Derrick Walton led M's late charge with great transition play. [Bryan Fuller/MGoBlog]
They should've known.
Detroit hung with Michigan for most of a rather ugly game, thanks to the hot hand of Juwan Howard Jr. (24 points) and the cold first-half shooting of Michigan. With just 5:38 to play, the upset watch remained in effect with the game tied at 52.
Then Detroit slapped the floor.
Michigan put the game away with an 11-0 run.
If you're confused about the correlation, ask a State fan.
The Wolverines couldn't buy a bucket in the first half, going 10/29 from the field, including an uncharacteristic 3/12 mark from beyond the arc. Neither team looked very good, nor did the officials, who couldn't decide whether to call the game tight or let everything go. The Titans scored on the half's final possession to take a 28-27 lead into the locker room.
The second half didn't begin so well, either, as Detroit extended their lead to four points during a rough stretch for Michigan freshman Kameron Chatman. John Beilein wasted little time going to what would be his best lineup of the night, lifting Chatman for Spike Albrecht and inserting Max Bielfeldt at center. Both provided the support Michigan's three backcourt stars needed; Albrecht dished out four assists, knocked down two threes, and added a steal, while Bielfeldt hauled in five boards and even dished out a couple assists himself.
That allowed the big three to flourish. After a rough first half, Caris LeVert went on a tear in the second stanza, scoring 17 of his team-high 21 points in the final 20 minutes; he also pulled down nine rebounds to nearly tally a double-double. Zak Irvin became the main beneficiary of Walton's fast break exploits, knocking down a couple second-half transition threes on his way to 18 points. Walton finished with 16 points of his own, grabbed three rebounds, and handed out three assists.
Outside of Howard, who needed 24 shot equivalents to score his 24 points, and an usually efficient Brandon Kearney (14 points on 5/6 FG), nobody on Detroit could get much going offensively; Michigan kept the Titans almost entirely off the offensive glass and forced most of their shots to originate from the perimeter, and eventually the Titans flat-lined, going through long stretches of the second half without being able to score.
Michigan managed to weather a bad shooting night to eventually come away with the win, but concerns are mounting as the three stars have been forced to bear what could be an impossible load to carry long-term. The Irvin/LeVert/Walton troika scored over 77% of the team's points tonight, and the freshmen expected to fill major roles either looked lost on the court (Chatman, DJ Wilson) or were disturbingly absent from the rotation as the game wore on (Mark Donnal, Ricky Doyle).
That's to be expected, in part, on such a young team with such obvious go-to players, but when the competition steps up significantly on Monday—when Michigan faces an Oregon team in Brooklyn that beat these same Titans by 18 earlier this week—the lack of secondary options is going to become a serious problem.
For now, Michigan's survived unscathed, and there are encouraging signs—one of those, somewhat surprisingly, on defense, where they've owned the boards. Sometime soon, though, this team is going to need one or two of their freshmen to grow up in a hurry.
I unwittingly glutened myself this week, so between that, basketball season getting underway, recruiting staying in a holding pattern, and the football team remaining rather uninspiring, there's no full recruiting roundup or FFFF today. Instead, I'm mashing the two together before I head into town for the Detroit game.
Michigan will receive an official visit this weekend from a highly touted prospect not committed to the Wolverines. Yes, this is probably a surprise to you. This may even be a surprise to the coaches. It's probably not going to amount to a whole lot. But, hey, it's happening, and that's nice.
The recruit in question is four-star receiver Auden Tate, currently a Florida State commit, who's following through on his long-held plan to officially visit Ann Arbor after he got a Michigan offer way back in April. Tate grew up a fan of the program and he's kept in touch with QB commit Alex Malzone throughout the recruiting process. It'd be a surprise if Tate flipped his commitment, but heck, it's a surprise he's taking this trip in the first place.
Three-star Oak Park ATH John Kelly will also be in attendance as an unofficial visitor. The other 2015 recruits set to be at the game are current commits: Malzone and Grant Newsome, both of whom have remained steadfast in their pledges throughout this tumultuous season. Malzone may be joined by his Brother Rice teammate and primary target, 2015 WR Grant Perry, though Perry may choose to visit Northwestern instead.
[Hit THE JUMP for commit updates, Iman Marshall's very interesting visit plans, a couple more recruiting nuggets, and Seth's lineup diagrams for the Maryland game.]
Site note: Brian's under the weather today, so content is going to be relatively light.
Michigan (2-0) vs.
Ann Arbor, Michigan
|WHEN||6:00 pm Eastern, Thursday|
|LINE||Michigan -16 (KenPom)|
PBP: Kevin Kugler
Analyst: Shon Morris
THE NAMES THAT LOOK FAMILIAR
Yes, that's that Carlton Brundidge, the highest-ranked guard in Michigan's recruiting class of 2011, alongside that Penn State decommit who didn't have the size to play big time basketball. Brundidge played sparingly in 15 games for the Wolverines before transferring to Detroit in 2012.
Yes, that's that Juwan Howard Jr. (photo via Lost Lettermen), son of Juwan Howard, a rather famous Michigan basketball player on some pretty noteworthy teams. I think this is a great opportunity to discuss the Fab Fab for a whi--
I'm being told this isn't a great opportunity after all.
Let's just watch some Bacari Alexander highlights from his time as a Detroit Titan instead:
I'm sure none of this will be discussed ad nauseam during the telecast.
THE LINEUP CARD
Projected starters are in bold. %Min and %Poss figure are still from last season for now. The "Should I Be Mad If He Hits A Three" methodology: we're mad if a guy who's not good at shooting somehow hits one. Yes, you're still allowed to be unhappy if a proven shooter is left open.
|G||5||Matthew Grant*||So.||6'0, 177||55||18||Sort of|
|Slides over to point after starting last year as low-usage shooting guard. Iffy shot.|
|G||12||Brandon Kearney||Sr.||6'6, 188||9||16||Yes|
|The former Spartan, now a grad transfer via Arizona State. Turnover-prone.|
|G||1||Anton Wilson||Jr.||6'5, 206||55||14||No|
|Gunner off the bench LY; 36% 3PT shooter, nearly 3/4 of shots from beyond arc.|
|F||2||Juwan Howard Jr.*||Sr.||6'5, 232||87||27||Sort of|
|The focal point. Range extends beyond arc (32% 3PT career), volume shooter.|
|C||32||Patrick Ackerman||Jr.||6'10, 218||--||--||--|
|Sat out last season after transfer from Penn State, where he barely played.|
|G||11||Jarod Williams*||So.||6'1, 209||58||20||Yes|
|Not very efficient last year but not bad for FR PG; scored 15 off bench vs. Oregon.|
|F||35||Paris Bass||Fr.||6'7, 187||--||--||--|
|Redshirt fr. 3-star out of Birmingham Seaholm. 8 pts in 21 mins vs. Oregon.|
|F||21||Jaleel Hogan||Fr.||6'6, 233||--||--||--|
|Averaged a double-double at Mount Pleasant HS. 3/4 FT vs. Oregon.|
|G||23||Carlton Brundidge||Jr.||6'2, 204||53||22||Yes|
|Splits between PG and SG; gets to line a lot, still not a good shooter.|
Ray McCallum's Detroit Titans are 1-1 on the season, with a blowout home win over NAIA Rochester (MI) and a blowout road loss at Oregon—Detroit actually held a seven-point first-half lead and were tied with the Ducks at halftime, but were outscored 48-31 in the second half.
Three starters return from last year's 13-19 (6-10 Horizon League) squad, led by Juwan Howard Jr., a preseason first-team all-conference selection. Howard, an undersized but burly power forward, is tasked with putting up a ton of shots—34th nationally last season in shot percentage—that he hits with marginal efficiency: 44% on 349(!) 2PA and 32% on 141 3PA last season. He struggled against a quick Oregon team on Monday, needing 19 shot equivalents to score 16 points while turning it over four times. Howard's effectiveness comes and goes with his jumper; he attempted fewer than 20% of his shots at the rim last season, and he doesn't draw a ton of fouls, though he's an excellent free-throw shooter when he does.
The two other returning starters are now fighting for minutes in a crowded backcourt. Sophomore Matthew Grant is the nominal starter at point guard after playing most of his minutes at the two in 2013-14; he generated most of his offense as a spot-up outside shooter, but hit just 31% of his threes. Fellow sophomore Jarod Williams, last year's starter at the point, came off the bench against Oregon but ended up playing 27 minutes; he's more liable to attack the basket, and he's also an active defender. When both are on the court, Williams is more likely to initiate the offense.
The nomadic Brandon Kearney got the start against Oregon over Williams, but his stat line was downright ugly: 2 points (1/7 FG), 1 assist, 2 turnovers, and 4 fouls in 17 minutes. Kearney, the former Michigan State Spartan, spent last season getting very limited minutes at Arizona State before transferring to Detroit for his final year of eligibility. He's never played extensive time, but when he has he's rarely been effective: his shooting numbers are poor, and his freshman-year turnover rate of 24% actually stands as a career best.
Junior Anton Wilson represents Detroit's main (a less-kind previewer could say "only") outside shooting threat after hitting 36% of his shots beyond the arc last season. Over 70% of his shot attempts were three-pointers; he's a gunner through and through.
6'10" junior Patrick Ackerman, a Penn State transfer, gets the nod at center largely by default—he's the only five listed on the roster, and the only rotation player who stands above 6'7". Ackerman barely played at PSU in large part because he was rail-thin, and that still appears to be the case: he's listed at just 218 pounds. Against an Oregon squad that doesn't play anyone taller than 6'7", he went 0/4 with two rebounds in 18 minutes.
The Titans boast some bench depth, especially in the backcourt. In addition to Williams, there's Carlton Brundidge, whose game still revolves around attacking the basket; his free-throw rate topped 45% last season. Unfortunately, his shooting is still decidedly sub-par, with shooting splits of 44/28/67 (2P/3P/FT) in 2013-14. Redshirt freshman Paris Bass actually got more time on Monday; the lanky 6'7" wing scored eight points in 20 minutes, all coming inside the arc.
6'6", 233-pound freshman Jaleel Hogan is the primary big off the bench. He's been pretty efficient in his first two games, going 4/6 against Rochester and getting to the line a couple times against Oregon, though he's got to watch the fouls—six so far in 34 minutes.
Oh, what the heck, let's have fun with tiny sample sizes.
Detroit was a poor shooting team last year and that's carried over to this season thus far; unlike last year, the Titans have struggled on the boards, which will happen when you lose your top three big men.
Stay disruptive. In the early going it looks like Michigan, with inexperience inside but tons of length everywhere on the court, has emphasized getting into passing lanes on defense and going for more steals in general; thus far, that's paid off with a very good turnover rate. Detroit lacks a true point guard in their starting lineup and Williams, who'll get plenty of minutes at the one, posted a turnover rate above 20% last season. Detroit boasts little in the way of outside shooting, so the Wolverines can take some chances defensively and see if they can generate some easy points in transition.
Be ready to help. Detroit is going to try to attack the basket as much as they can, and they've got some players who can be effective off the dribble. If the young bigs are a step slow helping out in the paint, we could see them get into some foul trouble and/or give up some easy buckets. This will be a nice test to see which of the fives is furthest along in terms of defensive awareness, as well as shot-blocking. Given how undersized the Titans are up front, this could be the game for DJ Wilson to get more extensive playing time, as well.
Attack the basket. Detroit has one true big man, and he's built a lot more like me than is ideal for a D-I center. Meanwhile, Michigan has settled a little too readily for midrange shots through two games. It'd be encouraging to see Caris LeVert, especially, finish more of his drives at the basket instead of pulling up. Getting Kameron Chatman in a rhythm would certainly be nice, too.
THE SECTION WHERE I PREDICT THE SAME THING KENPOM DOES
Michigan by 16.
Following all the work, Irvin's jumper is better but still different. Not that there's anything wrong with that.
"I know I have a weird looking jump shot, but it goes in," he said.
Nothing wrong with weird, Zak.
[What this is: We yoinked Joe Pichey from MMMGoBluBBQ to share his tailgating recipes and Stubb's offered to sponsor it because their CEO is a big fan of this site, and certain tasty animals were absolutely harmed in the process of making this blog entry. Happy hunting season.]
I'll be the first to admit that I am no hunter. While I would spend every waking minute on the water in search of that 10-pound walleye or 40-inch northern, I leave hunting to my old college roomies. They shoot it, and I cook it is our agreement. After a few failed attempts with venison in recent years (and I do mean FAILED with a capital F), I decided to take a cooking class put on by the parks and wildlife association. Money well spent!!! I can now hold my head high and say that venison backstrap no longer intimidate me. Thanks to my buddy Doug for providing the venison.
Venison backstrap (Trimmed of silver skin)
Kosher Salt and freshly ground pepper or Stubbs Steak Rub
3 TBS chopped herbs. (Rosermary, Thyme & Oregano combo)
3 TBS Olive Oil
Horseradish Cream Sauce (prepare day prior for best flavor)
1/2 cup Creme Fraiche (or Mexican Crema)
2 TBS Freshly grated or Prepared Horseradish
2 TBS Freshly chopped Chives
Juice and zest of 1 lemon
[After the jump: you're gonna need some time]
News bullets and other items:
Hoke has spoken with Frank Clark since Monday
The team practiced inside yesterday, except for the special teams unit; they wanted them working in the wind
Ty Isaac has dropped some weight and impressed in the intrasquad scrimmage last week
Hoke said the problems in the passing game seem to change from game to game
Hoke and his staff turned down Jake Ryan when they were at SDSU after watching his recruiting tape
"Thanks for coming. Yesterday we had a very productive practice as far as both execution and the intensity of it and the finish, and that's one of the things we talk about all the time but the consistency of the finish we want to do every play and I think we accomplished a lot of those things yesterday. We went inside. A little surprising to some of you. Mr. Glick might be upset if we didn't go inside but we did punt and snap and catch punts outside for about 12 to 15 minutes. We usually always go outside for that specialist [portion] and it just helps those guys fielding the punts in the wind yesterday. The other problem that you have, and it's not a problem, but your filmers, your student filmers being up in those towers [where] the wind gusts can get pretty good and we don't want to take any chances with that.
"As far as- you always track the weather and you want to try and be ahead of it. It does reflect sometimes on if you want to have two returners on a punt [or] if you want to have three returners on the punt back and because of the weather and what the wind can do to the football. Doesn't affect a lot in the passing game unless it's just unbelievably from the side especially if you're doing a great job of spirals with the ball.
"The one thing we've talked about is there's 12 seniors that are going to play their last football game in Michigan Stadium, and I think that's important. You try and remind guys that they're going to be seniors soon, those young guys, and we talk about that constantly and I think some of them you've had an opportunity to talk to this week because we're trying to give the seniors time with you. It can be emotional for some of them and some guys will be emotional but it won't hit until after the game has been played."
/someone opens door, noise from a snowblower fills the room
"SO WE HOPE AND WE ENCOURAGE PEOPLE TO COME OUT AS WE HONOR THEM AND WE RECOGNIZE THEM AND WE'RE EXCITED ABOUT THAT."
"And we're blowing snow."
You don't face a lot of three man fronts. Appalachian State was one, but this one's a little bit different from Appalachian State because they're a lot more up front, a lot more aggressive. Does it present some different challenges than what you face in a normal week?
"Well, it does in some areas, and they'll kick it to be an under or an over front depending on where the tight end's lined up or what they feel is a receiver strength or just formational strength, but the present some thing because they've got really good quickness. [They] present some problems because of the quickness they have as a team, and I think they have pretty good team speed. They're not the biggest guys up front, but I think they do a nice job of what they're trying to get done when you look at gap integrity in the run game and then obviously we want to stay out of those third downs that can be a problem because whoever you play there's only so many things that you can do."
You talked about him a lot early on in terms of eligibility, but what have you seen from Ty Isaac on the practice field to make you feel that he is what you thought he was?
"Yeah, yeah. A couple things. Number one, I think Ty from a standpoint of where he is getting at now physically from when he got here- you know, he was in Chicago in the summer taking classes, doing those things so didn't have an opportunity really to work out with our guys at all in the summer so he did a nice job and he's continued to do that. His weight's down. When we had the scrimmage the other day he was one of the guys [I forgot]; I said there'd be guys I forgot to mention. He ran the ball pretty daggone well."
[After THE JUMP: Hoke talks about Hagerup's improvement after dropping an old-school technique. Yes, that happened. Yes, in the punting game. Why would you accuse me of making that up?]
You may have noticed, especially during the second half of Monday's thumping of Bucknell, that Michigan's offense has looked a little different this season. This season's shot chart, via Shot Analytics, puts it in picture form (green dots are makes, red misses):
A little over 34% of Michigan's shots this season have come from midrange, compared to just over 25% last season. It's not a good change, either; midrange jumpers are by nature the game's most inefficient, and the Wolverines are hitting just 33% of such shots this season, down from 39% in 2013-14. A higher volume and lower efficiency is obviously not a good thing.
A closer look reveals that there may be something here worth sticking with, however. With the usual sample size caveats applying, here's a simple breakdown of what's working and what's not:
(If you're wondering why it looks like a three is included in Irvin's chart, he had a foot on the line.)
Simply put, Zak Irvin is working, and a look at the tape reveals that this may be no fluke, especially since Irvin wasn't bad on midrange elbow jumpers last season (8/19). Here are all of Irvin's midrange attempts from this season:
He's getting these shots primarily in two ways: catch-and-shoot jumpers (3/3) and step-ins when defenders overplay his outside shot (2/4). The aborted drive to the rim off a curl-cut stands as the exception, not the rule.
[Hit THE JUMP for a look at why the rest of the team isn't shooting like Irvin, as well as a picture pages of how M is getting Irvin good midrange looks.]