Aubrey Dawkins: still bouncy
In the regular-season opener, Michigan made easy work of D-II Northern Michigan, taking a ten-point lead into halftime before blowing the game wide open in the second half. Since a traditional recap would still read "blowout" and not much else, I'll go with another list of observations.
While the competition remained easy, we learned a little more about the likely rotation in this one. Michigan started the same group as they did against Le Moyne: Derrick Walton, Caris LeVert, Aubrey Dawkins, Kam Chatman, and Mark Donnal. While Donnal got the start, however, he played fewer minutes (10) than Ricky Doyle (15), and DJ Wilson saw his first live action at the five.
To keep it simple, Donnal looked like Donnal, Doyle looked like Doyle, and Wilson looked viable in the middle—arguably more comfortable there than at the four, where he also saw extensive minutes. Wilson's athleticism made it easy for him to hedge on screens and get back on his man, he's got a rudimentary but functional post game, and he passed well from the top of the—he tallied three assists and only a foul on Dawkins at the hoop prevented a fourth.
If tonight was any indication, I think Wilson has a great shot at being the backup five before too long.
Moritz Wagner will not redshirt this year. He checked in with around six minutes to play. He looks to be behind Donnal, Doyle, and Wilson in the pecking order at center, but this is clearly a move being made with an eye on the end of the season. While Wagner looked lost at times out there and struggled with his post defense, his potential was apparent—his length contributed to a tip-in for his first career points and a late three-point attempt barely rimmed out. He probably won't play much early in the season, but I wouldn't be shocked if he developed into a contributor for the stretch run.
Aubrey Dawkins bounced back from an underwhelming game against Le Moyne with an impressive, efficient outing: 15 points on 6/7 shots, six rebounds, two assists, a steal, and three dunks, including the insane tip-slam at the top of this post and this alley-oop finish from Walton:
Not only did Dawkins hit 2/3 triples and use his cutting ability to create easy points like he did as a freshman, he also showed off a new wrinkle, hitting a one-handed floater off the dribble at the free-throw line in the first half. He's still a work-in-progress on defense, especially when it comes to fighting through screens, but there's no questioning his ability on the other end.
Duncan Robinson, meanwhile, came back to earth, missing his only shot attempt—which Dawkins would finish with authority—and getting pulled in the second half for missing defensive assignments. He played both the three and the four and was active on the glass, but he'll need to get better with his rotations or he'll max out at the 15 minutes he got tonight.
Caris LeVert and Derrick Walton: still good! LeVert had the superior game tonight, posting a stat line of 18-4-5 on 7/12 shooting with two steals. The offense mostly ran through him when he was on the floor; he had three consecutive assists during one second-half stretch, and he seems to be looking for the dish a little more.
While Walton had a quiet game statistically—four points on four shots, one assist, one steal—he was the primary driver of Michigan's 14 transition points; when he's on the floor, the Wolverines are looking to run, and with their athleticism on the wings (and at center when Wilson is there) that's a good plan. Walton had some hockey assists that don't show up in the box score. I'd like to see him be more assertive in halfcourt sets but with LeVert taking on a big role as a passer/ballhandler that's a minor gripe.
- Chatman looked more comfortable out there. His six points on seven shots isn't great, but he had two layups off sharp backdoor cuts, pulled down four boards, and used his length to affect passing lanes against an undersized NMU squad.
- Spike is a little limited but that didn't stop him from jumping passing lanes—scoring a reverse layup off one steal—and passing out three dimes. He got to the hoop more than you'd expect, too, though that probably has a lot to do with the competition.
- Rahkman still has a place in the rotation. He played 14 minutes, knocked down a corner three, and had a nice lefty finish on a hard drive to the hoop. While his shot is still coming along (2/5 FG), he remains one of the best on the team at attacking the rim.
Previously: Hoops Preview Podcast, MGoRadio 1.6 (wsg John Gasaway), Point Guards (Walton, Spike), Wings Part I (LeVert, Dawkins, Irvin), Wings Part II (MAAR, Chatman, Robinson, Wagner), Bigs (Doyle, Donnal, Wilson), Hoopsageddon.
NORTHERN MICHIGAN PREVIEW
|WHAT||Michigan vs. Northern Michigan|
Ann Arbor, Michigan
|WHEN||7 pm ET, Friday|
|LINE||No line (100% WP on KenPom)|
BTN Plus (online stream only, $)
BTN will replay it at 11:30 pm Sunday
Right: Willy the Wildcat could use some time at Camp Sanderson. (via)
Before getting to this season's story, there's a game tonight that should look quite a bit like last week's exhibition. Like Le Moyne, Northern Michigan is a D-II team, and not a particularly good one at that—the Wildcats went 9-19 last season and were picked dead last by some margin in the preseason GLIAC coaches poll.
The Wildcats boast a couple solid outside shooters in guards Jordan Perez and Marcus Hall, but the lineup shouldn't pose much of a threat to Michigan. NMU has one player on the roster taller than 6'7", and he's a 6'10", 200-pound freshman. KenPom gives Michigan a 100% win probability.
On the Wolverines side of things, Zak Irvin will sit out this game because of his back injury; John Beilein said yesterday that while he's healthy he's not back in game shape. Spike Albrecht is still limited from his offseason hip surgeries and will play only spot minutes. The main focus of Michigan fans will be how the rotation shapes up:
- Will Kam Chatman or DJ Wilson look like the superior option at the four?
- Is Mark Donnal really the starting center or is this just like last year?
- Will Moritz Wagner get time, therefore burning his redshirt? Or will Wilson see some time at the five?
- How will MAAR find his way onto the court with Duncan Robinson providing such a quality scoring option off the bench?
Those questions won't all be answered in full tonight, but we should have more of an idea of how this team will look.
[Hit THE JUMP for THE STORY, which is really a health update with a hopefully-not-awkward tie-in to this year's basketball team.]
We'll get to the important thing but first wow this UFR Visualization tool by grozzy is useful. For example here's how much of an outlier Desmond Morgan's game vs Minnesota was:
Small request: the numbers always get thrown off by how many plays are in a game. I wonder if the visualizer could adjust for that by making it points per charted play.
Okay the important thing:
Yes, MGoReaders, a plurality of you have correct taste in cereal. For the record, the entire MGoStaff voted for Cinnamon Toast Crunch. Not only did they perfectly pull off the miniaturization of Angelo's specialty, but they knew to add just the right amount of cinnamon to make the post-cereal milk-slurp experience the BEST.
Also apparently a minority of you are colorblind and can't tell who won from the above chart because everything looks like blue or green. And a minority of that minority blamed me instead of the OP for that. Hey it ain't my fault you (probably) lack red cones a thing our primate ancestors developed pretty late in the story to be able to spot berries. My grandpa had that; they put him in the lead plane in WWII because tank camouflage didn't work on him.
[Hit THE JUMP to learn what happens if Michigan wins out and you call Keith Jackson]
|WHAT||Michigan at Indiana|
|WHEN||3:30 PM Eastern
November 14th, 2015
|THE LINE||Michigan –13|
|PARKING||Get yer OSU parking now|
|WEATHER||sunny, mid 50s
0% chance of rain
Professor Chaos via Patrick Barron.
Parking note sponsored by Park 'n' Party, which is your fancy same-place-all-the-time tailgate headquarters. They tell me they're now expanding into catering and equipment so they can accommodate all levels of commitment. They also say that if you wait you will not get parking and then you will
wander the earth doomed for all time have to explain this to your spouse. Seriously, they sold out for MSU and OSU is on the way.
Indiana hasn't won a whole lot of Big Ten games but they've given big chunks of the league heart attacks. They were within 30 yards of beating Ohio State, they stuck close to Michigan State for about 55 minutes, they were down 21-20 against Iowa deep into the second half.
They have also lost to Rutgers. Like this.
In addition they own a one-point win over Southern Illinois and a three-point win over Western Kentucky. #CHAOSTEAM is real. #CHAOSTEAM is here.
Run Offense vs Indiana
TJ Simmons is one man against the world
Indiana's defense isn't good at anything; it's worse at defending rushes than passes. In Big Ten games:
- OSU ran for 272 yards on 34 rushes, 8 YPC
- PSU ran for 154 yards on 32 rushes, 4.8 YPC
- Rutgers ran for 210 yards on 40 rushes, 5.3 YPC
- Iowa ran for 234 yards on 44 rushes, 5.3 YPC.
Only MSU, the #12 rushing offense in the league, was even vaguely slowed. Michigan is not in OSU's class but they're right about where Rutgers and Penn State are. S&P+ has Indiana 91st nationally; they have a bad situation where they get mauled off the ball on short yardage (104th nationally) and also give up a ton of big plays (95th).
Problems start with the big guys, who aren't big enough and tend to vacate lanes:
The defensive line is the source of a lot of Indiana's defensive woes. To make up for being a little undersized and mostly unable to beat blocks straight up, they slant often, and Iowa used this against them over and over:
That's the entire defensive line and both inside linebackers stuck on the wrong side of the field a mere moment after the handoff. Akrum Wadley—yet another opposing running back I now covet—had ten free yards, then got an extra bunch with a slick juke on a safety just outside the screen.
Darius Latham is an exception at a full 300 pounds; he has a swell recruiting pedigree but has had some issues staying on the field, missing the opener with a suspension and the OSU and PSU games with injury. He's been on the field for the last few games but has struggled to have much impact since guys can just run where he ain't.
Indiana's guys get very aggressive in an attempt to make up for problems like those above and could be susceptible to the trap plays Michigan has largely put in their back pocket since it was clear opposing teams were spending significant amounts of time prepping for them.
The linebackers are actually pretty good when TJ Simmons, who's the kind of knifing presence Michigan fans hoped James Ross would develop into, is present. He missed the second half of the Iowa game after a (correct) targeting call; he will be back for the full 60 against Michigan since his ejection happened at the tail end of the first half.
And then the safeties:
The safeties, as you'd expect from Indiana's number of big plays allowed, were awful. [Chase] Dutra is aggressive and takes terrible angles to the ball, which is not a good combination. Crawford is slightly more reliable from what I can tell but that may just be because Dutra plays more in the box.
The eye test agrees with the stats: Indiana gets blown off the ball a lot, has some linebackers valiantly trying to mitigate issues, and after them it's a crapshoot.
As far as Michigan's half of this goes, they've scuffled along for the most part. They should be able to beat up the Indiana front; too often this year they've had one or two guys (ballcarriers included) commit play-breaking errors. The overall results are okay—36th in S&P+—but a lack of big play ability, especially from the tailbacks, has held succesfull plays down. Michigan doesn't get stuffed much; they frequently thunk out three yards. It's a work in progress.
Michigan should have success but if they don't hit a big one—and they're not good at that—the numbers will be a bit underwhelming.
KEY MATCHUP: INDIANA LINEBACKERS versus SECOND LEVEL BLOCKS. If the LBs get handled Michigan is going to be sailing.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of Indiana, which is basically what you expect from Indiana every year now]
Hey basketball's on tonight. Like, real basketball that counts. Our draft also counts: whoever wins gets to be the MGoBlogger who feels smarter than the rest of us. Because Brian and Alex squabbled over point guards in the first round, Denzel Valentine slipped to Ace. Because we had a run on power forwards in the 3rd/4th rounds, Zak Irvin and James Blackmon fell to Ace.
Can he deliver the coup de grace, or does that require, you know, forwards? Also: who are the best/most overlooked basketball players Michigan will have to face in conference this year? Find out in the thrilling penultimate 'geddon of this year's basketball season.
As things stand:
Alex is on the clock.
ALEX: Round 5, Pick 2: Jarrod Uthoff, Wing, Iowa
TEAM: PG: Bronson Koenig (UW), SG: Caris LeVert (UM), SF: Jarrod Uthoff (IA), PF: Malcolm Hill (IL), C: Thomas Bryant (Ind)
A year ago, Iowa won 22 games, finished tied for third in the conference, and advanced to the Round of 32 in the NCAA Tournament. Aaron White, the underrated and versatile 3 /4 wing, has graduated; almost everyone else is back (save for Gabe Olaseni)—Adam Woodbury, Mike Gesell, and Anthony Clemmons.
The best of the group is senior wing Jarrod Uthoff. He's 6'9 (and with that size, posts a nice block rate of 6.2) and had a shooting split of 47% / 37% / 74% last season. He might not be able to transition to being the leading scorer because of a possible lack of 2nd scoring options on offense. Still, he'd be a good fit as part of my drafteggedon team -- Uthoff can space the floor and score enough to carry a team for prolonged stretches.
[Hit the JUMP if you dare. Or care]
: ( [Bryan Fuller]
On the roundtable this week:
- Sam enjoyed the "shot yourself in the leg" tweet I sent to Plaxico Burress. I defend Burress a little because I have respect for anyone who cares enough to go on an unhinged twitter rant.
- Craig Ross told us all about the O'Neill crew and we listened but had no power to do anything about it.
- Rutgers! Not good at football.
- Indiana! Not good at defense.