"Rodrick Williams Jr.'s 10-month old, 2-foot-long savannah monitor named "Kill" gets the RB some strange looks when they go for walks together."
|WHAT||Michigan at Arkansas|
|WHERE||Walton Arena, Fayetteville, AR|
|WHEN||2 PM Eastern, 1/21/2012|
|LINE||M –2 (Kenpom)|
|TV||National on CBS|
Despite a relatively shiny 13-5 record, Kenpom ranks the Razorbacks Michigan's third-easiest opponent left this season ahead of only Nebraska and Penn State. As we'll see in the next section, that's because Arkansas has played few good teams and beaten none of them.
I happened to flip on the TV after the State game Tuesday and was serendipitously presented with the Arkansas-Kentucky game. Unfortunately, the huge talent mismatch and Arkansas's insistence on pressing made my observations brief and not very useful:
- Good god, Anthony Davis.
- Trey Burke shouldn't have any problem breaking this press.
- Jesus, that guy's arms make him look like a dinosaur. Also he seems to be dunking on every possession.
- Arkansas has a guy who kind of looks like Joakim Noah.
- I think the Pistons should try to lose the rest of their games this year…
- …not like you can tell the difference between Dumars doing that and trying to win these days.
- The only thing more impressive than Anthony Davis's arms is his unibrow.
And so on.
If Arkansas was futilely trying to press Kentucky despite the rain of Davis dunks it produced you can rest assured they will do the same against Michigan, which has not broken a press in a way that would threaten the defense yet this year. Their offense thrives on transition and bogs down considerably when forced into the halfcourt, so they've got to try to prop up their top-30 steal rate or the offense is reduced to "Please do something, BJ Young." (@ right. Via Hawgs Illustrated.)
Young is a freshman taking over 30% of Arkansas shots when he's on the floor. He shoots 42% from 3, 56% from two, and has a decent assist rate. He does not get to the line much and he turns the ball over too much. Even so he is impressively efficient for a high-volume scorer. Unfortunately for Arkansas, their 40-minutes-of-hell style limits his minutes. No Arkansas player averages more than 70% of available playing time and Young, their go-to guy, only gets 59%.
Arkansas's other efficient players are sophomore sniper Madarcus Wade, a near-50% three-point shooter on more than four attempts a game, and platooning senior forward Marvell Waithe. Both are low usage types.
Aside from Wade and Young, Arkansas has some hugely ineffective three point shooters. Rickey Scott is 3 of 34 on the year, Rashad Madden 10 of 37. The amazingly named* Julysses Nobles is hitting a third of his attempts; he is really struggling within the arc.
Overall, it looks pretty simple: deal with Young and don't let Wade get good looks at that basket. Any relatively contested shot by someone other than those two is a good one.
*[Arkansas is a strong contender for Name Of The Year National Champions. Wade, Waithe, and Nobles are all positives, and then you've got Devonta Abron and Hunter Mickelson.]
There isn't much of one. Arkansas played only two Kenpom top 100 foes in their nonconference schedule and lost both. Those were @ UConn by 13 and @ Oklahoma by 15. They also dropped a "Semi-home" game against #209 Houston, currently 1-4 in CUSA. The rest of their nonconference schedule was against low majors. Positives include a win over #115 Charlotte and beat common opponent Oakland 91-68 early in the year.
They do have a couple of a decent wins at home in the SEC, beating Mississippi State and LSU by about ten points at home. They lost at Ole Miss, however, and are coming off a 23-point scalding at the hands of Kentucky that wasn't even as close as that.
|Factor||Offense (Rk)||Defense (Rk)||Avg|
|Effective FG%:||49.0 170||44.7 37||49|
|Turnover %:||18.3 45||24.6 25||20.8|
|Off. Reb. %:||33.8 122||36.2 294||32.5|
|FTA/FGA:||39.4 99||33.4 114||36.5|
These should be taken in light of the Arkansas schedule.
The other thing that leaps out from the stat sheet is pace. Michigan remains one of the country's slowest teams; Arkansas is one of the country's fastest. This is partially because of their pressing style. It is also a dedication to running in any conceivable situation: look at those awful defensive rebounding numbers compiled against mostly low-major short stuffs. Razorbacks will bail for cherry-picking opportunities at any opportunity.
This presents an interesting dilemma for Michigan: get back to deny transition opportunities or try to pound the boards. Survey says the former.
Go small again? This seems like a game where having Stu Douglass available to check a huge-usage perimeter player is a good idea. Arkansas has four guys over 6-8 who each average about 40% of available minutes so about half the time Arkansas is playing only one of them, leaving Novak with a matchup against a similarly-sized player.
Going small has other benefits. It adds another ballhandler against the press, and reduces the defensive workload of Michigan's most important offensive player. With Smotrycz struggling and Arkansas the worst-rebounding team on both ends of the floor in SEC play I'm betting on another Douglass start.
Feel free to sag off most players. Whoever has Wade needs to stick with him; when he's out of the game Michigan can collapse off the other guards without getting hurt much. This is something Michigan has done a lot of this year to the detriment of their three-point percentages; this doesn't seem like an opponent where they'll get burned by leaving their Thornton-equivalents to help in the post.
Limit Wade shots. He's already low usage. He can be taken out of the game entirely, and then Arkansas's offensive efficiency really starts hurting.
Don't get baited into their pace. Michigan is not a good transition team and should keep it cool.
Win turnovers. Immovable object versus irresistible force matchup here. Michigan thrives on avoiding turnovers; Arkansas thrives on creating them. Whichever strength wins out here is likely the difference.
Hardaway bad idea shot count: three or less. Go to the hoop, please.
THE SECTION WHERE I PREDICT THE SAME THING KENPOM DOES
Michigan by 2.
Etc.: a composite schedule put together by RCMB poster Andy_H shows the difficult road Michigan has ahead:
Click for big. Michigan has a more road-titled schedule than anyone in the league and they're currently tied for the most difficult league schedule with a couple other teams. Revel in YOUR FIRST PLACE MICHIGAN WOLVERINES while you can.
NOTRE DAME IS BRIAN BOITANO TIME
|WHAT||Michigan at Notre Dame|
|WHERE||Compton Ice Arena|
|WHEN||7:35 PM Friday/Saturday|
|LINE||College hockey lines, junkie?|
|TV||Friday: NBC Sports (nee Versus)
Sunday: CBS Sports
Record. 13-8-2, 8-5-3 CCHA. The Irish have been a slight disappointment after entering the year conference co-favorites with Miami. They are still in good position to make the tournament and have a shot at the league, so the emphasis is on "slight." Most of the disappointment came last weekend.
ND split with national #1 UMD to open the year and has wins over tourney-bound BU and Minnesota in their nonconference schedule; a sweep at the hands of Northeastern (one a 9-2 loss!) is their major blemish on the year. Their CCHA record is basically eh; last weekend they were swept by Western Michigan in a series that put the Broncos into the kinda-sorta league lead, depending on which metric you're relying on.
The upcoming series is a critical fight for not only home ice in the second round but a first round bye, tourney positioning, etc. It's a big deal.
Previous meetings. None this year.
Dangermen. The names should be familiar to you as ND returned virtually all of its important personnel from last year. Sophomore TJ Tynan leads the team with 31 points; he is the team's main playmaker with 22 assists. At 5'8", he is also from leprechaun central casting.
Swede Andres Lee is the main beneficiary with his 14-8-22. Hunwick on those two:
“T.J. Tynes and Andres Lee are probably the two most talented forwards in the league if not the whole country,” said Michigan goaltender Shawn Hunwick. “Those two can put the puck in the net.”
Insert sighs about Michigan having neither a magic midget nor a Swede on this year's team. Ah, swedes and magic midgets.
Red Wings draftee Riley Sheahan has 7-14-21. Sheahan will miss the Friday night game on a suspension, which is a stroke of luck. Past the top line, senior Billy Maday has 6-12-18, freshman Austin Wuthrich has 5-6-12, and then it's a bunch of defensemen with generic "I make a lot of second assist" lines and the 9-7-6-5 point levels that populate CCHA second and third lines this year. This would be a nice spot for Michigan's killer checking line from last year, but alas. They are no longer extant.
Defense and goalie and whatnot. Junior Mike Johnson and sophomore Steven Summerhays are splitting time like they did last year. Also like last year, whoever's in goal is a liability. Johnson managed a .904 last year in 36 games; Summerhays's 12 saw him post an ugly .863. This year the games are closer to even because Johnson's save percentage has dropped to .887; Summerhays is better than last year but still under the .900 Mendoza line. I mean, yeesh:
their goaltenders are 62nd and 67th out of 76 qualifying goalies in save percentage.
On defense, Notre Dame has a lot of draft picks but not much production. They get a few goals here and there; no one has a notable scoring line and given the goalie results it's probable they are selling their guys out somewhat. Blackhawks draft pick Stephen Johns is the most hyped but is averaging almost a penalty a game.
Michigan seems to have a huge advantage here with Hunwick's .925 and half-goal-per-game advantage over the Irish tandem; most of that .925 was compiled without the aid of Jon Merrill.
Special teams. Your power plays per game:
|PP For / G||5.0||3.8|
|PP Ag / G||3.8||4.1|
[Note: I am all but certain that I screwed up the chart last week. Lo siento.]
This will be a major battle. Michigan's power play was better last weekend, robbed of a goal when Treais scored two seconds after an OSU penalty expired and generally more lively than it had been in a while. Statistically it's still a debacle. Michigan dropped another slot to a 45th-place tie (with Miami of all schools). ND's penalty kill is mediocre—more evidence those goalies are an issue—but still better than the Michigan PP. Merrill is of course the wildcard.
The inverse matchup is not much more promising. ND is converting 21% of its opportunities, which is about 75th percentile nationally. Michigan's PK is improving slowly but still 36th.
With ND's clear advantage in drawing penalties, this is a deficit that probably will be the difference in a Michigan loss. Sample size, etc.
Michigan Vs Those Guys
Don't get fancy. Against these save percentages the play is to throw it at the dude and see if he gives up a softie or a bad rebound, whereupon your net-crashing may be able to pick up a goal or two. At some point the top line's monster run has to end… but this doesn't seem like the game. Throw it at these goalies and it seems like reward is probable when you're all big dudes who can pound the front of the net.
Check that top line, especially Friday. I'm not sure how Michigan will match up with Tynan, et al, but as with many CCHA teams it seems like scoring is restricted to fluky stuff once you get past the top line. Michigan's sudden defensive depth should help here.
Third defensive pairing: get it out. It seemed like the majority of scary Ohio State shifts came when Clare and Chiasson could not clear the puck out the zone. Notre Dame has last change and may at times be able to get that top line out against the panicky third pairing.
Don't lose special teams. Winning seems like a tall order. Staying even with ND would be excellent; Michigan is an outstanding 5x5 hockey team at this point.
The Big Picture
The situation hasn't changed since the game column on Monday: Michigan is fifth in the pairwise and can either move towards a one-seed, tread water, or move back towards the bubble.
In terms of the league, It's hard to figure out who's where in the CCHA what with all the shootouts and three-point games and games in hand. Inspired by an Oilers blog that does this for the NHL, here is the CCHA presented baseball-style:
Western Michigan has a slight advantage over OSU and then there is a ravenous pack of five teams separated by less than a game with Miami and NMU a game behind that. First-round byes go to the top five and second-round home series go to the top four.
A sweep either way provides clarity; a split further promotes the league's incredible quagmire.
Yost Built on the renovations, which disappointingly contain no mention of a giant floating Yost head. Also provided is Tim's version of the ND preview. Michigan Hockey Net's weekly recruiting update notes that 2013 commits JT Compher and Tyler Motte are 1-2 on the NTDP U17 team in scoring. Evan Allen is ninth. Jacob Trouba continues annihilating the opposition. Compher is profiled by MaxPreps.
This sounds like a snarky college applicant's answer to the "who would you invite to dinner?" question, but it's real: you can actually pay actual-ass money to have actual dinner with the actual Coach Carr, Coach Hoke, Dhani Jones, and Mike Martin. Plus the money goes to a good cause, helping markw and rest of a community service student organization fund their 2012 projects.
Speaking of Projects, you gotta see this Multi-Parter by crex that goes over every BCS year to figure out from available evidence how many teams need to be in a playoff in order to make sure those with a strong claim always get in. He has a few different conclusions than my Museday a few weeks ago on this. Read 1998 through 2011, then Part II is 2002 to 2005. More to come. Crex is your diarist of the week. And he didn't even have to embarrass his wife for this one!
Maize_in_spartyalnd followed that up with a study on the bowl payouts in-conference accumulated over the same time period. The Big Ten splits all of this but it's kind of interesting to see the numbers. Ohio State is out-contributing Indiana at more than $100 to the dollar, not that this surprises you. Did we really just get $6 million for being in the Sugar Bowl?
Did you know ESPN is actually really good at picking out overrated Michigan recruits? A study by blueloosh only went through 2008 and 2009 to see which of ESPN, Rivals and Scout were better at predicting how M's recruits would fare. The study is not at all conclusive—the final tally is too close to call and the transfers don't help.
Ace's Recruiting Corner of Funny Names
So we have a 2013 recruit named Courtney Love. It is at this very moment that I am happiest Brian and Ace have to do the recruiting posts—and the heavy Googling that entails—around here. In fact Heiko and I are having a little G-Chat party right now. More funny names interviewed were James Onwualu, an athlete from Seantrel Henderson's school, and OL Cameron Dillard, who—get this—is working out with Barwis. Current conference class rankings are current.
This is Pretty Much My Daily Inner Monologue:
Awesome job done again by Six Zero on the t-shirts. Let the world know what you're thinking. And while we're on Six, the adventures of The Blockhams continue. That link isn't to the diary but his site and the newest comic with bow ties in it, because I like that one better.
Etc. Video of Michigan vs. MSU in a sport we consistently beat them in these days. And credit to Yesman2221 for his OSU preview, posted four (to one) scores, and four (to nothing) scores ago. LATE BREAK: His Notre Dame Preview is up.
Quiet Best of the Board.
Here's to you, Friars singing Here's to You, Denard Robinson.
The fun begins 2:00 in.
A Wisconsin fan says Michigan is their biggest rival. I wouldn't scorn this like Illinois; Badger fans have had it in for us ever since we were doing things like keeping Dayne under 50 yards and a few other preposterous things (punt hitting a gunner's foot, David Terrell leaping over double-coverage) when a Michigan loss might have been the difference between a Rose Bowl as Big Ten Champ, or an outside shot at a No. 2 ranking and BCS bid. There are exactly two things we can hate them back for: 1) You can tell their O-Line are all going to the NFL because they hold every freaking play, and 2) They can't remember a time when their current RB wasn't the best back in the country. Come to think of it that is actually kind of adorable in a provincial sort of way. Change my 2) to Bielema's nose. That or the grand-transfer quarterbacking. But you kept State out of a BCS bowl without fighting us for recruits, and for that we thank you.
In the wake of another ho-hum defeat of MSU in basketball, a posbang thread ensued.
OTHER BLOGS, TWEETING HERE
aquaman2342 of TreMendOus enlisted the board's help for today's interview with Brandy. MFR interviewed Michael Hutchings of Cal-De La Salle; apparently this name is far too normal for Ace. Last time I checked up on De La Salle they still hadn't lost a football game ever or something, but this was when Matt Gutierrez was their QB.
Random old game. Michigan-Illinois 2002, via WH:
Beilein knows talent. This is a meme that's been gone over before in this space and Trey Burke is an obvious addition to Beilein's list of who-dat finds. But do you remember Kevin Pangos? Michigan was after the Ontario point guard and possible marsupial early($) despite his low recruiting profile; other offerees at that time were UNLV, Temple, and Portland.
Pangos ended up at Gonzaga, where he's been statistically better than Trey Burke, albeit against considerably weaker competition. He's shooting 40% from 3 on 105 attempts, 51% from two, has excellent assist and turnover rates, gets to the line, and has pretty good usage. It all adds up to the #47 player in O-rating as a freshman point guard.
Pangos is another of Beilein's many low-rated targets that ended up tearing it up wherever they ended up. See also: Joe Trapani, Kyle Kuric (low usage but a 45% three point shooter a year ago), Klay Thompson (who shot a ludicrous third of WSU's attemps last year and still managed to hit 40% from 3), and Robin Benzing, not to mention the players he's actually recruited like Burke, Hardaway, Novak, etc. Add in the increased profiles of Stauskas and Robinson and it seems like mid-majors should be following Beilein around to see who he doesn't end up with. This will be a tough task since Michigan's 2013 class is already full.
FWIW, Casey Prather is a rare Beilein evaluation miss. He's struggling to get on the floor at Florida and is just 8 of 33 from two this year.
This section inspired by the Big Ten Geeks post on M-MSU.
Youth is wasted on the green. John Niyo has a column on the Michigan-Michigan State game that repeats a few of Izzo's hangdog assertions in the aftermath of the M win, most prominently in the headline (which Niyo, of course, did not write):
Michigan State hurt by lack of experience
…Lost in their surprising 15-game winning streak and run to a top-10 national ranking was the fact the Spartans' depth and chemistry -- both vastly improved over last year's dysfunctional bunch -- still are reliant on what Izzo not-so-affectionately calls his "three-and-a-half freshmen."
That'd be first-year players Travis Trice, Branden Dawson and Brandan Kearney, as well as senior transfer Brandon Wood. And with the exception of Kearney's cameo, none of them looked the slightest bit comfortable as they stepped into the fray Tuesday against a Michigan squad that's no longer afraid of its in-state sibling.
Wood had the most disastrous showing, starting with some wild 3-point attempts early and ending with a crucial defensive breakdown late. But he was hardly alone.
"I thought our young guys really looked young," said Izzo, who wasn't in the mood to say much about the young guy for Michigan (freshman guard Trey Burke) who really looked great. "The inexperience hurt us."
Niyo does nod to Michigan's general lack of Grizzly Adams beards, but just to clarify, Michigan is actually younger than Michigan State this year. Kenpom ranks M 222nd in average age*; Michigan State is 198. The difference is negligible. If you want to argue Brandon Wood is "half a freshman" that still doesn't make him younger or more likely to have eligibility next year, when Michigan loses Novak and Douglass versus State losing Green, Wood, and Thornton. The age thing isn't going to be much different next year.
*[This is adjusted for minutes, so Brundidge's existence doesn't count for much since his minutes are few. Burke, on the other hand…]
The balm of Payne. A guy named Chris Mackinder does defensive box scores that are pretty interesting, if difficult to interpret. His output for the MSU game:
And explanation of his numbers can be found at the Audacity of Hoops. The numbers don't make total sense to me. Novak was largely tasked with Draymond Green. Green takes 27% of MSU shots when he's on the floor; in this game he managed only 17%, scoring seven points on eight shots with five turnovers to three assists. Even if those turnovers were largely forced by other players it doesn't make much sense that the numbers claim he was the worst Michigan defender. Apparently he got blamed for over-helping. Meanwhile Hardaway makes out okay because he guarded Thornton for half the game. We'll see what Ace says.
Even so, it's interesting to look at 1) the abject cluelessness of Payne, who was charged with 3.5 baskets against a fifth of a stop (that a missed FTA—another way in which this system is pretty weird) in just 14 minutes, and 2) Keith Appling losing his matchup with Burke. Also, the extremely low defensive usage applied to Douglass would seem to confirm everyone's eyes in re: Douglass's perimeter defense. The good shots are elsewhere.
(HT: TOC contributor and gap-maintainer KJOnTheBanks.)
Brick city. UMHoops looks at Michigan's three point issues both for and against. Prepare for an ugly chart covering Michigan's three-point shooting in conference:
|Tim Hardaway Jr||8||42||19.0%|
Yuck. That Hardaway leads the team in attempts and is making 19% of them should mean he is no longer given a green light unless someone else creates the shot for him.
This is the opposite trend from last year, when Hardaway went nuts from deep during the Big Ten season. Shot quality is a big part of this—not many of Michigan's looks in the Big Ten have been clean. Hopefully a larger part is just a random slump. Michigan's not going to win many games from here on out without making their share of threes.
Inroad. Cato June is apparently the new head coach at Anacostia in DC. It would be nice for Michigan to get an in somewhere in that city, which pumps out prospects yearly.
Etc.: Hockey picks up a 2015 forward commit from Kyle Connor. As per usual he's too young to really know how good he is but he does lead his team in scoring by a considerable margin and is supposed to be a NTDP lock. Shawn Conway article from the Seaholm High School(!) newspaper finds him at a JUCO on the West Coast, Arizona offer in hand. Bama fans can make excuses for anything. You're paying $70 per year for ESPN.
In lieu of the time-consuming and largely superfluous offensive UFRs, I'm going to start reviewing the offensive output of Michigan's basketball games by examining the available advanced metrics while also utilizing the UFR shot chart and picture pages. Think of it as an offensive UFR without all the unnecessary charting.
It's impossible to discuss the win over State and not start with Trey Burke's performance. I mean, goodness, Burke inspired this piece from Grantland's Shane Ryan...
I'm coming out with the big guns today: Trey Burke is the most exciting player in college basketball.
You want caveats? OK. Trey Burke is the most electric, dynamic, breathtaking human being wearing a Division I uniform, and Tuesday night he etched his name into Michigan lore with a 20-point virtuoso turn in a 60-59 home win over rival Michigan State. Also, he's the coolest customer on the court at any given time, and he's only a freshman.
...as well as this incredible video from mgodisney:
We'll get into why Burke was so successful later, but first, his numbers. By traditional stats, he was ruthlessly efficient with his shot, scoring 20 points while going 8-11 from the field (3-6 from three), and he also managed to hand out three assists, though those came along with three turnovers. Burke was lethal on the pick and roll, a welcome change from the last couple games, and his only major negatives came when he got caught in the air on the baseline, which happened a couple times and led to turnovers. His offensive rating was a stellar 135.5, well above his season average of 109.1 and by far the best mark he's put up against high-quality competition.
As far as rest of the team goes, things weren't quite so easy. Stu Douglass recorded the team's lone offensive rebound of the night, and if you take away Burke's numbers, the Wolverines shot just 15-34 from the field and hit only 3-15 from beyond the arc. Most of the squad actually shot the ball at least decently well, but Tim Hardaway Jr. forced up several long shots (3-9 FG, 0-4 3-pt), and Evan Smotrycz also had a quick trigger finger after hitting a couple layups early (2-6 FG, 0-2 3-pt). Now that I've given away large portions of it, I might as well go ahead and post the shooting chart.
|Burke||1/1||1/1 (1F)||1/1 (1F)||2/2||-||-||1/2||1/2||1/2||4/5||2/3 (1F)||2/3 (1F)||8/11 (2F)|
|Hardaway||(1F)||2/2||0/2||-||1/2||0/1 (1F)||-||0/2||0/3||(1F)||3/6||0/6 (1F)||3/9 (2F)|
|Smotrycz||-||2/3 (1F)||-||-||-||0/1||-||0/1||0/1||-||2/4 (1F)||0/2||2/6 (1F)|
|Morgan||1/1||1/1 (1F)||-||-||-||0/1||-||-||-||1/1||1/1 (1F)||0/1||2/3 (1F)|
|Douglass||2/2||(1F)||-||-||-||0/1||-||1/1 (1F)||0/2||2/2||1/1 (2F)||0/3||3/6 (2F)|
|TOTAL||4/4 (1F)||6/7 (4F)||2/4 (1F)||2/2||2/3||1/6 (1F)||1/4||4/9 (1F)||1/9||7/10 (1F)||12/19 (5F)||4/19 (2F)||23/45 (8F)|
You have no idea how happy I am that those numbers matched the box score. Anyhow, you can see the root of Hardaway's struggles in the chart—he took twice as many heavily-contested shots as anyone else on the team, including three from long distance. Michigan as a whole didn't get many good looks against a strong Spartan defense, but when they did, those shots usually came from very close to the basket. You can also see how much Michigan emphasizes hollowing out the defense—creating open shots either at the basket or beyond the arc—when you look at the two-point shots. Burke had the team's only two uncontested attempts in that category, and when the team put up a contested two-pointer, it was usually because the play they ran didn't work effectively.
Looking at the four factors, which you'll likely recognize from UMHoops's game recaps, the key to Michigan staving off the Spartans was a decidedly-low turnover rate coupled with an uncharacteristic propensity for getting to the free-throw line:
The lack of offensive rebounds is disconcerting even when taking into account MSU's size, rebounding acumen, and the fact that Michigan went small for most of the game. It's going to be difficult to continue winning without hitting the offensive glass, as it essentially forces the team to play mistake-free (or, at least, mistake-very-limited) basketball while connecting on a solid percentage of their shots. The Wolverines got away with it here, but I don't foresee them winning many more games during this tough stretch of the schedule if they're hauling in just one offensive rebound.
They key to the game was Michigan's ability to run the pick and roll, something they struggled with mightily when Iowa consistently brought a hard hedge against Burke. The Wolverines found success against the hard hedge early against MSU by having Jordan Morgan slip to the basket early, and this really set everything up for the offense, as State had to respect the roll and couldn't pressure Burke so heavily.
Here's the first instance of Morgan slipping the pick—he comes out to Burke, immediately dives to the hoop, gets the pass with space, and makes a great pass himself to Novak for a corner three:
That's a fantastic play by Morgan to recognize see the open man so soon after getting the ball—a lot of big men would commit a charge on that play, but he gets the pass off quickly.
I have two more videos that were supposed to go here that play off the above. Unfortunately, YouTube won't let me access my uploaded videos (which are unlisted, so I can't get to them from my user page) and keeps giving me an error message. As soon as I can access them, I'll either update this post or do a picture pages post. Sorry about that. In short, Michigan made great strides in running the pick and roll, and it led to baskets. Informative, I am.
Of course a half-hour later it works again. Moving on, this play shows Morgan once again rolling hard to the basket, and while Nix initially hedges, he scrambles back quickly to Morgan. This opens up the drive for Burke, who crosses over and gets to the hoop for a layup:
That play was created thanks to Morgan's first early slip, causing MSU to adjust their defense and play less aggressively. Against Burke, that's a green light to drive into the paint, and he took advantage.
Finally, here you see another way to counter the hedge, as Burke identifies to double-team early, crosses over away from the pick, and gives it to Smotrycz in the corner. With the Spartan defense focused on the perimeter, the quick reversal creates space for Smotrycz to drive, and he catches a bit of a break when he misses the lay-in but State snatches the ball off the cylinder:
It's a simple adjustment, but one Michigan hadn't made prior to this game. As Burke is able to absorb Beilein's complicated offense and continue to learn how to properly read a defense, the hard hedge should become less and less effective against him. It certainly helps to have a great offensive mind in John Beilein as the head coach.
Note: Offensive Ratings are for the game, courtesy of Statsheet. ORtg is measured by points produced/possessions used—the formula is quite complicated and comes from Dean Oliver's Basketball On Paper, but think of it as the number of points produced per 100 possessions.
Trey Burke (ORtg: 135.0): Has been covered extensively above. He's pretty good.
Stu Douglass (ORtg: 128.7): Douglass obviously had the game-winning points, which is always nice, and he also chipped in two assists while only turning the ball over once. Burke mostly ran the show, but Douglass was very capable running plays on occasion, and his four-point play in the first half was huge. He did force up a couple of long bombs, but for the most part Stu played within the offense and took advantage of his opportunities.
Tim Hardaway Jr. (ORtg: 108.2): Hardaway looked plain out of it for much of the game on both ends of the floor, but he did pick it up late in the game, creating an open two-point jumper for himself and then getting a critical layup when he drove baseline. He didn't turn the ball over, which helped out his offensive rating, but I'd be fine with a turnover or two per game if they were the result of more aggressive play. Hardaway is a very inconsistent spot-up shooter, and he needs to take the ball to the basket more often, as it not only creates more good shots for him, but for his teammates.
Zack Novak (ORtg: 106.0): Novak was relatively efficient from the floor, hitting half his shots, but he didn't attack the basket like we've seen him do with great effectiveness this season. Not only that, but he was blanked on the offensive glass, a rarity for Mr. GRIT. The offense mostly ran through Burke or Hardaway, for better or worse, relegating Novak mostly to taking shots at the tail end of the shot clock—that's when he hit his best shot of the game, a pull-up at the free-throw line over Draymond Green that barely touched net on its way down.
Jordan Morgan (ORtg: 81.2): Morgan's ORtg is awfully low due to a pair of turnovers despite very few touches—very small sample size applies here (as it does for all individual games, but low usage really exacerbates things). Morgan mostly functioned as the designated screener, and in that role he performed well, as you saw above. He does turn the ball over far more than what is ideal—Morgan has a 27.5% turnover rate this season, which is not good at all—and missing a pair of free throws hurts too, but Morgan isn't asked to do much in this offense and he did his job in freeing up Burke to create.
Evan Smotrycz (ORtg: 75.3): Oof. It looked early on like Smotrycz might be returning to form as he got a pair of baskets driving to the hoop, including a startling and-one after a glacial—but effective—crossover, but he began forcing perimeter shots and finished just 2-6 from the field in 10 minutes of play. Smotrycz shot the ball on 53.3% of his touches, a rate more than double any other Wolverine, and if you're going to be a black hole offensively, you'd better be an efficient black hole. Smotrycz wasn't, and therefore rode pine for most of the game.
Matt Vogrich (ORtg: 173.2): Hello, small sample size. Vogrich did have a pretty up-and-under layup that came out of nowhere, but his only other shot was a missed three on a relatively open look. Other than two defensive rebounds, he had no other impact on the box score. Nice drive, though.
Blake McLimans (ORtg: 0.0): Played five minutes. I'm not entirely sure he even touched the ball.
What is the possibility of switching to a 3-4 defense next year? With a lack of a proven option at DT, and a seeming plethora of linebackers coming in that look ready to start from Day 1, it seems like it would be a wise move. Mattison ran it at Baltimore so we wouldn't need to worry about running a system our DC doesn't understand. Or is that asking for trouble with Will 'high pads' Campbell trying to absorb double teams?
This comes up over and over. Look:
Brian - Any chance Mattison takes a stab at running a 3-4 next year with Will Campbell as the space eater in the middle and Cam Gordon/Jake Ryan the speedy LBs? I image he prefers that base defense because of the variety of blitzing looks it can bring to confuse a 20 year old QB but has he discussed it at all in press conferences. Also, the LBs coming in are upgrading the athleticism to potentially smooth the transition in coming years.
-Jim Dudnick BBA '01
I think I've already dispelled it multiple times, but here it goes again: Michigan will not switch to a 3-4. If it looks like they're recruiting to a 3-4, well, that's because the 4-3 under is halfway between a traditional 4-3 and a 3-4.
Consider the effect of shifting the line against the strength of the formation:
- The SDE moves inside the tight end and becomes vulnerable to double teams
- The NT hovers near the center
- the DT is lined up just outside the guard
- the WDE gets outside the tackle and is hard to double team
What personnel do you want for that? You want a big bulky DE on the strongside and a penetrating, athletic whip on the weakside. Your nose tackle needs to be able to take on and beat double teams either by splitting them or forcing both players to stay in to block him; the three-tech also must hold up on the interior. That's not that different from what you want from your three down linemen and weakside OLB in the 3-4; add in the SLB hovering around the line and the two MLB types hanging out off the LOS and the under is probably closer to the 3-4 than a 4-3 in terms of personnel.
What the under gives you that the 3-4 doesn't is flexibility in your playmakers. This year Mike Martin one-gapped the hell out of opponents, darting into the backfield and destroying play after play. Next year Ondre Pipkins or maybe Campbell (but probably Pipkins) may be able to shove opponents five yards backwards but he's not going to be as explosive. This should be okay since he will free up Demens. In the 3-4 Martin is not a viable nose (or at least not as good of one) because he has to two-gap—hold his ground and be able to pop off either side. Theoretically, anyway. These days fronts are multiple.
Moving to the 3-4 does not fix any hypothetical issues on the line; Roh and the various WDEs become OLBs* and you're still replacing the three interior players. Instead of allowing those new guys to take one gap and hit it hard you're asking them to play both sides of a player, which means they have to be immensely strong and able to anchor; quickness is much less of a consideration. The 3-4 would exacerbate potential issues with young and/or light players (like Brink). It is the opposite of a panacea.
*[Remember that Michigan's one-year dalliance with the 3-4 saw Lamarr Woodley play OLB.]
35th in Kenpom seems low for a team that beat their number 3 and 6 teams. This seems to be a big game team, they play well against good teams and then sleep walk through Iowa and Alabama A&M Tech State. What would our ranking be if we removed every team over 50th (arbitrary cutoff)?
I don't know but I agree that Kenpom seems to have a weakness in that sloppy games against poor competition seem to have a greater impact on the rankings than they do expectations from Vegas. This can make the rankings and predictions look odd.
But that's tough to weed out. If I understand his methodology correctly, Pomeroy tests out changes to his rankings and only implements them if they improve the overall accuracy of his prediction engine. The '06 Gonzaga team is one that Pomeroy thinks his system underrated because they did not play with much effort defensively unless they had to and thus didn't rack up the huge margins of victory that see teams like OSU, MSU, and Wisconsin near the top of his ratings this year.
In Wisconsin's case you can make an argument that their defensive style is dominant against weak competition but fails for whatever reason against better competition… but then how do you explain the Badgers' considerable success over the past half-decade? If you can't find some correlation to go with your model that's as useless as a correlation without a model.
Michigan beat Western Illinois by four and a few other weak teams by ten or thirteen and thus hover lower in the rankings than they maybe should. (Iowa is another matter. That's not screwing around after getting a big lead, it's getting blown out by a bad team.) Could Pomeroy find a way to downplay games between badly mismatched teams? Maybe. If and only if it made the prediction engine stronger, though. Evidently he hasn't.
DISCLAIMER: I know I rely on Kenpom's tempo-free stats extensively but they are just numbers and they do have flaws even Pomeroy admits; that doesn't make them bad or useless. It's a reminder to keep them in perspective.
What are the options for captains on the men's basketball team next year? With Novak and Douglass around it's something we haven't had to think much about much lately, but what scenarios do you foresee playing out? I figure you're looking at a group of players (provided no unexpected attrition) from Vogrich (Sr), Morgan (Jr), Smotrycz (Jr), Hardaway (Jr), and Burke (So). Being that Vogrich seems to have a dab of the gritty mcgrit that Novak and Douglass feature along with being the only senior, I can see him being one of them. But from there do you hope THJ matures with the imaginary 'C' on his jersey? Do you go back to the sophomore route that worked with Novak and give a nod to Burke? Do you tap into the floppy hair of McLimans? So many options...
That is tough, and gives me the heebie-jeebies as I think about Michigan's inexplicable collapse in 2009-2010 after the departures of CJ Lee and David Merritt. That decline is the most powerful argument in favor of gritty leadership I've ever run across, and Michigan is going to have huge shoes to fill in that department next year. Getting that right is going to be captial-I Important.
Honestly… doesn't Burke seem like the guy despite his youth? He spent the offseason before his arrival documenting his insane workrate on the internet and has immediately become the headiest player on the team, non-Novak division. Hardaway has the passion but often fails to control it; Morgan is a quiet guy who has to be goaded into emotion by Bacari Alexander, Vogrich doesn't seem to have the on-court impact to be a candidate, and Smotrycz… I don't know. Smotrycz just doesn't give off the vibe. I'd guess Burke and Hardaway, as odd as that might seem.
The more you know, part one.
If Wikipedia is correct, Denard Robinson has the chance to be the first player in Michigan history to be a three-time team MVP. There have been 6 two-timers:
Nobody has been a two-time B1G MVP
This may be something to keep in mind when debates about Robinson's place in Michigan history (like, is he patch-worthy) come up. Unless Robinson makes that argument moot.
The more you know, part two.
A commenter dug down to find the last Michigan players who graduated with a winning record against MSU:
It was Louis Bullock (1995-99), unless we're not counting the vacated games. If we're not counting any of them (we vacated the 1992-93 season and everything from 1995-99), I believe we have to go back to the seniors on the 1989-90 team (Terry Mills, Rumeal Robinson, Mike Griffin and I think someone else [ed: Loy Vaught]).
Bullock does not count. Bullock can go to hell. Vacated games do not count generally. So it's been over 20 years. That's what's at stake for Zack Novak and Stu Douglass in Breslin.
Side note: I hear tell Michigan is going to PSL-up the lower bowl in Crisler next year, with one section opposite the students at midcourt designated for high rollers with a 1k+ PSL attached. Part of this revamp will be the addition of a club analogous to the one at Michigan Stadium for said high rollers.
It sure would be nice to somehow name it after a guy who's given his all for the program like Novak…
…instead of a rich guy whose contributions we certainly appreciate but do not viscerally feel, no offense rich guys.