The nutty Michigan coverage isn't so much about Harbaugh as it is a signal to the Big Ten that Fox wants to party.
wit1/24/2013 – Michigan 68, Purdue 53 – 17-1, 5-1 Big Ten
Probably not many more of these for games not against Penn State, but I don't have any narrative for this one so let's just talk about stuff that happened.
Photos. Via Eric Upchurch:
It catches up in the end. The story of the first half was the normally deficient Boiler three-point shooting checking in at 54%, which was good enough to stake them to a one-point lead. In the second half they went 0-9 to finish almost exactly on their season average of 31.6%, and honestly it should have been worse what with DJ Byrd hitting one from 35 feet and banking in another. (As always, Death To Backboards.)
By the end of the game everything had averaged out to… averages and Michigan just about hit the Vegas line and Kenpom's prediction of a 17-point margin. If Ronnie Johnson hitting a three is the difference I'll live with it.
MY MAN RONNIE. That one make on three attempts pushed him to 14% on the year.
Purdue is kind of fun to watch. So you've got Ronnie Johnson's three-point futility plus his tendency to crash full-bore into opponents for charges that are so obvious the refs don't even get excited about them. Then you've got DJ Byrd hucking it up from anywhere, making a few and hilariously missing more. All other Purdue perimeter players are more or less versions of those two guys. The Johnsonbot named Terone adds a dash of circus shot to the stew.
The end result is balls flying all over the place. More than once last night I thought GO HOME PURDUE, YOU ARE DRUNK. This makes them significantly more entertaining than, say, Penn State or Nebraska. Nebraska does have Andre Almedia, I guess.
Does Michigan need to foul more? I think they might. There was a possession relatively late on which Burke extended pressure and harassed one of the many Boiler Johnsons into a near-turnover twice, and then Mitch McGary overplayed a passing lane to finally turn Purdue over. I'd like that to be a more frequent occurrence even if it comes at the cost of some additional fouls.
I can immediately think of some good counter-arguments:
- Michigan plays its starters a ton and there is a serious dropoff to the bench so foul trouble is to be avoided at all costs.
- Playing defense like that tires you out, bench thing again.
- Michigan likes games of HORSE.
But but but boy do I want this team to get out in transition and getting aggressive on defense seems to have some potentially large payoffs. Their transition numbers are nuts, in the 96th percentile nationally as of a few games ago according to Synergy and UMHoops. Anything they can do to push the pace is going to benefit them.
They only forced 12 turnovers in this one, limiting those opportunities. Their man to man seems a lot more passive than many teams'. This game in particular seemed to invite aggression: the Boilers have a very good eFG% defense and can't shoot free throws.
Specifically, I hope Caris LeVert can beast up over the next couple months. He's not going to foul out and if he gives up a couple of over-aggressive fouls on the perimeter it's not likely to end up hurting Michigan since they so rarely find themselves giving up the bonus. Stauskas, too—that man is still in the top ten nationally at avoiding fouls.
THEORY. It may be that Michigan's second-half surge is partially built on a lack of fouls in the first half? If they go into the locker room with everyone clean maybe they sit down and are like "okay guys now time to get aggressive"? I'll check the numbers on this to see if there's anything to it.
If I had to guess I'd say no. It feels more like Michigan's offense takes off right after halftime. But I'll check.
Throw out the rebounding record books when you play the Purdue Boilermakers. For the record, Michigan still won the battle on the boards against a team that looks damn good at that bit right now—22nd OREB, 64th DREB. They grabbed 12 of 30 opportunities; Purdue got 11 of 34.
And it was hard to be mad about many of Purdue's offensive boards anyway. Their misses were often so wild that attempting to get position was a futile project often ending with a ball heading directly at your head with hockey-puck speed. I hope no one on the team was in 'Nam. If anyone was they're having a seriously bad day today.
I definitely shouldn't mention this. Tim Hardaway was 3/5 from deep today, bringing his three point shooting in league play to a Stauskas-like 15/29.
Trey Burke yawn yawn. Save for an uncharacteristically poor night from three (0 of 4), Trey was himself: 6/10 inside the arc with 4 FTAs, 8 assists, one turnover. Oddity: he blocked two shots.
Burke has surged into the KPOY lead now, passing Russ Smith and Mason Plumlee. Smith may have a case—he's putting up 36% of Louisville shots and has a huge steal percentage—but is hurt by inefficient shooting; Plumlee's presence is largely due to a huge DREB rate that seems to exist because no one else on the Blue Devils even tries.
There's a team adjustment in the kPOY that probably explains much of the movement. Louisville and Duke have had a rough past couple weeks; as their teams fall back to the pack their numbers go down.
it was a fumbly kind of game for big guys (Upchurch)
Blank-headed center regains third head. With Morgan and McGary having some struggles early, Jon Horford saw eight minutes for his first extended playing time in a while. His impact was not enormous—three rebounds, 1/2 from the floor—but it's nice to have him available.
This Week in This Week In Stop Asking For Post Touches: the beginning of the first half for Michigan, in which Jordan Morgan ended up taking on AJ Hammons directly and went 0-3. Morgan and McGary did have one nice one-on-one bucket apiece against Hammons; overall their efficiency was significantly lower than the rest of the offense.
Another oddity: Michigan's three posts saw a total of 43 minutes and picked up no fouls. This was because…
Holy pants was AJ Hammons awful. I've been talking him up based on watching some Purdue and seeing some nice things in the box score; in this game he was total non-entity. In 24 minutes he had 2 points, 2 rebounds, and 2 turnovers. While I wasn't enamored with Michigan's center play in this one, they have to get some credit for that.
That over and back call. A couple folks pushed back on twitter when I broke out the traditional "lol big ten refs" for the over-and-back on Stauskas, but I am sure I'm right on this. For over-and-back to be in play the entire ball and the entirety of the player's body have to cross the halfcourt line. By the time Stauskas caught up to the ball Byrd had poked out it had already started crossing the halfcourt stripe. This was obvious on TV but not to the ref, since said ref was well behind the play.
In any case, he clearly did not regain control of the ball until he'd entered the backcourt, in which case the tip indicated by the ref closest to the play was still the determining factor. That call was mystifying.
Yes, I can find things to complain about even when Michigan is the #2 FTA/FGA team in the nation. It's a skill, what can I say?
Second-half adjustment watch. This one was even coming out of the locker room, with both teams picking up five points in the first five minutes. Then Michigan went away with a 14-2 run in the next five. You can add that to the bin or not; your discretion.
On deck: huge swing game. I dislike this Illinois game coming up. Michigan should win, but this is an Illinois team that beat OSU's head in at Assembly (Not That Assembly) and could at any moment heat up on their many, many three-pointers. They'll be desperate for another marquee win that can cover up blemishes like "losers to Purdue and Northwestern" when tourney time comes around; I can see things going very well or very badly.
There's a cap on how well Illinois can do when they can't grab a rebound to save their lives; I am still wary of a team at the bottom of three-point percentage rankings on both offense and defense. That could turn around and bite you. Ask Gonzaga, on the wrong end of an 11/26 night from the Illini.
Kenpom has Michigan by eight and with a 77% chance of winning—feels a little more random than that to me.
A ho-hum home win versus Purdue doesn't quite register on the official Muppet meter, even if the No. 1 team lost on Wednesday and we're the No. 2. And we can't all be celebratin' an ultimately meaningless ranking that hasn't been posted yet. So I propose a compromise:
Finding a marquee road win on its dwindling schedule was imperative for Purdue's fading tournament hopes, and for much of last night you could tell the Boilermakers were stiffing it. Then Glenn dropped the family stone…
Soundtrack | Ace
Two epic gif dunks in two weeks and we've got ourselves a new Robinson to love. A top ranking may be academic from here with Duke falling to Miami, but just in case you don't trust the coaches to do right, Mmmm Hmmm has tracked the poll movement among B1G title contenders this season. He did the same with football earlier this week, and giving him the Diarist of the Week honors for it so he doesn't have to ask the mods to bump things anymore.
LSAClassof2000 has his own metric for comparing the top teams in the conference based whether you're above or below average on 18 stats he can pull from box scores. When he's done it looks thus (click embiggemates):
The things we're below average in are the usual things; the lack of an elite defender has Michigan last in the conference in blocks with only Penn State, Nebraska, and--oh okay--Indiana in the neighborhood. For what it's worth THE_KNOWLEDGE says we'll play Ohio State in the Big Ten tourney.
A Michigan Man will coach the 49'ers. Brian on Wednesday bumped the diary by stephenrjking pleading for people to forgive Harbaugh his academic comments in '07 because, like, we're blood. I'm whatever; the thing I don't like is when people say they're mad at Harbaugh because he was "disloyal." If there's something that makes Michigan different it's not that we stand by each other, in fact I can't think of any other family among major college programs that's as ready to criticize itself (we're still biased). We're not the school with a "Sacred Brotherhood" that you violate by complying with NCAA investigators and tell the truth.
Jim's crimes were the same as Snyder/Rosenberg's—being mostly inaccurate in his criticism, and being motivated by spite and personal gain—although to a far smaller degree. Harbaugh doesn't care about your grudge anymore than he cares that he currently employs four (Boone, Whitner, Grant and Ginn) Buckeyes who could be exempli gratias for how little our rivals care about educating players to do something besides football or work at a car dealership. He said the thing because he was competing for the same kids attracted by Michigan's academic/athletic combo pitch while being hamstrung by Northwestern-level requirements we don't meet.
If there's an exceptionalism to Michigan—the school and the sports—it's a focus on being exceptional over whether we appear to be so. That's what distinguished Bo from Paterno, it's what distinguished Carr from Tressel, and it's what made Hoke a great choice for Michigan's head coach in 2011.
Rutgers and Maryland Explained? Using a database published by USA Today, woomba found valuations for the pieces the Big Ten recently plucked in the current media environment by manually adding "Rights/Licensing" to "Other". Maryland ($22 million) was still just No. 6 among Big East and ACC teams in this metric, and Rutgers ($14.5 million) was 12th. For reference, Nebraska was at $35.8 million the year before they joined the Big Ten.
Things of interest not related to killing the conference to gamble on an outdated TV model: Michigan leads the nation in licensing but our "Other" is a relatively pedestrian $6 million (Ohio State's was a ludicrous $20.6 million last year but other schools at the top were all around $10 to $11 million). I'm almost sure this difference is in-stadium advertising but don't tell Brandon (I'm sure he already knows and that this grates him endlessly). The football ticket shakedown and replacing the coach raised contributions from $12 million in 2010 to almost $28 million last year. Ohio State's contributions dropped by almost $10 million after Tatgate.
Best of the Board
WELCOME TO THE NEW AGE?
A 2012 highlights/2013 hype video by MGomaha. All of the highlights and none of the "crap" Brady. If all of these are so good it'll be a pleasant offseason. Still nowhere close to a Better Son or Daughter or the Weapon of Choice/Dilithium spring reels.
STARS DON'T MEAN YOU'LL PLAY IN THE SUPERBOWL…
They just wink very suggestively. Discussion on Hinton's Superbowl starters by recruiting stars article linked. One thing I noticed was that most of the guys he listed as "N/A" because they were before the Rivals database were major, major recruits. Frank Gore, Randy Moss, Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, Anguan Boldin, Terrell Suggs and Bryant McKinnie were all among the top 10 high school players in their years (Moss and Boldin of all time). Carlos Rogers and Justin Smith were Superprep All-Americans, which is the equivalent of being a Top-50 player. Jonathan Goodwin you could call a 3- or 4-star; he had all the offers but went to a MAC school so he could play right away.
If you call the other "N/A" guys unranked you end up with a Superbowl roster made up of roughly a quarter each of five-stars, four-stars, three-stars, and lower. Some readers saw that and came away with "See it doesn't matter what you're ranked out of high school because half of the guys in the Superbowl weren't blue chips." This is because these readers don't know how math works.
Rivals this year lists 34 players who are 5 stars, and had 250 players get 4 stars or higher, and gave at least 3 stars to 1,650. That's out of 8,171 high school players profiled. So let's compare percents shall we?
|Rating||2013 Recruits||SB Starters|
|2 or less||76.33%||22.6%|
If stars didn't matter these two columns ought to be apportioned the same. Yes it's too small a sample size to scream correlation, but that's a very suggestive wink.
Your Moment of Zen:
Via mgovideo - Apparently he and I share an internal playlist.
EDIT: The title of this article was changed after posting because apparently it was causing Creed-related seizures. Please note that the title to the Sly & The Family Stone song where they say "Boom Shakalaka" is "I Want to Take You Higher." There is no reason to have any other song come to your head when you hear those words.
Hey, basketball! We meant to have these the past couple weeks but a slammed Sunday with both men's and women's going at the same time nixed us two weeks ago and it was black death time for me a week ago.
If I sound weird it's because I'm sucking on cough drops the whole time.
All the starters. We're all like "Trey Burke is good" and this is why we get paid the okay bucks.
I accidentally dis Jordan Morgan. Ace calls me out, yo.
Stauskas! Come back to me, 57% shooting.
Various gigglings unbecoming manly men. Sorry.
Talking Big Ten with Jamiemac. We run down the league, and groan expressively about Wisconsin. Then the phone lines go out (srs) and we finish up the contenders discussion ourselves.
Music. "El Scorcho," Weezer, since we are giggling like children anyway.
The usual links:
Spring of 1989 was the semester we switched from playing football during recess at Quarton Elementary School, to hoops. A particularly muddy field that spring made this the sane thing to do. Upside: you get in less trouble when you don't come home from school covered in mud. Downside: the best athlete in the class* was staunchly against it since he was also the 2nd shortest guy in the class, and under the Universal Rules Regarding the Governorship of Boys in the 3rd Grade the best athlete gets to decide which game we play. What finally changed "I'm Tony Boles" to "I'm Rumeal Robinson"† was twofold: the Pistons went to the NBA Finals and were on their way to another, and then this happened:
By fall the spell was broken and some kid got bloodied pretty badly by falling on the pavement and the recess calls were back to "I'm Desmond Howard!" We were off to middle school by the time the Fab Five arrived. But for a time in '89 the only thing on anybody's minds was "wow when did Michigan basketball get so good?". I wonder what made me think of that.
* Ironically that kid who gave me a blue Michigan football for my birthday, then announced we can't play with any other ball ever again, ended up a mouthy walk-on on MSU's 2000 championship team. And a nice guy, for a Spartan.
† I was always Vinnie "The Microwave" Johnson until some other kid started fighting me for it and I switched to Mark Aguirre.
How it works:
- Wednesdays I put up a winnable prize that consists of a desirable good.
- You guess the final scores of this weekend's designated game (football or hoops, depending on the season), and put it in the comments. First person to post a particular score has it.
- If you got it right, we contact you. If not, go to (5)
- The desirable good arrives at the address you give us.
- Non-winners can acquire the same desirable good by trading currency for it.
About Last Time:
"I am a structural engineer and I know that that bicyle [sic] on the shirt has a flexural hinge waiting to happen. I could not wear the shirt in my right mind without modifying it."
This Week's Game:
Michigan versus Purdue tomorrow night. I'm Trey Burke!
And the Prize:
Look soft? It is soft. It's tri-blend, so it feels like you've been breaking it in since "Michigan Man" became a thing, except this time your mom won't rip it up and use it for rags.
Normally I post a prize from the MGOSTORE, but this week I thought I'd expand a bit outside our corner and highlight an important partner of this site: Underground Printing and Moe's, without whom we don't have a store, we don't have a book, and Brian Cook is some kind of computer engineer with a blogspot page. Other than MGoShirts, their calling card is those comfy retro tees.
This I appreciate, since my actual vintage 1989 Michigan basketball shirt was a tattered rag by 1993. Oh it would fit; my generation was fortunate to come upon the "wear everything three sizes too large" fashion period when we were still growing. By the time clothes were meant to fit again, ours did, even if the hyper color was washed out.
Fine print: One entry per user. First user to choose a set of scores wins, determined by the timestamp of your entry (for my ease I prefer if you don't post it as a reply to another person's score--if you do it won't help or hurt you). Deadline for entries is 24 hours before the start of the game. MGoEmployees and Moderators exempt from winning. We did not invent the algorithm. The algorithm consistently finds Jesus. The algorithm tore its ACL. The algorithm is banned in China. The algorithm is from Jersey. The algorithm goes on 20-6 runs out of halftime.. This is not the algorithm. This is close.
As you've referenced with KenPom's research several times, it would appear that the best way to defend the 3 point shot is to keep your opponent from shooting them at all. Unfortunately, according to an ESPN insider article, Michigan is allowing its opponents to shoot them on 36.9% of their possessions, which ranks 295th in the nation. Does this concern you? I think we would all hate to see Michigan beaten in the tournament by a less talented opponent with a hot hand from deep because they can't prevent teams from getting off 3 pointers.
Somewhat. The nice thing about Michigan's defense is how few shots at the rim they give up. Michigan's forcing more two-point jumpers than any team in the league except Nebraska:
Team Defensive Summary
% of shots
% of Shots Blocked
Insofar as shots are migrating to three-pointers, they're shots at the rim. So… that's okay. Ideally you'd like to see that Nebraska shot configuration, but to do that the Huskers give up on the idea of offensive rebounding and steals.
I'm not sure what Michigan can do to improve their defense at this point. Forcing a lot of jumpers plus their defensive rebounding and lack of fouls has propped their defense up, and that's about all they can do. They don't have a shotblocker—at least right now, maybe Horford can provide some of that later in the season—or an elite perimeter defender. They rotate out on pick and rolls to prevent guys getting to the basket, and then you have to start rotating away from the corners. Threes inevitably result… if you're not Wisconsin.
As for the tourney, it will be tough for any major underdog to keep up with Michigan's offense, but a second or third round matchup against a good defensive team that takes and hits a lot of threes would be worrisome.
Whenever Michigan gets a 3-star recruit earlier in the process, there tends to be widespread complaining about taking up scholarships that could be filled by more highly rated players. The general response to that is, "I trust the coaches to evaluate players." This got me to thinking that most major programs essentially have their pick of just about any three star player that they want.
My question is, do three star and lower players who go to major programs perform better on average than the total population of three star players?
I understand it would be hard to distinguish between a three star player taken for depth/filling out a roster purposes compared to a three star player who the coaches think are better than their ranking, but I thought it might be an interesting topic to explore.
I'd guess it's actually worse since there's more competition and recruiting sites give recruits at the bottom end of the scale a courtesy bump to three stars 90% of the time a nobody commits to a power program.
At Purdue, everyone is a three-star player and someone has to be relied upon; sometimes you get Kawann Short. At Michigan—at least at Michigan in the near future—the three star is going to have to climb over some other guys to get on the field.
I do think that there is a big difference between a recruitment like Reon Dawson—who Michigan clearly grabbed to fill a previously designated spot that was vacated—or Da'Mario Jones—seemingly offered once Treadwell flitted off—and Channing Stribling, who Michigan liked at camp and then had a very nice senior year. To put in in Gruden terms, did Michigan want THIS GUY or just A GUY?
In your post, "Aging in a Loop", you mentioned how the solid defensive rebounding performance in Columbus proves that we are for real on the boards this year. I agree completely, but it got me wondering how much of that has to do with our sudden ability to actually have three to four non-midgets (relative use of the term, I get it) on the floor at once. I can't remember too many Michigan teams having anything resembling a luxury of length in quite some time.
Have ever looked for or found any statistical correlation between average height and rebounding prowess? Even the least astute observer must realize it will benefit the numbers, but I guess what I'm after is just how much it actually does?
[Note: since this email came in Minnesota did pound Michigan on the offensive boards.]
While much-improved, Michigan still isn't a very big team. Replacing Novak and Douglass with a couple of 6'6" guys and adding McGary into the mix has pushed them to a hair above average on Kenpom's "effective height,"* but that's in the context of 347 D-I teams. There are entire conferences where the 6'10" guy is a tourist attraction. They remain a lot shorter than Kentucky, Arizona, USC, Miami, Gonzaga, Eastern Michigan, and others. Effectively four inches shorter, in fact.
Michigan's moved up in the world in that stat—they've generally hovered around 250th in effective height since Beilein arrived—but I don't think that's the reason they've been so good at rebounding this year. I crammed together the data available on Kenpom to eyeball an ugly scatter plot, and here it is:
Libre Office makes sinfully ugly graphs yo.
That round ball with a dense central cluster is typical of things that are not correlated. You'd find something similar if you graphed hair color versus desire to eat bananas.
There is no correlation between effective height and defensive rebounding. If you insert a trend line into this—something I don't like to do in low-correlation graphs like because it implies that there actually is a trend—it actually goes down as your height goes up, at a surprisingly steep slope. Some people would try to apply some crazy mechanism to make that make sense here; I'm just going to tell you there is no meaning. There does seem to be some correlation between EH and offensive rebounding, but not much of one.
Anecdotally, that enormous Eastern Michigan team Michigan played earlier this year is below average at both facets of rebounding despite having played only a few games against decent competition. They're hideous on the defensive glass.
In general this is good news for Michigan, a team that trades some rebounding muscle for increased offensive effectiveness. But why are they so much better this year than last? Well:
- Luck, always luck.
- Effective height does not capture the difference between Mitch McGary and Evan Smotrycz very well.
- Michigan has not trudged through their Big Ten schedule yet; IIRC they entered conference play last year in the top ten and ended up 9th in conference, dropping to 99th overall.
- Tim Hardaway is serious, man.
- Some teams are abandoning the offensive boards in an effort to choke Michigan's transition game off.
If you asked me to put weights on these things I would give them nearly all equal weight, which means they can expect some regression as #1 and #3 betray them but should realize a significant gain from last year's 9th-place conference finish.
SIDE NOTE: You'll notice that GRIII > Novak is not on that list. While it's true that GRIII is much better on the offensive boards than Novak was, their defensive rebounding is essentially identical, lending credence to the idea that getting on the defensive glass is a matter of effort and positioning while offensive rebounding is more about being a skyscraper-bounding genetic freak. Holla at yo' Petway.
*[IE, if you have a seven-footer who plays 10 minutes and a 6'8" guy who plays 30, the 6'8" guy counts three times more than the seven-footer.]
Brian, Quite often the site discusses the ability of an offensive lineman to pull. Why is this difficult? My understanding is that pulling requires the lineman to:
(0) (set up:) ignore the guys across from him before the snap, because the lineman is about to pull,
(1) after the snap, back up a step or two,
(2) run sideways behind other blockers, and then
(3) find a guy to block.
So what is hard? I'm not saying there isn't anything, I just don't know what it is. Is finding the right guy to block hard? Or backing up and running?
Also, have you thought about doing a basketball version of HTTV?
One of the major takeaways from the clinic swing I did last spring was that everything is hard on the offensive line. I missed most of a three-hour presentation by Darryl Funk on inside zone because I was at Mattison's thing, and when I came in I was too far gone to understand much. I also sat in with a wizened consultant who scribbled various v-shaped diagrams on an ancient projector and demonstrated how if you stepped like so your world would end, and if you stepped like so demons would pour into the world from outside known space, but if you stepped like so there was a slight chance of you living to see dinner.
All of these steps looked identical to me. Offensive line is hard.
So. Consider the pull. You are 300 pounds, and you are lined up across from men who would like to run you over, and you are trying to get to a hole past other 300 pound men before a 200 pound man lined up a gap closer to this hole can get there. On the way you may encounter bulges in the line you have to route around. When you arrive you have to instantly identify the guy to block, reroute your momentum, and get drive on a guy.
This is a tall order. Michigan particularly had difficulty with step 2 the last couple years. Here's a canonical example from the uniformz MSU game. Watch Omameh (second from the bottom):
"Run sideways" goes all wrong there as Omameh arcs slowly and Denard ends up hitting the hole before he does; Denard has to bounce as a result when a block on Bullough is promising as the left side of the line caves in MSU.
To get to the place you are supposed to be you have to execute a series of steps as carefully choreographed as anything on dancing reality TV and be able to adapt on the fly, and you have to be able to redirect your momentum quickly enough to go in three different directions in a short space of time, with enough bulk to be, you know, an offensive lineman. Getting there in time is harder than anything the tailback has to do.
How does this impact Michigan's search for run-game competence in 2013? I hope it doesn't since I'd rather have Schofield back at right tackle than moving back inside.