ye shall receive.
HI JON DID YOU KNOW I USED TO BE A MUPPET [Fuller]
Aside from the shooting, how did you like the play? Not very much at all, old-timey newspaper reporter of legend. This was a very frustrating game to watch when Michigan was not banging in everything they threw up. Which wasn't that often. But still.
Michigan's sixteen turnovers would have done them in against many opponents, and they kept Purdue vaguely in it after Michigan had pushed out to a double-digit lead midway through the first half. A number were extremely sloppy. I can live with Stauskas trying to thread the needle for an assist and getting picked off; not so much LeVert having his pocket picked at the time line. A return of Morgan's hands issues was also unwelcome.
Turnovers both robbed Michigan of opportunities to continue making it rain and propped up Purdue's miserable offense by giving them transition opportunities; without that spate in the first half this game is a laugher by halftime.
The weird, lost rebounding war. The board war was significantly distorted by the fact that there were so many more opportunities for rebounds underneath Purdue's basket (41) than Michigan's (21), so 16 OREBs to 5 isn't quite the enormous blowout it seemed like at the time.
And while the 16 OREBs given up was frustrating, there was no one thing you could point to as the cause. No Boiler acquired more than two of those sixteen offensive rebounds and about half were weird bounces off bricks or scrums in which four or five players touched the ball until it popped out to someone or another.
Result of previous two bullets. Michigan easily won a game in which they had a whopping 19 fewer FGAs than their opponents. (This was not an MSU/Iowa thing where fouls distort that. Michigan shot 17 to Purdue's 15.) That's cool and all, but let's not try that again.
dunk courtesy Derrick Walton [Bryan Fuller]
Okay, Walton, okay. I was trying to pump the breaks a little bit after Walton's 19-point performance against MSU because I wasn't seeing a whole lot of activity in the half-court offense and the free throws distorted his stats.
I am full speed ahead after this one: 14 points on 7 shots, a couple of steals, and a number of nice assists, none prettier than the wrap-around to Jordan Morgan for an uncontested dunk. Moreover, the transition takes were finishes that featured impressive body control against good defenders—not Travis Trice—and he generated offense in the half-court. He may officially be Coming On, and if so that is bad, bad news for the Big Ten.
Come on guys, think of the computer rankings. Major Kenpom-time failure in this one, as the under 4 timeout saw Michigan up 15 with an excellent chance to hit the 17 point KP spread. Two missed front ends and a couple turnovers later Purdue walked out with their heads held high, because there's something about Purdue that makes them super interested in making final scores look good. (Remember Michigan versus Purdue during the Danny Hope era? Onside kicks down 4 scores with two minutes left, etc.)
As a result, Michigan slips to tenth in the all-important Kenpom rankings. If you guys are just going to do that I don't even know why you bother winning the game in the first place.
What is the opposite of the Reggie Cleveland All-Stars? Because Basil Smotherman is on it. I have been envisioning Basil Smotherman in my head for years, because his name is Basil Smotherman, and at no point did it cross my mind that he was a black guy.
I don't miss Glenn Robinson… yet. I may at some point in the future. Robinson was near invisible for the second straight game. He took a few threes and had one nice post move into a short jumper, and that was it. For almost the entire game he was stuck on one rebound; he had no assists. He was a ghost on the offensive side of the ball.
This is basically fine right now since Michigan can get any shot they want, but it's a bit worrisome that Lottery GRIII that showed up in flashes for the Big Ten season has gone into hibernation again. Just a bit. Maybe the next step on the pick and roll is incorporating the GRIII dive to the basket?
Caris carrying things. For the first time in a while it was someone other than Stauskas who seemed to have the primary offensive burden, and that was LeVert. It wasn't by much with Walton and Stauskas helping out significantly; it did seem like LeVert had stepped forward in this one.
The results weren't incredible: 14 points on 13 shot attempts, two assists against four turnovers. His issues were a main sticking point in the first half as Michigan strove and failed to truly blow the doors off. The eyeball test was kinder. Beilein afterwards:
“He can get to places that you can’t figure out, how’d he just get there?'
if he can cut down on the mistakes he can take the heat off Stauskas significantly.
On to the next team of Indiana bricklayers. Indiana, up next, is just like Purdue when it comes to shooting except their point guard can actually do it and they've got a guy (Will Sheehey) who believes he can but cannot, at least not this year. Think sophomore Tim Hardaway Jr.
I don't get it, man. You're in Indiana! You are within the most fertile ground of corner gunners in the country. Hell, Michigan has plundered Indiana for who-dat snipers for years now. Are you telling me there's not one Novak/Douglass/Albrecht around for these teams to pick up? More for Michigan, I guess.
A reader asked for a screenshot from that movie where a bunch of kids are going through the process of applying to and selecting their college destination and the dad of one decides to don the only appropriate attire for accompanying said decision-makers. And the MGoBoard came through. Color this gunter embarrassed to have totally forgotten about this cheesy '80s flick. You know who didn't forget about it? Craig Barker of Hoover Street Rag (and HTTV Hoops/Hockey), who wrote the IMDB synopsis (nice job MGoShoe in spotting it).
Another Shot at Recruiting/Performance Charts. Trying to figure out how to rate the value of four recruiting classes ago versus the latest one etc. and come up with an expectation for that year's performance was all the rage in the diaries last year. We've got a new entry, and his methodology is seniors x4, juniors x3, sophomores x2, freshmen x1. He then took the conference and BCS championship games and ran down them all so we could see what level of recruiting (by 247 composite) was producing these victors. It's got a lolTyWillingham chart:
Lol Willingham, and lolWeiss for underperforming that graph so much. His conclusions are a bit wonky because he doesn't acknowledge the limits of recruiting to explain things like transfers and coaching changes and hiring GERG.
Wallpaper from FabFiver5 (we're from Five!):
Please make "Win the Game."
Best of the Board
The board has been doing a great job of collating and contextualizing the available information. That's Erik_in_Dayton's timeline of events which he has kept updating as info streams in. There has been an epic amount of helpful comments from people with relevant experiences that helps put these events into context. I'm still collecting them and will break that off into a separate post.
Best of the Board (not the Kicker)
LEGENDARY MICHIGAN COACH WHO STARTED IN 1969
Count the Wolverines on the wall. [Max Ortix/DetNews]
I grew up a long time ago in a house not far away from Brother Rice, one of the bigger D-II programs in-state. When I was in high school Rice had this legendary head coach who was celebrating his 30th season there. Understand, the guy was a massive Spartan, and I went to Groves and rooted for Seaholm (long story), so I'm supposed to despise Brother Rice. But Al Fracassa is just a guy anybody who cares about football in this state should know and respect.
He sent 20 kids to scholarships at BCS schools since 2002, including a parade of 4-stars to East Lansing, but nothing but walk-on's to Michigan for a long while now. When they named the field after Fracassa in Sept 2006, Bo came and spoke (one of his last engagements). He just retired THIS year, so I thought I'd use the announcement of his successor to pay him tribute.
HELLO: RAD MAGICIAN
Michigan's last Jack Weisenburger came for its baseball program and wound up one of the key members of its greatest football teams ever. UM recently inked another Jack Weisenburger (his grandson) to play baseball here. Grandpa says he's a fantastic kid, but would not guarantee this means football will go two years without a loss.
ETC. Help these kids get their wings. Dated, but MBB's remaining schedule side-by-side with the competition. Eighty-five percent of NFL players would risk higher brain functioning to play in Superbowl—not surprised; underlines the need for better controls. LolOSUlostlol. Sports myths. Happy Bend Over to Dave Brandon Day.
[Jump for the zen part cause it's really giffy.]
Derrick Walton played perhaps the best game of his career [Bryan Fuller/MGoBlog]
Michigan fans worried about a sloppy, letdown performance after the Wolverines emerged unscathed from a brutal three-game stretch had a portion of their worst fears realized. They committed an uncharacteristic 16 turnovers tonight, including gaffes on three straight first-half possessions to give Purdue a brief one-point edge.
That didn't last long, however, as the home team simply couldn't miss against a porous Boilermakers defense. The final numbers: 21/33 from two and 7/13 from three for a remarkable 68.5 eFG%. Purdue managed to win the turnover and rebounding battles but few teams could've kept pace with Michigan's shooting this evening.
"We did just a wonderful job of getting good shots and doing just enough to win," said John Beilein in the postgame radio interview, and he may have been understating matters.
The backcourt essentially called their own shots all night. Nik Stauskas scored 16 points on 5/10 FGs, including an explosive blow-by reverse layup late in the first half and a couple now-signature pull-up jumpers in the second. Caris LeVert recorded his first career double-double with 14 points (5/11 FG), 11 rebounds, two assists, three steals, and two blocks; his highlights included a LeBron-esque jump stop layup plus the foul and a coast-to-coast layup off his own steal.
Then there was Derrick Walton, who built upon his career-high 19 points against Michigan State with a 14-point effort on just seven shots, of which he missed one, while also chipping in three assists and two steals. He looked more confident than ever working the pick and roll, getting to the basket routinely—big man butterfingers robbed him of a couple more assists. After AJ Hammons committed a lane violation on the front end of a one-and-one with three seconds left in the first half, Walton made Purdue pay dearly by covering the length of the court—splitting two defenders in the process—and finishing at the buzzer before Hammons could react to give Michigan a six-point halftime lead.
LeVert [left, Upchurch] and Stauskas [right, Fuller] both got whatever they wanted offensively.
By the second half, it seemed like Michigan's players were trying to one-up each other's plays. Walton dove into the lane and suddenly scooped a pass to a trailing Jordan Morgan, who finished with a layup for two of his 11 points. LeVert followed with his Olympic long jump tryout. Stauskas knocked down a heavily contested jumper from the stripe. Jon Horford worked his way into the paint and hit a turnaround fade away for two of his four points on the night. Zak Irvin responded to a Hammons dunk with a nothing-but-net triple from the wing.
Even though Michigan never played fully within themselves—the split their 16 turnovers evenly between the first and second halves—their ability to create and make good shots* was on full display. They were lucky that their worst turnover performance of the season by both rate and number came against an overmatched opponent; at the same time, it's tough to complain when they still managed to score 1.17 points per possession.
Caris LeVert made up for his four turnovers with some impressive transition defense, including two blocks (though Purdue recovered for a putback after one) and a clean strip that forced the Boilermakers to take the ball out of bounds after a two-on-one break. He used his length exceptionally on both ends in this one, consistently getting his hands on the ball whether it was in an opponent's hands or caroming off the rim.
Glenn Robinson III was a relative non-factor as the only starter to not score in double digits, finishing with eight points on six shots—though he did hit his first three-pointer since January 14th—and three rebounds in 36 minutes. He managed to get to the rim off a nice jab-step in an isolation situation, however, which was a good sign after a couple games in which he created very little in the halfcourt.
Spike Albrecht only played seven minutes due to Walton's superb outing, especially since Walton also played exceptional on-ball defense in this one, holding Terone Johnson to just four points (2/6 FG) and two assists to two turnovers. Spike made the most of his limited time, however, hitting his first layup in Big Ten play and draining a three-pointer on his only attempts.
The defense played well as a unit, forcing Hammons to work hard for his 16 points (7/14 FG), and the combination of Morgan and Horford limited him to just one offensive rebound; the guards contributed some nice help defense on him from the weak side, especially in the first half. (Nik Stauskas had three blocks all on this type of action if memory serves.) The team had issues boxing out, however, as Purdue rebounded 16 of their 37 misses (39%); while that's Purdue's M.O., it was still a weak area in an otherwise strong defensive performance.
*In Stauskas' case, just about any shot is a good shot.
St. Thomas Aquinas could probably compete with some small level colleges as they pump out D1 prospects like some clever analogy for industriousness the other guys might come up with. The 2015 class alone boasts nine players who might play at the next level and Michigan has offered two of them.
Name: Devante Peete
Position: Wide Receiver
Ht/Wt: 6'6" / 200 lbs.
Location: St. Thomas Aquinas High School – Ft. Lauderdale, FL
Offers: Alabama, Cincinnati, Clemson, Florida, Florida State, Georgia Tech, Louisville, LSU, Miami, Michigan, North Carolina, Ohio State, South Carolina, West Virginia
Ranking: ★★★★ .9440 (247 Composite)
Devante Peete is a tall, smooth receiver at 6’6” and like most receivers of his stature he is a natural at high-pointing the ball and using every inch to his advantage. Peete told me that he hasn’t run a 40 recently but he looks to have very good speed for a receiver his size.
I was able to speak briefly with Devante and he came off as a young man of few words but he answered all of my questions with what felt like honesty and the expected levels of uncertainty. Coach Mattison chatted very briefly with Devante and just told him that the coaches all really liked what he can do on the field and extended him the offer in person.
Devante said he really likes the idea of Michigan Stadium, but admitted to not knowing much about Michigan at this time. “I really like their stadium. I’m feeling Michigan. It seems like it would be a great place to play football.” He assured me that he will be doing his research on the Wolverines.
Peete told me that he has no leader right now and he really is just trying to learn as much as he can about every school and program that has offered him. He plans to take his officials during his senior season and trim his list to a potential top 10, 5, or 3 before announcing his final decision at the end of the season. I asked him if Michigan would be one of his official visits and he said, “Most likely.”
Name: Rashard Causey
Ht/Wt/40: 6'0" / 190 lbs. / 4.4
Location: St. Thomas Aquinas High School – Ft. Lauderdale, FL
Offers: Arkansas, Cincinnati, Clemson, Eastern Michigan, Florida, Indiana, Miami, Michigan, Mississippi State, Nebraska, NC State, Notre Dame, Penn State, Pittsburgh, Rutgers, South Carolina, South Florida, Tennessee, UCF, UCLA, Vanderbilt, West Virginia, Western Kentucky, Wisconsin
Ranking: ★★★ .8800 (247 Composite)
Even though Causey is rated lower than his fellow Raider, his offer list doesn’t reflect it. With good size, fantastic speed, and over 20 offers, it’s clear that Causey is a player. Rashard hasn’t played a season yet at Aquinas as he just moved into his new high school to finish out his prep career, a move that is sure to get more eyes on him.
Causey seemed to be genuinely excited about receiving the offer from Michigan. “I’m really excited man, I can’t wait to visit! I’m probably going to take an official during the season. I want to be in the crowd while it’s live!”
I had to admit to Rashard that I didn’t know much about him and didn’t realize Michigan was recruiting him and to my surprise he basically said the same thing. “I have no idea how long they’ve been on me. I met Coach Mattison yesterday and he told me to call him and they offered me. He said they all loved my film.”
It’s not much of a surprise but Florida kids don’t seem to know much about Michigan football and Rashard was no different. “I don’t really know much but I know their games be mad packed! I don’t know much about Big Ten football period.” Causey was born and raised in Florida and when I asked him if he liked any of the big schools from the Sunshine State he responded quickly and passionately with, “Noles!” Florida State hasn’t offered Causey but with his answer I had to ask what might happen if they do and he said, “It might change the game for me!”
Even though he clearly likes Florida State a lot, he seemed to be genuinely interested in the Wolverines too. He said he plans to cut his list down to a top 10 as soon as the spring rolls around and Michigan will 100% be in his top 10.
After talking with both of these young men I’d be beyond surprised if either of them ended up at Michigan. Peete just didn’t seem to have any genuine excitement surrounding his Michigan offer and while Causey did, if Florida State offers he’s a Seminole lock. Causey said that it was a 100% certainty that he’ll visit Michigan and Peete said he’d most likely check out Ann Arbor. It is worth noting that Michigan got serious attention from Corey Holmes who just finished his senior season at Aquinas and is a close friend of Peete. Holmes ultimately committed to Notre Dame but there was a time that Michigan looked like a real possibility. If Causey and Peete make trips to Ann Arbor happen, obviously my feelings could change but for now I’d say these guys are slim-to-noners.
|WHAT||Michigan vs. Purdue|
|WHERE||Crisler Center, Ann Arbor, Michigan|
|WHEN||9 pm Eastern, Thursday|
|LINE||Michigan -17 (KenPom)|
|TV||ESPN/WatchESPN (PBP: Joe Tessitore; Analyst: Sean Farnham)|
Right: Matt Painter could really use a hug (via)
Despite facing one of the easiest slates of Big Ten opponents thus far, Purdue is struggling mightily in conference play (3-4) after going 10-3 in non-conference action with just one victory over a KP100 squad. Matt Painter is trying just about every possible lineup combination to get things to click, including eight different starting lineups so far this year. How's that going, coach?
Purdue coach Matt Painter, on his rotation: "I'd like our guys to play better, so I'd know who the hell to play."
— Rod Beard (@detnewsRodBeard) January 27, 2014
Purdue boasts ten(!) players averaging over 13 minutes per game; all fall under the categories of inefficient high-usage player, low-usage role player, or Guy Named Johnson Who Jacks Up Ill-Advised Shots On The Regular.
Sophomore seven-foot center AJ Hammons falls into the first category despite shooting 55% from the floor, rebounding nearly 10% of Purdue's misses when he's on the court, and posting a monstrous 91.8 free throw rate. Why? He commits a turnover on over a quarter of his possessions and has just 11 assists all season. He's a superlative rebounder and shot-blocker, but his effort waxes and wanes without much warning; he's scored 16+ points in five games this year and seven or fewer in seven games, including no points against three TOs in 27 minutes against lowly Washington State and a two-point, three-turnover, three-foul performance in Purdue's most recent game, a home blowout loss at the hands of Wisconsin.
In his two starts last season against Michigan, Hammons combined to shoot 2/10 from the field with just four free-throw attempts, six rebounds, five turnovers, and two blocks. He could reverse course and have big game; he's just as liable to be a total non-factor. His backup, 6'10" freshman Jay Simpson, is actually doing better on the boards, but he's not a shot-blocker and is shooting under 45% from the field.
The essence of Hammons: frustration (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)
The Boilermakers start a relatively small lineup aside from Hammons; the de facto four is 6'5", 222-pound freshman Basil Smotherman. Yes, his name is really Basil Smotherman. A defensive specialist, Smotherman is also Purdue's most effective scorer inside the arc, shooting 75.6% at the rim and 48.4% on two-point jumpers, to go with solid offensive rebounding and a low turnover rate; naturally, he's the lowest-usage starter.
6'5" sophomore guard Raphael Davis is listed as a probable starter in the game notes, though he normally gets less playing time than 6'6" freshman Kendall Stephens. Davis has a knack for getting to the line but otherwise doesn't add much production; his shot has been iffy this season. Stephens is a pure spot-up gunner shooting 36% on 118 three-point attempts and just 7/21 from inside the arc. Davis has started the last seven games but expect to see plenty of Stephens off the bench.
Brothers Terone and Ronnie Johnson round out the starting backcourt and represent the only two Boilermakers averaging double-digit points this season. Ronnie, the 6'0" point guard, has a very solid assist rate and has hit 12 of his 29 threes; he's also attempted 144 two-pointers, mostly of the jumper variety, and he's connecting on just 43% of those. Terone's two-point shooting line is quite similar—44% on 157 attempts—though he's at least focusing more of his attention on the outside, hitting 36% of his 68 3PAs. Both get to the line relatively frequently; both knock down their free throws in the 63-64% range.
Other backups of note are freshman guard Bryson Scott—a two-point chucker in the Brothers Johnson mold (NTBJ), hitting 36% of his 120 2PA while attempting just seven threes—and 6'6" Cornell transfer Errick Peck, a solid rebounder who posts decent shooting numbers and a high turnover rate in a marginal role. 6'0" Seattle transfer Sterling Carter is also liable to make a cameo; he's another pure shot-up gunner shooting... 19/70 from three this season, well below his career mark.
Purdue's lone KP100 victory came by three points at #63 West Virginia—not exactly a statement game—and they only faced two other such opponents, losing on neutral floors to #16 Oklahoma State and #100 Butler. Despite not facing Michigan, Michigan State, or Iowa so far in Big Ten play, the Boilermakers have gone just 3-4 with close wins at home against Penn State and Nebraska and away at Illinois. They lost a double-OT game at Northwestern despite the Wildcats being down to six available players by the second overtime, got blown out at home by Ohio State and Wisconsin, and dropped a close one against Minnesota at The Barn.
KenPom favors Purdue in just two more games this season. This is not one of them.
Now that we're partway into conference play, I'll start posting four factors charts for all the games and Big Ten games only, with sample size issues obviously coming into play on the latter for a while.
Four factors, all games (national ranks in parentheses):
|eFG%||Turnover %||Off. Reb. %||FTA/FGA|
|Offense||47.6 (258)||16.7 (68)||37.2 (30)||39.2 (209)|
|Defense||45.8 (52)||18.0 (207)||31.0 (152)||40.6 (171)|
Conference-only (seven games, Big Ten ranks in parentheses):
|eFG%||Turnover %||Off. Reb. %||FTA/FGA|
|Offense||42.3 (10)||16.7 (6)||36.7 (1)||36.8 (8)|
|Defense||46.8 (5)||14.6 (11)||24.4 (2)||41.1 (8)|
Despite featuring a talented seven-footer, Purdue is dead last in the conference in two-point shooting (40.7%)(!), and their three-point shooting isn't much better—ninth in the B1G with a 30.7% mark. They're also ninth in free-throw percentage, last in shots blocked, and somehow posting a worse eFG% in transition (47.0%) than in non-transition possessions (47.8%).
Their defense is in the middle of the Big Ten pack, though a fair amount of luck appears to be bolstering their numbers; Purdue is last in the league in 3PA/FGA (39.3%) and first in 3P% against (28.8%). This is mostly due to Northwestern's woeful 4/24 3P performance in their matchup; Minnesota went 11/24 from beyond the arc against Purdue, so this team is susceptible to getting lit up from the outside, and their two-point defense is well below average despite Hammons' inside presence. The one thing they're consistently good at on both ends is rebounding.
Attack Hammons early. Hammons is Purdue's only real rim protector. He's also relatively foul-prone. If Michigan can find a way to get him in early foul trouble—whether by driving right at him, forcing him away from the basket with high screens, or taking charges on the other end—then the interior will be theirs for the taking.
Box out. Purdue can't really shoot, but they can rebound, and rely largely on putbacks to generate points. Hammons and Simpson are obviously the biggest worries here, though Smotherman and Peck are also excellent offensive rebounders; the bigs must stay disciplined on the boards and the guards might have to help out—a repeat of Caris LeVert's eight-rebound performance (all defensive) against MSU would be quite welcome.
Look to run. The Boilermakers' tendency to chuck off-target jumpers and crash the boards should lead to plenty of transition opportunities if Michigan wants to take advantage. The last few games have featured great outlet passing from not just Morford, but also perimeter players like LeVert and Stauskas. Expect to see some fast break fireworks and a nice bounce-back game for GRIII as a result.
THE SECTION WHERE I PREDICT THE SAME THING KENPOM DOES
Michigan by 17
The all-Johnson backcourt is a point of contention because Purdue rises and falls with them. When they are good, Purdue looks great. When they are off, Purdue looks pretty terrible and things like the Northwestern game happen. I feel like we rely on them too much to the point where other guys defer to them even when they struggle.
As for [Terone Johnson] on Stauskas, I don't trust Purdue defensively at all. We're a long way away from being able to play lockdown defense on anyone. There is just no edge with this team. There is no pride in playing Purdue-style basketball that we have been known for since Gene Keady started.
The dripping sound you just heard was Nik Stauskas drooling uncontrollably.
Hammer and Rails attempts to figure out what happened to Matt Painter's program. Brian linked this earlier but seriously look at Caris LeVert's numbers compared to Tim Hardaway's last season. Congratulations, Michigan State, on receiving the fugliest of Nike's new lineup of alternate jerseys. The Michigan-MSU game at Crisler has been set for a noon tipoff on February 23rd.