"What (Michigan coaches) told me is that they're focusing on point guards right now, but if anything opens up, they'll definitely come back on and recruit me as hard as they were," said Towns
Michigan (6-2) vs.
Eastern Michigan (7-1)
Ann Arbor, Michigan
|WHEN||9:00* pm EST, Tuesday|
|LINE||Michigan -10 (KenPom)|
*Actual time TBD. Game tips after 6:30 WBB game vs. Princeton
SO THAT HAPPENED
Okay, elephant in the room. Michigan is coming off a loss to the New Jersey Institute of Technology. And not at technology things. At basketball. In a real game.
Fortunately, basketball upsets are not quite like football upsets. Rivals will guffaw, and will bring it up for years. Buckeyes and Spartans are buying NJIT stuff like hotcakes. And Michigan fans are pretty confident that unlike, say, App State, this is just a sign that crap happens. Beilein Uber Alles.
THE LINEUP CARD
Projected starters are in bold. %Min and %Poss figure are from this season now—yes, there will be a fair amount of noise in these numbers for a while. The "Should I Be Mad If He Hits A Three" methodology: we're mad if a guy who's not good at shooting somehow hits one. Yes, you're still allowed to be unhappy if a proven shooter is left open.
|G||1||Mike Talley||Sr.||6'0, 176||61||21||No|
|Incredibly efficient, pass-first PG. Gets to the line a LOT.|
|G||0||Ray Lee||So.||6'3, 170||75||30||No|
|Another massive usage guard. Having a really good year. DANGERMAN.|
|F||14||Karrington Ward||Sr.||6'8, 212||79||22||Yes|
|Large guy. Splits time between the three and four.|
|F||3||Anali Okoloji||Sr.||6'8, 232||56||22||Kinda|
|Big guy, can step out and shoot.|
|C||30||Mike Samuels||Jr.||6'11, 285||35||27||Very|
|Big dude is big. Probably a more comfy matchup for Doyle.|
|G/F||5||Jodan Price||So.||6'7, 180||52||18||No|
|Splits between the two and three. Exclusively a deep threat. Literally.|
|C||12||Lekan Ajayi||Jr.||6'11, 245||37||10||Oh yeah|
|Splits time with Samuels at the five. Zero offensive anything, other than OR%|
|G||25||Ethan Alvano||Fr.||6'1, 170||41||16||Yup yup yup|
|10% eFG% is bad. 0-11 from deep. Really good A/TO ratio.|
First, the bad news: Eastern Michigan Basketball is most decidedly not Eastern Michigan Football. The basketball version is 7-1, which is more wins than the football team has put up in the last three seasons combined. Instead of being a doormat, they are potentially in the hunt to compete in the MAC. They’re #132 in KenPom. Northwestern is #129. This is a real team.
Now, the good news: Eastern put together their seven wins by playing three Division 2 schools, four schools in the 200’s or worse in KenPom (#206 Oakland, #201 Youngstown State, #293 UNC Greensboro, and #343 Longwood*). They are coming off a nine point loss to #56 Dayton, however, which isn’t a terrible result.
More good news: Michigan already beat the much better version of this team. It was called Syracuse. EMU head coach Rob Murphy spent six years as an assistant to Jim Boeheim, and runs the same 2-3 zone. And like Syracuse, EMU is tall and long; their effective height is #44 in the country, and they can run a lineup that averages over 6’8” at the two through the five. They block a lot of shots, and they pick up a lot of steals. They give up a lot of three point attempts. Their profile is very much the profile of a 2-3 zone team, and one that runs an effective version of the 2-3.
Offensively, Eastern is led by shooting guard Ray Lee, who uses 29.9% of possessions and takes 32% of shots when he’s on the floor. He is currently shooting 64.4% eFG% from the field, but that may be SoS-influenced; that number was 44.4% last year. He’s also shooting 46% from three, but shot only 31% as a freshman. Maybe he took a leap, but he has also undoubtedly boosted his stats by feasting on some delicious snacky cakes.
The other dangerman is point guard Mike Talley. The Duquesne transfer doesn’t shoot a lot (though he is efficient when he does so), but his assist numbers are astronomical. He also gets to the foul line; he’s one of 13 players in the country playing real minutes with more free throw attempts than field goal attempts. He is currently only 68% from the line, however. Talley is also the son of former Michigan point guard Michael Talley.
One oddity to note: primary backup Jodan Price, who spends most of his time at the three, is 38% (11-29) from three, but is 0-9 from two.
As a team, Eastern does a couple of things very well: they take care of the ball and they get to the foul line; they have four players who draw 5+ fouls per 40 minutes. Some of this may be the result of experience (they run three seniors in the starting lineup), or just being coached by someone far more not bad than the folks who have coached Eastern Michigan Football in the last ALL THE YEARS.
[Ed-Seth: I did my best to recreate Ace's thing here]
Hit threes – This is a pretty obvious point for a Beilein team in pretty much every game, but nearly 40% of the shots that go up against Eastern are from beyond the arc. If Michigan’s snipers have an above-average night, this one could get out of hand early. If Zak Irvin goes 1-of-8 from deep again… Zak Irvin should not go 1-of-8 from deep again.
Stay out of foul trouble – Michigan doesn’t foul. Eastern lives on foul shots. Fortunately, most of that pressure is in the backcourt, where that prospect is a little less concerning than for the bigs, but if Caris picks up a couple of cheapies, the autobench could make things interesting going into the half. Which is why Michigan needs to…
Push it. Puh-push it real good – Eastern has played the second weakest schedule of defensive teams in the country. Their only decent opponent, Dayton, shoots under 50% eFG% and can’t shoot threes for crap. There’s a good chance that it will take the Eagles some time to adjust to this quality of offensive opponent. Michigan has a chance to wipe that New Jersey-ish taste out of its mouth if it can pressure EMU early offensively, not from a tempo standpoint but from an efficient murder-death-machine standpoint.
THE SECTION WHERE I PREDICT THE SAME THING KENPOM DOES
Michigan by 10.
Dylan’s UMHoops preview. Brennan Quinn’s MLive previews. A camera carried by a helper monkey who is following Jim Harbaugh around.
12/20/2012 – Michigan 93, Eastern Michigan 54 – 12-0
Sometimes games just happen, and then we skip right to the bullets. Actually, here is some video
And here is Bryan Fuller's photoset:
The set features this guy calmly departing for his home planet:
your efficient three point shooting has finally recharged my ionic crystals and I can return to my home planet thank you hooman. thank you hooman.
McGary, not so calm.
A rote domination. For comparison's sake, Syracuse took Eastern Michigan to a similar—but not quite as impressive—woodshed, winning 84-48. Therefore we are better than Syracuse. #math
No fly, zone. Eastern is a horrible offensive team, but defensively they present some challenges with their zone and Da'Shonte Riley's shotblocking, so this was a game in two phases
- hurry up already and get this defensive possession that tells us nothing over
- alright let's see if Michigan can figure out a zone with major conference size
The Kenpom numbers are stark: EMU is one of the worst offensive teams in the country (#322) and an average defensive team (#161) overall. They'd still be 12th in the Big Ten if Delany were to snap them up tomorrow (time's running out, Jim!), in front of only Penn State, but Michigan had struggled against zone so far this year. Having a 40-minute class on how to deal with it effectively against a decent D was useful.
In the first few minutes, Michigan continued to struggle, but the nice thing about Beilein teams is you know they'll adjust, which Michigan did in three steps:
- adding ball screens to disrupt the zone's balance and get the guy in the high post open
- getting that high post guy to dump it down to the big once Riley showed to contest
- teaching the bigs to finish against a shotblocker.
McGary and Morgan were 1-6 in the first half with swats accounting for half the misses. In the second half they were 7-7. Riley got in foul trouble, which helped, but more efficient ball movement got McGary some uncontested dunks and Morgan opened the second half with a couple of finishes against Riley.
This kind of thing happens regularly with Beilein; you can see the kids get something down in the middle of a game. I give that a thumbs up.
Wisconsonian. With just one game to go before conference play starts, Michigan's defense is looking like vintage Bo Ryan. Wisconsin teams rebound and try to get their chest into you when you rise for a shot but virtually never go for the ball. The result is a lot of contested jumpers at a poor percentage, no free throws, no offensive rebounds, no turnovers, no blocks, and no steals.
For example, last year the Badgers did this in conference (offense on the left, defense on the right):
The rebounding was a little weak and the blocks a little stronger than usual. Other than that, there is the platonic ideal of a Wisconsin defense. It has been effective despite the Badgers consistently lacking the sort of athletes that alter shots—they were third on D in a tough Big Ten last year.
- 89th (of 347) in eFG% D and about there from both 2 and 3.
- 228nd in TO%, and that number will drop as teams like Eastern sag off the schedule
- 7th in defensive rebounding
- 1st(!) at not putting opponents on the line
- 252nd and 273rd at blocks and steals, respectively.
The big thing Wisconsin does that Michigan has not been able to match so far is keeping guys from shooting threes: the Badgers were second nationally in fewest threes allowed last year, a stat that Kenpom has been hammering as more important than the actual percentage you allow from deep for a bit now. Michigan is below-average there, though they are giving up a low percentage… so far. If that trend continues into Big Ten play I don't think opponents are going to keep hitting 31%.
Another consistent aspect of Wisconsin's defense is not giving up assists—we are talking not huge margins here but the Badgers have not been lower than about 20th in a long time in that department. In general, assisted shots are high quality ones, so A/FGM is a decent proxy for shot quality. There too, Michigan cannot quite match Ryan's team. They are slightly above average; they're not elite.
The upshot: this is a model for defense that works in the Big Ten; Michigan is good at it but not as good as the Badgers, and they'll probably hold steady at around 4th or 5th on D in conference play.
Big Puppy. Michigan needs to get Mitch McGary's minutes up to 16+ a game so he'll rank on Kenpom leaderboards, because his rebound rates remain outlandish. If he'd played a couple minutes more per game he'd hit the 40% threshold and rank second in OREB and 31st in DREB; in this game he had a double-double in 18 minutes.
McGary still looks a little heavy on the floor, so he's not blocking many shots and picks up too many fouls, etc., but he's a major asset. If he can undergo the same transformation Morgan did over the offseason, look out.
Bonus McGary thing: two assists to one turnover in this one including the announcer-must-reference-Wes-Unseld soccer-throw-in outlet pass to Hardaway for a slam dunk.
STAUSKAS SWAG ALERT. I don't care that the behind the back pass didn't work. SWAG.
(okay maybe he should calm down a little)
Also on Stauskas. Does anybody else have this sense of panic whenever Stauskas misses from deep, like he's going to suddenly revert to Disappointing Shooter Of Christmas Past and this nonconference napalming is going to be a faint, low-sample-size memory? I do. The airball from the corner was death despite it being a late-clock, heavy-contest instachuck.
So then the guy goes 5-7 the rest of the way with another couple of instachucks going in… and exhale. Our sample size in which Stausaks is a 56% three point shooter has risen to 61, praise everything. As a team, Michigan's long distance shooting dropped a half-point in Big Ten play last year, so the tougher defenses shouldn't actually impact that number much. As the attempts go up, so does our confidence.
What separates Stauskas from the rest of the universe is that instachuck shot. If he's got time to set up and fire, he's deadly; he also has a mode where he gets his shot off so quickly that he can make a heavily contested three not that contested. That is a skill that will see him linger in the NBA until you're like "Nik Stauskas is still in the league? I knew Nik Stauskas Jr and Nik Stauskas III were, but the original is still playing for the Triton Methane Atmospheres?"
Trey Burke turnover == shock. Eight assists to one TO in this game, which I think brings his total over the last seven games to seven, for a guy who plays 36+ minutes in most games and dominates the ball. The TOs are so rare that you can remember the most recent one: Burke tried to chuck an an OOB restart between two guys, who deflected it and eventually recovered, and you were like "dang" and then you were like "oh right if I get mad at that I do not understand math or life or anything."
Applicants to Hardaway face pantheon.
I feel like these should be called "the discovery of fire" or something.
|WHAT||Eastern Michigan at Michigan|
|WHERE||Crisler Center, Ann Arbor, Michigan|
|WHEN||8:30 PM Eastern, Thursday|
|LINE||Michigan –24 (Kenpom)|
Right: The World's Most Phallic Building, according to something called Cabinet Magazine.
This evening, Michigan hosts cross-county foe Eastern Michigan, which currently boasts a 6-3 record that includes a win over Purdue. This means they could give Michigan a test, yes?
Well, probably not. Purdue appears to be in serious rebuilding mode, while Eastern's resume is otherwise built on wins over non-DI competition or dregs like Texas Pan American. Relevant game: a 36-point road loss to Syracuse.
The Eagles can post a challenge with their size, however—according to KenPom, they're 11th nationally in effective height. That's in large part (hey-o) due to 7'0" center Da'Shonte Riley, easily the team's best rebounder as well as a major shot-blocking threat (15.6% block rate, #7 nationally) in the middle of their 2-3 zone. Riley—a transfer from Syracuse—lacks deft touch around the basket, shooting just 37.5% this year from the field and 38.9% from the line.
Glenn Bryant, apparently somewhat athletic
6'8" forward and Arkansas transfer Glenn Bryant also provides decent shot-blocking and offensive rebounding, and unlike Riley can occasionally put the ball in the basket, hitting 44.7% of his twos. Unfortunately, Bryant is apparently under the impression he can shoot threes, but has hit just one of his 13 attempts from beyond the arc this year.
The team's wings are also their most effective shooters (a relative term when applied to this EMU squad). 6'3" shooting guard Derek Thompson is their outside threat, with 60% of his attempts coming from three—he's hitting a respectable 38.3% from outside. 6'6" guard/forward Daylen Harrison is a slasher who gets to the line frequently—he's connecting on 52.9% of his twos and 86.2% of his free throws, making him by far the team's best scoring option inside the arc, despite turnover issues. He's also an above-average rebounder on the defensive end.
Rounding out the starting lineup, at least according to EMU's game notes, is 6'2" guard Austin Harper, but he's only averaging 7.6 minutes per game this season. In Harper's limited action, he's been boom-or-bust, with a sky-high assist rate (31.4%) and turnover rate (24.4%). The point guard who sees the most minutes is 5'11" freshman Jalen Ross, who's 7-for-31 from the field this year with assist and turnover rates in the low 30s.
That's nothing compared to backup point Ray Lee, though—the freshman is posting an astounding 39.9% assist rate and 36.9% turnover rate. He's also got an ugly 42.9 eFG% while taking a high number of shots. Do not let Ray Lee get his hands on the Crisler T-Shirt cannon.
Other bench contributors include 6'9" shot-blocking specialist Jamell Harris (36.7 eFG%) and 6'3" guard J.R. Sims (34.8 eFG%).
On second thought, don't let any EMU player near the T-shirt cannon.
Eastern's signature victory came over Purdue, of course; none of their other conquered foes are ranked higher than #259 on KenPom. They've been defeated by #6 Syracuse, #118 Illinois-Chicago, and #212 Jacksonville State, all on the road.
|eFG%||Turnover %||Off. Reb. %||FTA/FGA|
|Offense||40.0 (338)||22.7 (252)||34.0 (116)||30.5 (274)|
|Defense||43.7 (47)||24.0 (51)||39.5 (331)||34.8 (153)|
The offense is a mess, with EMU currently sitting at #332 in the country in adjusted efficiency. Slightly above-average offensive rebounding does not cover for horrific shooting, lots of turnover, and infrequent trips to the line.
The defense is surprisingly stout; the 2-3 zone has forced a ton of turnovers, and the going inside is tough, with EMU eighth nationally in block rate. The opponent shooting number is bolstered by opponents shooting just 28.1% from beyond the arc; this is almost assuredly unsustainable with the Eagles allowing three-point attempts—a more accurate portrayal of perimeter defense—on just under 41% of opponent shots.
Bombs away. Trey Burke probably won't be replicating his drive-and-create performance from the West Virginia game—the old adage is you don't beat a 2-3 zone by dribbling through it. If the stats are any indication, however, the perimeter will be open for business. Paging Nik Stauskas:
Meanwhile Nik Stauskas has been lethal, scoring 1.5 points per zone possession with a 82% effective field goal percentage.
Michigan has actually been relatively ineffective against zone defenses this year, though they haven't seen them too often, due in no small part to Stauskas.
Don't miss the gimmes. Eastern has been woeful at keeping opposing teams off the offensive glass. Michigan has been very effective this year at creating second-shot opportunities. The battle of the boards should go in Michigan's favor in a major way. Jordan Morgan and Mitch McGary have been known to miss a few easy ones, though. So, please make those, guys.
Let them shoot? EMU's 68.1% mark from the free-throw line is nothing to write home about, but it's positively Stauskian compared to their field goal shooting. Between their awful shooting and large lineup, there's no reason to overplay an open shooter instead of getting in position for rebounds. There will be rebounds.
Keep doin' what you've been doin'. I mean, yeah.
THE SECTION WHERE I PREDICT THE SAME THING KENPOM DOES
Michigan by 24. I'm tempted to predict a larger margin, but Eastern is one of just a handful of teams in the country that plays at a slower tempo than Michigan.
Bravo, ClearEyesFullHart. Bravo.
The Firehouse Museum, the Huron River, Depot Town, the phallic watertower, Sidetrack burgers, a bowl of everything at the Bomber Restaurant that magically absorbs your entire hangover, bowling…this is the entire list of nice things my EMU grad wife had to say about Ypsilanti. Even their Meijer sucks. To her list I would add running backs coach Mike Hart and the "Players Coached" section of Ron English's chrome website, where you can get quotes like this:
"When I think of Marlin Jackson, I think of a stallion. Marlin Jackson was a stallion. I didn't break him, but I did corral him a little bit in terms of getting him to believe in technique."
-Ron English, EMU Head Coach
File under things you will never unlearn. Other things that are like mammals according to Ron English: LaMarr Woodley and Prescott Burgess.
How this works again:
- 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 Week:
So it's come to this, Bob Huggins. A fight to the death. Mano a mano. Man to man. Just you and me and my GUARDS!
*SWISH* *SWISH* *SWISH**SWISH**SWISH**SWISH**SWISH* 81-66. Simon of SimonOnSports was closest at 81-65.
This Week's Game:
The University of Discgolf heads west on Washtenaw at 8:30 tomorrow night. Winner gets to claim to be the dominant school in the county.
And on the Line…
Fact: If you are wearing this shirt in Ann Arbor while facing South, you could be pointing at Mike Hart right now!
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 Jeeves. The algorithm is banned in China. The algorithm is from Jersey. Rutgers is from Jersey. Holy shit guys Rutgers is in the Big Ten. BIG TENNNNN! The algorithm constantly finds Jesus.This is not the algorithm. This is close.
About Last Saturday:
Purdue 14, Michigan 36
Caption contest. Go.
The Road Ahead:
Iowa (5-3, 2-2 B1G)
Last game: Iowa 21, Minnesota 22 (L)
Recap: The only thing worse than questing for title of “Worst Big Ten Team EVER” is losing to that team, which Iowa did on Saturday. Flags in Iowa City flew at half mast to honor the death of Gopherquest -- and themselves, in the eyes of Brian Cook.
Two deaths and a funeral indeed.
Let’s take a look at the autopsy report: Thanks to a couple missed field goals, the game was close through the third quarter until Iowa scored to go ahead 21-10 early in the fourth, seemingly poised to finally wrest it out of Minnesota’s reach.
After a Hawkeyes fumble and Gophers field goal, however, Minnesota converted a fourth and one from their own 42 and scored a touchdown a couple plays later.
The Gophers onside kicked, catching Iowa by surprise. Minnesota recovered and miraculously scored again on a fourth-down conversion at the Iowa three.
Flailing, the Hawkeyes went four-and-out and were then helpless to stop the Gophers from running out the clock.
Remarkably, Iowa RB Marcus Coker carried the ball 32 times for 252 yards and 2 touchdowns in an outstanding effort no Iowa fan will ever remember. Imagine if Pheidippides had made it all the way to Athens only to collapse before delivering his message. Instead of inspiring an entire culture of running a couple millenia later, now he’s just a clammy dead guy.
Right now they are as frightening as: A watered down version of 2007 Michigan immediately post-Horror -- not as good, therefore not as embarrassed. Still hiding under a blanky though. 5.
Michigan should worry about: The first real manball team on the schedule not playing in a trash tornado. Also the last.
Michigan can sleep soundly about: Iowa had the rhabdomyolysis problem in the offseason, which seems to have scared the CARA out of the strength staff. (Do you see what I did there?)
As a result, Iowa’s defense looks like it’s been playing Wii Fit in lieu of real conditioning. They made Iowa State QB Steele Jantz look like Andrew Luck, allowed Penn State to go Look-Ma-No-QB, and couldn’t stop Marqueis Gray when it mattered -- incidentally, all of these things happened in the fourth quarter.
When Michigan plays them: 2011 Iowa is undefeated at home. 2011 Michigan is undefeated in November. Immovable object meet unstoppable force? Hah.
For realsies now: Iowa’s best win was against Pitt. This was the game where Vandenberg led the epic comeback against a Tony Gibson coached secondary, earning him the Vandenhenneberg moniker. The joke is getting stale, but if you were still wondering, that along with BGHP’s gushing comparison at the beginning of the season is where it comes from. Their next best win was against Northwestern, and you know all about Northwestern’s secondary. And then if you keep looking you fall off a cliff right before the Indianas and Lousiana-Monroes of the world, where concerns about the secondary are, well … secondary.
Sorry, I had to do that.
The Wolverines secondary is much better these days, having survived Alex Carder, Michael Floyd, Dan Persa, and B.J. Cunningham (electing to fall prey to Keshawn Martin instead). Teams succeeded against VandenMcHenneNutt by preventing deep routes. Michigan’s inside-and-in-front philosophy should be able to do at least that.
And then there’s the issue of the Hawkeyes defense. Their major breakdowns tend to happen late in the game due to the aforementioned stamina problems. Aside from targeting specific weakness (see Ace’s FFFF), offensive playcalling that spreads and stretches the field laterally to wear down Iowa defenders would be a smart approach, especially early in the game.
(more after the jump)
Sometimes I post on Wednesday, sometimes I post on Thursday. Ideally I should post on Tuesday, but ideally Michigan should be undefeated.
Fear scale: 0 = Bye week?; 1 = If Michigan loses to this team somebody’s going to get fired; 5 = 2010 Illinois; 8 = Best in conference/will play in a BCS bowl; 9 = National title contender; 10 = Hold me, Ace.
The Road Ahead:
Purdue (4-3, 2-1 B1G)
Last game: No. 23 Illinois 14, Purdue 21 (W)
Recap: If you want something more than handwaving, see Ace’s FFFF.
In a nutshell, Purdue managed two real drives in the first half while stymieing Illinois’ offense for a good 50 minutes before the Illini finally came to. As Ace indicates, the Boilermakers didn’t so much win this game as Illinois lost it: Purdue is a not very good team that happened to play well. The Illini were a better team that made enough mistakes to beat themselves. Sometimes you can bring a knife to a gunfight and prevail because the guys with the guns shoot at each other first. That’s not the best analogy but you get the point.
Right now they are as frightening as: After losing to Rice and narrowly escaping Middle Tennessee State at the beginning of the season, Purdue has improved enough to play Penn State close and beat a ranked Illinois team. What does this mean?
It means that the Big Ten isn’t very good. Fear level = 4.
Michigan should worry about: Underestimating Purdue’s defense. While not stellar as a unit, they’re fairly opportunistic, led by a secondary that is competent to good. CB Ricardo Allen, the guy who intercepted Denard last year and hurdled him for a 94-yard touchdown, is still on the team. He’s a sophomore, so we’ll be seeing him for a while.
Michigan can sleep soundly about: Saturday’s weather forecast says 52 degrees and partly cloudy with 0 percent chance of trash. Roy Roundtree's Donald Duck voice.
When Michigan plays them: Is Michigan good enough to not beat itself? Most signs point to yes. This game may not be pretty--you should avert your eyes every time a Purdue running back makes for the sideline or when Denard throws a duck into coverage--but a barring a complete collapse on both sides of the ball, the Wolverines should at least be able to grind out a win.
Next game: at No. 17 Snake Oil Emporium