this week in unintentionally grim-sounding recruiting headlines
|WHAT||Michigan vs South Dakota State|
|WHERE||Palace Of Auburn Hills
Auburn Hills, Michigan
|WHEN||7:15 PM Eastern, Thursday|
|LINE||Michigan –13 (KP)|
I'll take "Signs You Might Be An Ag School for 1000, Alex."
Michigan draws the South Dakota State Jackrabbits in round one in what at first blush looks like a good draw. SDSU is #102 in Kenpom, a 13-3 Summit League team sporting a 25-9 record highlighted by a road win at three-seed New Mexico and uh… unhighlighted by ugly blowouts against Minnesota and Belmont.
HOWEVA, their jerseys are basically Generic State U from the Allstate Mayhem commercials, so, like, beware mayhem. Also they have a really good player, and that really good player did not participate in the Minnesota blowout. (Sprained ankle if you're curious.)
Senior point guard Nate Wolters is the Trey Burke of the Summit, a huge-usage, high-efficiency scorer and distributor. The numbers are eerily close:
- USAGE: Burke 29%, Wolters 30.3%
- ASSISTS: Burke 38.4, Wolters 34.5
- TORate: Burke 12.4, Wolters 12.5
- Shooting (FT/3/2): Burke 79/52/40, Wolters 81/55/39
Though I did not pay much attention to the Jackrabbits earlier this year, I knew Wolters's name sounded familiar.
As the man said: eerie.
The 6'4" Wolters carries a heavier rebounding load and gets to the line a lot more, possibly because the Summit isn't too good at defending really good players, possibly because fouls exist in that league. Here he is putting 53 points on IPFW earlier this year:
He is not just a product of his competition. He's getting NBA attention. Chad Ford ranks him just outside the second round and Draft Express projects him to go in the second round; he got a full-on profile piece on NBA.com.
Wolters size makes him an interesting defensive matchup. SDSU doesn't put a guy shorter than 6'4" on the floor, and Trey has to check someone. Can Wolters post up a la Chauncey Billups? Will Michigan swap a longer guy on him in an effort to disrupt his game? Would it be smart to give Trey some time against designated Stand In The Corner And Snipe Guy to save his legs?
There's no shortage of those corner snipers. SDSU surrounds Wolters with shooters, shooters, shooters. The tallest guy to get time, post-type substance Jordan Dykstra, shoots 43% from three on 128 attempts. They've got another 43% shooter in 6'6" swingman Chad White, who has the statistical profile of a corner gunner: 173 3PA, 78 2PA, 43 FTA, no assists, no turnovers, no OREB. The fourth option, shooting guard Brayden Carlson, also takes a majority of his shots from behind the line. He hits at a respectable 36% clip, so you can't leave him, either.
Dykstra is an interesting kid with a thick body who can drive and post up Summit-level athletes in addition to his Pittsnogle duties:
Physically it makes more sense for Michigan to have Morgan/McGary/Horford on him and let Robinson check the smaller Tony Fiegen, but in terms of game they might want to reverse that since the bigs are not as prepared to close out as a guy like Robinson. Dykstra is a beast on the defensive boards but doesn't do as much on offense because he spends a lot of time on the perimeter.
In terms of tempo style, White and Carlson are pretty much the same dude. Carlson is vaguely more likely to assist on something and less likely to hit a shot (45/36); White is a top-50 efficiency player (54/43) who mostly knocks down the looks Wolters sets up. At 6'6", he would be Nik Stauskas except he is just a shooter—only 16% of his attempts are at the rim.
The only guy who you do not have to close out is 6'7" post guy Tony Fiegen, who you are going to hate for reasons that have nothing to with Tony Fiegen. He is from Madison and looks like this:
He takes a lot of twos at a 55% clip. Hopping over to hoop-math, Fiegen ends up taking a lot of two-point jumpers (59%) compared to McGary and Morgan, who get about 75% of their looks at the rim. Not a whole lot else stands out statistically. He gets some rebounds, he does not block shots or get steals, he keeps out of foul trouble. He is a low-turnover guy for a post.
SDSU relies heavily on its starters. No backup gets more than 30% of available time, and SDSU is near the bottom of the country in bench minutes. Only three guys are in the 8-12 minute range. The first is Marcus Heemstra, the backup post. He shoots efficiently and is a little bit of a shot blocker; he's their best offensive rebounder as well. The second is Taevaunn "Don't Call Me Tayshaun" Prince, a low-efficiency guard who gets to the line a lot. The third is Jake Bittle, a freshman turnover machine.
SDSU played four major-conference or Belmont teams in their nonconference schedule:
- @ Alabama: L 70-67
- @ Minnesota: L 88-64 (Wolters did not play)
- @ Belmont: L 76-49
- @ New Mexico: W 70-65
They also lost at #302 Hofstra and had a couple of late-season nonconference losses against #241 Cal-Bakersfield and #139 Murray State. There's a profusion of close calls lurking once you drill down. SDSU beat Marshall, North Dakota, and Montana by one, the second in double OT.
Kenpom has the Summit League #23 of 32 conferences; the only top 100 team in it is North Dakota State. There are only two common opponents on the schedules of SDSU and Michigan: IUPUI and Minnesota. Both teams beat up on IUPUI, Michigan once, the Jackrabbits three times. Michigan beat Minnesota by eight; SDSU lost by 24.
Last year, 14-seed SDSU gave Baylor a game, eventually losing 68-60. SDSU led for much of the first half and it took the Bears 35 minutes to push their lead to double digits. Seven of the eight rotation players return from that team.
THAT NEW MEXICO GAME
Wha happen? Two New Mexico starters sat the first six minutes for being late to the game. This does not qualify as an excuse for them since SDSU arrived in Albuquerque fresh off a 1,200 mile bus trip, but when they returned New Mexico was in a seven-point hole.
Wolters went off, hitting 8/10 twos and going 9/11 from the line. The rest of the team shot okay from three and was decent from two. For its part, New Mexico shot poorly from two. It seems like that's an aberration on New Mexico's part more than anything else. SDSU is not a good defensive team, as we'll see.
Four factors. Ranks are in parentheses and out of 347.
|eFG%||Turnover %||Off. Reb. %||FTA/FGA|
|Offense||53.5 (26)||16.3 (10)||29.0 (262)||33.5 (242)|
|Defense||50.9 (261)||17.1 (309)||26.0 (11)||24.6 (4)|
If this looks familiar, it should. Welcome to Poor Man's Version Of Michigan. If you've seen Michigan play, you have an idea of how SDSU games play out: a lot of made shots, not many turnovers or free throws either way. Michigan is better than the Jackrabbits in every department except getting to the line—ref grumble inserted—and defensive rebounding.
When Kenpom kicks in the schedule adjustment, though, things have a disparity to them. Michigan's offense is second and defense 58th; SDSU is 39th and 209th, respectively. That's not good:
Michigan has played just four Division I teams with a worse adjusted defensive efficiency this season; Central Michigan, Binghamton, Cleveland State and IUPUI. The Wolverines scored 323 points on 259 possessions in those four games.
If the Jackrabbits can keep pace with 1.25 PPP that'll be a a surprise. In conference play SDSU's defense was third, it's just that no one plays defense in the Summit.
Save #145 Montana, other 13s show better in Kenpom, ranging from #49 (play-in game participant Boise State) to #80 New Mexico State. Disclaimers about OHIO and Penn State and whatnot apply, but teams around SDSU in Kenpom include Oregon State (14-18 in the Pac-12), Rutgers, Texas, and hammered-by-Nebraska USC.
Switch everything! Switch a lot of things, at least. If it gets Michigan stuck in a bad matchup, okay. Gol dang this team can shoot it from deep. According to hoop-math, almost literally every three not launched by Wolters is assisted. Cutting down on opportunities to launch is key to avoiding the upset.
Close everything. Also, no sag. After watching most of the youtube items featuring Wolters, a pattern emerges in which Wolters gets kind of by his guy for a couple steps and then chucks it to a shooter, who has a step and then shoots. The guy has a step because the man on the perimeter has taken a useless half-step towards Wolters.
Split up the defensive duties on Wolters. Michigan may as well switch off who is the primary defender on Summit Trey Burke to give him different looks, keep guys from getting gassed on defense and having that impact their offense, etc. The guys surrounding Wolters aren't bad, but damn near every three they take is generated by Wolters doing something.
Trey: win matchup. If that occurs Michigan is good. Against a team with this defensive profile, he should. I'd be surprised if Wolters can stay in front of the guy and once Trey gets to the lane there is no shot blocker in there—SDSU is 307th in that department.
Sic 'em, McGary. Like Michigan's defense, excellent defensive rebounding props up some unfavorable numbers elsewhere. Unlike Michigan's defense, SDSU has not gone through the Big Ten ringer and seen their numbers drop through the floor. They got clunked by Minnesota, which everyone does; they did well against New Mexico and Alabama. Not a lot of data to go on there—New Mexico's worst Factor is OREB—and McGary will have a size/roar advantage against a Summit foe.
THE SECTION WHERE I PREDICT THE SAME THING KENPOM DOES
Michigan by 13.
Today's recruiting roundup covers this weekend's visitors, the latest on Malik McDowell, and more. Thankfully, I wrote this before the Wisconsin game, and feel no remorse about immediately bumping my own post off the top of the page.
[Insert Hand Pun Here]
Purported high schooler Da'Shawn Hand
Michigan hosts a small group of 2014 visitors this weekend. Small isn't bad, however, when one of those visitors in the nation's top overall prospect, VA DE Da'Shawn Hand. Sam Webb has an extensive feature on Hand in the Detroit News in which he alleviates any concern that Jerry Montgomery's departure will hurt Michigan's chances:
"I heard about it, but I'm not sweating it," said Hand on Montgomery's departure. "Montgomery is a good dude, and that's a good move for him, but I'm not interested in Oklahoma whatsoever. That's how I feel about it. He is a good dude, but I like Coach Mattison."
"(Mattison) is young at heart. I don't even know how old he is. I think he's like 60 — don't tell him I said that — but that dude is 25 at heart. And he's a good guy. He's funny, but he knows what he's talking about. He knows his stuff. He's been a defensive coordinator for the (Baltimore) Ravens. I look up to Ray Lewis, Terrell Suggs, — it's so many people, it's endless. And they have so many components to that defense. For him to come to Michigan just shows how dynamic the defense is, and for me to be a part of that, they can move me everywhere and get me prepped for the NFL."
Mattison would be Hand's position coach at Michigan, a point I'm sure won't go unmentioned this weekend. Hand also discussed his friendship with fellow Virginian Derrick Green, whom he met on the camp circuit—the two have "just been clicking" since hanging out at The Opening. The Wolverines will be in a serious battle with the rest of Hand's top five—Alabama, Florida, South Carolina, and Virginia Tech—but they've certainly got a few things working in their favor.
[Hit THE JUMP for more on this weekend's visitors and, um, more.]
Halftime stats on the left, final stats on the right, via scacchoops.com
If you're expecting a reasoned, informative recap of the game, I highly recommend stopping right now and looking elsewhere.
Still here? If so, you are either in search of schadenfreude or have a remarkably strong will to make your life miserable.
Michigan lost to Wisconsin 68-59 in a complete abomination of a "basketball" game. The halftime box score resembles something from a middle school junior varsity game in which all the players are blackout drunk. The Wolverines held a three-point lead at the break, courtesy of Wisconsin's inability to hit anything (5/29 from the field). The Badgers made it appear, momentarily, like Michigan had discovered how to play defense.
Then the second half began, and the Wolverines remained stagnant on offense while entirely forgetting how to guard the perimeter. After hitting 2/13 shots from beyond the arc in the first half, Wisconsin connected on 6/9 three-pointers in the second—most of their looks came without so much as a hand in the shooter's general vicinity, let alone a legitimate contest.
Trey Burke did his best to stop the bleeding, scoring 15 of his 19 points in the second half, and Tim Hardaway Jr. (14 points, 5/9 FGs) admirably returned from a sprained ankle to knock down a couple big shots. Nobody else cracked double digits, however, and any semblance of an offense rapidly devolved into the "Trey, go do something" strategy. Burke was forced to jack up 15 shots in the final 20 minutes; no other Wolverine attempted more than four.
Major culprits included, well, pretty much everyone. Ryan Evans scored nine of his 13 in the second half, abusing Glenn Robinson III and Hardaway down low—Robinson struggled so much that Spike Albrecht took his spot in the lineup down the stretch. Jordan Morgan started but played just eight horrible minutes, turning the ball over three times, completely unable to hold onto the basketball. Nik Stauskas went 1/8 from the field. Burke had an uncharacteristic four turnovers, though given the circumstances it's difficult to lay much blame on him.
A guy who shoots free-throw jump shots, a redheaded Art Garfunkel, and Ben "#@*#$@" Brust combined for 28 second-half points, going 4/8 from two and a perfect 5/5 from three. If there's a College Hoops Fan Hell, it is watching that game on a continuous loop while Bo Ryan waves the last bottle of whiskey in existence in your face, refusing to let you drown your sorrows.
Michigan will still play in the NCAA tournament, of course, and there's even a chance that I'm willing to watch basketball by then. They won't play Wisconsin, mercifully.
|WHAT||Michigan vs Wisconsin|
|WHEN||2:30 PM Eastern|
Ah, Wisconsin. Tempo-clubbing, basketball-imploding, infuriating-non-call-generating, desperation-three-point-chuck-heaving, Kenpom-enthralling Wisconsin. How your presence enfouls all that is good about Big Ten basketball this year. Chernobyl: the basketball team. And so forth.
The Badgers' calling card is defense, and how, but we'll discuss their abilities in that department in the Tempo Free section. On offense, they've got one of the most bizarre breakdowns I've seen in many years of clicking refresh on Kenpom. Senior power forward Ryan Evans is Wisconsin's highest-usage and lowest-efficiency player. As statistical anomalies go, that's pretty amazing. Evans absorbs 26% of Wisconsin shots despite shooting 42% from the floor; he also shoots 42% from the line. He gets to the line rather frequently, but since that's to Wisconsin's detriment it's not a particularly good representation of his game, which is midrange jumper after midrange jumper. He is an excellent rebounder and, like almost everyone on Wisconsin, turns the ball over rarely.
Three players provide what offensive firepower the Badgers have, most prominently center Jared Berggren. Berggren is yet another 6'10" upperclassman who has three-point range and can beast you on the inside. Berggren is more beast and less sniper than, say, John Leuer; they all come from the same mold. Berggren rebounds at both ends, blocks shots without fouling, and has an incredibly low TORate for a guy his size. The main flaw in his game is 25% shooting on 75 threes. He's terribly underrated.
You probably know Ben Brust, a perimeter-oriented shooting guard hitting 40% from three. He is much less effective inside the line (48%; very rare trips to the line), and Michigan should close him out ferociously.
The third offensive cogs doesn't even start: freshman Sam Dekker. He's getting barely over half of Wisconsin's minutes despite shooting 55%/43% on quality usage. He's not the rebounder Evans is and isn't the defender; he's a much, much better offensive option.
Point guard Traevon Jackson is a high-turnover player who shoots 41%/30%. Michigan might well encourage him to shoot; Mike Bruesewitz tells you all you need to know about him with his last name. He's there to D up, rebound, and put up a small number of high quality looks. Like Berggren, he takes threes when they present themselves despite hitting well under 30%.
Wisconsin had a weird finish to their season after that prayer by Brust. They lost in OT at Minnesota the next night, had consecutive whompings of Ohio State(!), Northwestern, and Nebraska, and then finished the year on a depressing slide. They lost to Purdue by 13 at home and at Michigan State by 15 in a game in which they put up a measly 43.
They finished the year with another desperation three, this one at Penn State. While Michigan had their own, worse struggles at Penn State, that ain't good. The Badgers finished the Big Ten season with the same 12-6 record Michigan did and won the tiebreaker for the fourth spot thanks to the Brust prayer and Michigan's lack of a return game.
Four factors, now conference-only (small sample, yes, but numbers are equally skewed by various cupcakes on the non-conference schedule):
|eFG%||Turnover %||Off. Reb. %||FTA/FGA|
|Offense||46.9 (6)||16.2 (3)||30.3 (8)||29.5 (10)|
|Defense||42.2 (1)||15.4 (11)||27.0 (1)||23.5 (1)|
The Badgers are a funhouse mirror version of Michigan. Both teams take care of the ball, force very few turnovers, never get to the line, and never put their opponents on the line.
The distortions come in defensive rebounding—Wisconsin is great and Michigan progressively worse—and eFG% at both ends of the floor. On offense Michigan is great, with Wisconsin scraping out a middling existence. On defense Wisconsin is great, with Michigan scraping out a less-than-middling existence.
Run two guys off the line only. Preventing three pointers is a skill that Wisconsin has and Michigan should try to emulate. Dekker and Brust should be closed down with extreme predjudice; everyone else you can chill on save backup PG George Marshall.
Get handsy on D. If you're putting Wisconsin on the line that's only a slight downgrade in expectation, one that should be offset by an increased ability to get those stop things. Obviously, Evans is the main issue for the Badgers here.
For pants sake don't hedge the pick and roll hard. Look man, if Traevon Jackson wants to pull up, let him pull up. Don't unbalance your defense and invite Jared Berggren to beast on Trey Burke. Just go under the damn screen. This will not happen.
Brust P&R is another matter, but even then Michigan has to stop pointlessly getting its big well outside the three-point line, whereupon disaster occurs.
Make your midrange jumpers. Wisconsin's defense is so good because they get away with subtle murder. Refs don't want the bad man to yell at them. But also they cut off good shots. Hoop Math shows that nearly half of shots Wisconsin faces are two point jumpers, AKA The Devil's shot. Points per shot on the three categories:
- RIM: 1.1
- TWOS: 0.7
- THREES: 0.9
Michigan got off more threes than Wisconsin usually allows in the first game. They hit only five of 18.
I don't have much hope that Michigan is going to break Wisconsin tendencies here, so the answer is Hardaway and Burke making their pull-ups. Pull-ups suck, but you can't get a blocking call on Wisconsin to save your life and Burke's floater is deadly. In the last game, Wisconsin continually sagged off Burke on the pick and roll; Burke hit 6 of 13 twos. That was almost good enough.
This is a terrible matchup for Stauskas, who may be Not Just A Shooter™ but has very little midrange game. In the first game he had five points on seven shots.
McGary: fight Berggren to a standstill on the boards. Self explanatory.
Do something, GRIII. Ditto.
THE SECTION WHERE I PREDICT THE SAME THING KENPOM DOES
Michigan by 1.
If you were looking for some sort of timeline as to when Greg Mattison might retire, you've got at least a few years before your can get your fret on:
Greg Mattison's three-year contract extension will keep him as the
#Michigan defensive coordinator through the 2016 season.
Four more years, four more years, four more years. At least. With recruits chattering about how the guy seems 25 he may find a wellspring of Red-like longevity in there and keep going.
At the very least, Michigan won't have to worry about a major staff transition until after a couple seasons of Hoke's program running full-tilt like Hoke wants to run it.