Coaches' timeouts are worse. Basketball teams should get one, full stop.
2/11/2014 – Michigan 70, OSU 60 – 18-6, 10-2 Big Ten
I'ma fall in this basket if that's what it takes
Early, it was a layup line for Ohio State. A combination of transition off turnovers and long misses and plain old WHAT ARE YOU DOING defense led to a stretch where OSU made seven consecutive shots, because all of those shots came within a foot of the rim. For its part, Michigan was stuck outside, with the now-standard point-guard-on Stauskas gambit making it difficult for Michigan to initiate offense through their best player.
Aside from the inexplicable avalanche of offensive rebounds, a sense of déjà vu prevailed. This was the same game Trey Burke's Michigan team had at OSU, the same feeling of being overwhelmed by a road game they had just experienced at Indiana and Iowa. Craft or a Craft-like substance was stuck to Michigan's engine, gumming up the works.
Dan Dakich rhapsodized; ESPN kept showing one particular defensive sequence where Stauskas got Walton a wide open corner three that GRIII rebounded and missed a putback on. What would ESPN have shown had either of those really good shots gone in? The same thing. The Aaron Craft narrative does not bow to things like reality. He is a winner, and if Ohio State does not win, they still win, because anything else is impossible.
And then Michigan was down four at halftime. Four is a lot less than 20. Four is doable.
In the second half, Craft stayed stuck to Stauskas. Michigan came unstuck from Craft. Stauskas managed to find snatches of space in which to rise up or attack the basket on his way to 15 efficient points but was largely removed from generating shots for his teammates. Walton became a free-range annoyance to anyone who happened to have the ball.
Except Craft. Walton played free safety against Craft. If provided a mildly psychoactive taco, Craft would have seen Walton as a giant middle finger extended in the general direction of his offensive competence. A very small, very distant middle finger. And he still would have passed the ball to someone on the perimeter.
On the other end, Walton did a thing that was pretty good, and then a thing that reminded you of you-know-who, and then another couple things and then you had to say it even if you were afraid to do so.
The word "Burke" was uttered, in comparison instead of deficit, when Walton took a mishandled dribble and exploded to the basket for an and-one against a seven foot shotblocker. He extended his body past applicable limits and crashed to the floor after. It had to be mentioned. It was like seeing a ghost.
This is not even that shot.
This is an entirely different shot that is the same shot that is Burke's shot.
Walton's stats were incomprehensible in relation to his play. When he scored near the end of the first half and up flashed his line—two points, four rebounds—it felt wrong. The narrative of his play was at odds with the blunt numbers, and even afterwards he still has an impossible-seeming 2/8 in the two-point column. The other stats, however, back him up: 13 on 13 shot equivalents, ten(!) rebounds, six(!) assists, one turnover. OSU has the fourth-best defense in the country; Derrick Walton drove the bus against them in the second half as Michigan put up 70 in a 59 possession game.
For his part, Craft finally launched his uncontested three, which was an airball. A gritty winner of an airball, but an airball. Dakich started looking for another mancrush—literally, on air, this is a thing that literally happened on air.
As Michigan surged, you remembered the other bit of that Ohio State game last year: a 20-minute trudge to tie the game before a final slump finally condemned them. This trudge was from ten back, but it was no less of a grind against pretty much the same team that ground Michigan's offense into paste a year ago.
This Michigan team doesn't have a Burke, but when there's one Aaron Craft maybe it's better to have three mini-Burkes thrusting their rapiers wherever the armor is weakest.
Hello. Michigan has now won at OSU, MSU, and Wisconsin. In the same year and everything. They also have a road win over (probably) tourney-bound Minnesota, and are very likely to end the conference season at least 6-3 away from Crisler. 7-2 is a distinct possibility. Yowza.
This probably missed. Michigan now knows the feeling. [Fuller]
Parade of missed bunnies. Here's a sentence I never thought I'd say: that game reminded me of the Michigan-Arizona game, with Michigan in the role of offensive rebound machine that can't convert any of the resulting layups. Michigan had 14(!), most of them in the first half, and after that frustrating 20 minutes they only led OSU 7-4 in second chance points.
This feels like a team-wide problem but it was mostly a Robinson thing. (Morgan did miss a first-half putback but that was his only miss of the night.) On the one hand, Robinson flashed to the bucket without a box-out on several possessions and created extra shots. On the other, those extra shots did not go in the basket. They kept flashing huge disparities in FG% in the first half and wondering how Michigan was in the game; those disparities would have been significantly less huge if Michigan was just getting one look at the basket.
Haunted. Now add in the three point play caused when Caris momentarily lost his mind and 'saved' a ball going out off of OSU. This is why large sections of the first half were agonizing about a score that should have been near even.
But welcome back, super-efficient two-headed center. As mentioned, Morgan missed one shot. Horford also missed one, a 15-foot jumper on which he was left open. Both guys used clever moves to get short-range buckets on route to a 7/9 night on which Michigan dominated the boards.
Box score change request. Spike Albrecht only got four minutes, picking up another turnover and missing one shot. HOWEVA, that missed shot should be credited as an assist, as he drove into the lane and put it so high off the window that there was little chance of a bucket. He did this because Amir Williams tries to block everything. Amir Williams tried to block it; the ball went directly to Morgan on the weakside; Morgan actually made the layup.
Amir Williams. There's no nice way to say this. He is not all there. OSU has yanked him from long stretches of games for defensive incompetence; in this one Michigan's two centers picked up seven OREBs despite being much smaller and less athletic. He also committed one of history's worst fouls when he ran over Walton with the shot clock expiring on a critical possession down the stretch.
I remember Williams getting yanked from the M-OSU game at Crisler two years ago after some comically bad defensive possessions, and while he has improved somewhat from that point he remains a massively frustrating guy prone to fits of ain't-care. I know this because I was rooting for OSU in their game against MSU and built up large reserves of loathing for his game.
Irvin up and down. Irvin extended OSU the same favor Williams did at the end of the first half by fouling LaQuinton Ross on a three. It wasn't nearly as bad. He's a freshman, not a junior, and that was a quality look from the corner instead of a desperation jack from about five feet behind the line. It was still bad. Irvin also added in a trio of errors on possessions down the stretch:
- fouling Ross as he initiated a desperation drive to the basket with three seconds on the shot clock
- turning the ball over on a sloppy perimeter pass
- getting burned by Ross on the next offensive possession for a layup and an OREB that turned into a three point paly
The refs credited the first foul to Horford, somehow, but it was Irvin who made the contact, and Stauskas is listed as the guy with the TO in the box score. I don't think I'm remembering it wrong, because at the time everyone in the room was moaning at Irvin.
[UPDATE: I remembered this wrong. The bail out foul was in the first half, as was the ensuing TO, and then the third error was the foul on the three. Irvin did get a TO from Ross in between these issues.]
So there's that. But Irvin also had ten points on five shot equivalents. This is a much shorter section than all the things that went wrong but it's equally as important. That is two points per Irvin-initiated shot. That is good, Adam Jacobi. His threes were needed shots in the arm when Michigan was getting wobbly; he's nearing Stauskas for team three point champion. Achievement unlocked: Modern-Day Microwave.
Wait. Should we call him "The Induction Burner"? Or is that stupid?
Yeah, okay, it's stupid.
This three was slightly lower pressure. [Fuller]
Glenn is so broken don't take that oh OKAY. Another miserable game for Robinson, but this one was capped off by a critical corner three in crunch time that pushed Michigan out to 7 and was the beginning of the end. He was 2/9 on his other shots, many of them point-blank. At points it was like his God-given athleticism was just an elaborate way to troll Michigan fans.
But at least it seems like the message has been received. Michigan posted him up for one of his buckets. Robinson eschewed dribbles for the most part (0 A, 0 TO) and went hard on the offensive glass. Even if it didn't pay off in this particular game, more 4 OREB performances from Robinson will get him into that "quiet 14 points" range he was so effective in last year.
His defense was also notably better on Ross than alternatives. Irvin was inserted for a run in the second half right after a couple of plays around the rim on which Robinson did not convert, and there were a couple of possessions on which it was clear that Ross could just back Irvin down inside the paint whenever he wanted. GRIII is much more sturdy.
Hurdle cleared. Kenpom had Michigan with a 33% chance to pull that game off. The algorithm has been giving OSU a bit of the Wisconsin treatment this year after the Buckeyes stormed through an undefeated nonconference schedule with no good teams on it. Despite being .500 in the league they're still in the top 20. Even if they're overrated by computers, that was a road game against a 19-5 team, Michigan's last against anything resembling a tourney outfit.
Their only trips remaining are to Purdue and Illinois, collectively 7-15 in the league. Michigan is now better than 70% to win every game left on the schedule save MSU, a 65% proposition, and is projected to finish a boggling 15-3 in the league.
Craftbow. I don't hate Aaron Craft and would take him on this Michigan outfit no question even if he is allergic to shots. But man, I hate Aaron Craft. This has nothing to do with anything other than the Tebow effect wherein announcers praise a player so much that you're just so damned sick of hearing about it.
Dakich is normally my favorite color guy other than Jay Bilas, but hearing him call an OSU game is pure torture. His normally reasonable comments about effort go from getting your hands up on shooters and boxing out to ludicrous flights of fancy wherein he literally says things like "the ball knows" that you have reversed the floor and then goes in. In this game he started the first ten minutes bitching about how Michigan was barely trying, and then had to stare at Michigan ending the game on a dominant run.
Effort is so fetishized by commentators that they'll ignore randomness, confusion, youth, and uncertainty to rail on it. Craft exacerbates that 1000%. It got so bad that Dakich started going on and on about Horford's huge effort level… on an uncontested dunk. I'm delighted I never have to hear about Craft again. No offense to the man himself.
Creepy balance. To the point about many mini-Burkes instead of one Burke: Michigan played seven guys an appreciable amount of time in this game. Usage: 22, 22, 21, 19, 18, 18, 16. Walton and GRIII are at the top; LeVert is at the bottom.
Michigan shot 8-17 from WANTING IT MORE while Ohio State had just three HUSTLES out of 20 WHEN YOU PLAY HOOPS. They even out-DECIDED TO GO OUT AND GET ANGRY'ed them 14 to 8.
And you can't have one without the other…
Thank you Triplor, god of threes. Your praises shall be sung with the ardor of a thousand Dakich-approved SHOW INTESITYs.
2/5/2014 – Michigan 79, Nebraska 50 – 17-5, 9-1 Big Ten
A demolition that was into Kenpom time as fast as any game I've ever seen, so straight to various things about various things. Highlights:
So that's what it's like when the other team is like "take my threes, please." Generally, basketball teams playing Michigan make it a huge priority to limit open three point attempts. This is because Michigan shoots a lot of them (almost 40% of their FGAs) and is quite good at knocking them down—25th nationally. Sometimes this works and sometimes it doesn't, but everyone really tries to limit Michigan from long range.
For whatever reason, Increasingly Dangerous (At Least At Home) Nebraska™ decided against that. Michigan launched a whopping 31 threes—60% of their shots—and until things got sloppy late just about every one was a great look. Some of this was transition hurting Nebraska's ability to contest, and some of it was what looked like an ill-advised reaction to Michigan's pick and roll game where Nebraska bigs would hedge super-aggressively, forcing wing defenders to dip their toes into the paint to compensate. The ensuing passes beat Nebraska's rotation on almost every possession, and the threes rained in. Serendipitously, Luke Winn's latest power rankings address the adjustment Nebraska made to neutralize Stauskas at the expense of a billion wide open threes:
Thus assists. Michigan assisted on 21 of their 26 makes.
And thus Irvin. This was an Irvin game what with all the open looks, and Irvin took advantage with three consecutive threes in the first half, including a heat check that got a friendly roll off the front iron. He even took a couple dribbles(!) and made a couple of twos.
He is very much Just A Shooter right now, as he didn't add anything other than buckets to his stat line until after halftime and even then the only things tacked on were three rebounds and a foul. He is an endpoint for possessions only. His statistical profile is instantly familiar to anyone who's previewed a bunch of basketball teams using Kenpom as a crutch: miniscule assist, TO, and FT rates of 5.6, and 9.8 and 6.2, respectively, bunch of threes, few twos: corner gunner, corner gunner, corner gunner.
And he might stay this way. By this time last year we'd applied "Game, blouses" to Stauskas. He was getting to the bucket with some regularity. Just look at the FTAs: Stauskas had 87 last year; Irvin currently has 8. Even if his role is to be that gunner, previous editions of guys in that role have shown more diversity than Irvin is right now.
This is completely fine. If Irvin just turns into Bruce Bowen, that's a nice thing to have on your team, and Walton and LeVert can drive play even in the worst case NBA pillage scenario.
Michigan is considerably more diverse from three than other teams with noted bombers. Via Luke Winn.
Not just a shoot—wait is he even shooting? Nine points on just three shots for Stauskas looks like a bit of a crisis even if that's really six shot equivalents with Stauskas going 6/6 from the line, but in this one Stauskas effectively found shots for other guys (eight assists) much like Trey Burke did in the first half of the Kansas game last March.
Four TOs is a bit steep, especially since he had another four in Michigan's previous home game against Purdue. Seems like teams are more cognizant of Stauskas's playmaking ability and are trying to jam passing lanes when he drives.They're trying to play him like Wisconsin plays everyone: two point jumpers for you.
LeVert had a similar issue or two on drives where the shot looked like the right move but his assumption was that someone was coming over; he got away with a couple deflections on passes that should have been shots.
With the way they're calling charges now, once either guy turns the corner they should be more aggressive, especially since picking up an offensive foul hardly sentences either to foul trouble 99% of the time.
Almost there. Michigan needs Caris LeVert to hit like 2/3 in Michigan's next game and have their other five guys hold serve, and then they will have six(!) guys hitting 40% from three. Robinson, at 29%, is the only guy on the roster who takes threes that are not obviously a great idea.
Walton has been crazy efficient in Big Ten play. [Fuller]
Quantifying Walton's improvement. At Michigan's 6-4 trough I noted that Michigan wasn't getting much out of either freshman and that turning that around was a major season key. Remember the brief period where people were wondering if Spike should be starting? It was around then.
Since, Irvin has established himself a shooter you have to reckon with; meanwhile, Derrick Walton has become a consistent double-digit scorer. He's doing this with much better efficiency. He went from bad 99 ORTG to 108 in the course of 12 games. While he is still the lowest-rated guy on the team in that stat, that's because Michigan's offense is bonkers. On a lot of teams—good teams, even—that's your #2 or #3 guy.
In Big Ten play, Walton's 18/31 from two and 12/23 from 3, a 66% eFG% that would place him third(!) nationally if that was his whole season. As it is he's now around 200th in both that stat and True Shooting %, which folds in free throws. Only Stauskas and the posts flushing excellent passes are above him in that department. The main thing holding him back is a TO rate that's a bit high for what you'd want, but a high TO rate for in a young guard is generally regarded a good sign as long as the rest of his game is solid.
Walton made a midseason leap; while he's still a complementary piece he's doing things that bode well for the immediate and long-term future.
Petteway could not get to the bucket like he did in the first game [Fuller]
Hey: defense. Michigan finally had a legit good all-around defensive game, holding Nebraska to 0.79 points a possession and 0.63 in the competitive section of the game. Terran Petteway entered the game the leading scorer in the Big Ten, scoring at least 15 in every conference outing and barely removed from a 35-point demolition of Minnesota. He ended up 2/10 from the floor and acquired five points, with four turnovers and one assist. That is locking a guy up.
Oddly, Nebraska did not do much of the pick and roll action that Petteway thrived on in the first matchup. Michigan was highly unlikely to provide the soft hedge they did in that game, but even so you'd think they'd poke around with the same thing that gave Michigan fits a month ago. Nope.
Our walk-ons need to get it together. In a game with some rich trillion possibilities, no one came through. Sean Lonergan and Andrew Dakich both turned the ball over; Brad Anlauf had a third TO and a couple of fouls. Cumong, men.
FWIW, Michigan's 13 TOs seems high for them but three of them came from the walk-on crew in the final four minutes, so ten over 36 isn't bad.
How did Walter Pitchford escape? The Nebraska big man seems like a great fit for Michigan what with his three point shooting (37%) and all-around offensive skill. He is also from Grand Rapids. He was a DePaul commit who opened it up when the coach there got fired and ended up signing with Florida after committing in April. Meanwhile, Michigan was in the process of adding a late signee in 6'6" PF/C Max Bielfeldt, who seemed like a bit of a weird fit then and is getting scant minutes now. A rare recruiting goof from this staff.
Spike Albrecht turnover watch. Albrecht's lone Big Ten turnover remains the held ball against Michigan State where he tried to call timeout for about ten seconds without actually getting one. In conference play his assist to turnover ratio is… 22.
Indiana took down Michigan on Sunday due to two things: their pick-and-roll defense, explained in excellent detail by both UMHoops and Inside The Hall today, and Yogi Ferrell's blitzkrieg from beyond the arc (video courtesy of ITH):
After taking a closer look at the film, much of the blame for Ferrell's 7/8 performance can be attributed to mistakes by Michigan, though bad luck and simply great shooting also played a big role. It's time for some picture pages, gut-punch by gut-punch.
Click all the images for a full-size view.
Indiana runs a simple weave on the perimeter, with Ferrell dribbling from the top of the key over to Will Sheehey on the wing; Ferrell hands it off to Sheehey. Something is already amiss here, as both Derrick Walton (originally guarding Ferrell) and Glenn Robinson III (Sheehey) are both focusing on Sheehey and have stopped moving their feet:
Sheehey smartly takes one dribble towards the hoop, cutting off Walton's route back out to Ferrell while forcing Robinson to prevent the drive instead of switch onto Ferrell:
Ferrell gets a perfect look at the basket as Walton is far too out of position to recover:
What happened? Obvious miscommunication/confusion between Walton and GRIII, for starters. Walton expects a switch; GRIII expects Walton to continue following Ferrell. Considering Walton had an easy path to stick with Ferrell and no screen was involved, I'm inclined to believe this was his mistake.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the breakdown.]
2/2/2013 – Michigan 52, Indiana 63 – 16-5, 8-1 Big Ten
Stauskas was barely involved, but they don't take pictures of guys hanging around at the three point line. [Chris Howell/Hoosier Scoop]
There was a second-half possession on which Nik Stauskas stood in the corner and watched, hands on hips. Zak Irvin—this team has more guys apparently missing a C in their names than any in the country, where is that on Kenpom—banged in a three pointer that I barely noticed before it went in, because I was distressed and looking at Stauskas to rescue things. He did not.
The only thing that was unique about this particular possession was the hands. The standing eventually became standard. This was because Yogi Ferrell, Indiana's lightning quick, generously-listed-at-six-foot-even point guard, was guarding him. Ferrell started out in much the same way as Gary Harris did, denying heavily on the perimeter, and for whatever reason back cuts against this behavior are infrequent nowadays. Michigan did not even attempt one. When Stauskas did get the ball he felt harried enough to dump it to someone else most of the time.
Stauskas was effectively shut off for most of the first half until late, when he attempted to back Ferrell down on one possession, and drive by him on another. The post-up resulted in a shot that was well off; the drive ended with a charge call as Stauskas extended his arm.
And that was that, really.
I thought that Stauskas would be pissed and Beilein would do something to get his star into the game. Over the past couple years, Michigan has an excellent track record when it comes to storming out of the locker room at the half and putting it on the opponent. There was not a hint of that in this game. The second half largely followed the first. Other than a couple of nice passes, Stauskas's contribution was limited to a couple of jacked late-clock shots and the standing around.
In Stauskas's stead, things fell on LeVert, Walton, and Robinson, far less efficient players who went about the business of being less efficient.
This was massively frustrating. Cat-quick or not, ball screens require hard decisions on the part of a defense. When Michigan did get into the Stauskas pick and roll offense a couple times in the second half, Michigan got quality looks at the basket. I have a ton of faith in John Beilein's overall genius because I have eyes frequently applied to basketball games, and seeing the lack of answers on his part was distressing. So, too, was Stauskas's growing passivity.
This was the second time this year that Stauskas had been eliminated from the offense. The first time was against Duke, and that was another listless loss where Michigan was tagging along behind the opponent with a series of LeVert drives that never seemed like they would come together into the surge Michigan needed to take the lead. Cut off the head and the rest of the team flails; unlike Trey Burke, opponents have shown an ability to do that with Stauskas.
Whether that's because of an inherent difference in their attitudes or just the fact that Burke brought the ball up most of the time while Stauskas gets involved in the offense after lining up on the wing, I don't know, but somehow, some way Michigan has to get the ball in the right hands. They are not good enough on defense to get away with nights featuring six shots from the man.
One call. I didn't have much problem with the refereeing in this one despite it being an Assembly Hall game. There were a couple of things each way that were wrong, sure. I was too busy being incensed about Stauskas's lack of involvement to really get any lather up about officiating.
But, man, if Derrick Walton gets what looked like a blazingly obvious charge call on Ferrell, this game changes significantly. That would have been Ferrell's second, knocking him out for about eight minutes, both freeing up Stauskas and removing 85% of Indiana's offense. I'm not sure what else Walton is supposed to do there: he was moving with Ferrell, square to the shooter, and got plowed in the chest. Ferrell got the same call a few minutes later, and it was the right one.
I have no idea what a charge is anymore, so I am now qualified to referee college basketball.
(The other thing that drove me nuts was Michigan getting a blocking call on a flop a few minutes after Indiana's flop didn't draw one.)
Our defensive stopper isn't stopping anything of late. LeVert draws the opposition's best perimeter scorer, and the results have been grim. Ferrell blazed the nets in this one, as did Gary Harris in the MSU game. While Purdue's guards didn't do much, they are Purdue.
After Ferrell's third late clock shot I started getting really frustrated with LeVert allowing Ferrell to take virtually uncontested jumpers, and then thought back to last year's Wisconsin game… why doesn't LeVert ever get a hand in anyone's face? He's six inches taller than Ferrell, he should be able to contest his shots. Instead there's a lack of awareness that leads to plenty of rise-and-fire threes that look like bad shots until you see the replay.
This could have been a super-ugly win you exhale and mutter something about road games after, except Indiana kept hitting shots they had to jack up with about two seconds on the shot clock. (This was a glacial 55 possession game.) Michigan's problem is that they let Indiana look like Jordan Taylor-era Wisconsin; almost all of their late jacked shots were actually decent looks. Compare that to the three Stauskas had to take from about 30 feet.
[Chris Howell/Hoosier Scoop]
Morgan up, except for the one thing. Jordan Morgan had an excellent game with ten rebounds, five of them offensive, to go with two blocked shots and two makes. His miss was blocked by Vonleh and immediately put back up by Morgan for two. His rotation on defense was part of the many, many late-clock situations Indiana found itself in, and the resulting makes were not really on him. He was pretty great.
The main exception, of course, was the free throw line, where Morgan was 1 of 5 with a critical missed front end late. That dropped his season percentage almost ten points and as the clock ticked down it was impossible to not look at Michigan's score and add in the missing two or three points even though the team's overall percentage at the line was about average.
Walton: improving, verging on improved. Thirteen points, six of them at the line. Walton's FT percentage has gone up six points in the last couple games and he's consistently chipping double digits more often than not. He's still not up to the task of taking over games in the fashion Michigan needed with Stauskas marginalized, but at this point a solidly productive night is the expectation.
Taking over games… is just not in the cards for GRIII. Like the Duke game, when Michigan was out of its element in the second half the burden fell on Caris. This was due in part to two or three ugly possessions earlier when Robinson tried to create and ended up with a bad shot or a turnover. Chastened, Robinson receded into the background again unless there was a transition opportunity.
It just is what it is. Robinson's NBA draft hype was always built on his ability to jump really high, not his skill level.
Spike limitations. This was a bad, bad matchup for Albrecht. He came in, got smoked a couple times by Ferrell, and then got yanked. He had a period of time in the second half where both he and Walton were in; he chased someone else around.
1/30/2014 – Michigan 75, Purdue 67 – 16-4, 8-0 Big Ten
Albrecht is one of six Wolverines hitting 38% or better from three [Bryan Fuller]
When your friend asks what Purdue is like this year and you tell him that they are the same bunch of inexplicable bricklayers they were a year ago, there's always that trepidation in the back of your mind. Did I just doom Michigan to witness the Johnson and Johnson and Johnson three point spectacular first-hand?
For one, one of the Johnsons is gone. For two, if you spent this game looking exclusively at the rim Purdue was shooting at you'd come away with the impression that their form was borrowed from Rory Delap.
Michigan struggled with the ensuing rebounds because the normal rules about how to position yourself no longer applied. Missed shots generally pop off the top of the rim and go to the back side. These were going anywhere; on one memorable occasion Michigan gave up an offensive rebound because the shooter left a ten-foot floater so short that it bounced right back to his chest. On several other occasions Michigan players had to snap their head back lest a basketball travelling at speed ricochet into their faces. I'm pretty sure at one point Jordan Morgan asked a Boilermaker "you know we're not playing squash, right?" He responded by flinging a ball really hard in the general vicinity of the backboard.
That's just how it goes for Purdue these days. They're 10th in the conference at making twos; tenth at making threes; dead last at making free throws. They were much the same last year save for the presence of DJ Byrd, who vaguely propped up their three-point percentage. That solitary bit of green in Purdue's shooting stats in the post-Hummel era comes with a massive caveat, though: Purdue took fewer threes than all but six of the 345 D-I basketball teams.
Threes are good shots. Very successful bug people masquerading as humans have built entire programs around not allowing them to be launched while launching many themselves. Purdue regards them as poison, because for them they are.
Meanwhile, when Nik Stauskas comes off a screen and takes a pull up long two I'm not even mad anymore.
I feel this deserves a group hug of some variety. I hate long twos. They are odious rejection of math, unless Michigan is shooting them. Nowadays I just think "well, that's probably going in." Michigan shot over 60% from two for the fifth time(!) in eight conference games and stroked over half of their three pointers for the second consecutive outing. The following players launched jumpers that I felt were probably going in as soon as they left their shooters' hand: Stauskas, Robinson, LeVert, Horford, Morgan, Albrecht, Irvin, Walton. That is everybody.
Purdue fans must have looked on at this like cavemen discovering fire, or amoebas recently out-evolved. As a Michigan fan I remember what it was like, and think there but for the grace of six to eight players on Michigan's roster go I.
You keep telling yourself that the thing is unsustainable and then they keep proving you wrong. At some point is the expectation that Michigan can beat just about anyone by launching whenever they get a window of space? You keep waiting for that game where their shooting fails them and they collapse in a heap, but Michigan just banged in 11 of 19 threes at the Breslin Center. When is it going to get, you know, hard?
At some point, surely. This is the belief required both by reason and superstition. But every time Stauskas goes from velocity to perfect airborne stillness it gets a little harder to remember that.
But Mitch, I am contemplating the duality of existence. Ask for Mitch/Horford shots and ye shall receive.
HI JON DID YOU KNOW I USED TO BE A MUPPET [Fuller]
Aside from the shooting, how did you like the play? Not very much at all, old-timey newspaper reporter of legend. This was a very frustrating game to watch when Michigan was not banging in everything they threw up. Which wasn't that often. But still.
Michigan's sixteen turnovers would have done them in against many opponents, and they kept Purdue vaguely in it after Michigan had pushed out to a double-digit lead midway through the first half. A number were extremely sloppy. I can live with Stauskas trying to thread the needle for an assist and getting picked off; not so much LeVert having his pocket picked at the time line. A return of Morgan's hands issues was also unwelcome.
Turnovers both robbed Michigan of opportunities to continue making it rain and propped up Purdue's miserable offense by giving them transition opportunities; without that spate in the first half this game is a laugher by halftime.
The weird, lost rebounding war. The board war was significantly distorted by the fact that there were so many more opportunities for rebounds underneath Purdue's basket (41) than Michigan's (21), so 16 OREBs to 5 isn't quite the enormous blowout it seemed like at the time.
And while the 16 OREBs given up was frustrating, there was no one thing you could point to as the cause. No Boiler acquired more than two of those sixteen offensive rebounds and about half were weird bounces off bricks or scrums in which four or five players touched the ball until it popped out to someone or another.
Result of previous two bullets. Michigan easily won a game in which they had a whopping 19 fewer FGAs than their opponents. (This was not an MSU/Iowa thing where fouls distort that. Michigan shot 17 to Purdue's 15.) That's cool and all, but let's not try that again.
dunk courtesy Derrick Walton [Bryan Fuller]
Okay, Walton, okay. I was trying to pump the breaks a little bit after Walton's 19-point performance against MSU because I wasn't seeing a whole lot of activity in the half-court offense and the free throws distorted his stats.
I am full speed ahead after this one: 14 points on 7 shots, a couple of steals, and a number of nice assists, none prettier than the wrap-around to Jordan Morgan for an uncontested dunk. Moreover, the transition takes were finishes that featured impressive body control against good defenders—not Travis Trice—and he generated offense in the half-court. He may officially be Coming On, and if so that is bad, bad news for the Big Ten.
Come on guys, think of the computer rankings. Major Kenpom-time failure in this one, as the under 4 timeout saw Michigan up 15 with an excellent chance to hit the 17 point KP spread. Two missed front ends and a couple turnovers later Purdue walked out with their heads held high, because there's something about Purdue that makes them super interested in making final scores look good. (Remember Michigan versus Purdue during the Danny Hope era? Onside kicks down 4 scores with two minutes left, etc.)
As a result, Michigan slips to tenth in the all-important Kenpom rankings. If you guys are just going to do that I don't even know why you bother winning the game in the first place.
What is the opposite of the Reggie Cleveland All-Stars? Because Basil Smotherman is on it. I have been envisioning Basil Smotherman in my head for years, because his name is Basil Smotherman, and at no point did it cross my mind that he was a black guy.
I don't miss Glenn Robinson… yet. I may at some point in the future. Robinson was near invisible for the second straight game. He took a few threes and had one nice post move into a short jumper, and that was it. For almost the entire game he was stuck on one rebound; he had no assists. He was a ghost on the offensive side of the ball.
This is basically fine right now since Michigan can get any shot they want, but it's a bit worrisome that Lottery GRIII that showed up in flashes for the Big Ten season has gone into hibernation again. Just a bit. Maybe the next step on the pick and roll is incorporating the GRIII dive to the basket?
Caris carrying things. For the first time in a while it was someone other than Stauskas who seemed to have the primary offensive burden, and that was LeVert. It wasn't by much with Walton and Stauskas helping out significantly; it did seem like LeVert had stepped forward in this one.
The results weren't incredible: 14 points on 13 shot attempts, two assists against four turnovers. His issues were a main sticking point in the first half as Michigan strove and failed to truly blow the doors off. The eyeball test was kinder. Beilein afterwards:
“He can get to places that you can’t figure out, how’d he just get there?'
if he can cut down on the mistakes he can take the heat off Stauskas significantly.
On to the next team of Indiana bricklayers. Indiana, up next, is just like Purdue when it comes to shooting except their point guard can actually do it and they've got a guy (Will Sheehey) who believes he can but cannot, at least not this year. Think sophomore Tim Hardaway Jr.
I don't get it, man. You're in Indiana! You are within the most fertile ground of corner gunners in the country. Hell, Michigan has plundered Indiana for who-dat snipers for years now. Are you telling me there's not one Novak/Douglass/Albrecht around for these teams to pick up? More for Michigan, I guess.