at least it's not just us?
2/6/2013 – Michigan 76, Ohio State 74 (OT) – 21-2, 8-2 Big Ten
I guarantee Tim Hardaway Jr has never heard of obscure indie band Rilo Kiley or heard "A Better Son/Daughter" or even seen The Wizard, in which then-preteen future obscure indie band singer Jenny Lewis debuted along with Super Mario 3. (It was a heady time.) But I also guarantee that for most of the second half he heard that song he had never heard, the bit about sometimes when you're on.
Mitch McGary sings "La Cucaracha" to himself most of the time, but especially during basketball games.
INNER LIFE OF MITCH MCGARY
/INNER LIFE OF MITCH MCGARY
Nik Stauskas… obvious.
One day Nik Stauskas will find out that not everybody in the whole world has BALL SO HARD going through their head 24 hours a day, and a lot of previously inexplicable things will magically explain themselves. That one time he cut off an old lady at the supermarket and spiked her baguette to the floor. The aftermaths of various domino-spiking incidents. That thing about racing a horse. &c.
mean muggin' (Dustin Johnston/UMHoops)
Glenn Robinson III hears nothing but jet engine takeoff, and knows nothing about the world of music. He knows the roar of escape velocity only. He can talk to birds. Birds are in fact sick of talking to Glenn Robinson III. Excuse birds, they have to go regurgitate some food now.
Trey Burke… Trey Burke is a tough one.
Narrative whatnots ranging from your own to trash-talking Ohio State fans on twitter to Mike Tirico and Dick Vitale tell you that Craft versus Burke was once again a victory for Craft and his infuriating brand of that's-80%-of-a-foul-argh defense. Then you go look at a box score that tells you Burke put up 16 points on 12 shots and had eight assists against two turnovers, and your brain has an ellipses as it tries to fit that into the thing you thought might have happened.
Then you remember that Michigan's grand strategy at the end of the game and OT was "Burke, go do something" and the resulting tough stepback threes were more on Beilein walking Burke into a trap with no time on the clock than any fault of his, and you revise that shot count down to ten and… well. First of all, it's impressive that Burke only took ten shots from the structure of the offense. He is an alpha dog. His natural inclination when things get heated is to take everything on his shoulders, and this game wasn't heated so much as it was generating enough energy to thaw most of the state should a Crisler door blow open at an opportune time. Burke still kept himself even-keeled.
Previous Ohio State games have featured plenty of frustrating moments when the pick and roll has been more of an invitation to get trapped towards the sidelines than a way to generate offense, and while there was a bit of that here, it was less prominent. Multiple times Burke turned a tough drive into a kickout three instead of a low-percentage two, and I felt surprise. This is a guy who wants to put it on his shoulders, sometimes to Michigan's detriment. Here he dialed it back a bit—22% usage versus 32% in Columbus—and found plenty of payoff in the form of Hardaway and Stauskas raining in threes.
Those stepbacks at the end of the game were an alternate scenario largely avoided. Burke had to absorb some Buddhism in this one, and win the game without winning it.
Except, of course, for the part where he won it. The part where he almost seemed to let Craft by him on purpose because he knew a pullup in the lane was coming, and thwacked the ball to Glenn Robinson to preserve the slimmest of all leads—to preserve their claim to being elite. It's the bit of the box score you hardly look at because Trey Burke is generously listed at six feet tall.
Aaron Craft is Ohio State's primary assist generator. He had one in this game, a game in which his team put up 55% from two. None of that was generated by Craft, who turned the ball over as much as Burke and found out that putting the game on your shoulders is a grand burden indeed. On the last three possessions Burke stripped him, blocked him, and rode him into the doom of Tim Hardaway. The last play was pure Craft: riding your man down the court on the edge of a foul, forcing his attention onto you on his shoulder until it is too late.
That's not in the box score. The tree of victory sometimes grows from silent soil. Or something like that. I'm not much better at being Buddhist than Trey Burke.
I'm not sure what Trey Burke's life soundtrack is. Could be Vivaldi or Bombs Over Baghdad. It's probably all things smashed together; Burke puts one headphone to an ear and mashes things together until the thing that comes out doesn't seem like it could have been constructed from the parts that went in.
From Eric Upchurch:
Also UMHoops shots.
Rucker park. I couldn't have been the only one who thought about that Kevin Durant video when THJ was going NBA Jam:
There was a nonzero chance of that fourth one resulting in the same court rush.
Begone, heroball. Brief digression on why the fadeaway three from Burke in the previous Ohio State game was okay and this one drove me nuts:
- DOWN TWO ON ROAD: If you get a two you have an approximately 50% chance to win. If you get a three you win. If the two is twice as likely to go down (or get you free throws that you make) as the three, it's even. Since you're on the road your chance of winning is slightly lower, so… even if you think that Burke three was only 30% to go in, the drive would have to be around 65-70% to be a clearly better option. (A potential OSU response is irrelevant since any bucket they get means you lose.)
- TIED AT HOME: Go get a damn point. If the drive is at all likelier to get you a damn point it is a better idea. It is likelier to get you a damn point. So go get it.
Michigan is an exceedingly low-turnover outfit with multiple excellent scoring options. Putting Burke in a one-on-one situation against the best perimeter defender in college basketball is not your best option, and the potential downside is not just a turnover but a turnover that comes early enough for the opponent to get a meaningful possession. Yeah, it's not impossible, but the reward outweighs the risk.
The 1-4 set late is the equivalent of run-run-pass-punt when you're up late in football. Easy to justify, statistically poor.
Impact. Mitch McGary has it.
He kept Michigan in contact in the first half with dives to the bucket and putbacks, going 5/8. He'd finish 7 of 13, the only Wolverine to hit more than half his twos—the only one to make more than two. The rebounding numbers aren't astounding—3 offensive, 3 defensive—but four steals against one foul is. He is coming over entry passes and busting them up at a rate I haven't seen before from a Michigan player.
In addition to the box score stuff, he was all over the court doing his usual McGary things. Whenever I look at the Kenpom boxes it seems like Michigan has more "team" rebounds on both offense and defense than the opponent. This feels like a McGary halo effect from the guy battering all manner of balls about. For example, late in the game he harassed Lenzelle Smith into the sideline as he attempted to rebound a Michigan miss. Michigan got the ball and a "team" offensive rebound. In the highlights above he hedges Craft into the sideline; Craft attempts to save the possession by hurling the ball off of McGary; the ball deflects to Robinson, who gets credit for a steal* and Michigan fast-breaks the other way. He's a massive possession generator statistically and there's an excellent case to be made that he is being shortchanged by those stats.
McGary's not a slug on offense, either. He can put the ball on the deck for a couple dribbles against other fives; in this one Amir Williams had an excellent block on one of those drives, but the other ended in a layup. His skill level is relatively high for a big. And he does all that other business.
At this point he's swung back from overrated to underrated. I mean, is there much difference between what he's giving M and what Nerlens Noel is giving Kentucky? Noel blocks a butt-ton of shots; McGary is an incredible rebounder on both ends of the floor. They're about even in offensive efficiency. So… who would you rather have? It's at least up for debate if McGary continues pulling down the minutes he has the last couple games.
*[I'm pretty sure that's the letter of the law, right?]
Alright. Defense is something of an issue. Michigan overplayed Deshaun Thomas to decent effect—or Ohio State just forgot to go to him late—and held him to 17 points on 15 shots. Given OSU's struggles to find secondary scoring you would take that as an easy Michigan win when paired with shooting nearly 60% from three.
That was not the case thanks in large part to LaQuinton Ross, who went nuts. He hit seven of ten shots and probably didn't have more than one empty possession since he rebounded a lot of his misses.
Add in Sam Thompson, Amir Williams, and Lenzelle Smith hitting eight of ten twos—Smith had a poor day from three—and that's how Ohio State kept pace with Hardaway's beast mode second half. Everyone other than Craft and Deshaun Thomas was throwing down easy stuff. Michigan said "someone other than Thomas will beat us" and Ohio State was like "okay."
Q: where was the zone? Ohio State struggled against the 2-3 zone in the previous game. Michigan pulled it out briefly and it seemed to be going fairly well. For whatever reason, the coaches didn't like the way it looked and went back to what turned out to be a highly porous man to man.
Revisiting the Morgan thing. I don't know if that's really the issue. I mean, how bad does McGary have to be positionally to wipe out four steals and assorted other turnover generation? Overhelping accusations go back to that discussion about whether that's on the big or the guy who gave up the drive the big felt he had to respond to. There's nothing in the way of stats that suggests Morgan is integral to the defense, so we're left with fuzzy business about rotations. I don't know. My eyes say that 1) McGary is playing really well and 2) Michigan is playing badly on defense. I can't reconcile those.
On the other hand. Hi I just watched the MGoBlue highlights embedded above and they happen to have a good deal of OSU's secondary scoring included. Sam Thompson's 3/3 night consisted of a transition tip dunk and two tough shots, one a baseline runner (not included), the other a baseline 18-footer with a decent contest from Stauskas. Lenzelle Smith's game-tier is a scramble off an offensive rebound that still sees Stauskas chase him off the three-point line with a closeout and forces him to re-set and fire from just inside the arc. That's a pretty good outcome off that OREB.
Maybe OSU just had a good game? There's a lot of randomness in here.
Rebounding check. This looked basically even in the ESPN box score but as per usual, once the whirlwind effect of McGary bouncing balls off all of the faces is taken into account, Michigan comes out looking better. With five team rebounds to OSU's two that pushes them up to 38% to 32%, which is a moderate edge.
More than halfway through the conference season their rebounding is holding up much better than it was last year: they're third on D, fourth on O. Last year they finished 9th and 10th in those categories, respectively. The rest of the schedule is four easy games and four hard ones, so that doesn't seem to be a schedule effect.
Uniformz. I was trying to ignore them as best I could. Unfortunately twitter was nonstop trash-talk about them until the game became so good Michigan could have come out in garbage bags elaborately festooned with penises bearing Dave Brandon's face and no one would have noticed. Twitter, I am trying to grit the ol' teeth here, and you are not helping.
I don't care anymore. This is the scene in Planet of the Apes after Charlton Heston screams "YOU MANIACS YOU BLEW IT UP" in which Charlton turns to his companion and says "I'm hungry, do you guys still have Jimmy John's?" It is what it is. It'll slowly erode my will to live, but whatever. I've said my bit.
The one thing I'd like to mention: Michigan handed out honest-to-god Maize shirts for the Maizeout. I didn't know they actually made those anymore, and can we pick a yellow? No, we cannot pick a yellow.
"But the kids like them." The first album I ever bought was the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles soundtrack. I memorized it. Kids are stupid.
Oblig. ref bit. Spent entire second half grinding my teeth about the Craft post-buzzer (except there was no buzzer) three. Why was there no buzzer? I'm pretty sure the refs can't look at the player and the shot clock at the same time, so they have to rely on the noise. No noise, no shot clock violation. That may be on Crisler instead of the refs. Nik Stauskas put up a prayer after the buzzer went off later, but there was no buzzer so it didn't go off and there was no call.
The phantom foul on Burke was probably the right result since Hardaway did get Thomas's arm on the shot. The ref missed it and had to make up some bullcrap on Burke once it was clear Thomas had airballed it implausibly, but it was a foul. Just not on the dude who got it.
The offensive goaltending non-call… oy.
The sequence at the end was classic late-game ref ostriching: it was a flagrant on Craft and probably a foul on Hardaway. Sometimes they let you get away with some extra contact when you get your hand literally on top of the ball, as Hardaway did. I can see not calling that because by the time the arm contact starts in earnest Hardaway has already destroyed any chance of a shot. Still seemed foul-y to me.
Don't get me started on the "let them decide it on the floor" meme. They are deciding it on the floor as long as you call the game the way you should.
The highlighters are the good guys.
EDIT: Not working so well so I'm pulling down the one with our ads and giving you
Thorin's MGOBLUE's today.
ALL THE THREES
Uh… well… I think so.
And you can't have one without the other…
I'm going to go deflate over here now.
|WHAT||Ohio State at Michigan|
|WHERE||Crisler Center, Ann Arbor, Michigan|
|WHEN||9:00 PM Eastern, Tuesday|
|LINE||Michigan –8 (Kenpom)|
Michigan gets the chance to avenge their first defeat of the season tonight when Ohio State comes to Crisler, where they will be greeted by the sun. Or possibly Michigan's maize-on-maize jerseys. Either way, I can't look at them long enough to tell the difference.
Anyway, Brian previewed this Buckeye outfit in detail just a couple of weeks ago, so I'll spare much of the redundancy and point you in that direction.
Since Ohio State last played the Wolverines, they've gone 4-1, with their lone loss coming by three at the Breslin Center. In that game, Deshaun Thomas scored scored 28 points on 10-of-20 shooting. None of his teammates had more than five points, and non-Thomas Buckeyes combined to shoot 9-of-27 from the field. While Thomas didn't lead the team in scoring in recent wins over Penn State and Nebraska, this is still very much Deshaun Of The Dead, and now there's a movie poster and everything:
So, yes, the situation is still the same. Thomas is the best pure scorer in the league, perhaps the country. Aaron Craft and Shannon Scott are stellar perimeter defenders, not-so-stellar shooters. Lenzelle Smith Jr. is a good defensive rebounder and the only guy outside of Thomas who's a real threat with his outside shot. Sam Thompson is a pogo stick who shouldn't ever shoot outside of zero feet. Amir Williams (the starting center of late) and Evan Ravenel will both do good center things—rebound, block shots, defend well—while not getting a whole lot of post touches. Thomas will be tasked with carrying the offense while the rest will play obnoxiously good defense, and it's that latter bit that gave Michigan a whole heap of trouble the first time around.
Since they last played, OSU has the aforementioned loss at Michigan State, comfortable home wins over Iowa and Wisconsin, and road wins over doormats Penn State and Nebraska—the latter got a bit hairy at parts, but the Buckeyes held on for a seven-point margin. They sit tied with Michigan and Michigan State for second in the Big Ten behind Indiana; winning this game is pretty important for Michigan, obviously.
Four factors, conference only:
|eFG%||Turnover %||Off. Reb. %||FTA/FGA|
|Offense||50.3 (5)||19.4 (9)||25.8 (10)||31.8 (6)|
|Defense||43.6 (2)||17.8 (8)||28.4 (3)||23.2 (1)|
Ohio State's offense is well below elite, producing the fifth-ranked offensive efficiency in the conference—nearly 18 points per 100 possessions behind Michigan. There's no one area offensively in which they really stand out (for good or bad) unless you count Deshaun Thomas as an area.
Defensively, however, this is the top-ranked unit in the conference and #9 nationally. They're allowing Big Ten opponents to shoot just 43% on twos and 30% on threes, though the latter number seems fluky—they're 10th in the conference at 3PA/FGA allowed, which is a stronger indicator of their three-point defense. The interior guys block a ton of shots, and despite that aggressive approach the Buckeyes keep opponents off the free-throw line better than any other Big Ten team.
Find a way to get the pick-and-roll working. Michigan's loss at Ohio State came in large part because the Wolverines could not find a way to get the bread-and-butter play working. Utilizing Aaron Craft's quickness and aggressiveness, the Buckeyes "locked the rails" against Trey Burke, pinning him to the sideline and keeping him away from the middle of the floor:
The key here won't so much be Burke as it will the bigs—if McGary/Horford/Morgan can slip a few of those picks or flip the pick to catch OSU off guard, they can create some easy buckets and force the Buckeyes to go back to the drawing board. If Craft gets hit with a cheap foul or two that he wouldn't get in Columbus, that would be nice, too.
Always, always account for Thomas. In the first game, Glenn Robinson III got lost a few times defensively and allowed Thomas to get open looks, which he of course knocked down. Robinson is coming off his worst game of the year—on both ends of the court—against Indiana, and he can't afford a repeat performance given his matchup. Michigan will likely give him plenty of help, but there can't be communication errors or lapses in concentration—Thomas will take advantage just about every time.
Aim for the head. Walking Dead enthusiasts know what I'm talking about.
THE SECTION WHERE I PREDICT THE SAME THING KENPOM DOES
Michigan by 8
I'll never doubt you again, KenPom.
Hey guys. After sleeping for 12 of the last 16 hours, I feel better. Better is not great, but here is a linkdump.
Oh, and an mgolicious note: my chrome extension broke when delicious updated their site for the first time since the Civil War, so that aspect of the site has halted for the moment. If anyone knows of a functioning chrome extension for the new delicious let me know. Also: sidebar tabs. Why do you hate me, Google?
Creepily accurate. This list of Denard Robinson smiles from 10 to 0:
Bowl revampin'. It appears that the people with the football teams have surveyed the landscape and discovered that oh yeah we have the leverage here. Mike Slive:
“Since we’ve made such a significant change with the playoff, it’s a perfect time to look at the bowls and how they work,” SEC commissioner Mike Slive said this week. “This is a very good time to take a hard look at how we do our bowl relationships and see if there’s a better way.”
Since Mike Slive just created a "Champions Bowl" that he let sites bid for and picked the Sugar Bowl to host it despite what I assume was a ridiculous offer from content-mad Jerry Jones, I'm guessing his better way does not involve bowl directors making 800k.
According to Stewart Mandel, that model is already in place with the Rose Bowl, which is probably one of the reasons the Pac-12 and Big 10 were so intent on keeping their baby. Anyway, the schools are going to move the risk from the schools to the bowls, because they can see...
Meanwhile, Jim Delany made some noises about diversifying the Big Ten's bowl slate. The current setup is great if you like the worst cities in Florida, but not so great if you like, you know, culture and stuff.
We heard this about seven months ago as well when the Big Ten had its smoochy session with the Rose in a futile attempt to cover up for the fact they couldn't get enough votes for home playoff games. I assume that the desire is real, and that when the contracts come up there will be diversification into places that are more than strip clubs and strip malls.
Congratulations to all of us for collectively being fed up or financially unable to support this model, and thus forcing a change.
[HT: Get the Picture. ]
Obligatory plea. Denver! December/January highs average in the mid-40s, it's usually sunny or snowing, the stadium district is pretty cool, and the Front Range is just an hour away.
Threes of doom. I wish this Five Key Plays bit included the loony long Burke two that kicked off Michigan's fatal sequence, but it gets everything else:
1. Hardaway takes heavily contested three with a hand in his face with 25 on the shot clock.
2. GRIII takes a basically open three with 11 left—the contest is token and doesn't impact him.
3. Burke runs down and takes a three that Ravenel is credited with a block on that airballs. Since Ravenel comes nowhere near the top of Burke's shooting motion… no. This should be a foul, and with Morgan charging towards the basket with Craft on his back anything that hits the rim has a decent chance of being a putback dunk. Much less upset about this, now filing under Big Ten refs are cowards instead of insanity. Dollars to donuts there is a post-airball whistle if this game is at Crisler.
4. Terrible contested NBA-ranged three with 29 on clock from Stauskas.
5. Decently open look from Hardaway with 25 on the clock; Hardaway run over, no call.
Part of the reason Michigan's offense looked so bad in this one is just the way the game was being called. OSU was in They Can't Call Everything Mode—and with M so foul-averse I wonder if that hurts them on the offensive end since refs have an unconscious bias towards keeping foul calls relatively even.
Beilein was okay with the final three, BTW. I didn't mind it either since going for a win in that situation is at least on par with attempting to tie it with a slightly easier shot. If Michigan gets that one extra point from the Burke breakaway bucket, though…
This week in post touches suck. Via UMHoops:
|Ohio State Buckeyes||6.4%||80||71||0.888|
|Minnesota Golden Gophers||8.9%||122||105||0.861|
|Michigan State Spartans||10.1%||131||112||0.855|
|Penn State Nittany Lions||9.7%||118||92||0.780|
|Illinois Fighting Illini||4.2%||59||35||0.593|
The D-I average points per possession is 0.995; every Big Ten team is well below that. I wonder if the data is only considering shots from post-ups and not kicks and rotation and suck, because that's so amazingly low across the board that it feels faulty. Surely there are some post-touch benefits this analysis is missing, or coaches simply wouldn't run them anymore.
Anyway, no I don't think Michigan should post up Morgan and McGary more.
This week in loldelany. Your Successories conference is not working out.
When deciding on division names in December 2010, Delany said the Big Ten "didn't have great options."
"We weren't going to go with 'Bo or Woody,' 'Black or Blue,' or 'Plains or Lakes,' " Delany said. "Obviously we got some acceptance [with Legends and Leaders], but not as much as we would have liked."
Delany said he was a "little surprised" by the backlash when the division names were announced.
People in charge of things are just in charge of them. There is not a reason. They instantly become megalomaniacs despite this.
"I'm not sure it was a national survey [of people who didn't like the names], but people who hit the 'send' button," Delany said. "I don't take umbrage to negative reaction. I don't necessarily change when I hear it. I think on the other hand, we said we would test-market it, and we have for a couple of years. We have the opportunity to look at it again. I'm sure we will. Whether or not we change or not is to be determined. I don't have any presumption that we'll change on it, but that doesn't mean we're not looking at it.
"I don't think when you try to build something, lead some organization, you don't want to be tone deaf. But it's not up for vote every week."
That is the best probably unintentional double-negative ever.
The UV bullet doesn't count. Hockey got swept by Alaska this weekend for the first time ever, which came as no surprise, really. The first line was AJ Treais and the only guys who skate hard consistently: Andrew Copp and Zach Hyman. They skated five defensemen since they've got three out injured. So that's where the team is: injured on the backline, lackadaisical on the front line, and still getting really bad goaltending.
Yost Built has a recap.
Zak Irvin is kind of good. He's the favorite for Mr. Basketball in the state of Indiana—Michigan has never acquired one of those—and seems like a bigger version of GRIII:
Zak Irvin: 6’7” Shooting Guard, Hamilton Southeastern H.S. (2013) I just love watching him play. He is the best Senior in the state and I don’t think it is even that close. At 6’7”, he can shoot the lights out, handle the ball well, and really gets after it defensively. I really don’t see how he isn’t ranked higher by some national scouting service. He is the total package. Will be great at Michigan.
“He is fundamental with both hands,” Harrison senior Mark Huston said of Irvin. “The best you can do is try and contest (his shot) to the best of your abilities and hope he misses. But he is a great talent, and he doesn’t do that a lot.”
“It almost felt like he was guarding three people at once with his length on traps,” Huston said. “He can jump passing lanes real easy, so it was tough for us to get the ball moving."
Etc.: Cierre Wood enters draft. Basketball is young. The latest on Austin Hatch. It's hard to win all your games. Chip Kelly: he gone. Enjoy your sanctions, Oregon! Dawg Sport's T. Kyle King retires. If blogging age is defined by the number of words you put on the internet, he does so at the young age of 120. Mike Harden profiled. Michigan is just one of five programs with the same staff for three straight years. DON'T TWEET AT ATHLETES PEOPLE WHO CAN'T READ THIS BLOG ANYWAY. Mel Kiper, soulless robot. Michigan in comic book format.
1/13/2013 – Michigan 53, OSU 56 – 16-1, 3-1 Big Ten
Michigan lost its mind to start this game, finding themselves down a grim amount—24 points at the maximum—as their offense abandoned them and an excess of switching on the defensive end confused them more than their opponent. It was a brutal flashback to the time when 20 turnovers was not an uncommon thing to go over, and faith-shaking.
I thought back to the Amaker/Ellerbe days when I was allowed to go watch something else once Michigan was down 20, and other than that 34-2 start at Cameron I couldn't think of anything else that had gotten so out of hand so quickly. I considered turning it off at one especially grim bit.
Then a thing happened: Michigan stepped up on defense and started chipping away, chipping away, chipping away. By halftime it was twelve. They cut it to eight, saw the lead push out again, and cut it back to eight again, this time following up. Six. Four. One; back to three. Finally, tied. Michigan had clawed all the way back from a 21-point deficit against a ranked team on the road.
Championship stuff. Gritty grit Eckstein stuff. Sportswriter hearts swelled, encomiums at the ready. It is in these fires that the heart of a champion is forged. The will to win surpasses. They just wanted it more. The trend was clear, and the final six minutes would be distance Michigan continued to put between themselves and OSU after their disoriented start.
Michigan then lost its mind again. The next six shots were all misses, and only two were even close to good looks, both missed threes from Robinson and Hardaway. The other four shots were nuts: an incredibly tough long two from Burke and jack-it-up contested threes from Burke, Hardaway, and Stauskas. If that's what you've got at the end of the shot clock, okay I guess. Those four shots were launched with 16, 17, 25, and 26 seconds on the clock*, and the box score credits Evan Ravenel with a block on the Burke three. That shot: not a good idea.
THESE ARE THE WAGES OF NUTS
They did not attempt to run their offense, and after all that. After imploding and then crawling their way back into it. After figuring out how to do things, they did not do them.
By the time this was over they were down six points with under two minutes left; while they got a shot to steal the game late thanks to a couple of steals that led to fast-break baskets—one of which even counted—the loss is right there.
I don't get it. I get being flustered in your first road game against elite competition, and falling behind extensively. I get scraping and clawing your way back into the game gradually when you're a good team. I don't get doing that and immediately going back to flustered. Turnovers or an inability to find a shot and just jacking it up, okay. That… that is confusing, like if that Benjamin Button movie was about a guy who yo-yoed between 22 and 6.
They are young, it turns out. If you think about it hard you can realize this yourself despite what it looks like on the court. Squint and maybe rub your temples and you'll be like "ohhhhh right, they have five freshmen who play." For the first time, it looked like it.
At the beginning, and at the end, anyway. In the middle, they had a near-elite team choosing to initiate their offense with 15 seconds left because they didn't want any part of a long game with the Wolverines. Work on the bit where you're six, I think.
*[I bet that is actually a couple seconds shorter than the actual shot clock; I'm just taking the difference between the previous recorded event and the shot, and there's often a second or three that runs off the clock before the shot clock resets as the team takes it out of bounds or goes for the rebound.]
How young? The most shocking stat on a page that proclaims Michigan the second-best team in the country at defensive rebounding: Michigan is 338th of 347 teams in average experience. (FWIW: Kentucky is a lot below them, and Texas is dead last.)
It's not a mystery. In re: why it's so hard to win on the road in this league. In this game, Michigan got the short end of three not very close block/charge calls worth a total of eight points, saw an obvious goaltend on a ball that went off the backboard not get called, and saw Trey Burke grabbed from behind on a breakaway for a foul on the floor instead of the only two possibly legit calls: and-one or an intentional foul. Oh and there was that unbelievable Hardaway-no-call on a possession Michigan ended up hitting a three. Also Evan Ravenel hit an 18-footer, which cannot be legal.
Yeah, Michigan didn't get called for many fouls themselves, because they never do. They're currently #1 in defensive free throw rate.
I'm just like… okay. That sucks, and is predictable. At least it's relevant!
Corollary. Kenpom keeps bringing this up: the narrow winner of a home game is very likely to lose the return match due to things like the above.
When the home team was the winner of the first game, they were a collective 309-326 in the rematch. That’s right, a home winner is more likely to lose a rematch than win it. It gets better, though. A home team winning the first game by single-digits went a collective 96-195, winning 33.0% of the time. Considering that overall, road teams win conference games about 38% of the time, close home winners are really not proving their superiority at all.
Wait, there’s more. Home teams that won by one or two points were 16-52 in the rematches, winning just 23.5% of the time.
This game was a point off his prediction, FWIW, which means I should not ever poke Kenpom.
STOP THE ELBOW REVIEWS. Stop it. The elbow reviews. Stop it. If there is a truly flagrant elbow delivered to a player, have the league suspend the guy after the game. Since that almost literally never happens there will not be a major impact, so we can cease halting games for five minutes of staring at a man staring at a monitor for no reason whatsoever. It's like instant replay in football that never changes anything.
Also just take the good threes okay. A thing that drives me nuts: guys passing up good looks at three so they can take a dribble and shoot a long two, which Burke and Levert both did during Michigan's extended time in the wilderness early. Just take the open shot you have an equal chance of hitting that is worth 50% more, please.
Well… Craft. In the preview I said this had to be at least a draw, and it wasn't. Burke was 2/8 from 2, 2/5 from three before and hit five free throws. 15 points on 13 shots is not particularly efficient, and then 4 assists to 4 turnovers is a fail. You may want to mentally deduct the last three as well since it was a meaningless, banked heave with a second left. Craft wasn't that efficient himself—9 points, 9 shots—but his role is to turn Burke into not the best player on the floor, and he did that. There is a reason he's one of the few non-Michigan players to have a tag on this blog.
That's the thing that Michigan lacks, by the way, an elite defender. Ohio State seems to have too many of them and nobody who can actually hit a shot, which is why they had to squeeze this win out despite Michigan putting up 38% from the floor—but it would be nice if Michigan had a guy they could go to to harass the opponent into a bad day.
The main non-Craft problem: terrible screens? In this game the screens didn't seem to actually slow anyone down. That's not always the screener's problem since he doesn't control how close to him the ballhandler goes. It didn't seem like the answer here was very close at all, and frequently what resulted was an instant trap on the ballhandler.
Stauskas: shut off. Three shots, all threes, all misses. Two of those were very bad shots clearly arising from a frustration at not being involved, the second one of the Fatal Four discussed above. I wonder if would have been more effective if he had gotten the obvious-obvious-obvious block call on that first drive. After that he didn't really try to do anything once he got his hands on the ball. In situations like this where the guy is in Stauskas's shorts, where are the back cuts? Vogrich was usually good for one of those a game despite being not six-six. I'm puzzled why Stauskas isn't getting at least a couple backdoor opportunities a game.
Rebounding: sufficient on defense, meh on offense. At this point I think you should put aside any remaining skepticism about Michigan's defensive rebounding. They're due for some regression, but OSU could only grab six offensive rebounds—21%. If it wasn't pretty good they would have had one of those nights by now, either against Pitt or KState or this outfit. Michigan just improved its season average against Ohio State. It is legit.
Meanwhile, once you add in a few "team" offensive rebounds, Michigan actually outperformed OSU in this one, but barely. 23% is nothing to write home about. But, hey, I'll take winning rebounding matchups against OSU.
McGary check-in. I really wanted him on the floor more than Morgan in this one. In 18 minutes he put up 3/3 shooting, got two offensive rebounds, and blocked two shots, both rather impressively.
Depth. Er. Hardaway: 40 minutes. Robinson: 38. Burke: 37. Stauskas got some sucked away because of the abovementioned items, so Albrecht and Levert both got around 10 minutes… hopefully one or the other develops into someone who can take some of the heat off those guys. Albrecht in particular was impressive.