fair point that
1/17/2013 – Michigan 83, Minnesota 75 – 17-1, 4-1 Big Ten
Trey Burke came to Michigan fully-formed, a stone-hearted superman with a wicked handle and cool demeanor. His only vulnerability is Craftonite. In year two he's improved, of course; he remains essentially Trey Burke, just smoother.
If he does indeed take off for the NBA after this year his impact on Michigan fans will be almost that of spectacular a one-and-done player. An Anthony Davis, a Carmelo Anthony. I beheld this, and it was the unchanging visage of glory! Yea, and it spoke unto me thusly: I ARRIVED AND I WAS. I LEFT AND I AM.
Tim Hardaway came to Michigan as a tall Stu Douglass. He was a streaky gunner who accumulated box score things largely because balls bounce unpredictably and eventually some of them come to you. The tempo-free lines of Douglass and Hardaway from that year are different only in that Hardaway took a bunch more shots and never turned the ball over*. Last year those numbers didn't move much except that the threes didn't go in, and people despaired.
Tim Hardaway is no longer that guy. Even on a night where he hit seven of eight shots he made the rest of the box score relevant: five rebounds, three assists, six(!) turnovers, two blocks, three steals. This is a sanity check for what you are seeing.
You are seeing this: Minnesota is on its horse trying to catch up with Michigan, and they are in the midst of one of those putback-rebound-putback-rebound sequences that inevitably end with a ball going in the basket or free throws. Andre Hollins has the ball surrounded by three Michigan players, and goes up with it and suddenly he does not have it. A jam-packed Williams Arena howls. Dick Vitale exclaims something along the lines of "NO FOUL HOW CAN THAT BE"—and you're kind of like yeah I mean seriously—as Tim Hardaway Jr. flies upcourt with the ball, a seven point lead, and 35 of the 100 seconds left in the game on the shot clock.
When they put the replay on, it's Hardaway airborne. He has jumped in a way that makes it seem like he has already made the decision to foul this guy and not permit a layup, that way-too-early jump that gets you on top of the guy so you can sit on his head and prevent him from getting a three point play. Hollins shows the ball, and Hardaway just, like, takes it. The meme generator in the head goes "yoink." Vitale's says "that looks like ball" and you're kind of like yeah. I mean, seriously.
Hardaway gets ranked on Kenpom's defensive rebounding leaderboard now, as a wing. That is has a very real impact on Michigan's bottom line—they've gone from #99 to the #3 in that stat. He is no longer the frequent target of CUMONG TIM brain rages on defensive possessions. His fouls are down; his steals and blocks are up. The little man in your head with the gavel who sits in judgment of all shots is screaming "TAKE THAT" on 80-90% of Hardaway's attempts, and fist-pumping as Hardaway knocks down nearly 40% of his threes.
When Burke was still shaking off the effects of Sunday's encounter with Craft and Minnesota was blazing the nets from three, hitting their first five attempts, Hardaway had the answer. He kept Michigan level until his bros showed up. When Burke was rattled, Hardaway stepped up. Last year this is a guy who specialized in the long two with a ton of time on the clock. If Tim Hardaway is still that guy, Michigan ends up in the deep end again, wondering if the first 16 games were all a mirage.
Tim Hardaway is not that guy. Tim Hardaway is serious these days.
*[Okay, Douglass had a miraculously weird thing going on with free throws: he took 13 on the season and hit 3; both of those numbers are spectacularly low. Jon Horford attempted 18 free throws that year. He played 14% of Michigan's minutes.]
Welcome back, Yawn At Another Trey Burke Boxscore Bullet. Missed you xoxo. He was inefficient from two but 9 assists to 1 turnover is where it's at. He took some bad shots early in what looked like a carry-over from the Ohio State game, where he was pressing for points. Once Michigan got past that section of the game even thanks to Hardaway going off, Burke ran the break perfectly.
Also, was it just me or was Burke more of a defensive pest for chunks of the game? I wonder if one of the coaches took him aside and was like "if you want to be great-great you have to add some of that Craft stuff to your game." He hounded Minnesota's PG into a steal in the first half, and he had a couple against Craft late in the last game.
Mbakwe. Good gravy. Jordan Morgan had his first two shots blocked by Mbakwe, who had a double-double featuring five offensive rebounds and five blocked shots. It's a tribute to John Beilein that Michigan came out of the locker room with a play that got Morgan a bucket, and that Michigan managed to get him up to nine points in the second half. Speaking of…
BEWARE THE BEILEIN HALFTIME ADJUSTMENT. Michigan won this game in the first six minutes of the second half when they went on a 20-7 run. This is a season-long trend. They did it against Iowa (opened second half with 12-4 run), West Virginia (11-4 run), Bradley(11-4), NC State(13-8), KState(14-2), Ohio State(7-2) and Pitt(8-4). The only game that was close at halftime in which Michigan did not significantly help itself coming out of the locker room for the second half was Arkansas (3-6).
Beilein figures out what you're doing on defense and assassinates you. That makes you feel real real good about Michigan's coaching acumen, and the apex of that is Beilein knowing a way to get Jordan Morgan a couple of easy buckets against Trevor Mbakwe.
Schedule now looking manageable. Illinois is looking more like the team that eked it out against Gardner-Webb than the one that took it to Gonzaga because opponents are hitting 43% of their threes in conference play and the Illini are hitting 23%. They're last in the league in both stats.
While that's probably more luck than anything, the Illini are also eleventh on the defensive boards and at giving up three throws; they're mediocre on both sides of the ball on shots coming from within the line.
They've gotten hammered their last three games, the latest an embarrassing 14-point loss at home to Northwestern, and have slid an impressive 30 spots in Kenpom's rankings. All of this makes next Sunday's game at Assembly Hall (not that Assembly Hall) quite a bit less intimidating than it did at the beginning of conference play. With that game sandwiched by home games against Purdue and Northwestern, Michigan is now entering one of two relative breather sections on the schedule. In February it gets real again with the Indiana-OSU-Wisconsin-MSU gauntlet.
It finally cracked. It took a game against the #1 offensive rebounding team in the country to do it, but Michigan finally got beat up on the boards. Minnesota entered the game rebounding 48% of their misses and got 46% in this one, with five coming from Trevor Mbakwe alone.
It was going to happen sometime. Given the gap between Minnesota and the next most prolific set of offensive rebounders in the league (Indiana) is almost ten percentage points, we can hopefully chalk that up to Mbakwe and move on against mortals. M remains the best at defending their own boards in conference play, albeit by a slimmer margin now.
Vogrich == Toussaint. In that I constantly think "Poor Damn Vogrich" whenever he appears in my life. Poor Damn Matt Vogrich had a 0-minute trillion in this one* as he hopped on the floor for about four seconds, seemed to cause a Hardaway turnover as his man left him to attack THJ from behind. Hardaway chewed him out—serious—and Beilein yanked him so he could chew him out. PDV, man.
In this instance you can't blame the blocking; I still feel bad for the guy.
*[The box score has his minutes as "0+"]
Stauskas: let it come man. Opponents are fully aware of the guy now and stick to him desperately because if they let that guy get open their coach will open the bowels of hell upon them. So his shots are down, and his three-point percentage is falling as he offers up a couple of unwise ones out of frustration a game. He's so out of sorts he's missing multiple free throws a game. Freshmen, eh?
At least we saw the first Stauskas backdoor play run successfully. If Vogrich can't even stay on the court for a full minute he can at least tutor Stauskas in the tao of backdoor.
Couple of iffy threes aside, Stauskas did pretty much let it come: he threw down a GAME… BLOUSES dunk, picked up a couple of assists, and collected 11 points on six shots. Hardaway got some great looks in this one, probably because the opponent was so focused on Stauskas.
This Week In Post Touches Suck. McGary got one and nearly flung a turnover. Morgan had one and Mbakwe blocked it without thinking twice. For the game the two centers were 8/11 and I don't think they had a miss that Mbakwe didn't block spectacularly—I think we're okay without using post touches to generate shots.
A sixth year senior? Fake! David Jones|Star Tribune
What is existence, really? If a person who was never born dies, but you believed they had been alive, is not the mourning real? Who among us has never felt sad for the death of a fictional person—okay put your hands down Millenials who cried about Dumbledore. You too people who fell for the character of George O’Leary in George O’Leary’s Resume. I mean just a few years ago there was that legend of the basketball player who would appear every year on a different team until his knees…
Okay so I’m being told that Trevor Mbakwe actually exists. Apparently I have not only seen him play basketball as recently as 12 hours ago, but many other independent sources have all confirmed that Mbakwe still has some eligibility left despite the fact that Manti Te’o’s fake girlfriend was in fake middle school when this dude was hawking rebounds for Marquette. How this is possible I'm not sure but one reader in the game thread suggested it might be because they're putting his brain in the stomach of an exosuit:
"Mbakwe looks like Krang from Ninja Turtles. –Dubs
Okay I kinda see it. Also not a myth: Mbakwe is the only member of Minnesota’s starting five who’s not averaging 10 ppg, via the quick preview by robbyt003. LATE BREAKING: the rest of the schedule previewed by mistersuits.
We saw last night just how non-mythological this Michigan squad really is, doing to the Gophers in their building what a million KP100 teams couldn't (the Duke loss was at a neutral site). Before the last 5 minutes turned into Foul Fest '13, Michigan was shooting 58 percent, and not the "they're just going in" kind of 58 percent (like Stauskus couldn't make a 3 for awhile) but the Mr. Hardaway is sick of hearing about how athletic their forwards are kind. Highlights:
"Center the ball! Center the ball! Center the ball!" –Dickie V
Hypothetical Wolverines of the 21st Century: Now that the 2013 class has progressed to the point that M is actively turning away offensive linemen (this is true!) we’re starting to get the comprehensive 2014 lists. Allin4Blue kindly collated the bigger Michigan targets. To recap, Michigan has commitments from LB Michael Ferns and OT Denzel Ward, and is the presumed leader for a handful of other dudes. Long way to go before signing day. The 2014 Recruiting List (originally published in June) is now updated.
Hypothetical Meaning of Football-Related Activities: Ever since he took my suggestion of adding lolcats to his posts, LSAClassof2000 has been getting progressively more interesting. This time he compared the top teams to their performance in top general stats (offense link, defense link) to see which are greater indicators of a team’s likelihood to succeed. Being good defensively seemed to be a slightly better predictor than being good on offense. Otherwise stat values by category:
- Very valuable: Yards per play, Total TDs
- Somewhat valuable: Total yards, yards per game
- Only a little valuable: Number of plays
Takeaway: the object of offense is to score. Don’t let anybody tell you different.
Hypothetical Fourth Major Sport: There was a time in 2006 when baseball got really good and people cared. Becoming nationally relevant again is not likely to happen until either a.) NCAA tells the southern teams they can’t keep starting the season in mid-winter, or b.) global warming makes that irrelevant for every state but Alaska. Or perhaps c.) Young coach who turned Vanderbilt into a power is hired, given massive budget and A++ facilities, and gets to go around offering Michigan degrees. Raoul wrote two baseball-centric diaries this week, one to bring you up to speed on Erik Bakich’s program, and a second on the in-state recruiting efforts, which I’ll warn you are like hockey/hoops in that kids commit right after potty training.
I’ll admit what usually gets me to a game a year is when there’s a future MLB’er on the roster so I can later say I saw him in college and sound like major baseball dude. Michigan’s not projected to be very good this
summer spring late winter, but there are two speedy outfielders who could see The Show: junior Michael O’Neill who’s the better all around player, and returning captain Patrick Biondi (pictured above), who was a Tigers draft pick out of high school and steals everything in sight.
The Best of the Board
SENIOR BOWL PROGRAMMING GUIDE
All hail chatster for putting together a list of where the seniors we care about will be playing in the various senior bowls. He includes a lot of former opponents but here’s the former Wolverines:
- Last Week: Stonum played in the Casino Del Sol game.
- Tomorrow at 3 pm: All-Star Clasic: Roundtree (#89 in red)
- Tomorrow at 4 pm: East-West Shrine Bowl: Campbell (#73 for West)
- Tomorrow at 5 pm: NFLPA Collegiate Bowl: Mealer (#76 for National team) will play tackle. Also appearing: McGuffie.
- January 26 at 4 pm: Senior Bowl: Denard playing receiver for North.
- February 2 at 2:30 pm: Texas vs. the Nation: Kovacs is playing for Nation.
Siri, remind me at 3:55 pm on January 26th that it’s my last chance to see Denard in a winged helmet.
WHAT KIND OF OFFENSE NOW GUYS?
This question from Hail-Storm will be answered in depth in the coming months (hopefully in super detail in HTTV—maybe Chris Brown will step up to that one?). Basically he’s asking what kind of offense would best suit a team that has a few short but good receivers, questionable running backs of varied talents, a very young interior line, very good offensive tackles, and Devin Gardner at quarterback.
This is a too-short answer but I’d say it’s obviously to live on the edges. Find a guard among the kids who can pull really well and make the base play Toussaint or Gardner running outside, keeping the defense honest by running against their strength when they cheat to Lewan’s side. If it works the corners (who get edge duty) won’t be able to play man on Gallon and Dileo so much. If we can find a tight end who can block, sweeps. If not, there are things you can do with Funchess to keep the LBs from cheating outside. Actually it might not be so different from what Ohio State ran this year. Again, pass with max protect—Gardner can create, is liable to do insane stuff if you make him dodge more than one dude.
THE ROCK OF MY IMAGINATION
So BlueBarron got to shoot a Slippery Rock game earlier this year. When their scores come up at Michigan games I always imagine it as this clearing in the middle of the forest with a rocky little brook cutting through the back of one end zone. Which was actually kind of close. What I didn’t imagine is how similar they look to…you know, that one guy what’s his name…sorry hang on my little brother is jumping up and down with his hand up right now…dude stop I’m trying to think who this Division II team reminds me of.
ROUSING SALUTES TO EACH OTHER
Three threads hit this week for the people in the comments to make comments about people in the comments. In the first we all reminisced about the great posters of yore who are no longer with us. I arrived late but my blanket answer to most of the “where did _________ go he was hilarious!?” questions is “I finally got sick of his shit and caved him.” If it wasn’t that he’s probably writing for another site right now. Like remember how those dudes took some mention of the spread being “communist football” and made that a running theme? They had a blog. What happened to the dudes who wrote that blog? I don’t know. I still have Sharik’s cell from the one time I wrote a diary about safeties and he was like “you are wrong about everything—quick come meet me for a beer while I explain this to you!” which is among the most awesome experiences of my blogging career. I don’t know where he went off to. Others I miss: Meechigan Dan, MCalibur, Space Coyote.
Thread the second was for your favorite posters among the dudes still here. It pretty much devolved into a posbang thread, if one of the more epic of that persuasion.
Thread the third lets you call a press conference and announce something. Already used this week: I have a fake dead girlfriend; I am an athlete and I admit to doping/steroids/HGH; I am a famous person and I love this other person whom I lived with for 20 years and raised some kids with; and two Spartans beat up some dude for no reason.
WHAT IS ACTUALLY A CHARGE?
The thinly disguised post-OSU ref bitching thread yielded an interesting conversation between Tom from AA and Ghost of Yost on the proper calling of blocking fouls and why a defender with a sliding foot who makes contact can still draw the charge. Yes I just linked to something people moderated as “trolling” – sadly this still happens to the guy taking the position that doesn’t side with Michigan, even though I think in this instance Tom from AA is right.
OBLIGATORY TE’O THREADS
Glimmers of the Pattern. Open thread yesterday. Press conference react. He kept talking about her. Sadly none of it explains why he seems to become a non-factor when linemen get the luxury of meeting him downfield (see: Alabama, Michigan in 2010), and yet he kills everything otherwise (see: Michigan in 2012).
Your Moment of Zen:
Eight-point road win against a top ten team that keeps Michigan at or near the top of the Big Ten race is muppets.
And you can't have one without the other...
Hardaway at the zenith yo.
|WHAT||Michigan at Minnesota|
|WHERE||Williams Arena, Minneapolis, Minnesota|
|WHEN||7:00 PM Eastern, Thursday|
|LINE||Minnesota –3 (Kenpom)|
Right: Rodney Williams, marginally athletic dude.
The going doesn't get any easier for Michigan after their loss at Ohio State, as the Wolverines travel to Minnesota to take on KenPom's seventh-ranked team.
Minnesota has been one of the surprise teams in the country on the strength on their athleticism, and that starts up front. Center Trevor Mbakwe is back for his sixth year and has been a terror on the boards, posting the nation's #9 offensive rebound rate and #33 defensive rebound rate. He also shoots 58.3% from the field while drawing a ton of fouls (though he only hits 65.8% of his free throws) and producing a top-100 block rate on the other end of the floor. Mbakwe doesn't just get by on his athletic ability—he's a strong post-up player who can score with his back to the basket.
Power forward Rodney Williams is a smaller, bouncier version of Mbakwe. He's got a nearly-identical 58.1 2P% to go with impressive offensive rebound and block rates and a propensity for getting to the line, where he has similar struggles (64.7 FT%). Unlike Mbakwe, Williams doesn't do so well on the defensive glass, and he'll shoot the occasional three (31.6 3P%). In a game full of athletes, Williams is the most likely to throw down a Sportscenter-level dunk.
While Mbakwe and Williams do much of the work on the glass, Minnesota wouldn't be the country's best offensive rebounding team without help from their guards. Their pair of 6'4" starting wings, Joe Coleman and Austin Hollins, boast 7.2 and 7.2 offensive rebound percentages, respectively; for comparison, Glenn Robinson is at 9.8%, while none of Michigan's starting guards has an OR% above 1.8. Coleman does most of his scoring work inside the arc (54.0 2P%), while Hollins takes over half his shots from three-point territory, where he shoots 39.5%.
Rounding out the starting lineup is point guard Andre Hollins, a sharpshooter (43.0 3P%) who dishes out a lot of assists but also struggles with turnovers. The two Hollinses and Coleman all get a healthy number of steals, as well.
If Michigan can get the Gopher starters into foul trouble, there's a serious dropoff to their replacements off the bench. Backup guard Julian Welch is having a horrid year shooting from both inside and outside the arc. Spectacularly-monikered guard Maverick Ahanmisi is a decent three-point threat, but he also has an ugly 28.7% turnover rate. 6'8" spot-up shooter Oto Osnieks has connected on just 2-of-20 three-point attempts this year, while backup center Elliott Eliason has a nasty love affair with worst shot in basketball—according to hoop-math, 62% of his shots are two-point jumpers, and he makes just 17% of them.
Minnesota has a solid slate of wins against KenPom100 teams, beating Michigan State at home by 13 and blowing out Illinois on the road by 17 to go along with wins over Memphis, Stanford, Florida State, USC, and North Dakota State. Their two losses have come to Duke (by 18 in a neutral-site game) and Indiana (by 7 at Assembly Hall after digging themselves a huge first-half hole).
|eFG%||Turnover %||Off. Reb. %||FTA/FGA|
|Offense||52.0 (55)||21.9 (247)||48.0 (1)||44.7 (18)|
|Defense||43.5 (32)||23.0 (66)||35.1 (283)||32.1 (102)|
The ridiculous offensive rebound rate obviously stands out here, and that numbers hasn't dropped much in conference play—the Gophers are first in the B1G at 44.9% while maintaining their strong shooting and foul rates. On the negative side, they've also kept up their ugly turnover rate, though this is an area Michigan doesn't usually exploit.
The dropoff has come on defense, where the Gophers still give up a ton of offensive rebounds but have stopped forcing turnovers (17.6% in four conference games). Opponent shooting has taken a jump near the D-I average on the strength of a big rise in two-point shooting; presumably, Big Ten teams are better equipped to handle Minnesota's athleticism up front.
Everybody hit the glass. Something's got to give when Minnesota's absurd offensive rebounding goes against Michigan's stellar defensive rebounding. Four of Minnesota's five starters are big threats to hit the offensive glass, so it's imperative that every Wolverine on the floor is focused on boxing out and securing any rebounds.
There's an added benefit to the guards hitting the defensive boards—I'll have much more in a post tomorrow, but the short version is that Michigan gets out in transition best when their guards are getting rebounds. If they can counter on the fast break and force Minnesota to stop selling out for offensive rebounds, that'll give Michigan a huge edge.
Get physical. Putting Mbakwe and Williams on the line is preferable to letting them dunk, of course. With Jon Horford back in the rotation, Michigan has three bigs plus Robinson to throw at those two. On the other end, if the Wolverines can get back to going to the basket—something they couldn't do at all against OSU—the Gophers don't have the depth up front to mitigate any foul trouble.
If Michigan can't draw fouls on offense against Mbakwe and Williams without getting too many shots blocked, they have another way to get them in foul trouble: take charges. Mbakwe and Williams aggressively attack the rim, but they may be less inclined to do so if they're hit with a couple early offensive fouls.
Work the pick and roll. Michigan has to get their bread-and-butter play going again after Ohio State shut down that aspect of their offense. Against Minnesota, there's the extra benefit of drawing Mbakwe—and his shot-blocking prowess—away from the basket.
THE SECTION WHERE I PREDICT THE SAME THING KENPOM DOES
Minnesota by 3
Nobody ever reads this stuff anyway, just like nobody mentions Minnesota as a major Final Four contender. They'll learn. They'll all learn…donchya know.
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:
Two people picked Ohio State to win. Of those two TroyNienberg picked the lower final score and won it. I know what you're thinking: can we get Adam Finley to become a regular commenter too and thus complete the c. 2002 kicking trifecta? We are working on that.
This Week's Game:
Michigan @ The Pogo Stick People tomorrow night. Bounce bounce bounce bounce.
And the Prize:
It's not time to grow up yet.
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 killed Goldy. The algorithm is banned in China. The algorithm is from Jersey. The algorithm constantly finds that the best conference alignment would be to put Michigan/MSU and Ohio State with the Illinois/Indiana schools, go to 9 conference games, and make PSU-OSU and the Brown Jug regular nonconference games .. This is not the algorithm. This is close.