1/13/2011 – Michigan 4, Ohio State 0 – 13-8-4, 7-6-4 CCHA Gongshow
1/15/2011 – Michigan 4, Ohio State 1 – 14-8-4, 8-6-4 CCHA Gongshow*
[sitebulletin: I'm going to be in a car driving for most of the day, unfortunately. I thought I would be able to avoid doing this during the posting day but it turns out I have to get back to town earlier than I thought I would. Apologies. Basketball game column can be ably summarized by searching for "temper tantrum" on youtube.]
*[This is not an endorsement of the CCHA's advertiser. But seriously folks, "CCHA Gongshow" is impossible to pass up now that I know they did it to themselves a year after they unsuccessfully attempted to keep their conference from imploding. We have a new leader in the Year of the Depend Adult Undergarment-memorial most craven naming-rights sellout competition.]
head up. you are feeling totally copacetic, man
I'm not saying that Jon Merrill's suspension was a deviously ingenious experiment designed to turn a large group of people into connoisseurs of the little nuances of defensive play. The only reason I'm not is because I can't think of a motive.
Because even if that connoisseurship is a side effect, it is real. In the second period yesterday, Merrill made a clearing attempt, got it blocked, got bashed by a forechecker, and then whipped a hard pass to Alex Guptill's tape in a situation where 90% of college defensemen start breathing into a paper bag or bawling for their mom. Billy Jaffe, one of the the uncommonly useful color guys for Sunday's game, exclaimed "that's the move!" afterwards, and I was like "YES THAT IS THE MOVE." Later they put up a replay of a pass that never got out of the defensive zone.
The thing that Merrill gives Michigan is breathing room. Sure, he's piling up assists at a PPG pace and whipped a breathtaking breakaway pass to Phil Di Giuseppe on Sunday. These are nice things. They are intermittent, though. What's constant is how a game feels when Merrill's on the ice: calm, spacious, steady. Smooth like Billy Dee Williams with his Colt .45.
Jon Merrill is the Billy Dee Williams of hockey. Forecheck hard and Merrill will take the hit with his head up and make the move. Back off and Merrill is capable of going tape to tape in small windows over long distances. Instantly Michigan switches from reacting to a forecheck to forcing the opponent to react to it.
I'm not an expert on hockey. I came to the game when I was ten and haven't put in the UFRing required to get me to the extremely-informed-amateur level I am with football. In hockey, that feel is all I've got. It's done a 180 since Michigan picked itself up after the Alaska series thanks first to the emergence of the Guptill-Wohlberg-Brown line as a true #1 scoring unit and now Merrill's return turning the second (first?) pairing from a third unit trying to cope into a major strength.
On Sunday, Michigan felt elite for the first time this season. They outshot a 14-4-3 team significantly, dominated time on attack, and hardly gave up an even strength scoring chance, let alone a goal. Moffatt and Treais flashed dirty dangles and walked in on Cal Heeter. Heeter got chased halfway through the game.
It was a throwback to times when Michigan won hockey games without requiring nuanced views as to why this might have happened. (See: last year.) They won because they bruised every inch of two different goalies and, with limited exceptions, spent the whole game in the offensive end doing fun things.
This isn't all Merrill—half of Michigan's 6-0-2 run has come with Merrill observing or playing at the WJC—but with him around it seems more plausible that Michigan's recent run is a sustainable one. The GLI was a near thing. Michigan was dominated by BC but snuck a late goal against the run of play, then played dead in the third; they scraped the MSU game in overtime thanks to a goal with under a minute left.
That felt like finding a shiny penny on the street. This weekend Michigan gave up zero even-strength goals en route to sweeping the #2 team in the country. With Merrill around it's possible they've invested in a mint.
Calm, Easy Breathing Bullets
About that #1 line. Yowza. I can't recall a big guy who's come in with a mid-round NHL draft pedigree who's performed at the level Guptill has. Max Pacioretty was a first-rounder, Aaron Palushaj a second-rounder, and both of those guys were only sort of big. Other mid-round power forward types seem drafted on the principle that they won't shrink even if they don't display any NHL level skills.
Not so Guptill. His goal in the first period Sunday was a pure snipe into the upper right corner of the net from a somewhat awkward angle, and his ability to dump and chase into the corner is actually effective because he's got the speed and board play to set up possession in the opponent's zone. Then the rest of the line cycles.
Meanwhile, Brown has suddenly leapt forward to consistent productivity after a couple years of flashes but not much else. This does not appear to be the line carrying him—remember that he spent big chunks of his first two years with Caporusso or Hagelin as his center. He's making nice passes and the availability of pucks in the area where his size matters gives him the opportunity to sweep in (admittedly soft) goals like he opened the scoring with last year.
Wohlberg remains Wohlberg: good shooter, fast guy, decent stickhandler. His goal Sunday was soft but showed off his assets pretty well. As a whole they seem to have an identity they lacked apart. They drive the net, dump unless it's obvious they shouldn't dump, cycle, and score.
Power play. It technically didn't score since Michigan's second on Friday was deposited a couple seconds after the penalty expired, but the spirit of the law declares it did. They have looked intermittently better since the holiday break gave them an opportunity to rejigger what they were doing. They were good against State in the GLI final, pretty awful against LSSU, and back to threatening against OSU.
Over the weekend they were moving the puck and getting shots on net that were not getting blocked above the faceoff circles. I'll take it. Eventually they'll get some puck luck.
Sinelli. Through the mist of hazy Sparks complaints I can see why Sinelli has taken a regular shift over not only Sparks but Rohrkemper, as he's a decently speedy guy who makes effort plays on the regular.
CCHA Gongshow. The league remains an incredibly tight sack of cats. By points Michigan surged into third with its weekend sweep; on winning percentage they are still fifth behind OSU, WMU, ND, and FSU. Notre Dame is third in winning percentage and sixth on points because they have two games in hand on everyone in front of them.
The 9th place team, Northern, is one game below .500 in conference and would easily make the tournament if the season ended today. It is a weird year.
BONUS: Michigan's goal differential is now the best in the league at +14. They've scored five more goals than their nearest competitor, OSU, and not even the relentlessly excellent defense of… wait for it… Western Michigan can get them past M. They're +13. Yes, I just said excellent defense and Western Michigan in the same sentence. No, I don't know why they held on to Jim Culhane for a decade. FWIW, OSU would still be tops in the league if they hadn't given up two empty-netters on Friday.
Pairwise. This is faintly ridiculous: after we spent most of the first half kissing our tourney streak goodbye, Michigan is now on the cusp of a one seed. They rank 5th. I can't give you the nitty gritty details because my favorite Pairwise site hasn't updated for yesterday's game yet. CHN's has and has Michigan fifth. This is not a fluke based on TUC or COP records that are liable to change with the win: Michigan's RPI is also fifth.
It's also not something liable to persist unless Michigan keeps winning. Michigan's flown up from out of the tourney to nearly a one seed in three weekends. They can drop back down just as fast.
There are still seven-ish CCHA teams in the tourney with MSU, Miami, and Denver tying for 15th. More realistically it would be six.
Have fun storming the castle. This looks less daunting what with the winning and all, but yeesh the final five weekends:
- @ Notre Dame
- @ MSU, MSU @ JLA
- @ BGSU
BGSU is not good; everyone else will be fighting tooth and nail for tourney positioning or a bid, period. ND is the toughest team statistically, FWIW. They have a +5 GD in conference; MSU is +4, Miami +1, and NMU –2. Sack of cats, I tell you.
Anything I can do you can do dumber. It's hard to see in this shot but lord, OSU's jerseys were goofy:
The zillion oversized Buckeye leaves were reminiscent of Ghost of Bo's legendary parody(?) football unis. Clean, simple lines are preferable. Even Michigan's jerseys could use a little cleaning up. OSU's were reminiscent of…
…yeah, you know it.
Official site recap has pictures and whatnot. Michigan Hockey Net describes the game as a "clinic." A few AP photos. Daily article quotes Wohlberg sounding somewhat badly translated from the Japanese:
“You saw after they scored their first goal, it was a big uprising for them. Then when we go out and we score two real quick, it’s a big push for us, and I think it emptied their spirits.”
Coming on the heels of Wednesday's ugly overtime win over Northwestern, Michigan's lethargic effort against Iowa on Saturday resulted in a 75-59 loss. Many of the team's problems offensively can be traced to the ineffectiveness of the pick and roll. John Beilein has placed a lot of emphasis on the pick and roll this season, and it is often how Michigan starts out their offensive sets. Earlier this year Trey Burke ran it with great effect, and his offense flourished; getting freed up to start out plays allowed Burke to utilize his quickness and finishing ability to create baskets for himself and others.
While Burke has managed to score 19 points in each of the last two games, his efficiency has plummeted, as he's just 12-30 (40%) from the field during that span, a number that's actually inflated due to several garbage-time buckets against the Hawkeyes. I believe the main issue lies with the pick and roll, and how teams are now defending it.
Both Northwestern and Iowa hedged hard with the man defending the screener, putting extra pressure on Burke, keeping him from turning the corner and driving, and making it difficult for the diminutive guard to find passing lanes. Let's take a look at an example to see what's bogging down the offense. Here's a play from Saturday where Iowa stymies two pick-and-roll attempts, eventually forcing a turnover.
First, the setup. Burke has the ball on the left side early in the shot clock, and Jordan Morgan gets into position to set a screen towards the middle of the court:
Burke dribbles over to the pick, and Morgan dives to the basket. The problem is that Morgan's defender, Melsahn Basabe, comes out to double Burke instead of rolling to the post with Morgan. This is just after the mesh point of the pick, and already Burke is being forced to retreat:
Even though Morgan is open and has a lane to the basket, Burke doesn't have a path to get him the ball. By the time Basabe peels off and heads back to Morgan, Burke is all the way out on the center-court logo, still trying to turn the corner and in no position to make a play. He's forced to pass off to Novak, and the offense will reset.
Novak will swing it down to Smotrycz, then the ball will come back around to Burke, where he calls another play, again asking for Morgan to come over and set a screen. Again, Iowa hedges, and Burke doesn't help matters at all by running nowhere close to the pick, giving his man ample room to go over the top and stay right with him:
Basabe hounds Burke as Devyn Marble (#4) also chases him to the sideline—there's no chance Burke can pass to Morgan on the roll, and once more he's forced to pass off to Novak. Iowa turns up the pressure at the end of the shot clock, and Novak will lose control of the ball, leading to an Iowa steal right before the shot clock expires.
Here's the full play on video:
At no point in this play did Michigan even have a decent look at the basket, and it was due to their inability to counter the hard hedge, an issue that would present itself several times over the course of the game. So, what do we learn from this, and how can Michigan counteract this level of pressure?
Burke and Morgan have to execute better. Teams can defend the pick and roll however they want and you're going to run into problems if you don't do a fundamentally sound job of setting it up. On the first screen in the above play, Morgan rolls to the basket early—he never comes into contact with Marble, nor does he affect the path Marble must take to stay on Burke, eliminating the potential for a switch or even a delay in getting out to Burke. On the second screen, Burke doesn't come close to the pick, and Marble can just run right over the top of Morgan while staying between Burke and the basket. Morgan has to stay at home and make sure he sets a solid screen, and Burke has to do a better job of rubbing against the screen to give it maximum effect. Neither happened in conjunction on this play.
Michigan needs to adjust how they run the P&R. Interestingly, Michigan appears to have a built-in adjustment for the hard hedge, and it was highlighted by former Wolverine point guard David Merritt over at UMHoops back in December. Watch what happens against Memphis when Burke runs a high side screen with Jon Horford; the Tigers hedge, so Horford sets himself again and sets a pick coming back in the other direction, getting Burke one-on-one and giving him space to get into the lane:
There's another option I've seen put forth (possibly by Brian, and also by some frustrated Tweeters this weekend), and that is to run the high screen not with Burke, but with Tim Hardaway, Jr., whose extra size would help him see and pass over the double-team. I'm skeptical about how well this would work, as Hardaway isn't nearly as quick as Burke—he's more effective offensively when coming off screens away from the ball and getting passes while cutting. It is an option, however, and could also be a way to get Hardaway going towards the basket instead of settling for long jumpers.
Run the pick-and-pop with Smotrycz. Morgan is an effective finisher around the basket, but he's not a threat to pop out to the three-point line and knock down a jumper, which allows defenders to abandon him at the perimeter and wait for help to arrive while hedging on Burke. This isn't the case with Smotrycz, who is still connecting on nearly 46% of his three-point attempts this season despite a recent shooting slump. Having Smotrycz set the screen and then slide out for an open three would likely give Burke a better passing lane if the opponent comes with a hard hedge, and if Smotrycz can knock down those open looks, opponents would be more reticent to double Burke.
Run more plays with off-ball screens. There's also this: Michigan has a lot of great plays that aren't predicated on an early on-ball screen. It's possible teams have found how to take advantage of Burke's greatest weakness—his size—and can render him ineffective on most pick and roll plays. I would think Beilein can devise a way to counter the hard hedge—we've seen one such adjustment above—but if he can't, there's a lot more to the Wolverine offense. Michigan had a lot of success against Wisconsin by setting off-ball screens in the corner for Zack Novak, but I didn't see much of that against Iowa. When facing off against teams with bigger guards and athletic big men, like Iowa, Michigan might have to look for a similar way to generate offense.
So, my friends, it's a brand new year and less than a month until National Signing Day... plenty of time to update your Michigan wardrobe. Plenty of time to get rid of all those neon yellow "All In" RR tees and replace them with something timeless, something brand new, and something awesome. Let's take a look at the latest designs in the MGoStore...
In a recent thread, someone asked who our favorite Wolverine was. After initially listing about 11 of the most prominent UM heroes that popped into my mind, I took some time to reflect on it and was able to narrow it down to 2. Number 2, in fact. (The other was 56, but that's another story).
Charles Woodson, a hero for any generation of Wolverine fans and certainly mine, was a beacon of hope every time he stepped on the field. Defense? INT. Offense? TD. Special Teams? TD. Celebrate the legend and help support Mott's in the process.
From "KICK IT THROUGH THE UPRIGHTS" to the postgame press conference and into the lore of Michigan football, one young man has us all thinking about dark-haired women these days. Wear your preference with pride and hope your girlfriend isn't a natural blonde!
The title says it all. Words to live by. Wear them on your sleeve, err, chest.
Also, Visit the MGoStore to check out all of the designs, including the
exclusive Lloyd Brady Collection and all of the other shirts that
will tell everyone why it's Great, To Be, A Michigan Wolverine.
WHERE THAT CAME FROM. We have a theory.
Y WE NO RUN STRAIGHT AT HEAD. Also bubble bitchin'.
RVB AND MARTIN. Statue-worthy.
WHY PLAYING LIKE IT'S 1950 WAS COOL. It was 1950.
NEXT YEAR. Offensive line chatter, Stonum issues, where do the DL come from?
SONGS. "Blue Orchid" by the White Stripes, "Bust a Move" by Young MC,--I had a reason--"I Am Trying To Break Your Heart" by Wilco,--dedicated to Danny Coale--and "Vincent O'Brien" by M. Ward.
The usual links:
- Helpful iTunes subscribe link
- General podcast feed link
- Direct download link
- What's with the theme music?
We are planning a Signing Day podcast, which will be the next one, and we'll probably talk basketball with John Gasaway at some point.
Previously: Wisconsin Defense UFR
Before I start, I'd like to pose a question to you all: Given the wealth of valuable offensive metrics out there, is it worth doing the offensive UFRs? I think the defensive UFRs will have great value moving forward, but I'm questioning the value of going through every offensive play as well when there are so many good offensive stats out there and I have other work (read: recruiting) that I could be spending more time on. Read on, and let me know what you think in the comments.
Anyway, as you know, Michigan dismantled Wisconsin on Sunday, but while the Wolverines had an outstanding defensive performance, the offense was merely mediocre, mostly due to a lack of quality inside looks and a fair amount of missed open shots. Even the best offensive play of the day was really more of an outstanding defensive effort:
Fantastic. Moving on, let's dive right in—if you need a primer, as well as a point of reference (that point being the Oakland game), go here.
|Lineup: Burke, Novak, Hardaway, Smotrycz, Morgan|
|After Michigan wins the tip, Burke hands off on the right side to Smotrycz, who swings it to Morgan at the top of the key. Smotrycz (+0.5) sets a nice off-ball downscreen on Novak's man, freeing up Novak to take a handoff from Morgan. Novak gets an open look for three, but can't connect (3-pt, no contest, miss).|
|Novak and Morgan end up running a high pick-and-roll with 10 seconds on the shot clock. Morgan sets a decent screen, but Novak's man is able to fight over it, so no points either way there. Novak (+1) slips a slick bounce pass to Morgan just inside the free throw line, but Morgan can't hit a pullup jumper as the Wisco D recovers (2-pt, heavy contest, miss).|
|It's Novak and Morgan again on the high P&R. This time, Morgan's screen is effective, as Novak draws both defenders when his man tries to go over the top again. Novak (+1) drives hard to his left, then delivers a nice jump-pass to Morgan, who pivots as his man flops while trying to take a charge that isn't there, then banks in a short fallaway J (+1.5, 2-pt, no contest, make).|
|Blergh. Hardaway takes the ball up the court after hauling in a defensive rebound, barely gives the offense time to set up, and jacks up a very long two after getting a quick screen from Morgan. Brick (Hardaway -2, 2-pt, late contest, miss). As Brian pointed out in the game column, Hardaway can get that shot off whenever he wants, and putting it up with 30 seconds on the shot clock is not at all ideal.|
|16:57||2-0||2-1-2||Man||Novak||2-pt Miss/OReb/Layup Make|
|Burke gets a screen up top from Morgan, starts to drive, and pulls up for an open 18-footer that draws the back iron (2-pt, no contest, miss). The long rebound goes right back to Burke, who dishes off to Hardaway near the corner. Hardaway (+1) sees Novak open at the top of the key and gives it to him. Novak pumps, forcing a recovering Jordan Taylor to overrun him, then drives hard to the hoop and connects on a running one-hander (+2, dunk/layup, late contest, make).|
|Lineup: Burke, Douglass, Hardaway, Novak, Smotrycz|
|Douglass holds the ball at the top of the key as Smotrycz comes over from his center position towards Novak in the corner. Smotrycz fakes as if he's going to screen Novak's man, and instead pops out to the arc, where Douglass hits him with time to get off a shot before Berggren can get out there. Smotrycz can't connect (+0.5, 3-pt, late contest, miss), and while Novak GRITs his way to the rebound, he grabs it while his body is partly out of bounds. Really like the design of this play to get Smotrycz a clean look from deep.|
|Blergh the second. With 20 seconds left on the clock, Hardaway gets a half-hearted pick from Smotrycz (-0.5), pulls up at the elbow, and hits only backboard with a heavily-contested shot (-1, 2-pt, heavy contest, miss).|
|Smotrycz (+0.5) gets the ball up top, waits for someone to come open, then hands off to Burke while also setting a screen on Taylor, who is forced to go over the top and can't keep up with Burke. Burke doesn't stop and takes it right to the hoop, where he hits a layup over Berggren (+1, dunk/layup, heavy contest, make). Burke did a fantastic job getting the shot up quickly before Berggren could position himself for a strong challenge—he had little choice but to put up his hands and hope Burke missed.|
|Burke gets the ball at the top of the key, and unlike earlier, Smotrycz (+0.5) actually sets a screen when he heads to Novak in the corner. Novak (+1) makes a great cut to the lane, where Burke (+1) hits him in stride with a perfect bounce pass. The defense is late getting over, and Novak hits the layup (dunk/layup, late contest, make).|
|Novak spearheads a semi-transition possession after a defensive board. Michigan spreads the floor with all five players outside the 3-pt line, and Novak passes off to Hardaway, who drives hard to the left with no help coming and draws a shooting foul when he gets past his man (+1, dunk/layup, late contest, foul).|
|Lineup: Burke, Douglass, Vogrich, Smotrycz, Morgan|
|Morgan (-2) sets a blatantly moving screen on Burke's man, and is called for it. Sloppy.|
|Lineup: Burke, Douglass, Vogrich, Smotrycz, McLimans|
|11:58||10-7||2-1-2||Man||Smotrycz||Layup Miss (Block)|
|McLimans (+0.5) sets a good off-ball screen to briefly free up Smotrycz, who curl-cuts to the basket from the corner. Douglass feeds him and Smotrycz goes up for a lefty layup, but Evans makes a fantastic play to recover from behind and block the shot (dunk/layup, heavy contest, miss). Not going to fault Smotrycz there—he had an open lane and Evans just made a great play.|
|Smotrycz (-3) comes off an off-ball screen, gets it at the top of the key, then sends a really lazy pass in the direction of Burke. Taylor easily cuts it off and is ahead of the pack on the break, and he'll make an uncontested layup. You just can't make that pass.|
|Lineup: Burke, Douglass, Vogrich, Novak, McLimans|
|Great play design out of a timeout by Beilein. Burke runs a high screen with McLimans (+1), who immediately turns and sets another pick for Douglass, who comes from the baseline and is wide open for three. Burke (+0.5) finds him, and Douglass buries the trey (+0.5, 3-pt, no contest, make).|
|Burke (+2) comes off a screen, puts on a sweet hesitation move, and gets to the basket, but he can't hit a tough running layup (dunk/layup, heavy contest, miss). McLimans (+1) fights hard for the rebound between three defenders, and though he can't bring it in cleanly he draws a foul.|
|9:55||13-12||OOB||Man||McLimans||2-pt Miss/OReb/3-pt Miss|
|Nice play design off the inbounds frees up Vogrich for an open 18-footer, but he can't connect (2-pt, late contest, miss). The long rebound bounces out to Novak. Douglass ends up with the ball up top and McLimans pops out for a decent look from three, but he misses as well (3-pt, late contest, miss).|
|Burke gets a screen from McLimans, but McLimans (-0.5) isn't in great position and Taylor is able to go cleanly over the top. Burke still goes hard to the left and tries to get up a layup, but Taylor is right in his pocket and Burke's shot is short (Burke -1, dunk/layup, heavy contest, miss). With 16 seconds on the clock, Burke had time to reset there.|
|Lineup: Brundidge, Douglass, Hardaway, Novak, Smotrycz|
|Brundidge pulls in a tough rebound on the other end and, while falling over, gets it to Hardaway, who breaks out with Smotrycz. Both head to the right side and nobody picks up Smotrycz (+0.5) as he drifts towards the corner. Hardaway feeds him and Smot has all day, but he misses the open three (3-pt, no contest, miss). Nice breakout off the miss, just couldn't knock down the shot.|
|7:26||13-14||1-4 High||Man||Hardaway||Layup Miss|
|Hardaway (-1) comes off a good off-ball screen from Smotrycz (+0.5), who then pops out and is wide open for three. Hardaway instead drives right at Berggren and tries to scoop the ball in... brick (dunk/layup, heavy contest, miss). No need for Hardaway to be so hasty in getting up a shot, since there were over 20 seconds left on the clock.|
|Smotrycz leads a breakout after hauling in a rebound, with Michigan going 3-on-3 against Wisconsin. Smot passes off to Novak (+2), who drives towards the lane, draws attention from three defenders, then looks off a defender in order to free up Hardaway (+1), trailing on the play, for three. Hardaway drills it (3-pt, late contest, make).|
|Lineup: Burke, Akunne, Hardaway, Novak, Smotrycz|
|Smotrycz (+1) comes off a pick and roll with Burke, gets the pass, and makes a nice move to get to the basket, where he draws a non-shooting foul just before he makes a layup—that probably counts if this is the NBA. Off the inbounds, Burke gives to Hardaway, who draws three defenders near the lane, and Smotrycz pops to the arc, gets the pass, and hits a three (3-pt, late contest, make).|
|Akunne gets the ball up top and Smotrycz (+0.5) again sets that off-ball screen in the corner for Novak. Akunne gives it up, and Novak gets a good look on a pullup at the free-throw line, but it bounces off the back iron (2-pt, late contest, miss). Smotrycz stupidly commits a foul on a rebound he has no chance at.|
|Burke runs a high pick and pop with Smotrycz (+0.5), and both end up open as Burke gets by his man and Smotrycz drifts open for three. Burke takes the open look at the free throw line and knocks it down (+1, 2-pt, no contest, make).|
|Lineup: Burke, Douglass, Hardaway, Novak, Smotrycz|
|3:26||21-16||FB||FB||Burke||Layup Block/Foul/2-pt Make|
|Hardaway (+1) sees an opening after a Wisconsin miss and drives hard to the basket, and though his layup attempt is blocked (dunk/layup, heavy contest, miss), it probably should've been a foul and there's an immediate make-up call as he brings in his own rebound. After the inbounds, Hardaway gets it up top, and Smotrycz (+0.5) picks off Taylor in the corner and frees up Burke, who gets the pass from THJ, steps inside the arc, and drills a long two (+1, 2-pt, late contest, make).|
|Burke gets a pick from Smotrycz but crosses over in front instead of going around and using the pick. He tries a quick drive to the bucket, but Taylor slaps the ball out and steals as Burke (-1) picks up his dribble to go up for a layup.|
|Lineup: Burke, Douglass, Hardaway, Novak, McLimans|
|Lots of motion here. Burke (+0.5) starts the play by giving to McLimans at the top of the key, then goes to the corner and sets a pick for Hardaway, who comes over the top and gets it from McLimans as he gets another pick along the way from Douglass (+0.5). Hardaway (+1) drives hard to the right, three defenders collapse on him, and this frees up Novak to curl around from the right corner and take a pass on the run from THJ. Novak (+1) pump-fakes a three and gets Evans to bite, then dribbles into the lane and hits a pull-up J from the free-throw line (2-pt, late contest, make).|
|Pretty bleh possession here. Michigan cycles the ball around the perimeter until McLimans ends up with it at the top of the key. Novak, with no help from a screen, pops out to the 3-pt line and gets it, but can't hit the three with Evans right there to contest (Novak -1, 3-pt, heavy contest, miss). Too early in the clock for that shot.|
|Burke holds as Michigan can kill the rest of the clock for the half. With 8 seconds left, he drives, doesn't get anything, and jumps along the baseline to get the ball to Novak in the corner. Novak dribbles into the lane and has no choice but to put up a tough fallaway with a hand in his face (2-pt, heavy contest, miss). Not a fantastic play, so no positives, but not the worst end of half possession, either, so no negatives.|
|Lineup: Burke, Novak, Hardaway, Smotrycz, Morgan|
|Burke starts to drive from right to left on Taylor, but doesn't have a step and gives to Morgan at the FT line. Morgan fakes a handoff back to Burke and drives right into Burggren, turning his back, pivoting, and then putting up a tough righty shot off the glass that bounces out (-1, 2-pt, heavy contest, miss). This really wasn't there, and Morgan probably should've kicked it back out.|
|19:27||25-19||2-1-2||Man||Morgan||3-pt Miss/OReb/3-pt Make|
|Burke runs a high P&R with Morgan, but Morgan doesn't hold his ground long enough to actually affect Taylor (guarding Burke). Burke kicks out to Novak, who gets a decent look from deep but can't hit (3-pt, late contest, miss). Morgan (+0.5, with a half-minus for the crappy pick) is initially boxed out but backs Burggren right under the basket and gets his hands on the rebound. The ball is knocked around and Smotrycz (+0.5) ends up with it and kicks it out to a wide-open Hardaway, who buries a three (3-pt, no contest, make).|
|Hardaway (+0.5) hits Burke with a nice outlet pass after a rebound and Michigan has a 3-on-2 with Burke charging down the right side, Morgan (+0.5) cutting to the basket, and Smotrycz (+0.5) fading to the corner—great spacing here frees up Morgan. Burke (-2), instead of making a simple bounce pass that would almost assuredly result in a dunk, tries to hit Morgan with a lob; Gasser is able to get a hand on the pass and Evans grabs it.|
|Burke (+2) gets a good pick from Morgan (+0.5) and manages to split between three players, causing Evans to come over from Smotrycz in the corner. Burke immediately gets it out to Smotrycz for an open look, but Smotrycz completely air-mails the three, missing everything (3-pt, late contest, miss). Yikes.|
|Lineup: Burke, Douglass, Hardaway, Novak, Morgan|
|Burke (+2) comes flying out of the gate after pulling in a defensive rebound. He nearly blows by Taylor, takes a bump, and draws the two Wisconsin defenders as he stops inside the FT line and dishes to Hardaway under the basket. Taylor recovers, but only in time to foul Hardaway, who does a great job switching hands to make sure he gets up a shot and draws a shooting foul (+1 Hardaway, dunk/layup, late contest, foul).|
|15:44||30-19||FB||FB||Morgan||2-pt Miss/OReb/Layup Make|
|Burke (+1) again pushes the pace after a turnover, and with Michigan 3-on-3 he creates space by pulling up inside the FT line, where he gets an open look but misses (2-pt, no contest, miss). Novak (+1) bats the rebound off the glass, and Morgan (+2) comes from beyond the 3-pt line to grab the rebound inside the lane. He goes right back up with the left hand and hits the putback layup (dunk/layup, late contest, make). Great hustle from Morgan to even get into the play.|
|Morgan gets the ball in the high post, Burke runs by him with Morgan faking a handoff, then Burke stops and curls back around, this time taking the ball as he gets a step on Taylor. Morgan's man is forced to step over to stop the drive, and Burke (+1) dishes it off to Morgan, who's diving to the hoop. Morgan (-1) gets stripped by Taylor, however—get the ball up!—and Wisconsin comes up with the loose ball.|
|Burke gets a good screen from Morgan (+0.5) up top, freeing him up for an open 15-footer, but it rims out (2-pt, no contest, miss).|
|Lineup: Burke, Douglass, Hardaway, Novak, McLimans|
|Hardaway gets the ball and drives around a pretty half-hearted pick from McLimans (-0.5), but still gets a half-step on his man, pulls up at the free-throw line, and nails a jumper (+1, 2-pt, late contest, make). Would like to see him attack for that shot more often.|
|After getting a steal, Douglass leads a 2-on-2 fast break with Burke on the other side. Burke is well-covered by Taylor so Douglass goes hard at Kaminsky, drawing contact and getting to the line (Douglass +1, dunk/layup, heavy contest, foul).|
|Lineup: Burke, Douglass, Hardaway, Novak, Morgan|
|Hardaway gets the ball on the left side and drives over the top of a Morgan screen, but Morgan (-0.5) rolls before he actually picks off Jackson, who's able to stay right with THJ. Hardaway gets to the right block and starts backing Jackson down, does a slow spin to the middle of the lane, and is able to get to the left side of the basket and body out Jackson as he goes up strong for a layup (+2, dunk/layup, late contest, make). Nice work by Hardaway to use his frame to get himself a great look.|
|Trey Burke! Burke gets the ball on the left side and gets a screen from Morgan, and this time Morgan (+0.5) sticks around just long enough to throw Taylor off-course. Burke gets into the lane, hesitates, then goes right at Berggren, getting into his chest and hitting a righty layup as he falls over (+2, dunk/layup, heavy contest, make). Impressive.|
|10:19||40-26||FB||FB||Burke||Layup Make + Foul (1/1)|
|After a steal, Burke pushes up the court as he's one-on-one with Taylor, who is retreating quickly and can't get turned around until he hits the paint. Burke (+2) gets into the lane, executes a textbook jump-stop, and hits the layup while Taylor raps him on the arm for an and-one (dunk/layup, heavy contest, make). The CBS mic picks up a very excited/spastic Novak screaming "AAAAAAND ONE!" as he chest-bumps the freshman. Man, I love this team.|
|Lineup: Burke, Douglass, Hardaway, Smotrycz, Morgan|
|9:52||43-29||2-1-2||Man||Smotrycz||3-pt Miss/OReb/3-pt Miss/OReb/Turnover|
|Smotrycz gets the ball on the elbow, picks up his dribble, and is just kinda stuck there for a couple seconds. Douglass comes over and gets the ball, and Smotrycz (+0.5) sets a nice pick for him, then pops out to the corner. Douglass draws both defenders and passes out to Smotrycz, who can't hit the three (3-pt, late contest, miss). Hardaway (+1) uses his leaping ability to grab the rebound, and he's fouled as he comes down with it. After the inbounds, Burke eventually works his way into the lane, then kicks out to Hardaway, who fires from deep and misses (3-pt, heavy contest, miss). Morgan (+0.5) tips the rebound and Smotrycz grabs it, then loses it, but Morgan recovers and gets it out to Burke. After M kills clock, Burke (+0.5) gets the lane and kicks out to Smotrycz (-1), who travels while making a ball-fake. At least we killed a lot of clock.|
|Burke gets the ball on the left wing and drives baseline, attempting a tough right-handed runner from just outside the paint and missing (-1, 2-pt, heavy contest, miss). No need for that shot with 20 seconds on the shot clock. Morgan (+1) goes up strong, bats the ball off the backboard, and nearly grabs it before it goes OOB off a Wisconsin defender. TV timeout.|
|Lineup: Burke, Douglass, Hardaway, Novak, Smotrycz|
|Hardaway takes it on the left side, sees an opening in the middle of the lane, and drives there, drawing Evans, who was guarding Novak on the right. Hardaway (+1) dishes to Novak, who pump-fakes and gets by a recovering Evans, then is fouled as he pulls up and shoots a jumper on Bruesewitz (Novak +1, 2-pt, late contest, foul).|
|7:11||45-33||2-1-2||Man||Novak||3-pt Miss/OReb/Layup Make|
|Burke gets the ball on the wing and gets a great screen from Smotrycz (+0.5), and Burke gets a wide-open look from three, but can't hit (3-pt, late contest, miss). Novak (+2) comes flying over to grab the long rebound, dribbles into the lane after his man trips going for the board, and hits a layup before the defense can react (dunk/layup, late contest, make). MOAR GRIT.|
|Novak (+2), after diving on a loose ball at halfcourt, makes a beautiful flip over his head to a streaking Burke (+1), who runs by everyone and hits a finger roll as Uncle Verne has an aneurysm (dunk/layup, no contest, make). Fantastic play.|
|Burke penetrates after getting a handoff from Novak and coming around a screen from Morgan, but Taylor stonewalls the drive and Burke passes back out top to Novak. Novak (-2) pump-fakes, drives, and then travels as he tries to turn around and kick it back out again.|
|Michigan works the clock down below 10, Burke gives it to Hardaway on the left wing, and Hardaway (+1) makes a nice skip pass to Novak in the opposite corner. Novak pumps the three and drives hard baseline, getting into the lane and hitting the game-sealing layup (+2, dunk/layup, late contest, make). That's how you put the final nail in the coffin. Charting ceases for the ensuing foul-fest.|
Agreed. Zack Novak is pretty awesome at this basketball thing. Other than a late derp that resulted in a travel, he played as well as you could ask of him.
Gritscream. Also, Trey Burke covers ground with alacrity:
SHOULD I JUST KEEP SCREAMING?
Sure. It's Friday afternoon. Scream all you want.
|Burke||18.5||5||13.5||Not at all his best offensive performance (14 points on 6-15 shooting, 2 assists, 2 turnovers), but he still had a largely positive offensive impact to go along with his stellar defending of Taylor. Gets into trouble when he tries to do too much, but remember, freshman point guard and all.|
|Hardaway||12.5||4||8.5||Takes some dumb shots and disappears for stretches, then does something awesome that reminds you why he's an NBA-caliber player. Had 17 points on 10 shots with zero turnovers—if his in-game streakiness results in stat lines like that (he also had 10 rebounds, two on offense), I'm totally cool with it.|
|Novak||16||3||13||His ruthless efficiency may be a result of his relatively low usage, but I'd still like to see Michigan test that theory and get him the ball more. Novak has become very effective with his pump-fake and drive, and he's finishing well, too.|
|Smotrycz||7.5||4.5||3||Pretty quiet day for Smotrycz, who racked up almost all of his positives on screens, then had one awful turnover account for three of his negative points. His three points on 1-6 shooting with one assist and two turnovers jives with the small point total.|
|Morgan||8||5||3||Only played 19 minutes and did most of his damage on the boards, hauling in five offensive rebounds. Three turnovers is a little disconcerting considering he barely handled the ball.|
|Douglass||2||0||2||With Burke playing 37 minutes, Douglass spent most of the game as a spot-up shooter and Michigan didn't run many plays through him. No negatives means no bad shots, which is nice to see from Stu.|
|Akunne||-||-||-||Not even sure he touched the ball during his brief cameo.|
|Christian||-||-||-||One minute in uncharted garbage time.|
|Vogrich||-||-||-||Got up a shot during his short stint off the bench, but otherwise a non-factor.|
|McLimans||2.5||1||1.5||Set some good screens, set some bad screens. Looks like Big Bird.|
|Team||-||-||-||Like with the defensive UFR, the "Team" category will disappear next time, as it was a total cop-out. May introduce an RPS metric in its place.|
|TOTAL||67||22.5||44.5||Solid day against a tough Wisconsin defense—1.09 points per possession is very good against the Badgers. Michigan didn't shoot well, but held down their turnovers and did great work on the offensive glass.|
Okay, I've calmed down. That looks... good?
Yes, it does. As we'll see in the video breakdown, Beilein did his usual stellar job of setting the team up for success with his offensive ingenuity. The guards limited mistakes against a very good Wisconsin outfit—the team turned it over on 16.7% of their possessions—and the offensive rebounding was superb.
But Jordan Morgan is no longer getting a +23!
This is true. I toned down the points for successful picks—those really should've been worth a half-point from the beginning—and also Morgan only played 19 minutes. Smotrycz got most of his points setting the picks that Morgan didn't this game.
What about magic invisible Stu?
I'm really still trying to get a handle on Douglass and what he brings to the team. He scored very well (+10.5, third on the team) in the defensive UFR, and watching him in detail I think people are right in saying he's the squad's best perimeter defender. He did almost nothing—positive or negative—on offense, however, despite playing 30 minutes. With Burke handling point guard duties for nearly the entire duration of the game, I think this is mostly a function of his role in the offense. When Burke is running the point, Douglass is mostly a spot-up shooter, and with the emergence of Novak as both a very solid outside shooter and a threat to drive to the basket, any plays run for guys other than Burke, Hardaway, or Smotrycz (Morgan mostly just sets picks and crashes the boards) go to Novak. I'm totally fine with this—Stu had one open look from three this game, and he knocked it down. Keep doing that and there will be no complaints from me.
Speaking of shooting...
Yep, another chart.
|Burke||1/1||-||3/5 (1F)||1/4||1/1||0/1||-||0/1||-||1/5||1/2||3/6 (1F)||5/13 (1F)|
|Hardaway||-||1/1 (2F)||0/2||-||1/2||0/1||1/1||1/1||0/1||1/1||3/4 (2F)||0/4||4/9 (2F)|
|Novak||-||4/4||-||-||1/2 (1F)||0/1||0/1||0/1||0/1||0/1||5/7 (1F)||0/2||5/10 (1F)|
|TOTAL||1/1||6/6 (2F)||3/8 (1F)||2/5||3/6 (1F)||0/5||2/4||2/8||0/2||5/10||11/20 (3F)||3/15 (1F)||19/45 (4F)|
Michigan didn't have the easiest time finding open looks, especially inside, and while they hit the lion's share of their layups, open jumpers were an issue. That 2/8 number on late-contest threes is especially disconcerting, as those are exactly the type of shots this offense is designed to create. Still, those shots were created, and the Wolverines didn't force too much, so I'm not worried about this performance. The shots will fall if they play like this on most nights, and it's always good to remember that Wisconsin is very good defensively.
You forgot to mention the Hardaway thing.
Ah, yes, the Hardaway thing. Brian expressed his frustration with Hardaway jacking up long twos early in the shot clock, and, well, it's a legitimate gripe:
That's bad, mmmkay? Hardaway's length and athleticism allow him to rise above the defense for a pretty clean look whenever he wants to shoot a jump shot. It is never necessary for that shot to come from 18 feet with 30 seconds on the shot clock. I counted two pretty terrible early-clock jumpers from THJ, and he forced the issue a couple times when he drove inside, as well. It looks like he's getting frustrated by his recent shooting struggles (keeping Michigan afloat against Northwestern notwithstanding) and when he tries to jump-start his own offense, it comes at the expense of the team. Northwestern was an improvement on the shooting front, so hopefully this kind of stuff mostly goes away as the season progresses. It probably won't go away entirely.
Meanwhile, Beilein is a magician.
Yes. Michigan set a ton of high screens for Burke, and also had the center head over to the corner to set off-ball screens for the guard in the corner. Because the team almost exclusively sets up in that 2-1-2 before plays, making the start of every possession look pretty much the same, they are able to do some pretty simple things that can completely confound a defense when they're looking for x and Beilein calls for y. Here, instead of having the center go out and screen the guy in the corner, Douglass (playing up top without the ball) dives into the paint, then curls back around to get a screen from McLimans:
The screen gets Douglass wide open at the top of the key, and he drills the three. It's a really simple play that doesn't ask for too much, other than a pair of solid screens from the center, and when executed properly it creates a great look for three points.
Finally, some obligatory love for Trey Burke, who continues to impress even when his jump shot is a little off.
Burke uses picks very well, making sure to rub close to the screener and get as much separation as possible, and his quickness makes it so that few players will be able to recover once that happens. On the above play, he's even able to throw in a little hesitation move at the free-throw line before going hard in the paint, getting right into Bruesewitz and hitting the layup while attacking in a way that makes it tough to alter the shot. He just keeps getting better, and I'm starting to just hope he'll be around for more than two years.
Novak and Burke. Novak's efficiency definitely calls for further exploration of his role in the offense—I think he needs to get the ball more, as he's proven he can take it inside and finish well. Novak attempted four layups, all before the defense could properly contest, and while part of that is picking his spots well, it's also because the defense has to respect his outside shot.
As for Burke, he's not making many errors while creating a lot of shots for both himself and his teammates. His shot is still relatively inconsistent, but I think that will work itself out in time—his free-throw shooting (75% on the season) and great form lead me to believe he'll only improve in that regard.
There's no way I can call Hardaway a goat when he's putting up 17 points on 10 shots. No other player really qualifies for consideration—Smotrycz was forced to play center for much of the game due to Horford's absence, so he mostly set screens, and Morgan's five offensive rebounds more than offset his three turnovers.
Again, please let me know what you think of the offensive (and defensive, for that matter) UFR in the comments. This is really time-consuming and it'd be really valuable to know whether or not this is worth the effort. I'm pretty committed to the defensive UFR, but this one seems like it could be covered by a summary of the advanced metics and some picture-pages. Your input is greatly appreciated.
AKRON STATE IS HOCKEY BEAR TIME
|WHAT||Michigan at North Korea DPR|
|WHERE||Fri: Value City Arena, Columbus
Sun: Baseball Stadium, Outside, Cleveland
|WHEN||7:35 PM Friday
5:05 PM Sunday
|LINE||College hockey lines, junkie?|
Sunday: FSD Plus
The Bolivian Air Force
Record. 14-4-3, 10-3-3 CCHA. Ohio State is your surprise conference leader with 34 points in 16 games; Notre Dame and Western are seven points back with two in hand, and then there's the avalanche of .500 teams including M.
This is pretty weird after OSU graduated a flood of seniors. I should correct myself in re OSU oversigning hypocrisy: it was last year new coach Mark Osiecki ran off a bunch of dudes. This year's attrition was mostly natural.
Previous meetings. Part of Michigan's awful first-half slide was an OSU sweep in Yost. Friday night was an even game in which shots were 33-30 OSU. Michigan failed to convert on a major penalty and OSU won 2-1 when Hunwick let in his worst goal of the season on a shot from almost the goal line along the boards.
Saturday was a wild affair that OSU won 6-5; when Chris Brown was given a major for boarding (but oddly not booted), OSU scored twice in 16 seconds to establish a 4-2 lead they would not relinquish. Michigan was outshot 37-31.
Dangermen. This may be a conference that wins a lot of games but it's not one with a ton of offensive firepower. Even the club at the top of the standings has one PPG scorer, and he's got exactly 1.0. That would be sophomore Chris Crane and his 12-9-21; senior Danny Dries is the other double-digit goalscorer with 11-7-18. Freshman Ryan Dzingel would appear to be their setup man (or passenger) with 5-12-17.
After the top line there's one guy with 11 points, three defensemen who have the usual lines (2-9-11, 0-11-11) for guys who are on the ice when other people score, and then a bunch of Glendening types with 9, 8, 7 points. It's not a team that scares you offensively. Highlights from their most recent game feature just one goal, that scored from about a half-foot out, and a shootout reminiscent of Michigan's most recent adventure in meaningless showpieces:
Firepower is lacking across the league.
Defense and goalie and whatnot. This is where OSU makes its hay. Cal Heeter is having an outstanding year with a .932 save percentage. He stole the Friday night matchup in Yost. Team defense seems to have something to do with this, as backup Brady Hjelle has played four games and sports a .942.
Junior Devon Krogh and senior captain Sean Duddy are the mainstays. I won't attempt to pretend I know anything about them.
Special teams. Your power plays per game:
|PP For / G||5.8||5.2|
|PP Ag / G||5.7||5.2|
The expectation is for even penalties for and against.
The expectation is not for those opportunities to come out equal. You know this by now: Michigan's special teams are awful. Michigan is at 15.6 percent, 42nd of 58 teams. OSU's isn't great at 20.6, but when you combine that with the penalty kill it is a significant advantage for OSU. OSU is 8th nationally at 87%; Michigan is 37th at 81%.
Michigan Vs Those Guys
Stay out the box. Michigan would prefer a low-penalty affair the likes of which they've been playing recently since OSU's much better at both power play and penalty kill.
Find someone to go with Di Giuseppe. Isolated on a line with guys who aren't scoring chance generators, Di Giuseppe's production has collapsed. Michigan can afford to put together a pure scoring line against an Ohio State team that doesn't have much scoring depth itself; I'd like to see Moffatt out there with PDG; Treais or the perpetually scratched Lindsay Sparks would be a solid third option.
Don't inexplicably scratch Mike Chiasson for a guy you can't put on the ice in the third period. Just sayin'.
Jon Merrill. Extant.
The Big Picture
Michigan is 11 points back of OSU and four back of ND and WMU with both those teams possessing two games in hand, so they've probably blown their shot at a conference title already.
This is still a huge series for Michigan's at-large chances. Playing the #2 team in RPI is an opportunity that will only come around… like four more times this year because of Michigan's brutal schedule. Er.
Anyway. Even a split is a slight positive. It would leave M's RPI static and would help their common opponents comparison*. That is somewhat offset by the 1-1 dragging their TUC record towards .500, though, so it's change on the fringes at best.
Anything better than a split will be a considerable asset; anything worse will be a setback.
*[Nitty-gritty details on that: the COP category has changed from a simple sum of W/L to sums of percentages. Michigan is currently getting 0% of available points against OSU; splitting will get them 25% of available points.]
I have no tabs, alas.