and... i like them? I think I like them.
Thinking back on the season, its very easy to look beyond Caris contribution to the team. Most of the credit often goes to Stauskas and Coach Beilein for the incredible season. And even though Stauskas, McGary, and Robinson are getting all the NBA hype, Caris had arguably the best season from a defensive and offensive perspective. He was soo clutch on so many occassions getting the hard hoop either by driving it in or spotting up for a huge 3. And he often had to guard the best players on the opposing team.
I can't wait to see what huge steps he's going to make next year.
Video of Caris (Before he realized Coach K is the Antichrist)
Our Michigan Wolverines ended the season as outright Big ten champs including a sweep of the Buckeyes and a 2-1 record vs MSU. The run ended in the tournament with a heartbreaking loss in the Elite-8. Episode covers the games against Kentucky and Tennessee. Great interviews with all the players including an emotional Jordan Morgan and Beileins message to the team after the loss. It was a fantastic season and i enjoyed every moment. Great run for team 97. Cant wait until November and the tipoff to team 98 (never thought i would ever say those words). Enjoy and as always GO BLUE!!!
So, the NCAA, bastion of upholding the virtues of student athleticism, has a deal with Powerade (TM) that only Powerade (TM) cups shall be used on press row of NCAA games, because won't someone please think of the student-athletes?
Jason Gay of the Wall Street Journal knew this and pretty much set this up to make this a story, but the NCAA's goons fell for it and took the guy's cat mug - with 4 minutes left in the second half. Short, amusing read about this stunt. At this point, anything that prods the NCAA and their hypocrisy is fine by me. also, i hope that the NCAA has to report confiscated cat mugs as some sort of benefit and self report a violation.
warning - pictures of non-NCAA, athletic juice sponsored drink-ware below:
I've been thinking about this potential MGoBoard topic since last year but told myself that I wouldn't write this until the current season ended fearing that somehow I would jinx the outcome. My question/topic is -- where does John Beilein rank among Michigan basketball coaches? In my mind he's number one.
I'll admit I'm biased toward JB. While I'd gone to games off and on as a student in the late 80s/early 90s I started getting season tickets in 2000-2001. My initial seasons were during the Ellerbe era (timing is everything), which makes the current success all the more sweet. When you rank Michigan basketball coaches there aren't nationally iconic names like Yost, Schembechler and Crisler to consider, but there are more individually accomplished coaches than you'd expect at a "football" school. Strack, Orr, Frieder and Fisher all have significant achievements -- in some cases continuing after Michigan.
While obviously Fisher has a national championship plus two NCAA finals it's hard to know how to weigh the fact that the championship was one he didn't coach through the season and the Fab Five teams had the Ed Martin cloud over them (with the caveat that only Webber was cited)..
Here's my rankings, which are admittedly not based on advanced stats:
1. Beilein -- He took over a program that had been reeling from sanctions, problems with players (Crawford, Gaines, Ingeson etc.) and hadn't made a tournament in 10 years. Tom Izzo was winning NCAA championships and leading teams to final fours up the road. In his 2nd year we were in the tournament. In his 5th year we tied for the B10 title, 6th year we made the national finals, and in his 7th the elite eight and a B10 title.
2. Fisher -- I can't really say how to evaluate a guy who can obviously coach (see SDSU) but who had at least enough of a cloud over his head to set things back a decade with some help from Fred Girard of the DetNews and Louis Bullock. While he made two finals I feel that making one with last year's team (as opposed to the Five Fab) was more impressive. Also, Fisher didn't face a home state team as strong as Izzo's program.
3. Strack -- He may have a claim on 2nd or 1st on this list. He built Michigan basketball from the gound up with the Cazzie era leading to the NCAA finals. That said, I can't evaluate the strengthen of the Big Ten from that era or of college basketball in general back then. And his last couple of teams struggled. Given that he was before my time I'm open to reevaluate.
4. Orr - his mid-70s teams with Hubbard and Green were incredible. He's here because, like Strack, his time was short and was bracketed by so so teams in the early and late 70s. I was in New York this weekend, and the Iowa State fans I met loved him for what that's worth
5. Frieder -- This is a tough one. Frieder brought in the level of player (Grant, Rice, Tarpley etc.) that I think made Michigan the kind of schools that the Fab Five would want to come to. That said, his tournament record involved one sweet sixteen finish and otherwise early exits.
Reader will brought up an interesting question in a board posting recently: should Michigan have fouled Kentucky with about 20 seconds left, putting them at the line, but (critically) giving Michigan the ball back with a chance to tie or win?
To my surprise (especially given this crowd), there were a lot of "gut" responses based on feelings, emotions, and in some cases, how such options would be hard to explain in the media.
So I did a few small calculations. The simplifying assumptions were these:
- Kentucky has some chance of making each free throw (call this Kft)
- Kentucky has some chance of scoring when we don't foul them (Ks)
- Michigan has some chance of scoring if they have the ball back (Ms)
- There are only two-point baskets (no threes for simplicity)
- If the game went to overtime, odds are 50/50
On a missed free throw by Kentucky, Michigan gets the ball 100% of the time
(clearly a stretch in this game)
- If we let Kentucky play it out, they will get one chance to score and the game will end either with them winning or go to overtime.
- If Michigan gets the ball back with plenty of time, assume they either score (as dictacted by Ms above) or miss; no free throws, etc.
With these assumptions in place, we can start to calculate: what should Michigan have done to improve their chances of winning the game?
There are two options we will compare:
- Traditional (T): This is what we did. Play defense, and hope Kentucky misses.
- Non-traditional (NT): Foul Kentucky (hopefully a bad free-throw shooter) and get the ball back with a chance to tie (if down two), or win (if down one or still tied).
Consider the traditional approach first. Let's assume that Kentucky has a 40% of scoring to win the game in the fashion they did. Thus, 40% of the time, Michigan loses in regulation, and 60% of the time, it goes to overtime. By assumptions above, Michigan's win probability in this case is 30% (half of the overtime outcomes).
Consider the non-traditional approach, which is trickier. Assume here a low rate for Kentucky free throws: 50%. Thus, 50% of the time, Kentucky will miss the first free throw, and Michigan gets the ball back with a chance to score and win; assume again a similar 40% chance Michigan scores when they have the ball. Correspondingly, 60% of the time, the game goes to overtime with 50/50 odds. Thus, on the first miss, Michigan has a 70% win chance.
Unfortunately, 50% of the time, the Kentucky player makes the first free throw. There are two further cases to consider then. If they miss the second (which happens 50% of the time), Michigan has a 40% chance of winning in regulation, but 60% losing. If they make the second, Michigan just has a 40% chance of sending it to OT, where they have a 50/50 shot.
If you add all of those win probabiities up, the Non-Traditional (NT) approach, assuming the numbers above, has a win probability of 50%, which is 20% higher than the traditional approach (T). Thus, assuming the numbers and other things above, fouling was the better option.
However, that is a pretty low free throw percentage, and the chances I gave of Kentucky or Michigan scoring a basket (40%) were chosen arbitrarily. Thus, I varied each of these and produced the following graphs.
This first graph assumes the 50% (Kfs) as above but varies the Michigan scoring chance along the x-axis and the Kentucky scoring chance along the y-axis. Results in BLUE mean that Michigan would have increased its chances of winning with the NT approach; RED means a decrease by fouling early. The value shown is the difference in win probability between the two approaches.
As you can see, the (x=40,y=40) point shows the 20% increase calculated above.
I also made a graph assuming that Kentucky shoots free throws at a 75% rate, not 50%. It looks like this:
As you can see, it looks a bit different, with the non-traditional approach (foul early and get the ball back) not doing as well.
More broadly, what you can see from the graphs are this: if free throw shooting is bad, fouling early makes sense, especially if you have a good offense with a good chance of scoring. Fouling early also makes increasing sense if the other team is likely to make their last-second shot (no surprise).
Given the efficiency of our offense, and the relative non-goodness of Kentucky free throw shooting, I think we did the wrong thing.
Of course, I reserve the right to be wrong in the analysis (it was a little hastily thrown together); critque away, as you always do. :)