HISTORIC TRENDS: 25 YEARS OF WOLVERINE BASKETBALL
This week’s diary is mainly designed to graph out some of the trends in box score statistics (and a few derived from the box score) that we have seen over the last 25 seasons of Michigan basketball. What I hoped to achieve here was merely to provide a visual for the increases and decreases in these statistics over time, but also to look at the averages in this period to get some idea of how well the current team is performing compared to the last, well, several teams. It is important to note that all totals for the current team are to date – I didn’t want to do a projection of future totals simply because of the potential error that would be part of that projection.
TABLE 1 – COMPARISON OF CERTAIN AVERAGES
Rebounds / Game
Points Per Game
Off. Rebound %
Def. Rebound %
The charts below are admittedly exaggerated via some varied scaling in order to show clearly some of the cycles and trends in some of the statistics. I will apologize in advance for this, but it seemed like a good way to show this.
You can see with average assists per game several cycles of varied length, but another generally steady downward turn from the 90s through the last few seasons:
In average points per game, there was a very protracted trend of general decline (with noted spikes) that seemed to get reasonably flat at time wore on. Again, this year, the trend is reversing.
Looking at offensive and defensive efficiency, you will see that, most years, we hung out somewhere around 1.000 for offensive efficiency, but have had widely varied performance on defense. A similar tale can be told for offensive and defensive rebound %, but here, it is defensive rebounding % which is relatively stable in comparison to its counterpart. This is less obvious when looking at rebound totals for the season, of course.
On this chart, you’ll find field goal percentage, three-point percentage and free throw percentage trends so you can see the interplay between the three. Free throw shooting and field goals seemed to actually be relatively stable over time, with our three-point percentage being by far the most variable aspect of our shooting offense.
Here are the trends for turnovers, blocks, personal fouls and steals.
I am not sure there is a fixed conclusion here only because the current season is not yet finished, but no it is even clear in the numbers that, at least in a few important regards, Michigan basketball is coming back to levels of production and play that it has not seen in quite some time. We can see it on the court, but the statistics definitely do back up the so-called “eye test” comparisons we tend to make of this team.
I have a lot of time this weekend and started to reflect on the year so far. It turned into me writing about each of the main players production to this point, a quick Indiana game recap, and forecasts for the rest of the year and for next year. It is quite long so if you dont like longer posts you will hate this one... it is also my first contribution so be nice (hopefully it will be a good read for those who look through it!):
First Half: There’s a reason he is thought of as the best point guard in the nation and a serious contender for player of the year. The fact that such a young team has been top-5 all year has a lot to do with his tremendous leadership. He can take over games, and has an ability to raise his game when he is most needed. Has at times struggled with poor shot selection.
34.0 minutes, 18.2 PPG, 3.1 RPG, 7.2 APG, 1.4 SPG, 1.9 TPG, .487 FGP, .778 FTP, .367 3PP
Indiana Game: 9/24 shooting, 4/12 from 3, 25 points, 8 assists, 3 to, and 4 PF. Not his strongest game despite good overall production. Some very poor shot selection (deep threes, long two step-backs, etc.) but also great leadership at time.
Second Half Thoughts: While fans will be excited about a championship run it will be also interesting to see if he will be player of the year. He seems to have wrapped up being the top PG, and very possibly will be a unanimous all-American. If we win the BigTen it will be largely because he stepped up in big games- and improved his shot selection in close games.
Next Year Thoughts: Hard to imagine him coming back… Stinks for him he gets compared to CP3 because the chances he produces at that level are likely pretty low- but for a player who came in under-the-radar and turned into potentially the best college player who knows…
First Half: With Burke playing all but 6 minutes per game Albrecht does not play a whole lot. A big surprise has been how well he seems to handle things when he gets into the game. Has hit some big shots, plays within the flow of the game very well.
7.1 minutes, 1.5 PPG, 0.7 RPG, 0.9 APG, 0.2 SPG, 0.2 TPG, .370 FGP, 1.000 FTP, .353 3PP
Indiana Game: 4 minutes and no stats accumulated. It’s nice that when he steps in the game no one panics too much. A low recruit freshman stepping in for perhaps the player of the year- you would think whenever he steps in fans would hold their breath- the fact that that is not the case says quite a bit- even if his stats don’t seem to impressive.
Second Half Thoughts: I imagine the second half will go just as the first has. Let’s hope he can step in during some high pressure situations and play well to get some good experience for next year- but this is Burke’s team and he will play most of the time obviously.
Next Year Thoughts: Derrick Walton is a top-flight recruit. Let’s see if Walton will follow in the footsteps of Burke and Morris (it certainly seems like he has the ability to). My guess is that Albrecht will play more at the start of next year and gradually give up more and more time to Walton. I imagine that Walton will start at some point next year- but that Albrecht will start the first few games (probably more than Vogrich did this year) and then play 5-10 minutes per game depending on how well Walton matures as the year goes on.
Tim Hardaway JR:
First Half: Last year his game was inconsistent, this year he has been a steady producer. Last year he tried to force his way into games, this year he plays within the game much better. He has made some huge shots, and his shooting has been getting better all year. He can handle the ball well (although too many turnovers), and along with Burke makes up the best backcourt in the country.
34.0 minutes, 15.6 PPG, 4.8 RPG, 2.4 APG, 0.9 SPG, 2.2 TPG, .483 FGP, .736 FTP, .410 3PP
Indiana Game: 8-16 shooting, 2-5 3’s, 1 Reb, 2 TO’s, 4 PF, 18 points. Played solid defense, hit some big shots, but did little else.
Second Half Thoughts: He is one of the top players in the country and can take over games. Plays solid defense but can also be silent for longer stretches. Would love to see him step up his game even more but if he plays like he has so far everyone should be happy.
Next Year Thoughts: Let’s hope he stays. With Irvin coming in and Stauskas we could absorb the loss- but it’d be great if he came back. He can still develop his game more and would benefit from another year- but he has all the talent to turn into a productive NBA player.
First Half: Glad he used the redshirt! He has been very fun to watch play and has shown signs of having the ability to become a very good player. Nothing too flashy, no very productive games, but consistently plays well when he is in.
11.6 minutes, 3.1 PPG, 0.9 RPG, 1.1 APG, 0.1 APG, 0.3 TPG, .391 FGP, .500 FTP, .409 3PP
Indiana Game: 10 min, 2-4 shooting, 0-1 from 3’s, 1 Reb, 1 ast, 2 PF, 4 points. He showed some promise while playing. Handled the ball more than he normally does and looked like he could handle the pressure. That’s pretty impressive considering he was not going to play at all this year.
Second Half Thoughts: Likely more of the same. Hopefully he can improve shot selection a little bit better and be more productive.
Next Year Thoughts: He looks like he can be a very solid player. You can see how many had him as the Ohio player of the year last year in high school. When he continues to fill out his frame he could develop into a very solid player. Some on the board seem to think he has a legit NBA shot- too early for that in my opinion, but you can see brilliance in his future if everything clicks.
First Half: Probably the most pleasant surprise this year. We knew he could shoot on youtube, but 50% from 3’s is crazy. Plus he has two memes- more than a shooter, and blouses… gotta love it.
30.9 minutes, 12.5 PPG, 2.9 RPG, 1.3 APG, 0.5 SPG, 1.0 TPG, .486 FGP, .827 FTP, .483 3PP
Indiana Game: 10 points of 3-10 shooting with 1-5 from 3. 1 Reb (offensive), 2 assists and 2 fouls. Apparently he may not have been feeling well- and it makes sense watching the game. When he passed up an open three you could tell things were not perfect. Hard to remember he is a freshman at times- and it is hard to expect great play from a freshman in a serious road game.
Second Half Thoughts: If he continues with his production that would be fantastic. Become a real threat on the pick and roll and off the dribble- would love to see that progress- especially since next year he may handle the ball more without as strong a PG. While he is more than a shooter that is the heart of his game, and shooters go through stretches of greatness and cold spells- let’s hope those hot streaks correspond with big games.
Next Year Thoughts: He has a lot of swagger and the ability to back it up. I can see him becoming a leader on this team, and becoming even more productive. He looks like a future NBA guy, but we should enjoy plenty of 3’s and game blouses moments next year!
Glen Robinson III:
First Half: We at MGoBlog expected big things from the freshman and he has delivered. One of the most productive players, and a very smart and talented player. His athleticism and dunking ability have also led to some of the most pleasant moments of the year.
32.9 minutes, 11.7 PPG, 5.7 RPG, 1.3 APG, 0.8 SPG, 1.0 TPG, .586 FGP, .677 FTP, .405 3PP
Indiana Game: Only player to go all 40 (in part because he had only 1 foul), but his weakest game. 2 points on 1-6 shooting, 4 rebounds (2 offensive) and 1 assist and 1 turnover.
Second Half Thoughts: Despite the rough Indiana game big things are ahead for GR3. He has been tremendously consistent and productive. I expect big things from him the rest of the way- and if he can improve he has the ability to take this team to an even higher level.
Next Year Thoughts: Let’s hope he doesn’t make the jump. He has an NBA body and athleticism and skill-set- but he has a lot of growing to go. Let’s hope that maturation happens in a Michigan uniform. If he stays next year’s team will also be very special- if he jumps it will be much tougher to have as great a year.
First Half: Not a whole lot of minutes, and has only played in half the games. Shows signs of having a lot of potential but not too close for that talent turning into production any time soon.
Indiana Game: DNP
Second Half Thoughts: Less time as games become more important.
Next Year Thoughts: Next year he should still see limited action, but at times has shown signs he could work his way into the rotation as an upperclassmen if he develops the way he appears to be able to.
First Half: Not flashy but a big part of this team. Plays half the minutes as finally Michigan has plenty of big-men to play. Great defense, great rebounder, solid and productive offensive player.
19 minutes, 6.1 PPG, 4.9 RPG, 0.3 APG, 0.5 SPG, 1.1 TPG, .626 FGP, .583 FTP
Indiana Game: L… 2 minutes without any stats battling an injury.
Second Half Thoughts: Let’s hope he heals- because we are a stronger team with him playing. Has also shown great leadership- and leadership on the court means a lot in the college game. May not be the flashiest or highest scorer- but he makes a huge impact and if stays healthy expect more of the same.
Next Year Thoughts: Center position will all be back- and should all see their play step up- I like having solid big men!
First Half: You can see why he was so highly ranked- and you can also see why he dropped in the rankings. Tons of talent, even more hustle! He does so many little things right- outlet passing, boxing out, solid defense, and intangibles galore!
16.6 minutes, 5.8 PPG, 6.0 RPG, 0.4 APG, 0.8 APG, 0.7 BPG, 1.0 TPG, .592 FGP, .579 FTP
Indiana Game: 28 minutes, 5-7 shooting for 10 points with 7 rebounds (3 offensive), 1 assits, 2 steals, 1 block, but 4 fouls. Very high intensity game with good production.
Second Half Thoughts: More of the same- lots of rebounds, decent points, lots of hustle.
Next Year Thoughts: NBA player for sure- but should definitely be back at least for a year. He can definitely develop into an all-BigTen bigman- with more minutes that could even be next year. Such a great rebounder and hustler- if he can continue the high level of production with increased minutes expect very big things.
First Half: Fewest minutes of the bigs that play regular minutes. Less offensive production, but just as solid defensive production.
9.6 minutes, 2.7 PPG, 2.6 RPG, 0.3 APG, 0.7 BPG, 0.5 TPG, .571 FGP, .600 FTP
Indiana Game: Started and got 10 minutes with 2-3 shooting for 4 points. 1 offensive and 2 defensive boards to go along with 2: blocks, turnovers, and fouls.
Second Half Thoughts: If Morgan battles with injuries he will have to step up. He has struggles with his own injuries in the past- but has shown great signs of progress!
Next Year Thoughts: He will still be behind McGary and Morgan for minutes- but he has some definite potential and can play his way into bigger minutes.
There’s a reason we have been a top-five team all year- we are very good! There have been a lot of good surprises this year, and a lot of production. Burke is a definite player-of-the-year guy, and with THJR makes up the nation’s best guard combo. Indiana game was tough- but this was a young team playing on the road- and we played tough. There are plenty of reasons to expect big things this year- and for the most par I expect players to continue their production levels the rest of the way- which is a good thing considering how solid production has been.
McLimans and Vogrich are the only players who will graduate- so there are a lot of reasons to expect big things for next year. Burke seems very likely to leave, and Hardaway and Robinson are the most likely to join him- but hopefully both will be back. Irvin and Walton should be good contributors as freshman and Donnal will likely add good depth. If Hardaway and Robinson leave we should have a big drop but still be pretty decent- if at least one stays we should still have an excellent year next year- and if both stay and only Burke leaves we can be a top-10 team potentially- especially if Walton continues the trend of excellent PG recruiting.
This is definitely one of the most bump-worthy things I've seen as a mod. Awesome work. JGB.
If you haven't played our free fantasy game yet on DraftStreet yet, this is the Saturday to try it. There's Michigan-Indiana. Florida-Ole Miss. Duke-FSU. Syracuse-Pitt. Kansas against a Big XII something or other. NC State vs. Miami. Lafayette vs. Ameri…say whaaaaa?
Okay so we're not adding the American and Lafayette rosters to this thing because there are already ALL THE ROSTERS (from the BCS teams) to make your teams. But seriously UNC-Virginia Tech. Arizona State at Washington. Otto Porter versus Saint John's.
And you will want every Otto, because there's $300 smackaroos we're giving out among the winners. Also if enough people sign up we get smackaroos. Also it costs you zero smackaroos. Also fun is had. And learning done.
How it Works
It's fantasy except instead of drafting one team at the beginning of the season they've broken it up into quick-hitting night leagues. Enrollment in our pool is free for MGoReaders, and there's $300 in the pool paid out among the Top 12 finishers as soon as the contest ends.
The contest will be salary-cap style drafting where everyone tries to assemble the best team out of the available players. You will have a $100,000 budget to build a team of 3 forwards, 3 guards, and 2 utility players. Each CBB player has been assigned a price based on their expected fantasy performance. You can adjust your roster up until the contest starts this Saturday at 11:00am EST, at which time your rosters will lock and the Live Scoreboard will be available.
Note: you can't be eligible for prize money, even though entry is free, if you're from Arizona, Iowa, Louisiana, Montana, Vermont, or Puerto Rico.
You're not allowed to make a team of all Wolverines.
Wherefore art thou Horford?
Stauskas is only $9,336. UNC goes up against Virginia Tech's awful defense and Dexter Strickland ($9,498) has been getting high usage of late, with P.J. Hairston doubtful with a concussion. SirDominic Pointer, a Detroit boy, has been on a tear for St. Johns's but remains cheap--that's probably because they face Georgetown's D. Lafayette's chili is way thicker and meatier. Sorry America, I'm a Lafayette man.
CLICK HERE to register for this week's league.
This diary was prompted by the debate from Tuesday between Brian and the Big Ten Geeks regarding the value of defensive rebounding. I read the Big Ten Geeks article that morning and had many of the same thoughts as Brian-I've never been a fan of the stops metric, particularly the way it was being used to compare players. As the debate moved to the value of defensive rebounding percentage, I decided to look through some Kenpom numbers to make a better argument for the importance/insignificance of that particular statistic.
|D-Eff Type||eFG%||TO%||DReb%||FT Rate|
A couple of notes. While I've labeled it as "DReb%", the statistic used was actually Opponent Offensive Rebounding %, hence the positive correlation with Defensive Efficiency (both statistics are "better" for the defense when the number is lower). TO% has a negative correlation because a higher TO% is "better" for the defense, so a high TO% would lead to a lower (read: better) defensive efficiency.
(It’s interesting to see how the Kenpom adjustments to efficiency change the numbers. eFG% and TO% consistently drop when adjusting for competition, while Dreb% and FTRate rise. The smaller deltas for this year makes me believe that this is a result of conference play and the leveling the playing field between teams that played non-conference schedules of varying difficulty, due to the relatively large proportion of non-conference game in the 2013 sample. I digress.)
It is well-known at this point that eFG% is by far the most important factor in defensive efficiency, but I was surprised that DReb% was the second most important factor (I had assumed it would be turnover rate). After seeing these results, I looked at the correlations between the four factors next.
So, there is a weak, but significant (with >340 samples) correlation between eFG% and DReb%. Going back to the correlations with defensive efficiency, I ran a partial correlation between DReb% and adjusted defensive efficiency, controlling for eFG%, which produced a value of…0.41. About the same correlation as TO% (a partial correlation for TO% is almost exactly the same as one without the adjustment, as you’d anticipate based on the low correlation between TO% and eFG%).
It looks like defensive rebounding is at least as important as the non-eFG% factors. What about the effect on the offensive end? Like Brian, I believe that steals should be valued more than other defensive statistics, so I went in assuming that we’d see some sort of correlation between TO% and Offensive Efficiency.
Negative correlations are due to lack of adjustment to defensive ratings for use with offensive efficiency (switching from lower = better to higher = better). However, from this, we can clearly see that defensive rebounding is just as important as any of the other defensive factors when it comes to offense. Michigan’s offense this season has shown this fanbase how defensive rebounding can trigger the break, but it is even more evident when you watch other leagues, where fewer teams put an emphasis on transition defense and sending players back on a change of possession and the game often breaks down into 2-on-2 or 3-on-2 runouts in each direction.
However, after all of this, I still believe that defensive rebounding is overrated as an individual metric. I'm not complaining about Jordan Morgan’s season, but he just isn’t a defensive game-changer in the way of Jeff Withey, Anthony Davis, Fab Melo, Nerlens Noel, or even A.J. Hammons. As has been stated, his high “stops” count is due to both Michigan’s excellent team Dreb% and Morgan's high individual number. His block and steal numbers are very low (his block% is 7th on the team, lower than all other starters, McGary and Horford). I might even argue that his presence has some effect on Michigan’s defensive philosophy and their inability to prevent three-pointers. With Morgan not a threat to alter shots inside, Michigan has to constantly switch on screens in order to prevent easy dribble penetration and 2-on-1 scenarios. They can’t fight over the top of screens to better challenge outside shots.
There was a great example of the effect that a shot-blocker has in the Iowa-Purdue game from Sunday, where Iowa’s players often had Purdue defenders trailing them after screens, but could not drive inside easily due to Hammon’s presence. Unfortunately, there weren't any Youtube highlights for that game, so I had to make due with the Michigan-Purdue game for an example.
First, Morgan sets a good screen for Burke. Hammons did not follow Morgan out to the perimeter, and you can see Ronnie Johnson start to fight through the screen at the top.
Burke is around the screen, but Johnson has followed him, preventing Burke from pulling up for an open three. Hammons is still in the paint, while Morgan is about to roll to the basket.
Finally, Burke has picked up the ball, unable to penetrate past Hammons or shoot over him. Purdue's defensive philosophy has helped remove the threat of a 3 from Michigan's balls-screen offense. Fortunately for Michigan, D.J. Byrd is still afraid of Burke and is about to jump in to help off Stauskas, leaving him open for a soon-to-be-bured 3. Not the best result for my example, but good for Michigan.
Further validating the importance of having a shot-altering presence: Correlation between block rate and defensive efficiency is very high (0.51), largely due to its influence on effective field goal % (correlation of 0.61).
This is all part of the bigger argument that the Big Ten Geeks make in their response to Brian's criticism-that post players/taller players should score higher on defensive metrics. Taller players can more easily influence defensive play away from their man, and playing on the interior puts you in better position for defensive statistics on every possession. Seeing as the objective of a perimeter defender is usually to prevent a single player from scoring/impacting the game, the best argument or evidence for an Oladipo or Craft would be to compare single game statistics vs season numbers for their primary defensive responsibility. They can’t impact the entire opposing offense and accumulate statistics in the same way as a Hammons or Berggren, but that’s a difference between the roles of perimeter defense and interior defense rather than a gap in defensive aptitude. You wouldn't want either of those guys I just mentioned chasing Trey Burke around the perimeter the way Christian Watford did, briefly, in last year's Indiana game. While Watford may have been successful initially, Burke got over the surprise and went on to score 18 points on 9 shots.
In my opinion, the best way to statistically evaluate individual defensive impact would be something similar to what Ace posted on Tuesday, evaluating lineups and considering an individual player’s ability to improve team defensive statistics while they are in the game. Now, this isn’t as fair to players like Caris LeVert and Spike Albrecht, who are rarely on the court with four other starters (theoretically the better defenders), but we could make an initial assumption that the other rotation players are all roughly equivalent when analyzing an individual player. It’s also unfair to players like Trey Burke, who might play 90% of the team’s minutes any given night and have a limited sample of largely garbage time minutes against which to compare the impact of their absence. That said, it would provide a better picture of a player’s ability to influence the opponent’s offensive strategy and results.
I am very curious to see the 3PA/FGA ratios and 3P% isolated for Michigan's three centers. Even though the team defensive philosophy remains the same for all three,it would be enlightening if opponents were taking more threes (or lower quality threes) depending on which player was protecting the paint. Ken Pomeroy wrote a blog post this week discussing the Syracuse zone and its (limited) ability to force lower quality three point attempts. Any effect at Michigan would likely be much smaller than that seen at the schools discussed in his post, but would still be worth examining.
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Go ahead, my friends. Put it up, take a lap around the office. You deserve it.
Friday Fun will celebrate last Saturday, one of the Greatest Saturdays in the Offseason since last year's Most Greatest Saturday in the Offseason. Don't miss it.
Some new formatting news for the New Year:
THE BLOCKHAMS™ runs (typically) every Wednesday here at MGoBlog and on its official home page. Also, don't forget to check out the Friday Fun, my weekly single panel comic based on trending Michigan events, available on Twitter and the home page every Friday.