this week in unintentionally grim-sounding recruiting headlines
Michigan (28-8, 15-3 B1G) vs.
Kentucky (27-10, 12-6 SEC)
Colts Location Stadium,
|WHEN||5:05 pm Eastern, Sunday|
|LINE||Michigan -1 (KenPom)|
PBP: Jim Nantz
Analyst: Greg Anthony
|Liveblog||Sponsored by Marawatch; starts at 5.|
Win or go home.
THE LINEUP CARD
Projected starters are in bold.
This preview assumes that Kentucky center Willie Cauley-Stein is out after John Calipari said his issue was "not a good ankle injury." He was limping badly after the game, on crutches, and told Kentucky trainers he "heard it pop." Save some Travis Trice blisters heroism, he's out.
|G||2||Aaron Harrison||Fr.||6'6, 218||80%||21||Sort of|
|80/48/35 shooter is UK's most efficient offensive player.|
|G||5||Andrew Harrison||Fr.||6'6, 215||78%||22||Sort of|
|PG-type player awful inside line, has high TO rate. Gets FTs, decent from 3.|
|G||1||James Young||Fr.||6'6, 215||80%||22||Sort of|
|Almost identical statistically to Aaron, but slightly worse in most categories.|
|F||5||Julius Randle||Fr.||6'9, 250||76%||27||Yes|
|Classic PF tough to handle on boards, can get own shot. Only 52%.|
|C||34||Dakari Johnson||Fr.||7'0, 265||33%||20||N/A|
|OREB monster. Block rate/DREB rates not scary. Putback machine. Miserable FT%.|
|F||4||Alex Poythress||So.||6'8, 239||45%||18||Yes|
|OREB guy and rim finisher is black hole on O, good on D.|
|G||15||Dominique Hawkins||Fr.||6'0, 193||17%||8||Yes|
|Almost invisible on offense for good reason. 46/43/13 shooter in small sample.|
|G||23||Jarrod Polson||Sr.||6'2, 182||19%||8||Sort of|
|Gritty walk on has 35 shots on the year.|
For completeness, Cauley-Stein is an elite defensive player, a block machine with a high steal rate. He doesn't rebound as much as you'd expect because he tries to swat everything and his offense is relatively limited.
Welcome to the sequel of the sequel: Kentucky is an upgraded version of Tennessee, which was an upgraded version of Texas. Stop me if you've heard this before: Kentucky is an offensive rebound machine that can't shoot threes and doesn't force turnovers but does do everything else well on D. Or at least they were with Cauley-Stein. They're probably still a number of those things. How many remains to be seen, but that's another section.
The individual players all come with a sameness to them. Kentucky is the world's worst NBA team, a collection of bodies that looks like an NBA All Star game… and often plays like one. But if they've figured something out they've figured something out, and then they're not pleasant to consider.
Andrew, #5, is the point guard type guy
The Harrison twins are the primary guards. Andrew Harrison (#5) is the point-guard type substance—it's hard to tell when everyone's 6'6"—with his team-high assist rate. Unfortunately for Kentucky, his TO rate is just as high. 23.5 is a number that would make you shake your head if it was a 7-footer turning it in; for a point guard it's turrible. His inconsistency has been apparent even amongst the maelstrom that is the Kentucky freshmen:
He has the handles and jumper, until they disappear. He can be a lock-down defender on individual plays but often lets up on that end and commits a lot of silly fouls. He also seems too reliant on and comfortable with passing to his brother, an NBA prospect but not Kentucky's best player by any means.
Harrison is only a 39% two-point shooter; he gets to the rack a lot (a third of his shots) but only hits half of his generally tough layup attempts and he's a miserable two-point shooter. He may be getting saddled with the Dion Harris shots, to be fair: 4% of his two pointers were assisted this year. FOUR!
Harrison has two three-point modes: he's a good catch and shoot guy near the arc, and then he's a miserable bricklayer trying to catch guys off the dribble, often on shots that are a couple feet behind the line. His main strength as a player is drawing fouls. He's in the top 100 in that department and hits FTs at 77%. Michigan, of course, does not foul much.
Aaron Harrison (#2) is a wing/SG type who's considerably more efficient than his brother; outside of the presumably unavailable Cauley-Stein he's Kentucky's most efficient guy. He's got a relatively low TO rate, decent usage, and shoots 80/48/35. He's much better at the rim than his brother, probably because at least some of his shots are coming off plays other guys made, but he's relatively uninspiring from all ranges.
James Young (#1) may as well be the third Harrison twin. He's also 6'6". Statistically he is a clone of Aaron. Watching Kentucky in person it was difficult to tell who was doing what; their games are all so similar. Young is marginally worse at getting to the basket and finishing, marginally worse in A:TO, marginally worse in defensive categories.
The biggest difference is that Young is about 55/45 threes to twos while Aaron Harrison is the inverse. Meanwhile, point guard Harrison—Andrew—has only 87 3FGA on the season against 208 twos and a bucket of free throws.
Guesses as to Michigan's defensive disposition: Stauskas on Young, LeVert on Aaron Harrison, Walton on Andrew Harrison, but they're just going to switch everything because screw it they're all basically the same guy. Look for Spike to get almost all of his minutes when one of them is on the bench and one of the six-foot zero offense backups comes in.
Video made nine games into the season
Power forward Julius Randle is going to be a lottery pick in a few months and it takes about ten minutes of observation for you to figure out why. Capable of getting to the rack from the three point line and making tough shots once there, Randle has a high ceiling and an NBA body. Randle draws fouls like whoah, rebounds both ends ferociously, and has a 71% free throw stroke that bodes well for the future, when jumpers will have to become a part of his game.
They aren't now. Randle's shots are split evenly between the rim and two-point jumpers. The difference is stark. He hits 71% at the rim and 34% when removed from it. And that 71% is not a Jordan Morgan assisted-dunk fest; he gets his own offense quite a bit. If you watched Louisville you saw a number of Randle buckets where the only appropriate response was "whoah."
But as we saw in the Tennessee game, a disadvantage in size for Glenn Robinson leads to an advantage in quickness. Randle is a much better athlete than Jeronne Maymon, but his ability to check Robinson remains questionable. With Cauley-Stein out Kentucky loses most of their shotblocking. Meanwhile, if Glenn can cut Randle off when he tries to attack from the perimeter a chunk of his game turns into those two-pointers Michigan wants to see.
Starting center Dakari Johnson has actually been starting since the beginning of February, alternating between games where he is a starter in name only (8 minutes versus Arkansas, nine versus Florida) and games of 20 or so minutes. He hadn't had a ton of impact aside from the occasional offensive board and putback until he went 7/10 against Louisville in 31 minutes. Actually, scratch "occasional." Johnson is a facecrushing offensive rebounder. If he'd gotten enough minutes to qualify on Kenpom he'd be fifth in the country, behind only Baylor's Rico Gathers amongst power conference teams.
Johnson's game is limited outside of those putbacks, which comprise almost 60% of his makes at the rim. When not flushing someone else's miss he's 44% in the post. He is a bizarrely great player on jumpers, though, hitting nearly half. Sample size? Maybe, but the prescription is clear for Morgan: crowd the guy if he gets the ball in the short corner or elbow, and for the love of god someone box him out.
On defense Johnson is a huge step back from Cauley-Stein. His block rate of 4.2 is about a third of Cauley-Stein's. He doesn't steal the ball like Cauley-Stein and his foul rate of 5.9 per 40 veritably looms in a game where he's going to have to go 30-35 minutes.
Unlike Tennessee, Kentucky has a bench. His name is Alex Poythress.
Kentucky's bench is now nearly as barren as Tennessee's. They have one guy, 6'8" SF/PF Alex Poythress. Poythress generates little offense on his own—75% of his shots at the rim are assisted or putbacks and he has a tiny assist rate—and is an inefficient shooter. He is a good finisher once he gets to the rim, and he is of course an excellent offensive rebounder who blocks a fair amount of shots; he's mostly of use on defense. Kentucky has played him at the three and in the post during his career. Now that he's the only big backup he'll see almost all of his time spotting Randle and Johnson.
Two other gentlemen will see the court. Six-foot freshman Dominique Hawkins was unearthed yesterday for his first extended playing time since January. In 15 minutes his box score contribution was three fouls and nothing else. Senior heady gritenstein Jarrod Polson has had spurts of playing time throughout the season after a significant bench role a year ago; he has vanishingly small usage. If he does anything it'll be take an open three someone else generates.
While Kentucky spreads their offense around almost equally amongst four players, Michigan has an opportunity whenever Hawkins or Polson is in. First, the point guard can sag off that guy with impunity, and second, that point guard can be Spike Albrecht.
Kentucky's nonconference schedule was middling. Games against power conference teams:
- Michigan State (N): L 78-74
- Providence (N): W 79-65
- Baylor (Semi-Away): L 67-62
- @ North Carolina: L 82-77
- Louisville: W 73-66
A win against a Providence outfit that ended up an 11 seed and a home win over Louisville against a couple of road-ish losses that were close and a neutral court loss to MSU by 4. Kentucky did beat Cleveland State, Boise State, and Belmont, all KP100 teams, FWIW.
And then SEC play. Tennessee alternated losses and blowouts en route to a +0.14 efficiency margin; Kentucky had more close games and only managed a +0.08. They lost to Arkansas twice, LSU once (and escaped with a one-point OT win against them at home), Florida twice, and to a miserable South Carolina team. That's how you end up with an eight seed.
All of that looks lovely if you stop the season right then. It looks less so now, after SEC tourney blowouts of LSU and Georgia followed by a one-point loss to Florida in the title game and a three-game NCAA run that features wins over Wichita State and Louisville. Since the end of the regular season Kentucky has flown up from 25th to 10th in Kenpom. The whole freshman-figuring-it-out thing may apply.
Kentucky in a nutshell: they are 311th in assists and 23rd at preventing assists. On offense they:
- murder the boards, resurrect the boards, and murder them again (42% OREB, 2nd nationally)
- get fouled a ton
- shoot relatively poorly for a team with so much talent
- are pretty bad at a relatively small number of threes
- are mediocre at taking care of the ball
On defense they:
- have a Michigan-level aversion to creating turnovers
- block a ton of shots (but not anymore probably)
- are tough to score against from any range
- aren't too good at rebounding and keeping guys off the line
- are pretty good at preventing threes from going up
Kentucky is about as transition-oriented as Michigan, but considerably less efficient. On defense, they suuuuuuuck at transition relative to their half-court defense, giving up half their transition shots at the rim for a 70% eFG rate. Kentucky has survived their transition threes well enough, but if they give 'em up to Michigan they are going to regret it—Michigan hits 46%.
Hold up against Randle, GRIII, and get yours. There are going to be 15-20 minutes when Poythress is on the floor, whereupon Morgan will get whichever starting big is left. With Johnson just too big for Robinson to handle (see: Frank Kaminsky) Michigan probably* doesn't have the option to put Morgan, who is coming off a straight-up domination of Jarnell Stokes, on Randle for the other 25 minutes.
This reads like a problem. It read like a problem against Tennessee until Jeronne Maymon was exposed as a pylon. Michigan's offense has the ability to do the same thing to Randle, who is quicker than Maymon but still decidedly uncomfortable defending the perimeter. Meanwhile, his mistake-eraser is out. Michigan cannot win the rebounding battle in this game; they have to make up for it by using their perimeter quickness to get it back.
*[They could actually try it since Johnson does not have a post game, especially if one of the backup guards is in. But then Johnson is going to have an even easier time of just jumping over someone for a rebound.]
1-3-1 watch. Turnover-prone, assist-light, often-discombobulated gaggle of freshmen that is mediocre from three-point range: Kentucky is an obvious 1-3-1 target. The rebounding looms, as it is wont to do, but it's going to loom anyway. I didn't like its deployment against Texas since Michigan's defense was forcing all manner of horrible shots anyway; against Kentucky it could be a game-swinger.
Zone panic watch. There won't be a zone attempt in this game since Calipari can barely get his guys to play one defense, let alone two. Advantage Michigan?
I WILL STRIKE DOWN UPON THEE WITH GREAT VENGEANCE [Bryan Fuller]
DEATH FROM ABOVE. Concerns about Michigan being able to deploy their prime weapon against Tennessee were blown away by an 11 for 20 performance against one of the country's stingiest three-point defenses. Kentucky is good but not on Tennessee's level in this department, and it is really easy to see Michigan initiating drives, getting dudes lost via Beilein wizardry, and raining in death from above. It'll be there to take. Michigan can shoot over Kentucky's guys.
As a bonus, death from above from opposition teams tends to lure Kentucky into a machismo battle—NBA all star game, remember—and causes them to launch up long, contested, terrible shots.
Salt. Jordan Morgan has been one man fighting a horde of giants in this tournament and the road gets no easier tomorrow. He will draw Randle on a number of important possessions, and if he can body up like he did against Stokes Randle is going to have a frustrating night. Meanwhile he has to battle Johnson for defensive rebounds and has an opportunity to clean up on the pick and roll and the offensive boards himself, as Kentucky is generally unfamiliar with the concept of a box out.
Take care of the ball. Generally this goes without saying but after some ugly turnovers from Walton, LeVert, and the team as a whole late in the game, I'm going to say it: Michigan needs one of those four turnover games, not a 13 turnover outing. Fortunately they've drawn a Kentucky team that does not steal the ball, playing without their best steal man.
THE SECTION WHERE I PREDICT THE SAME THING KENPOM DOES
Michigan by one.
On Monday, Michigan secured its first commitment in about five months when consensus 4-star defensive back Garrett Taylor decided to verbally pledge to the Wolverines. Taylor is the #1 prospect in the state of Virginia and he makes it three years in a row that the Michigan staff has pulled an elite talent out of the Richmond area, with Derrick Green and Wilton Speight preceding him.
Taylor is a big-time talent, boasting nearly 40 offers from virtually every major university in the country. Opposing coaches gave high praise about his abilities on the field, as well as a small glimpse of his reputation off of it.
|Taylor's a 4-star prospect with a 5-star's offer sheet.|
"Garrett is a special player with outstanding ability at corner. He is tall and long for a corner which gives him an advantage when dealing with the taller receivers. He was definitely a defensive presence who we had to game plan around. He seems to be a great young man away from football as well."
- Head Coach Clint Alexander, Woodberry Forest School
"Garrett Taylor is a very good player who is tough to compete against. He has the ability to take away a teams best receiver which is what St. Christopher's and Taylor did to us this past fall. As a player, Garrett is big and fast with a good skill set. Combine that with his physical playing style and it becomes a real challenge for opponents to be able to line up against him."
-Head Coach Mark Palyo, Collegiate School
When speaking to Garrett personally it was easy to see why the Michigan coaches were so fond of him. He’s a very intelligent young man with a lot of maturity for a guy in high school. He spoke about his decision and his main recruiter, who happens to be his position coach now as well.
I’m feeling great about my decision! Coach Manning is a great coach and a great guy. I’m really glad I’ll be able to get coached by him. He’s just very down to Earth and honest, there is no nonsense with him which is what my family and I want. All of the Michigan coaches really feel like that. That’s what I loved about the staff.
This sentiment is consistent with every recruit I talk to. The coaches have developed an amazing sense of family and the players and recruits really respond well to it. Couple that with the other things Michigan can offer and it’s no surprise why campus visits make such an impact. Garrett agreed.
|Home is where the M's are.|
When I was there I just felt at home. They had everything that I was looking for academically and the coaching staff was great. I feel like I will fit in really well in their defensive scheme and could possibly play early. The coaches said they recruited me for my size and length at corner and they think that I’ll fit in well with the group that’s going to be there. With Stribling already there and Peppers coming in we could be scary good. I knew about the players that would be there and it was definitely attractive. I’m excited to come in and compete for playing time. Playing with players like that will only make me better.
As soon as Taylor committed, fellow Virginian and current Wolverine Wilton Speight tweeted about how Richmond is becoming quite the pipeline to Ann Arbor. I asked Garrett about what draws fellow and former recruits to Michigan from Virginia and if he had any connections that might help in the future.
I can’t really think of anything specific other than it’s just such a great school. I mean it literally has everything you could be looking for. As far as other recruits I’m kind of close with [2016 WR] Scott Bracey just out of the respect we have for each others game and skill. Other than that I’m not really a huge social media guy in terms of connections with other recruits. I use it more for me and my friends from school.
With recent Michigan commits like Shane Morris, Wilton Speight, and Michael Ferns being some of the best recruiters in the country, Taylors statement might come off as a letdown, but don’t worry, he’s willing and able to embrace any role necessary.
I don’t use social media like that right now but if that’s what’s needed and the coaches ask me to do it, I’m all for it. They haven’t really said anything to me about that yet.
Garrett chose Michigan over dozens of schools but it came down to a battle between the Wolverines and the Stanford Cardinal. Garrett explained why Michigan had the final edge.
Michigan’s business school is very prestigious. It’s at the top in the country just about every year. They knew exactly what tracks I needed to take in order to build a good resume for law school too, so that was the difference.
Taylor fits The Pattern(tm) when it comes to the type of kids that the coaches want to bring in. He’s mature, smart, stable, and talented. He will add to a highly touted group of defensive back recruits by the time he arrives on campus which will be in the fall of 2015. Taylors high school doesn’t allow early graduation so he will arrive in Ann Arbor on the traditional timeline as opposed to the increasingly popular early enrollment track. The 2015 class will be small in size but great in quality if the coaches continue to land players like Garrett Taylor.
After the charge. [Dustin Johnston/UMHoops]
As it turned out, the Sweet Sixteen matchup between Michigan and Tennessee was determined by mismatches up front.
Jeronne Maymon couldn't handle Glenn Robinson III without fouling—or stay in front of any of Michigan's perimeter players—while Jordan Morgan outscored and outrebounded Jarnell Stokes, then all but sealed the victory by taking a charge when Tennessee called Stokes's number with a chance to win the game.
It started with Robinson, who opened the game with an easy blow-by against Maymon for a layup, stymied his post-up opportunity on the other end, and then drew the Tennessee big man's first foul. That set the early tone—Tennessee couldn't hang with Michigan's offense while playing two bigs, but their lack of depth meant going without one also hurt them dearly.
When Maymon checked back in, he quickly picked up his second foul on a Morgan and-one. After another stint on the bench, he allowed Caris LeVert to swoop by him for an easy two and found himself on the pine once again. Maymon would finish with two points, three rebounds—just one offensive—and four fouls in 17 minutes. Robinson scored 13 on nine shots, pulled down five boards (two off.), and held his own in the post for 39 minutes.
With Maymon neutralized, it appeared Michigan would win with ease. Tennessee's defense opened up, and the Wolverines took advantage, hitting 7-of-9 three-pointers in the first half; their 45 first-half points were the most ceded by the Volunteers all season. Uncharacteristically, the only significant category Michigan didn't win in the first half was turnovers; that'd turn out to be an omen, and not a good one.
I'll assume you watched the game, and therefore spare you the gory details of Tennessee's second-half run that, based on my Twitter feed, drove everyone not obligated to write a game recap to drink heavily. (Don't worry, I'll join you degenerates soon.) The turnovers kept coming. Nik Stauskas, who'd score 14 points on 13 shots, went cold from the outside. Jordan McRae, who finished with a game-high 24 points, kept finding his way to the basket.
A blown out of bounds call that somehow held upon review, a turnover after Robinson couldn't handle a lob to halfcourt, and another inbounds turnover when LeVert caught the ball with a foot on the line; that sequence set up the Vols, once down 15 in the second half, with the ball down just one point with nine seconds on the clock.
That's when Morgan, who led Michigan with 15 points and seven rebounds, made a play reminiscent of last year's Syracuse game. Tennessee's plan was simple: post up Stokes. That plan backfired when Morgan anticipated Stokes's drive, beat him to the spot, and planted his feet as Stokes lowered his shoulder into Morgan's chest. In the most Jordan Morgan play of them all, Michigan's lone senior drew a charge, refusing to allow his career to end on this night.
Michigan's early shooting bonanza—helped mightily by the freshman duo of Derrick Walton and Zak Irvin, who combined to hit 5-of-5 triples—allowed them to survive a late storm that they helped create with sloppy play. It wasn't pretty. A lot of it wasn't fun. But they survived.
On the backs of two of the more scrutinized players to come through this program—Morgan, too soft/untalented/unskilled to center a real contender; Robinson, too soft/one-dimensional/reliant on his athleticism to live up to his five-star billing—Michigan made the Elite Eight for the second consecutive season. In the regional final, whether they play Louisville or Kentucky, they'll face a mismatch or two; they might just create a couple themselves, too.
The turnovers came back, but then so did Morgan’s charge-drawing wonder chest at just the right time. Survival means advancement means these guys:
And you can't have one without the other…
Morgan runs into the tunnel and yells "Mismatch my ass!"
— Neal Rothschild (@nrothschild3) March 29, 2014
Go ahead and unclench.
Michigan versus Tennessee in something other than arguing about an award that was given to the most outstanding football player of 1997. Let's do this.
How we can do this: Our official fantasy game partner DraftStreet (hope you got in on the 40k thing in time) once again stepped up to support this. If you're getting bored between games today, head on over to their dashboard and sign up for any of their games. That link goes to the NBA one I just started.
How we shall do this. By following the Liveblog Chaos Mitigation rules.
Michigan (27-8, 15-3 B1G) vs.
Tennessee (24-12, 11-7 SEC)
Colts Location Stadium,
|WHEN||7:15 pm Eastern, Friday|
|LINE||Tennessee -1 (KenPom)|
Win or go home.
THE LINEUP CARD
Projected starters are in bold:
|G||2||Antonio Barton||Sr.||6'2, 178||63%||17%||Yes|
|Main redeeming quality is low TO rate. shoots 42/32, low usage.|
|G||1||Josh Richardson||Jr.||6'6, 190||76%||16%||Sort of|
|Efficient shooter until 3, where he's 34%. Good at twos of all varieties.|
|G||52||Jordan McRae||Sr.||6'6, 185||80%||29||No|
|Shoulders massive O burden, shooting meh, TOs low. Athlete.|
|F||5||Jarnell Stokes||Jr.||6'8, 260||81%||26||N/A|
|Board monster has a little range but not much. Box out at all costs.|
|C||34||Jeronne Maymon||Sr.||6'8, 260||71%||20||N/A|
|Cameron Ridley 2.0. Board monster 2.0. Not great except on putbacks.|
|G||4||Armani Moore||So.||6'5, 215||28%||13||Very|
|Offensive nonentity spots starters and tries to play D.|
|G||15||Darius Thompson||Fr.||6'5, 181||40%||15||Very|
|Offensive nonentity spots starters and tries to play D.|
|C||23||Derek Reese||So.||6'8, 215||16||15||Very|
|Generic large man. Massive downgrade from starters.|
Jordan McRae is from the Hardaway/Sullinger school of yellin'.
Tennessee is Texas after a power mushroom. Their bigs are more intimidating on the boards; their guards are literally a Super Mario version of the Texas backcourt.
The offense revolves around senior Jordan McRae, a 6'6" jack of all trades who is in fact listed at 15 pounds lighter than Caris LeVert, if you can believe that. Everything you need to know about McRae is encapsulated in this DraftExpress scouting video:
That is a preaseason video that is a bit pessimistic, as McRae has improved his A:TO a meaningful amount. The rest of his stats are static so it's reasonable to assume it is otherwise on point.
McRae is not much of an isolation creator. He's effective at the rim but doesn't get there much on his own volition and his assist rate is pretty mediocre for a guy who has such a large usage rate. LeVert will draw that matchup; it's a pretty good one for him. McRae is a guy he can stay in front of. Hopefully!
You probably know fellow wing Josh Richardson from an inadvisable statement made to the media about his upcoming defensive assignment against Nik Stauskas:
“It’s just another player,” Richardson said. “I’ve been guarding guys like that for a while now. It’s nothing new.”
Yeah, the SEC is just loaded with guys like Stauskas. Take, say, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. That's the ticket.
Anyway, Richardson is a relatively low-usage jump shooter who is effective on jumpers inside the line (43%) that he gets himself. He's decent behind the line at 34%, where he takes about a third of his shots. He is UT's designated perimeter stopper, as well.
Point guard and Memphis transfer Antonio Barton is the closest thing to a designated shooter Tennessee has, with about 60% of his FGAs coming from beyond the arc. Unfortunately for the Vols he hits those at a 33% clip. Inside the arc he's even less efficient at 42%, because he rarely gets to the rim and is a miserable two point jump shooter. Barton was a 40% guy in a reasonable number of minutes at Memphis, so maybe the best idea is to run him off the line and watch him try to pull up off the bounce. Things don't go well when that happens.
One thing these three gentlemen have going for them is a collective turnover rate that is super low. Tennessee's happy to pull up for a two pointer that's not the world's best look because of…
Stokes and Maymon are the best pair of rebounders in the country.
The Volunteer posts both crush the boards at both ends and get to the line. "Fridge on wheels" Jarnell Stokes is in the Kenpom POY top ten thanks to a 15% OREB rate—huge for an individual—and a McGary-like 23% DREB rate. He gets half his shots at the rim thanks in large part to that offensive rebounding. He's a decent shooter from the post, as well. DraftExpress projects him as a second-rounder in the upcoming draft if he decides to enter, and praises his inside game:
He catches everything thrown his way, and has very good touch around the basket, which, along with his length, helps compensate for the fact that he's not a naturally explosive leaper and doesn't possess the most diverse post-arsenal at this stage of his development. … some ball-handling ability from the mid-post, and a decent looking mid-range jumper. … always been a phenomenal rebounder—and that held true in Colorado Springs. He has suction cups for hands and a terrific knack for pursuing loose balls out of his area, particularly on the offensive glass, where he was dominant at times.
Michigan has to figure out whether they're going to stick Morgan on this dude or Jeronne Maymon. Maymon is the more center-like of the posts in disposition—Stokes is about 50/50 between shots at the rim and two point jumpers, while Maymon is 75/25 and terrible at the jumpers—but Stokes is probably taller since he sometimes gets listed at 6'9" while Maymon sometimes gets listed at 6'7". Normally I'd say Morgan gets Maymon, but I guess I prefer the less brutal rebounding mismatch. If Maymon tries to post GRIII so be it.
FWIW, Tennessee folk are universally assuming Robinson gets matched with Maymon and Morgan takes Stokes.
And then the bottom drops out. Here is one dollar that says Tennessee has the worst bench of any team that made the tournament. All show up in the "limited roles" section of Kenpom and get slender minutes with which they do very little. All can be ignored on the perimeter, as they collectively shoot about 22% from three.
Derek Reese is the backup big; he hasn't taken a shot since March 8th. He hasn't made one in a game that was competitive since… uh… January 15th? He rebounds well enough on defense and that's about his only contribution. He gets about ten minutes a game giving the starters a breather.
Armani Moore and Darius Thompson are the backup guards. Thompson has the highest assist rate on the team… and a TO rate even higher. He's seeing about 16 minutes a game in the last couple months, and he takes about two shots on a average in that time. He does get a lot of steals; he'll be used as a defensive pest on Stauskas. Moore's role is similar; he gets in the game and plays D and passes it around the perimeter to someone who won't get shot by the coach if he tries to create a shot.
Tennessee had a weird nonconference split with Xavier, losing in Cinci to open their season and getting their revenge in their neutral-court tournament. They also lost to UTEP by eight on a neutral court, Wichita State by nine at Wichita, and at home to NC State. In opposition to this what-the-hell-are-they-doing-in-the-tournament nonconference schedule they place a 35-point blowout of Virginia. As we said, man, Tennessee is weird.
In conference Tennessee was no less weird, blowing out all manner of opposition and somehow dropping games to Texas A&M (twice), Vanderbilt, and Missouri to go along with more understandable losses to Florida (twice) and Kentucky. Tennessee has a tendency to absolutely pound face when they win a game. It's just that they've lost twelve of them already despite playing a not particularly challenging nonconference schedule and against a not particularly challenging conference. Go figure.
In the post season, Tennessee blew out South Carolina before losing for a third time to Florida in the SEC tournament. Then they won an OT game against Iowa before hammering Massachusetts and Mercer. It should be noted that Tennesse's only games against the Kenpom top 50 are the following:
- Wichita State: L 70-61
- Virginia: W 87-52
- Kentucky: L 74-66
- Three losses to Florida
- Iowa: W 78-65 (OT)
They're… just so weird.
Tennessee is a beast on the boards, rebounding almost 40% of their misses. They get to the line decently and are efficient once there—something they have over Texas—and take care of the ball. The main issue with their offense is a lack of three point shooting.
On defense, they look a lot like a version of Michigan that could keep guys away from the basket: few TOs forced, good rebounding, few fouls committed. But unlike Michigan they do a good job of defending shots—40th nationally. And as mentioned, the scariest thing about their statistical profile is what appears to be a sustained and effective emphasis on preventing opponents from getting threes off.
Tennessee is not a team that uses a lot of tempo. They get about 18% of their shots in transition and their shooting in those situations is barely better than the rest of their offense; a full 10% of their shots come with five or less on the shot clock. They don't have a dynamic guy to push the ball up the floor, they aren't a team to fear a transition three from much, and they're thin. They'll want to keep it slow.
Draw fouls, all the fouls. Ace talked about this in his post earlier this week: when Tennessee gets in foul trouble they collapse.
Maymon's had 4+ fouls in eight games this season. Tennessee has lost six of them.
Both wins were against Auburn. Tennessee has a veteran, intimidating starting five and zero depth behind it. Precisely zero depth.
Tennessee can sustain a hit to Richardson or Barton, who don't command large roles in the offense. If McRae, Stokes, or Maymon is saddled with foul trouble, Tennessee's chance to win goes through the floor.
Go to the rack. A corollary to the first bullet. Tennessee's depth and style of play means the balance of power between shooting hilariously accurate long range shots and going to the bucket shifts. Go to the rack.
If Stauskas or LeVert gets hit with a charge, that is 1) not likely to mean anything in terms of their playing time and 2) even if it does it paves the way for Zak Irvin to rain on people. If Stauskas or LeVert draws a foul on one of Tennessee's big three, orange collars start getting tight.
Michigan should make a concerted effort to go at the basket, especially given the fact that Tennessee is committed to preventing threes and doesn't block shots.
[@ right: Bryan Fuller]
Cope on the boards as best you can. Part of the overwhelming Texas surge in the second half was Longhorn desperation. In a more normal first half, Texas was content to send their two bigs to the board and see what happened. They got about 30% of their misses. In the second, they inserted a third 6'8" guy and sent everyone who wasn't the shooter to the board because they felt they weren't stopping Michigan anyway and needed every bucket. They got 70% of their misses
Michigan needs to get out of dodge with a 30% Tennessee OREB rate, not 70% or 52%. Unless Michigan has just rained it on the Vols to the point where they're as desperate as Texas. Failing that, Maymon versus GRIII on the boards is a big chunk of the game. Morgan will probably get beat by Stokes, but not so badly Michigan can't weather it.
Push tempo. They are thin. Maymon may be listed at 260 but let's be real people. Play like MSU in this one, with their irritating go go go go even after makes. If you don't have it, fine. You've discombobulated them a bit.
THE SECTION WHERE I PREDICT THE SAME THING KENPOM DOES
Tennessee by one.
…which team has had the most success in the last five minutes of a game, regardless of whether it was leading or trailing?
One way to do this would be to use win probabilities. If a team had a 99 percent chance to win with five minutes left and ultimately won, its play in the last five minutes would be worth .01 wins. This method rewards the teams that make big comebacks or win games that were effectively tossups with five minutes remaining over the ones that coast in with big leads, which any team could do given the chance.
Here’s that list, using my win probability model, and wins gained over the past five seasons as the ranked statistic.1 Massachusetts +11.8 2 Colorado +10.9 3 New Mexico +10.2 4 Robert Morris +9.8 5 Western Kentucky +9.2 6 Louisiana Tech +8.9 7 Loyola MD +8.9 8 San Diego St. +8.8 9 Mississippi +8.6 10 Michigan +8.6
Michigan finishes a respectable 30th in the last minute, and then ninth in wins added in the second half. It doesn't matter what frame of reference you want to look at. Michigan performs better as the game goes along and is outstanding at closing games out. Why? Well, they hit a lot of free throws and don't turn the ball over and when they're down late they can get back in a hurry with a three.