I pose the questions for these things on Monday nights or Tuesday mornings, so I was taking a guess that Ohio State would sic Craft on Michigan's alpha dog. He was surprisingly efficient but the question remains relevant:
We are now alarmed. What are teams doing to shut down Stauskas, and what can Michigan do to counter it?
BiSB: Like Seth, I was assuming Craft would be able to lock up Stauskas. Boy, are my cheeks red.
The Stauskas shackles are complicated but revolve around the same principle: put a little guy in his face who can shadow him. Stauskas isn't extraordinarily quick, so if you get a Ferrell/Craft type who can get over every screen and stick with him through curls and such, you can deny him good looks. Moreover, if they do that, bigs can sag off a bit, and as a result the pick-and-roll game has sputtered.
There are a number of theoretical options to Liberate the Stauskas, but I'm not the Xs and Os expert. Ideally you'd see more back-cuts to take advantage of the overplays, but for one reason or another those haven't been there. They can also try to find ways to take advantage of the size mismatch, but Stauskas hasn't really demonstrated much of a post game.
|This nearly got the cat called for a moving pick.|
So that leaves stuff like off-the-ball down-screens that see Stauskas take a Family Circus-like route to a catch-and-shoot. Stauskas can also generate his own pull-up 3s on occasion, which are both fun and profitable. Basically, we might need to add a "Nik Stauskas is probably Rip Hamilton" tag to the site. That might breathe new life into the Not Just A Shooter debate, but even if he is Just A Shooter sometimes, that's okay because he's still a really really good shooter. Also, Ferrell notwithstanding, chasing Nik in circles all game will take a toll on a guy on the offensive end; Craft had to rotate off of Stauskas a couple of times, and by the end of the game he wasn't even strong enough to shoot a basketball all the way to the hoop from 22 feet.
via user harryddunn
[After the jump, the spheroid of truth]
2/11/2014 – Michigan 70, OSU 60 – 18-6, 10-2 Big Ten
I'ma fall in this basket if that's what it takes
Early, it was a layup line for Ohio State. A combination of transition off turnovers and long misses and plain old WHAT ARE YOU DOING defense led to a stretch where OSU made seven consecutive shots, because all of those shots came within a foot of the rim. For its part, Michigan was stuck outside, with the now-standard point-guard-on Stauskas gambit making it difficult for Michigan to initiate offense through their best player.
Aside from the inexplicable avalanche of offensive rebounds, a sense of déjà vu prevailed. This was the same game Trey Burke's Michigan team had at OSU, the same feeling of being overwhelmed by a road game they had just experienced at Indiana and Iowa. Craft or a Craft-like substance was stuck to Michigan's engine, gumming up the works.
Dan Dakich rhapsodized; ESPN kept showing one particular defensive sequence where Stauskas got Walton a wide open corner three that GRIII rebounded and missed a putback on. What would ESPN have shown had either of those really good shots gone in? The same thing. The Aaron Craft narrative does not bow to things like reality. He is a winner, and if Ohio State does not win, they still win, because anything else is impossible.
And then Michigan was down four at halftime. Four is a lot less than 20. Four is doable.
In the second half, Craft stayed stuck to Stauskas. Michigan came unstuck from Craft. Stauskas managed to find snatches of space in which to rise up or attack the basket on his way to 15 efficient points but was largely removed from generating shots for his teammates. Walton became a free-range annoyance to anyone who happened to have the ball.
Except Craft. Walton played free safety against Craft. If provided a mildly psychoactive taco, Craft would have seen Walton as a giant middle finger extended in the general direction of his offensive competence. A very small, very distant middle finger. And he still would have passed the ball to someone on the perimeter.
On the other end, Walton did a thing that was pretty good, and then a thing that reminded you of you-know-who, and then another couple things and then you had to say it even if you were afraid to do so.
The word "Burke" was uttered, in comparison instead of deficit, when Walton took a mishandled dribble and exploded to the basket for an and-one against a seven foot shotblocker. He extended his body past applicable limits and crashed to the floor after. It had to be mentioned. It was like seeing a ghost.
This is not even that shot.
This is an entirely different shot that is the same shot that is Burke's shot.
Walton's stats were incomprehensible in relation to his play. When he scored near the end of the first half and up flashed his line—two points, four rebounds—it felt wrong. The narrative of his play was at odds with the blunt numbers, and even afterwards he still has an impossible-seeming 2/8 in the two-point column. The other stats, however, back him up: 13 on 13 shot equivalents, ten(!) rebounds, six(!) assists, one turnover. OSU has the fourth-best defense in the country; Derrick Walton drove the bus against them in the second half as Michigan put up 70 in a 59 possession game.
For his part, Craft finally launched his uncontested three, which was an airball. A gritty winner of an airball, but an airball. Dakich started looking for another mancrush—literally, on air, this is a thing that literally happened on air.
As Michigan surged, you remembered the other bit of that Ohio State game last year: a 20-minute trudge to tie the game before a final slump finally condemned them. This trudge was from ten back, but it was no less of a grind against pretty much the same team that ground Michigan's offense into paste a year ago.
This Michigan team doesn't have a Burke, but when there's one Aaron Craft maybe it's better to have three mini-Burkes thrusting their rapiers wherever the armor is weakest.
Hello. Michigan has now won at OSU, MSU, and Wisconsin. In the same year and everything. They also have a road win over (probably) tourney-bound Minnesota, and are very likely to end the conference season at least 6-3 away from Crisler. 7-2 is a distinct possibility. Yowza.
This probably missed. Michigan now knows the feeling. [Fuller]
Parade of missed bunnies. Here's a sentence I never thought I'd say: that game reminded me of the Michigan-Arizona game, with Michigan in the role of offensive rebound machine that can't convert any of the resulting layups. Michigan had 14(!), most of them in the first half, and after that frustrating 20 minutes they only led OSU 7-4 in second chance points.
This feels like a team-wide problem but it was mostly a Robinson thing. (Morgan did miss a first-half putback but that was his only miss of the night.) On the one hand, Robinson flashed to the bucket without a box-out on several possessions and created extra shots. On the other, those extra shots did not go in the basket. They kept flashing huge disparities in FG% in the first half and wondering how Michigan was in the game; those disparities would have been significantly less huge if Michigan was just getting one look at the basket.
Haunted. Now add in the three point play caused when Caris momentarily lost his mind and 'saved' a ball going out off of OSU. This is why large sections of the first half were agonizing about a score that should have been near even.
But welcome back, super-efficient two-headed center. As mentioned, Morgan missed one shot. Horford also missed one, a 15-foot jumper on which he was left open. Both guys used clever moves to get short-range buckets on route to a 7/9 night on which Michigan dominated the boards.
Box score change request. Spike Albrecht only got four minutes, picking up another turnover and missing one shot. HOWEVA, that missed shot should be credited as an assist, as he drove into the lane and put it so high off the window that there was little chance of a bucket. He did this because Amir Williams tries to block everything. Amir Williams tried to block it; the ball went directly to Morgan on the weakside; Morgan actually made the layup.
Amir Williams. There's no nice way to say this. He is not all there. OSU has yanked him from long stretches of games for defensive incompetence; in this one Michigan's two centers picked up seven OREBs despite being much smaller and less athletic. He also committed one of history's worst fouls when he ran over Walton with the shot clock expiring on a critical possession down the stretch.
I remember Williams getting yanked from the M-OSU game at Crisler two years ago after some comically bad defensive possessions, and while he has improved somewhat from that point he remains a massively frustrating guy prone to fits of ain't-care. I know this because I was rooting for OSU in their game against MSU and built up large reserves of loathing for his game.
Irvin up and down. Irvin extended OSU the same favor Williams did at the end of the first half by fouling LaQuinton Ross on a three. It wasn't nearly as bad. He's a freshman, not a junior, and that was a quality look from the corner instead of a desperation jack from about five feet behind the line. It was still bad. Irvin also added in a trio of errors on possessions down the stretch:
- fouling Ross as he initiated a desperation drive to the basket with three seconds on the shot clock
- turning the ball over on a sloppy perimeter pass
- getting burned by Ross on the next offensive possession for a layup and an OREB that turned into a three point paly
The refs credited the first foul to Horford, somehow, but it was Irvin who made the contact, and Stauskas is listed as the guy with the TO in the box score. I don't think I'm remembering it wrong, because at the time everyone in the room was moaning at Irvin.
[UPDATE: I remembered this wrong. The bail out foul was in the first half, as was the ensuing TO, and then the third error was the foul on the three. Irvin did get a TO from Ross in between these issues.]
So there's that. But Irvin also had ten points on five shot equivalents. This is a much shorter section than all the things that went wrong but it's equally as important. That is two points per Irvin-initiated shot. That is good, Adam Jacobi. His threes were needed shots in the arm when Michigan was getting wobbly; he's nearing Stauskas for team three point champion. Achievement unlocked: Modern-Day Microwave.
Wait. Should we call him "The Induction Burner"? Or is that stupid?
Yeah, okay, it's stupid.
This three was slightly lower pressure. [Fuller]
Glenn is so broken don't take that oh OKAY. Another miserable game for Robinson, but this one was capped off by a critical corner three in crunch time that pushed Michigan out to 7 and was the beginning of the end. He was 2/9 on his other shots, many of them point-blank. At points it was like his God-given athleticism was just an elaborate way to troll Michigan fans.
But at least it seems like the message has been received. Michigan posted him up for one of his buckets. Robinson eschewed dribbles for the most part (0 A, 0 TO) and went hard on the offensive glass. Even if it didn't pay off in this particular game, more 4 OREB performances from Robinson will get him into that "quiet 14 points" range he was so effective in last year.
His defense was also notably better on Ross than alternatives. Irvin was inserted for a run in the second half right after a couple of plays around the rim on which Robinson did not convert, and there were a couple of possessions on which it was clear that Ross could just back Irvin down inside the paint whenever he wanted. GRIII is much more sturdy.
Hurdle cleared. Kenpom had Michigan with a 33% chance to pull that game off. The algorithm has been giving OSU a bit of the Wisconsin treatment this year after the Buckeyes stormed through an undefeated nonconference schedule with no good teams on it. Despite being .500 in the league they're still in the top 20. Even if they're overrated by computers, that was a road game against a 19-5 team, Michigan's last against anything resembling a tourney outfit.
Their only trips remaining are to Purdue and Illinois, collectively 7-15 in the league. Michigan is now better than 70% to win every game left on the schedule save MSU, a 65% proposition, and is projected to finish a boggling 15-3 in the league.
Craftbow. I don't hate Aaron Craft and would take him on this Michigan outfit no question even if he is allergic to shots. But man, I hate Aaron Craft. This has nothing to do with anything other than the Tebow effect wherein announcers praise a player so much that you're just so damned sick of hearing about it.
Dakich is normally my favorite color guy other than Jay Bilas, but hearing him call an OSU game is pure torture. His normally reasonable comments about effort go from getting your hands up on shooters and boxing out to ludicrous flights of fancy wherein he literally says things like "the ball knows" that you have reversed the floor and then goes in. In this game he started the first ten minutes bitching about how Michigan was barely trying, and then had to stare at Michigan ending the game on a dominant run.
Effort is so fetishized by commentators that they'll ignore randomness, confusion, youth, and uncertainty to rail on it. Craft exacerbates that 1000%. It got so bad that Dakich started going on and on about Horford's huge effort level… on an uncontested dunk. I'm delighted I never have to hear about Craft again. No offense to the man himself.
Creepy balance. To the point about many mini-Burkes instead of one Burke: Michigan played seven guys an appreciable amount of time in this game. Usage: 22, 22, 21, 19, 18, 18, 16. Walton and GRIII are at the top; LeVert is at the bottom.
Position: Linebacker/Defensive End
Ht/Wt/40: 6'5" / 227 lbs. / 4.69
Location: Benedictine College Preparatory – Richmond, VA
Offers: Boston College, Charlotte, Clemson, East Carolina, Iowa, James Madison, Marshall, Miami, Michigan, Michigan State, Ole Miss, North Carolina, Ohio State, Penn State, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, Virginia Tech, West Virginia
Ranking: ★★★★ .9640 (247 Composite)
Virginia continues to be a fertile recruiting ground and the Michigan coaches have tried to take full advantage of that with varying levels of success. The latest talent to receive an offer from Michigan out of The Old Dominion State is 2015 DE/LB Clelin Ferrell. With his frame Ferrell could play a few different positions at the next level (likely SAM or WDE). Ferrell told me about how he talked to Coach Manning and how the offer materialized.
Well my coach wanted me to give Coach Manning a call today so I did. He explained the situation to me and offered me. For now he said the offer could be for defensive end or linebacker depending on how I develop. Man, Coach Manning is a great dude who keeps it real. He knows how to relate because of how young he is.
Every time I talk to a recruit about Coach Manning they gush about how relatable he is and how comfortable he makes them feel. Clelin went on to give some details about what he and Coach Manning spoke about.
I learned a lot from Coach Manning about Michigan beyond just the tradition and the importance of rivalries. He just tried to teach me about this whole process and how to make it easier on myself. He also talked to me just about life in general. He was real cool to talk to.
Clelin also spoke highly of Coach Hoke and Coach Mattison as well.
I met Coach Hoke and he was a really nice guy too. He knows a lot about my position so I liked that. I haven’t been able to meet Coach Mattison yet but we definitely know who each other is.
Once I learned of the offer to Ferrell I tweeted about it and a few followers noticed his LSU background. People probably put too much emphasis on stuff like that, but I asked him about it anyway.
They aren’t my team or anything and I wouldn’t like commit if they offered. LSU is just the school I watched a lot growing up. Barkevious Mingo and Sam Montgomery are my favorite d-line tandem to ever play college.
Ferrell told me that he will definitely visit Michigan sometime in June but he has not set a date yet. He also says that he hopes Michigan stays aggressive while recruiting him in order to stay in the mix until the end of his recruitment. As for how his recruitment will end, he had a refreshing take on how he’ll make a decision.
When I’m ready to choose, I’ll choose. I’m not going to hold out just to be on TV for signing day.
I really enjoyed talking with Clelin; he seemed very mature and composed. His film is very impressive as well. He is a raw, athletic talent at this point and with a college weight lifting program and position-specific coaches, he could become a freak of a pass-rusher. He’s lanky and explosive and moves like a Jason Taylor-type rush end. Michigan appears to be in good shape for him and if that visit happens in June the Wolverines could remain high on his list throughout.
Michigan shot 8-17 from WANTING IT MORE while Ohio State had just three HUSTLES out of 20 WHEN YOU PLAY HOOPS. They even out-DECIDED TO GO OUT AND GET ANGRY'ed them 14 to 8.
And you can't have one without the other…
Thank you Triplor, god of threes. Your praises shall be sung with the ardor of a thousand Dakich-approved SHOW INTESITYs.
|WHAT||Michigan (17-6, 9-2 B1G) at Ohio State (19-5, 6-5)|
|WHERE||Value City Arena, Columbus, Ohio|
|WHEN||9 pm Eastern, Tuesday|
|LINE||Ohio State -4 (KenPom)|
|TV||ESPN/WatchESPN (PBP: Mike Tirico; Analyst: Dan Dakich)|
Right: When we last met. [Dustin Johnston/UMHoops]
This is Michigan's only scheduled matchup with Ohio State this season; it's also the last game KenPom predicts they'll lose. Find a way to win this one and the Wolverines can afford a little wiggle room in the home matchups upcoming against Wisconsin and Michigan State. Lose it and the margin for error gets ever smaller for their hopes of winning the Big Ten title.
THE CRAFT FACTOR
WARNING: Dan Dakich is calling a game involving Aaron Craft. Adjust your volume settings accordingly, maybe practice a few eye-rolls to avoid any extraocular muscle pulls.
THE LINEUP CARD
Probable starters are in bold:
|G||4||Aaron Craft||Sr.||6'2, 195||86.0||17.6||Kinda|
|Great (and aggressive) defender, good distributor, iffy shooter|
|G||3||Shannon Scott||Jr.||6'1, 185||68.4||19.5||Yes|
|Great (and aggressive) defender, good distributor, iffy shooter|
|G||32||Lenzelle Smith Jr.||Sr.||6'4, 210||70.1||20.6||No|
|Good shooter, not great around basket, #2 offensive option behind...|
|F||10||LaQuinton Ross||Jr.||6'8, 220||67.6||27.0||No|
|Volume shooter with iffy selection, solid outside shot, decent rebounder|
|C||23||Amir Williams||Jr.||6'11, 250||59.9||19.6||Very|
|Excellent rebounder and shot-blocker, lots of putbacks, Morgan-esque hands|
|F||12||Sam Thompson||Jr.||6'7, 200||57.7||16.7||No|
|Remarkably athletic, great finisher at rim, mediocre shooter, blocks some shots|
|F||2||Marc Loving||Fr.||6'7, 215||31.2||23.3||Yes|
|PT fading to ~10 mpg, hasn't hit FG since Jan. 20(!), okay rebounder|
|G||33||Amadeo Della Valle||So.||6'5, 190||29.9||21.4||No|
|Mostly a spot-up shooter, 36% from three, ineffective inside arc|
|C||55||Trey McDonald||Jr.||6'8, 240||27.9||12.8||Very|
|Good off. rebounder, poor def. rebounder, high FT rate, terrible FT shooter|
Thompson may start in place of Scott; he's done so in each of the last three games to help OSU get more offense on the floor. Scott is still averaging more minutes in those games, however, so I'm keeping the chart as-is.
Even though Michigan hasn't faced off against them this season, Ohio State's squad should look quite familiar—they're essentially last year's team minus Deshaun Thomas, whose high-usage, high-efficiency scoring has proven quite difficult to replace.
The backcourt remains the same. Aaron Craft and Shannon Scott are very similar players; great defenders with very aggressive styles—both rank in the top 20 in steal rate—and solid distributors who struggle with their shot. Craft gets to the rim more often but doesn't finish quite as well as Scott, likely a product of having to take more contested shots late in the clock; Scott has a better mid-range jumper, while Craft is more selective—and therefore more efficient—with his three-point attempts. Expect both to see plenty of time guarding Stauskas.
As mentioned above, Sam Thompson may start over Scott in an effort to get more scoring—and size—on the floor for the Buckeyes. He's a 35.6% three-point shooter and a great finisher at the rim; too often, however, he settles for two-point jumpers that he hits at just a 26.4% clip, per hoop-math. He's not the on-ball defensive terror that Craft and Scott present and his rebounding numbers surprisingly fall right in line with Scott's (read: not great); however, he does provide another shot-blocking threat on the floor.
LaQuinton Ross and Lenzelle Smith Jr. are the primary scoring options, with Ross taking over 30% of the team's shots when he's on the floor, a top-100 rate nationally. Ross is a very good outside shooter (41.6% 3-pt) who finishes well around the basket, though his two-point percentage (44.6%) is dragged down by a healthy number of mid-range jumpers that aren't his specialty. As Dylan points out, Ohio State's chances at victory rely heavily on a good shooting performance from Ross:
6-foot-8 forward LaQuinton Ross leads the Buckeyes with 14.2 points and 5.5 rebounds per game. But as he goes, Ohio State’s offense tends to go. He has just a 38.7% effective field goal percentage in losses compared to 50.6% on the season.
Ross does a good job taking care of the basketball. He also rarely looks to pass, which helps keep the turnover rate low.
Smith, meanwhile, distributes his shots almost equally between two-pointers (51.5%) and three-pointers (38.0%); his turnover rate is even lower than Ross's despite the fact he's more willing to give the ball up. While Smith isn't a great athlete, he rebounds pretty well for a player his size on the defensive end.
Detroit native Amir Williams mans the center position; he's by far the team's best rebounder and one of the better rim protectors in the conference. His offensive game a still a work-in-progress, though his post game has improved; he finishes well off putbacks and open dumpoffs, which represent a good chunk of his attempts, but he doesn't have great hands—he'll drop an entry pass or two. He's backed up by Trey McDonald, who's a total offensive non-factor aside from solid offensive rebounding and terrible (32.1%) free-throw shooting on a high rate of attempts, though Thad Matta often eschews playing McDonald in favor of going small with Ross at the five.
Other backups who could see significant time include one-time Michigan recruit Amadeo Della Valle, a spot-up shooting specialist hitting 36.1% of his threes, and freshman forward Marc Loving, whose playing time has waned as he's in the midst of a horrible shooting slump (0/10 FG in his last five games).
The Buckeyes have won four of their last five—including road upsets at Wisconsin and Iowa—after they fell to 2-4 in Big Ten play with a four-loss skid capped by a defeat at Nebraska. The lone loss in their recent stretch was a bad one, however: in overtime at home against Penn State. OSU is 2-3 against KP50 teams, though they've played only one of those games at home—a ten-point loss to Iowa.
Yes, I'm toying around with the features on my new MacBook. Do y'all prefer the pretty charts below—with Michigan's four factors and the D-I average included—or the old way of doing things? Suggestions for how to improve this, as always, are welcome.
We've got enough of a sample that I'm now using conference-only four factors:
The Buckeyes are second in the B1G in defensive efficiency despite ranking 7th in eFG% against and 10th in DReb%. The reasons: OSU is first in forcing turnovers, first in 3-pt% against, second in preventing three-point attempts, and fourth in keeping opponents off the free-throw line. Two-point defense is the Buckeyes's glaring weakness, especially when Williams isn't on the floor.
On offense, OSU is in the middle of the B1G pack in just about every category save offensive rebounding (9th) and FTA/FGA (3rd). Don't expect many turnovers, as the Buckeyes take care of the ball well and Michigan doesn't force many anyway. The disparity in FTA/FGA will be key; if OSU gets to the line regularly, this could be a tough one to pull off for Michigan.
Free up Stauskas. Ohio State boasts two guards in Craft and Scott who are perfectly suited to replicating the aggressive ball-denial defense of Yogi Ferrell and (sigh) Mike Gesell that shut down Nik Stauskas in Michigan's two recent losses. If Michigan wants to pull this off away from home, they have to find a way—whether it's switching up their off-ball movement or having Stauskas play like a true point guard and start with the ball—to get their best scorer and creator the basketball, plain and simple.
Take care of the ball. The rather lackadaisical ballhandling exhibited by Stauskas, Glenn Robinson, and Caris LeVert in recent games won't fly against an aggressive Ohio State defense. Ohio State has enough trouble scoring in halfcourt sets that Michigan can't be giving them easy points on the break, and against such a good three-point defense the Wolverines also can't afford to waste possessions. If Spike Albrecht is the answer here, Michigan can hide his defensive issues a little by matching him up against Craft or Scott.
No easy looks. I don't have to remind you that Michigan's perimeter defense hasn't been good. While OSU doesn't boast a lineup of deadeye shooters, Ross and Smith are both reliable from the outside and Craft can connect when teams sag off too far. OSU's three-point shooting has been much better in wins than losses (surprise!); the Wolverines can't blow switches, fail to identify shooters, or flat-out fail to properly contest shots—ahem, GET YOUR HANDS UP, CARIS—or they could have a tough time making up those points on the other end.
THE SECTION WHERE I PREDICT THE SAME THING KENPOM DOES
Ohio State by 4
Drake Harris and Chase Winovich
All the three pointers. Hands up! Bad luck. Bad defense. What to do with Stauskas? Hey, they're still pretty good.
Curling digression. Proposal for winter decathlon. Which would be awesome. Downhill, slalom, 500m speed skating, cross-country, etc.
We run down all 16 recruits, hype up the wide receivers, express disappointment that the class did not reach at least 18 guys. What was with Montae Nicholson? Redshirt complainin'. Always redshirt complainin'.
"Across 110th Street."
"Nautical Disaster," The Tragically Hip
The usual links: