I'VE HAD JUST ABOUT ENOUGH OF YOU SONNY
Yesterday, I highlighted one of the main issues with Michigan's offense in recent games: their struggles with the hard hedge against the pick and roll. When the Wolverines—especially Trey Burke—run a high screen, opponents have found success by having the man guarding the screener provide a strong double-team on the ballhandler, limiting his ability to drive to the basket and making passes into the post difficult.
There are several ways to counter the hard hedge, as discussed yesterday in both the post and the comments (thanks to all of you who added your thoughts—I'm not a basketball coach, so any additional knowledge about the game is very valuable). One such counter, brought up yesterday by MGoUser Kilgore Trout, is to get the opponent to commit to the hedge and then immediately cross back over, which should create an opening for a pass to the near-side corner.
Though he didn't execute it perfectly, and the play didn't result in a basket, Tim Hardaway Jr. provides a decent example of how to do this, and you'll be able to see the possibilities it opens. With teams over-committing to the screen, something inevitably must open up, and in this case several holes emerge in the defense. Here's the setup, as Hardaway has just received a pass from Trey Burke:
As you can see, Hardaway has the ball on the left wing, and Jordan Morgan is setting an off-ball screen for Douglass in the middle of the court—Stu will head to the near-side corner and Burke will clear out to the high side on the opposite side of the court so the team maintains proper spacing. Now that the team is properly spread out, Hardaway calls for a screen, and Morgan makes his way over:
Hardaway starts to dribble towards Morgan, but as soon as Melsahn Basabe (#1, guarding Morgan) jumps out to hedge, Hardaway makes a quick crossover dribble back to the near side—this is exactly how you want to counter Basabe's aggressiveness in this instance, especially with Hardaway's man already attempting to fight over the pick:
This opens up several possibilities. If Morgan was ready for the crossover, he could crash hard to the basket, forcing the defender guarding Douglass to slide down and vacate the corner or give up an open dunk (or the defender guarding Novak could do this—either way, a open corner three should be there). Morgan doesn't roll hard, likely because he hadn't fully set the screen when Hardaway made his move, and also because Hardaway will drive to the lane himself. Hardaway's drive accomplishes what Morgan's roll would do—force the near-side defender to commit, leaving Douglass alone in the corner:
Unfortunately, what you see above is where this particular play doesn't work as well as it should. Hardaway picks up his dribble before he gets into the lane, so when he passes to Douglass, the sliding defender still has time to get back out and force Stu to drive. I think if Hardaway takes another dribble, it would create enough separation for Douglass to get an open three, a much-preferable option in Michigan's offense (and especially with Stu, who's much more comfortable as a stand-still shooter than a slasher). As it is, the defender is able to get out on Douglass, and Stu drives and misses a pull-up jumper in the paint. Full video of the play:
As was pointed out yesterday, the biggest problem here isn't the play, but the execution. If Morgan dives hard to the basket, or Hardaway penetrates further into the paint, this play likely results in a bucket. Instead, Douglass is forced to settle for a contested fallaway in the lane when he doesn't have the space to get off an open three. If Michigan can execute this adjustment with a little more precision, however, it should help keep opponents from over-committing to the hedge defensively and allow the Wolverines to run the pick-and-roll more effectively.
Coming on the heels of Wednesday's ugly overtime win over Northwestern, Michigan's lethargic effort against Iowa on Saturday resulted in a 75-59 loss. Many of the team's problems offensively can be traced to the ineffectiveness of the pick and roll. John Beilein has placed a lot of emphasis on the pick and roll this season, and it is often how Michigan starts out their offensive sets. Earlier this year Trey Burke ran it with great effect, and his offense flourished; getting freed up to start out plays allowed Burke to utilize his quickness and finishing ability to create baskets for himself and others.
While Burke has managed to score 19 points in each of the last two games, his efficiency has plummeted, as he's just 12-30 (40%) from the field during that span, a number that's actually inflated due to several garbage-time buckets against the Hawkeyes. I believe the main issue lies with the pick and roll, and how teams are now defending it.
Both Northwestern and Iowa hedged hard with the man defending the screener, putting extra pressure on Burke, keeping him from turning the corner and driving, and making it difficult for the diminutive guard to find passing lanes. Let's take a look at an example to see what's bogging down the offense. Here's a play from Saturday where Iowa stymies two pick-and-roll attempts, eventually forcing a turnover.
First, the setup. Burke has the ball on the left side early in the shot clock, and Jordan Morgan gets into position to set a screen towards the middle of the court:
Burke dribbles over to the pick, and Morgan dives to the basket. The problem is that Morgan's defender, Melsahn Basabe, comes out to double Burke instead of rolling to the post with Morgan. This is just after the mesh point of the pick, and already Burke is being forced to retreat:
Even though Morgan is open and has a lane to the basket, Burke doesn't have a path to get him the ball. By the time Basabe peels off and heads back to Morgan, Burke is all the way out on the center-court logo, still trying to turn the corner and in no position to make a play. He's forced to pass off to Novak, and the offense will reset.
Novak will swing it down to Smotrycz, then the ball will come back around to Burke, where he calls another play, again asking for Morgan to come over and set a screen. Again, Iowa hedges, and Burke doesn't help matters at all by running nowhere close to the pick, giving his man ample room to go over the top and stay right with him:
Basabe hounds Burke as Devyn Marble (#4) also chases him to the sideline—there's no chance Burke can pass to Morgan on the roll, and once more he's forced to pass off to Novak. Iowa turns up the pressure at the end of the shot clock, and Novak will lose control of the ball, leading to an Iowa steal right before the shot clock expires.
Here's the full play on video:
At no point in this play did Michigan even have a decent look at the basket, and it was due to their inability to counter the hard hedge, an issue that would present itself several times over the course of the game. So, what do we learn from this, and how can Michigan counteract this level of pressure?
Burke and Morgan have to execute better. Teams can defend the pick and roll however they want and you're going to run into problems if you don't do a fundamentally sound job of setting it up. On the first screen in the above play, Morgan rolls to the basket early—he never comes into contact with Marble, nor does he affect the path Marble must take to stay on Burke, eliminating the potential for a switch or even a delay in getting out to Burke. On the second screen, Burke doesn't come close to the pick, and Marble can just run right over the top of Morgan while staying between Burke and the basket. Morgan has to stay at home and make sure he sets a solid screen, and Burke has to do a better job of rubbing against the screen to give it maximum effect. Neither happened in conjunction on this play.
Michigan needs to adjust how they run the P&R. Interestingly, Michigan appears to have a built-in adjustment for the hard hedge, and it was highlighted by former Wolverine point guard David Merritt over at UMHoops back in December. Watch what happens against Memphis when Burke runs a high side screen with Jon Horford; the Tigers hedge, so Horford sets himself again and sets a pick coming back in the other direction, getting Burke one-on-one and giving him space to get into the lane:
There's another option I've seen put forth (possibly by Brian, and also by some frustrated Tweeters this weekend), and that is to run the high screen not with Burke, but with Tim Hardaway, Jr., whose extra size would help him see and pass over the double-team. I'm skeptical about how well this would work, as Hardaway isn't nearly as quick as Burke—he's more effective offensively when coming off screens away from the ball and getting passes while cutting. It is an option, however, and could also be a way to get Hardaway going towards the basket instead of settling for long jumpers.
Run the pick-and-pop with Smotrycz. Morgan is an effective finisher around the basket, but he's not a threat to pop out to the three-point line and knock down a jumper, which allows defenders to abandon him at the perimeter and wait for help to arrive while hedging on Burke. This isn't the case with Smotrycz, who is still connecting on nearly 46% of his three-point attempts this season despite a recent shooting slump. Having Smotrycz set the screen and then slide out for an open three would likely give Burke a better passing lane if the opponent comes with a hard hedge, and if Smotrycz can knock down those open looks, opponents would be more reticent to double Burke.
Run more plays with off-ball screens. There's also this: Michigan has a lot of great plays that aren't predicated on an early on-ball screen. It's possible teams have found how to take advantage of Burke's greatest weakness—his size—and can render him ineffective on most pick and roll plays. I would think Beilein can devise a way to counter the hard hedge—we've seen one such adjustment above—but if he can't, there's a lot more to the Wolverine offense. Michigan had a lot of success against Wisconsin by setting off-ball screens in the corner for Zack Novak, but I didn't see much of that against Iowa. When facing off against teams with bigger guards and athletic big men, like Iowa, Michigan might have to look for a similar way to generate offense.
1/11/2011 – Michigan 66, Northwestern 64 (OT) – 14-3, 4-1 Big Ten
I blame the Sugar Bowl trophy. Clearly, this edition has fey powers. Those powers are 1) making everything around it uglier so that it seems pretty in comparison and 2) driving Michigan towards improbable victories it does not seem to deserve.
Because of the trophy's presence we got an extensive dose of the exasperated wail basketball has a near-monopoly on*. Scoring is so frequent that extended droughts are rare, rarer still when the team in question is getting of a wide variety of high-quality shots. When that happens and the home team is still missing, still missing, still—argh that one was halfway down—missing, each subsequent missed opportunity comes with a rising crescendo of despair. Normally calm old men start throwing their hands hither and thither. People lose their minds the fifth time "all right, two points" turns into "how did you miss that?"
By my calculations, all minds in Crisler last night were lost 2.4 times in the first half. Michigan limped to the locker room trailing by seven after shooting 25% on their twos. One three that bounced in and around the rim before popping out caused a guy in front of me to undergo this sort of arms-raised twitchy anger dance. I felt ill.
It didn't seem like the team was playing poorly—at least not on offense—but rather that it had been cosmically ordained from above that Michigan was to lose this game. If it had been a video game, 15 minutes in would have been controller-throwing, reset-hitting, pout-and-watch-TNG time.
But they won, didn't they? They won by brutalizing Northwestern on the boards and in turnover margin, by somewhat limiting Wildcat threes (27% opposed to their usual 33%) and refusing to foul unless someone was launching a wild three with less than a second on the clock. It was ugly and terrible; it was the game that you point to at the end of the season as One Of Those Games. It was the inexplicable loss you suck up and overcome… and they won.
So okay. Damage escaped, Iowa next, let's keep on inching.
Bullets that could use a GPS or something
The hedge. Northwestern fiercely hedged all ball screens with Burke and got away with every single one. Burke tried to split one late and was fortunate to get a tenuous kicked ball call; all other saw him take the long way and not end up punishing the hedge.
This is a spot in which Morris had a major advantage because he was a half-foot taller and lanky. Hedge like that and the ball is going to the big slipping the screen for a 70% chance at a Jordan Morgan basket, or Morris will peel around the big guy with a good chance at catching him out of position and using his height to get a solid look. Burke… well, we need some work there.
Hypothesis 1: he should try to use his quickness by accelerating into the hedger before he can get set and get those Chauncey Billups calls. Hypothesis 2: we should run more pick and roll with Hardaway, who can pass over the shorter guy or drive to the basket against a guy who will probably not be blocking his shot. Hardaway has such height and elevation that little pull up jumpers are a high percentage business.
Do you think Beilein would be amenable to answering questions like that?
Small ball. I'm not sure if Northwestern's small lineup killed Michigan or not, what with the massive offensive rebounding numbers Michigan put up and Carmody's decision to go with Mirkovic for most of the stretch. If Michigan's shooting anywhere near a reasonable percentage given their shot quality the offensive benefits of the small lineup are outweighed by their terrible D numbers.
Michigan ended up going small in response, spending much of the second half switching Smotrycz and Morgan O for D; Stu Douglass ended up playing 38 of 45 minutes.
Insane devotion to foul orthodoxy. I can see yanking Smotrycz after his second since Michigan had a reason to go small and Smotrycz is the kind of guy who will foul out if you don't keep an eye on him. But Novak? UMHoops mentioned this gently; I'll restate: guy averages 2.8 fouls per 40 minutes. The risk of bringing him back in for the last five minutes of the first half is not high.
Stu! Douglass has quietly been an effective, important player in the last three games. His shooting helped a lot against Indiana and Wisconsin and his perimeter defense is the best on the team by a wide margin. He had five steals against Wisconsin and two in this game.
Even more importantly, switching Douglass onto Crawford slowed him considerably. In the second half and OT, Crawford had one dunk he was given after Michigan played great defense to deny three-point opportunities as NU wound the clock from 22 seconds to 8 and went 5/6 on free throws from Morgan and Burke fouls. The Douglass matchup:
- 1 steal
- 2 TO
- 1/5 from 2
- 0/1 from 3
IIRC Hardaway had Crawford for most of the first half when he went 6 of 9 with a made three.
Douglass couldn't throw it into Gordon Gee's mouth in this game but since no one other than Hardaway could that's a criticism to save for another time. Even so he was Michigan's second most efficient scorer in this game with 10 points on 10 shots; Hardaway and Burke bested him but Burke only did so thanks to his end-of-game free throw spree.
Not that there's anything wrong with that. Ice cold, young man, especially after playing the entire game.
Hardaway launch pad. He took a couple of wince-inducing threes but they went down in this outing. One was a heat check that is not statistically more likely to go in but is impossible to prevent even the meekest low usage guy from taking, so okay.
Two for one. Beilein went for one at the end of the game; it did not work out because the pass to Hardaway was a little off and the resulting Novak three left only a six-second difference between shot and game clock, and then the insane Hardaway foul erased that. Good idea, though.
Speaking of. Ohmygawd what was that at the end of the game? If Northwestern had been in the bonus I think my head would have come off. They are letting almost everything slide and then they call a nothing foul with ten seconds left. Face, meet palm.
And then Douglass hacks the hell out of Crawford because Michigan has fouls to give and the refs ignore that. Quite a sequence there. Don't get me started on Novak trying to take charges.
Timeouts. Argh. All basketball games would be improved by cutting two timeouts. This one would have been immensely so.
*[Hockey has a version of it when one team is throwing chance after chance at a hot goalie and his even hotter goalposts in a close game—call it the Ryan Miller Experience. Baseball has nothing like it and the tenor of a frustrated football crowd is different; the anger is usually more directed. This frustration is a cosmic one.]
Sorry for the late post. WLW crashed at the worst time possible and their auto-recover function didn't work since it only took down one of my windows. So the column bit is shorter and I'll find links later.
1/8/2012 – Michigan 59, Wisconsin 41 – 13-3, 3-1 Big Ten
If Michigan's season to date was a rollercoaster, it would be one with a cartoon bumblebee on the first car and a You Must Be This Short To Ride This Ride sign out front. They've beaten the teams they were supposed to beat, lost to the ones they were supposed to lose to, and done these things more or less convincingly. Maybe the Virginia loss was a disappointment, but they're 14-1 now. Maybe Minnesota was uncomfortable. These are not events that will cause anyone in a television studio to talk about Michigan's wild season.
On the whole, that's a positive, but it does leave you wondering if Michigan is taking a step forward. Once Trey Burke hit the ground running it seemed like they should, but when you're sifting through the evidence all you've got are some instances of not blowing it. Tough to judge, that.
An 18-point win against Wisconsin is a step forward even if they're notoriously overrated by Kenpom. They are also rated by the people who vote in these things. North Carolina had to scrape by them at home; it took Michigan State overtime to dispatch them. They will likely recover from this sour start to easily claim an NCAA tourney bid, and Michigan ran them out of the gym.
This has a directly comparable moment from last year. It was this:
DEATH TO BACKBOARDS
THAT IS ALL
At that point even that hopeless freshman playing pinball for the win was regarded as "man fun," evidence that Michigan's basketball program was alive at 17-12, 7-9 in the league.
Michigan was rebuilding and started the Big Ten season off so poorly that the narrative of the season was near-misses that would cost them a tourney bid until, suddenly, it wasn't. When they got the bid they were staring down a second round matchup with Duke and the Sweet 16 was not a consideration until Darius Morris was running at the basket with time winding down.
This year they're coming at it from ahead, with a win or two in their pocket and a hope for more. Next year they won't be rebuilding anything. They'll be built, and expectations will loom. Right now we're going through the last vestiges of having no expectations because we have no program. Step by step, inch by inch, Michigan departs its past and becomes something else.
Bullets that can hit the backboard all they want
TREY BURKE! Burke followed up the worst game of his young career by outplaying Jordan Taylor. Taylor had a couple baskets late when he started forcing quick shots; these came against Stu Douglass and were desperate heaves in any case. In the first half Taylor had 4 points on 2 of 8 shooting; he hit a single additional three against Burke in the second half. For the game Taylor's late chucks got him to 12 points on 15 shots; Burke was not the model of efficiency but had 14 on the same number of shots. He did not pick up a single foul.
The rest of the defense! Michigan held Wisconsin to 0.76 points per possession, UW's worst output of the year. Marquette is next best at 0.86. I'm not sure how or why this happened, but it was no fluke. Wisconsin could not find an open shot anywhere. Despite having a terrible night, Taylor was forced into an even larger share of the offense than he usually has. He averages around 25% of UW's shots and hit 30% in this game.
Michigan showed on ball screens and Wisconsin could not pick and roll or find post players in good position. The Badgers had maybe three open looks from three all game, one transition basket, and vanishingly few dunks and layups.
Hardaway: more turnovers please. Last year, this site identified Tim Hardaway's abnormally low turnover rate for a high-usage freshman as a reason he would be an efficient player going forward. It would now like to retract that assertion since now it seems to mean Hardaway is settling for a lot of long twos.
In the last two games he's probably shot a half-dozen jumpers from just inside the three-point line with more than 25 seconds on the shot clock. I don't care who you are: that is not a good shot. You can make the case for the occasional semi-contested jacked up three as a decent opportunity that opens up later driving. You cannot for a slightly shorter shot that has about the same chance of going in but provides 33% less reward. Can Hardaway get that anytime he wants? Yes. Try to find something better with the time allotted.
If this results in more turnovers from young Skywalker, so be it. He's shooting 27% from 3—and probably about that from just inside 3—and 58% from two. Either drive to the basket or kick, and take the threes only when they come to you.
He seems to be overreacting to the first half/second half thing and is now shooting everything all the time. His shot% has cracked 30% and is now in the top 100, which is frustrating when a lot of the shots he's adding are low quality and he's got guys like Novak, Morgan and Smotrycz hanging out being deadly when the offense can create a shot for them.
Sanity check on aisle Wisconsin. Like Miami (That Miami) finishing third in offensive FEI, Wisconsin tenaciously clinging to their #2 spot in Kenpom despite a 1-3 Big Ten start is an unfortunate, credibility-sapping outlier. Sometimes these things happen to systems that try to rank teams by taking every possession into relatively equal account. Kenpom's strength of schedule adjustment is overwhelmed when a team beats its tomato cans by 54, 27, 36, 46, 23, 18, 33, and 34 in low-tempo outings. Computers have hearts, too. You can't expect them not to fall in love with that.
Wisconsin also has a narrow road loss to UNC and wins over Kenpom favorites BYU and UNLV, with only a home loss to Marquette a potential blemish before the clunky conference start. That the Badgers are still #2 after a home loss to Iowa and an 18 point blowout to M is a little dismaying; maybe Kenpom can find a way to discount possessions that are obviously scrub vs scrub or something.
UPDATE: Kenpom has a Wisconsin FAQ that seems driven by a lot of twitter @ replies.
The leap. The anticipated Kenpom surge was major: 12 spots—or three full seeding ranks in Pomlandia. Michigan's many indifferent outings against bleah competition saw them enter Big Ten play 52nd.
Let's go, Hoiberg Home for Lost Big Ten Boys. Michigan's meh nonconference schedule features just one win over a probable tourney participant (Memphis; Oakland is 3-4 in the Summit)… or at least it did until Iowa State swept Texas and A&M last week to kick off the Big 12 slate 2-0. The Cyclones also beat Iowa, which isn't a huge deal but does mean they're on a 7-game win streak in the aftermath of their loss in Crisler. Kenpom now projects a .500 conference record for them.
That would probably not get them in since their best nonconference win is against the Hawkeyes and they have losses to Drake and UNI, the other two instate schools. If they can swing an extra game or two their way, they could make it. FWIW, they're already in the top 50 in RPI.
The road ahead. Michigan has two should-win games next against Northwestern and Iowa. Iowa's on the road, though, which makes things touchy. See: recent Michigan trips to Carver-Hawkeye. See also: insane charge/block calls against Hardaway and Novak that cost Michigan the Indiana game.
Anyway, once they get past the next two games they have this daunting gauntlet (all rankings Kenpom):
- #7 Michigan State
- @ #85 Arkansas (annual inexplicable nonconference game)
- @ #29 Purdue
- @ #1 OSU
- #8 Indiana
- @ #7 Michigan State
If they can take care of business over the next week they can come out of that stretch .500 and still have established themselves a tourney lock. The home stretch is much easier: @ Nebraska, two against Illinois, @ Northwestern, @ Penn State, and return games from OSU and Purdue. If they manage to go 2-3 against the above conference opponents they'll be 7-4 in the toughest conference in the country with two gimmes and plenty of other games left to get to the .500 mark that will be auto entry for any B10 team this year.
This is edition the second of my wildly experimental basketball UFRs, and I've already gone and made major changes to the methodology. Gone is grading each possession by splitting up just one measly point. Now there's no set point total for a single possession, and instead I hand out anywhere between -3 and 3 points per player, still based on shot creation. The shot chart remains unchanged, and now there's a defensive shot chart—broken down by type of defense—as well. Still no defensive charting by player/possession because good lord I need to eat and sleep on occasion.
For those who missed it, here's my (now-altered) explanation of the charting from the Memphis UFR:
The play-by-play breakdown is relatively simple—it's broken up by possession ... I tell you the offensive set and defense (either man or type of zone, plus whether or not they pressed). FB == fast break. OOB == set from an inbounds play. I am not a basketball coach, and the last time I played competitively was in middle school, so corrections on terminology and the like would be much appreciated. Points do not coincide with made or missed baskets, but instead are awarded on the basis of creating shot opportunities—for instance, a pick to free a man, a cut to get open, or a nice pass may merit
half-points, and creating a bucket on an isolation will earn a full[more] point[s].
Shots are charted separately, and are broken down into three categories: dunk/layup, two-point shots, and three-point shots. They are further categorized by the level of contest from the defense—either no contest, late contest, or heavy contest—which, according to a tidbit from a BTN announcer, passed on to me by Brian, is how John Beilein charts shots.
For explanations of the offensive sets, click over to the Memphis post. I'm still deciding whether or not to put in unit +/- stats—those may come later in the season, as I start getting more used to churning these out on a regular basis. I do include substitution notes, so if some enterprising user has the will, it is possible to figure those out from the chart.
This is still very much a work-in-progress, and I'll be reading up on the Beilein offense over Christmas so that there should be more detail beyond the initial offensive set (which is almost always a 2-1-2) about what play was run. Right now, it's moving too quickly for me to figure it out based upon my current knowledge. So as always please leave suggestions in the comments and I'll look to incorporate them. Even if I'm not implementing suggestions from the Memphis UFR doesn't mean I've ignored them—it might just mean that I didn't have the chance to use them this time around, but I'm always looking back on old comments for reference.
With that, let's move on to BurkeFest 2011:
|After 15 seconds of setting up the offense, Morgan (+1) gets the ball on the right block, dribbles out of a double team, and makes a nice skip pass to Smotrycz. Smotrycz takes a couple hard dribbles towards the lane, drawing two defenders, then passes it out to Burke and immediately sets a screen (+1), which forces a switch. Burke crosses over the defender, blows right by him, and finishes with a layup (+2, dunk/layup, no contest, make).|
|Burke and Morgan run a pick and roll at the top of the key, but Oakland hedges hard on Burke and he has no space to get off a pass. Instead, Burke re-sets and hits Hardaway on the wing. Hardaway drives baseline, pulls up, and tried a contested 15-footer, which he airballs (-1, 2-pt, heavy contest, miss).|
|Burke and Hardaway pass it back and forth for a while before Hardaway drives around a Morgan screen, getting around his man and drawing the defender from the weak side (+1). This leaves Smotrycz wide open in the corner, and Hardaway gives it to him, but the open three misses (3-pt, no contest, miss). Morgan comes down with the offensive rebound, takes a strong dribble into the middle of the paint, and puts up a baby hook that catches the back iron and bounces out (+2, 2-pt, heavy contest, miss).|
|17:34||2-2||4-1 High||Man||Novak||3-pt Make|
|Novak gets the ball on the wing, fakes a shot from three, then drives just inside the FT line. He puts his body into his man and looks as if he's going to try to shoot, drawing the defense in from the perimeter (+2), before kicking out to an open Smotrycz, who buries a three (3-pt, no contest, make).|
|Michigan pushes the pace after an Oakland miss. Burke gets the ball and tries to drive between three guys, then jumps into the lane without a clear idea of where he's going with it. He loses control of the ball and Oakland grabs it (-2 Burke, unforced TO).|
|Smotrycz gets it at the top of the key and drives to the left elbow before picking up his dribble, allowing his man to get right up in his business. Hardaway (+1) cuts along the baseline to give him an option, but Smotrycz's pass is knocked away and stolen (-2 Smotrycz, forced TO). Nice cut by Hardaway, and the pass nearly worked and would've led to a layup, but Smot needs to keep his dribble alive so he's not forced into such a tough play.|
|Novak sets a pick for Hardaway in the lane, then pops out to the key, where he's freed up by a pick for Morgan. Smotrycz, who gets the ball on the right elbow as this is happening, passes to Novak at the top of the key. Novak goes back around Morgan (+1), who picks off his man, and jumps off two feet at the left corner of the free throw line, hitting a nice pullup jumper (+2, 2-pt, late contest, make).|
|Novak runs out on the break after an Oakland miss, dribbling up the middle then going hard for the left corner. Novak (+2) draws three defenders as he does this, then kicks out to a wide-open Hardaway—trailing Novak on the play and finding open space—for three (+1, 3-pt, no contest, make).|
|After another Oakland miss, it's Smotrycz pushing the pace this time, recognizing that Oakland isn't in good position to get back (+1). He makes a nice pass to Novak on the wing; Novak (+1) immediately hits a trailing Hardaway, who's got no one around him at the three-point line. Unfortunately, he can't knock this one down (3-pt, no contest, miss).|
|Burke starts the offense by passing to Morgan at the top of the key; he turns and gives to Smotrycz on the right wing, and Smotrycz dribbles back towards Morgan before dishing it to Hardaway, who's just a few feet to his left. Smotrycz then fakes a screen for Hardaway before doubling back behind Morgan (+1), who frees up Smotrycz with a pick of his own. Smot is all alone on the backdoor cut, takes a nice feed from Hardaway (+1), and hits the easy layup as his defender can't recover (+2, dunk/layup, late contest, make).|
|Beautiful ball movement here as Novak leads the charge off a rebound, driving down the right side before handing off to Burke, who's running back towards the top of the key. Burke (+2) goes around a double pick from Morgan and Smotrycz, draws in the D, then passes over three converging defenders to an open Novak in the corner. One defender scrambles out to Novak, so he makes the extra pass (+1) to Smotrycz, who buries an open three (3-pt, no contest, make).|
|Horford in for Morgan. Hardaway gets the ball on the left elbow and makes a solid skip pass to Burke in the right corner. Burke is well-guarded, but decides to go up for the shot anyway (-1, 3-pt, heavy contest, miss). Not the worst shot in the world, but there were still 23 seconds on the shot clock—I'd rather see Burke pull that one back out.|
|Vogrich in for Hardaway. Michigan cycles the ball around the perimeter for a while until Horford (+1) comes out to run a pick and roll with Burke on the right elbow. Burke gets around the pick but drives into two defenders with a third recovering. Burke (+1) turns and passes to an unguarded Novak in the corner. Money (3-pt, no contest, make).|
|Horford (+1) runs a high screen and roll with Burke (+1) that gets Horford open under the basket, where he draws a foul. Douglass in for Burke. After passing ball around after the inbounds, Smotrycz (-1) drives from the corner and dishes in traffic to Horford, but the pass is low and Horford is well-covered—held ball, possession arrow for Michigan. Horford gets the next inbounds out past the three-point line, hands it off to Novak, who misses a three as the shot clock winds down (Team -1, 3-pt, late contest, miss). Ugly possession after the initial foul.|
|Michigan clears out for Smotrycz on the block, but he's fouled on the floor. Burke in for Novak. Michigan lines up in their normal OOB set, with their two bigs (Smot and Horford) in line with the inbounder (Burke) while the two wings form a box on the opposite side of the lane. The two bigs set a double screen; Douglass is the first man through and he splits between the picks and heads for the basket, while Vogrich trails and goes around both picks for the corner. Burke gives to Vogrich, who gets a good look from about 18 feet but can't connect (Team +1, 2-pt, late contest, miss).|
|Smotrycz dumps it in to Horford on the block, and Horford decides to take a couple power dribbles as the rest of the team clears out. He gets to the middle of the lane but can't finish a lefty baby hook with a hand in his face (2-pt, heavy contest, miss). Good positioning by Horford, but this isn't really in his arsenal—those cancel out, so no plus or minus on this play.|
|After Laval Lucas-Perry misses a layup for Oakland, Burke runs out on the break. Michigan has a three on two with Burke in the middle, Douglass fading out to the 3-pt line on the left, and Smotrycz charging to the basket on the right—great spacing by all three guys here. Burke (+3) pulls up at the FT line, drawing one defender while looking off the other, who heads out for Douglass (+1), jumps as if he's going to shoot, then perfectly hits Smotrycz with a no-look pass for a layup (+1, dunk/layup, no contest, make).|
|Novak in for Smotrycz. Burke gets the ball on the left elbow and dribbles to the middle around a Horford (+1) screen. Burke's man goes under the pick, so he crosses back over, squares up, and drills a three (+2, 3-pt, no contest, make).|
|Douglass takes it up the court after an Oakland miss, and Michigan sets up briefly with two men (Horford and Vogrich) playing down low and three out on the perimeter—not sure if this is by design or a product of a quickly-run possession. Douglass dribbles into the lane and flips it underhand to Burke, who's open but a couple feet outside the NBA 3-pt line. He shoots anyway and misses (-1, 3-pt, late contest, miss).|
|Hardaway in for Vogrich. Hardaway runs a pick and roll with Horford on the left side, and Hardaway tries to drive right, is cut off, and throws a pass three rows into the seats (-3, unforced TO). He had Horford open on the roll but didn't see him. The pass is so poor it's unclear if the intended recipient was Douglass or Burke.|
|Douglass is fouled trying to corral a defensive rebound, and M is in the bonus. He nails both. Hooray for free points.|
|Morgan in for Horford. Novak gets the ball in the right corner and drives to his left, getting into the lane and forcing Morgan's man to switch out on him. Novak makes the right decision and tries to slip a pass under the basket to Morgan, who's now being defended by a shooting guard, but the pass is well wide and goes OOB (Novak -1, unforced TO).|
|Hardaway gets the ball right off the bat on the left wing, tries to drive baseline, and is stymied by two defenders. He leaves his feet and tries to pass to Novak in the opposite corner, but with two hands in his face this is difficult and the pass short-hops in front of Novak, who can't bring it in before it bounces OOB. Hardaway -2, unforced TO.|
|6:32||25-15||2-1-2||Man FC Press||Morgan||Layup Make|
|Burke breaks a one-man press and gets to the top of key as Morgan sets an off-ball screen for Hardaway. Oakland switches on the screen and Hardaway's man is late to recover on Morga, who is already cutting to the basket. Burke swings it to Novak (+1) who immediately hits Morgan under the basket for a layup (+2, dunk/layup, late contest, make).|
|Hardaway brings it up quickly after an Oakland miss and dishes to Burke on the left wing. Burke (+2) blows right by his man and draws the defender guarding Morgan, so he stops on a dime in the paint and slips it to Morgan for what should be an easy layup. Morgan biffs it (dunk/layup, no contest, miss). No minus for Morgan as this charting is about shot creation—his miss shows up in the shooting chart.|
|Vogrich in for Hardaway. Douglass flashes out to the 3-pt line and gets a pass from Vogrich. Stu drives to his right, gets stuck on the baseline, and tries a turnaround J from a few feet outside the lane. Airball (Douglass -2, 2-pt, heavy contest, miss). With 20 seconds on the shot clock, that's not at all what you want.|
|This is close to being a nice play, but not quite. Vogrich gets the ball on the wing and drives right around his man, forcing Oakland's D to rotate and leaving Douglass wide open in the opposite corner. Vogrich sees this and passes to Stu, but the give is high and Stu's foot comes down OOB after he has to jump for the catch. Vogrich -1.|
|Horford and Smotrycz in for Morgan and Douglass. Smot gets the ball on the right sideline and drives to the lane. He tries to rifle a jump-pass to Horford, who is all of four feet away, and the pass ricochets off Horford's hands, then off the backboard, and is stolen (Smotrycz -2, unforced TO).|
|3:25||27-21||2-1-2||Man||Vogrich||Layup Make/FT (0/1)|
|Burke gets a pick from Horford well past the 3-pt line on the left side. Horford (+1) sets a great screen and Burke's man is picked off trying to go over the top; Burke slows as he nears the FT line and sucks in another defender, who was guarding Vogrich in the corner. Burke (+1) dishes to Vogrich, who goes hard to the hoop, hitting a very tough layup over a rotating LLP and drawing a foul in the process (+2, dunk/layup, heavy contest, make).|
|Smotrycz takes the ball on the right wing and drives to the basket. He tries to stop near the FT line, but travels. Derp. -2 Smotrycz, unforced TO.|
|2:17||29-24||2-1-2||Man||Burke||3-pt Miss/OReb/Layup Make|
|Burke runs a pick and roll with Horford up top, his man goes under, and he's got space to shoot a relatively deep three if he wants. Instead, Burke sees Vogrich open with help late-arriving and passes. Vogrich can't knock down the jumper as the defender gets a late hand in his face (+1 Burke, 3-pt, late contest, miss). Horford (+2) hauls in a tough offensive board between three defenders and kicks it out to Burke, who drives past two defenders and hits a quick layup before the D can recover (+2, layup, no contest, make).|
|Burke runs another high screen and roll with Horford, drives, spins, draws a few defenders, then tries to hit a cutting Vogrich at the three-point line. Unfortunately, his pass is behind Vogrich, who can't reel it in as the ball goes off his hands and OOB (-2 Burke, unforced TO). Burke a little wild here.|
|1:07||31-27||-||Man||Burke||2-pt Miss/OReb/Layup Miss|
|Burke pushes the pace off an Oakland miss, drives to his right, and forces a heavily-contested bank from just outside the lane (-1, 2-pt, heavy contest, miss). Horford again brings in the board, but he's in a good deal of traffic, and instead of kicking it out he tries a turnaround lay-in that comes up short (dunk/layup, heavy contest, miss). Horford gets a +1—two in the positive for the tough rebound, one negative for forcing the shot.|
|0:44||31-29||2-1-2||Man||Burke||3-pt Miss/OReb/FT (1/2)|
|McLimans and Akunne in for Horford and Vogrich. Burke hangs around the perimeter, running the shot clock down to ten, which is just fine given the situation. He then steps up to the 3-pt line, makes one crossover dribble, and chucks up a shot with a hand right in his grill, missing everything but the backboard (-2, 3-pt, heavy contest, miss). Smotrycz (+2) comes up with the rebound, goes up strong, and draws a shooting foul.|
|Starters in for the start of the second half. After not getting anything going early in the clock, Burke resets the offense and calls a new play. He passes off to Smotrycz, who gives to Novak at the top of the key. Morgan (+1) sets a downscreen on Hardaway's defender, freeing up THJ on the left wing. Novak gives, and Hardaway (+1) is able to take a dribble inside the arc and rise up for an 18-foot jumper (Team +1, 2-pt, late contest, make).|
|Burke dribbles towards the left corner, handing the ball off to Hardaway, who's coming back behind Burke to the top of the key. Hardaway has space for a deep-ish three and puts it up, but misses (3-pt, heavy contest, miss). Tempted to minus Hardaway here since his defender got there to contest the shot, but his high-rising jumper really makes the contest moot. Plus, nice to see him getting involved after a quiet first half.|
|18:40||34-32||2-1-2||Man FC Press||Hardaway||3-pt Make|
|Hardaway has to re-set the offense at the top of the key with around 20 on the shot clock. He calls for a pick from Morgan (+1), gets good penetration into the lane, then kicks to Smotrycz in the corner. Smot nails the three (+2 Hardaway, 3-pt, late contest, make).|
|Novak gets a pass from Burke and drives baseline, but stalls in the corner, where he's doubled by Smotrycz's man. Smot flares out to the 3-pt line, where Novak passes to him. A rotating defender flies by in a futile effort to steal the pass, while Smot's original man buys a pass fake from Smot and runs out to Burke. Smot is left wide open despite still holding the ball, and he drills a three (+2, 3-pt, no contest, make).|
|After an off-ball foul on Oakland, Hardaway comes free on an inbounds play (+1 Team) but can't knock down a 15-footer (2-pt, late contest, miss). Morgan flies in between two guys for the rebound but can't keep his pivot foot when he lands. Just a tough break for Morgan, as he had two defenders draped all over him. He gets a +1 for the board.|
|After Oakland misses a three, Hardaway (+3) gets the rebound and immediately takes off. He threads a perfect bounce pass to a streaking Morgan, who dunks with authoritay (+1, dunk/layup, no contest, make).|
|Morgan (+1) again sets an off-ball downscreen for Hardaway, who flashes out for a look from three as he gets a pass from Burke. Hardaway gets a decent look, but can't knock it down (+1, 3-pt, late contest, miss).|
|Smotrycz gets the ball on the wing and drives hard with his left hand to the FT line, drawing weakside help from Hardaway's defender. Hardaway (+1) dives for the basket and Smot (+2) feeds him a nice lefty bounce pass. Hardaway is met at the rim by two defenders and fouled.|
|Burke gets a screen from Morgan and tries to drive baseline, but he gets cornered near the basket, jumps, and has his pass to Hardaway in the corner stolen easily (-2 Burke, forced TO).|
|Smotrycz runs out after an Oakland miss and this is a semi-transition possession. He dribbles towards the Michigan bench, and Hardaway takes a jab-step towards the basket, then cuts behind Smot and takes a handoff. Hardaway gets into the lane and splits two defenders, but can't hit a tough underhand layup with two defenders contesting (+1, dunk/layup, heavy contest, miss). Morgan came open when his defender rotated onto THJ, but it would've taken a great pass to get it to him under the basket.|
|Hardaway drives to his right but is stymied by a double team, so he throws a skip pass to Burke on the left elbow. Burke drives into the paint, is temporarily stopped, but pulls a ridiculous between-the-legs crossover that gets him into the lane and draws three defenders. Burke (+3) kicks it out to a now wide-open Hardaway, who drains the three (3-pt, no contest, make).|
|Burke has to re-set the offense after they can't get anything going early in the clock (Team -1). He waits, gets a screen up top from Morgan (+1), and blows by two defenders into the paint, where he pulls up for a running floater before help can arrive (+2, 2-pt, late contest, make). At this moment I'm now praying Burke stays in college for longer than two years. These last two plays were star caliber.|
|12:45||48-48||2-1-2||Man||Morgan||3-pt Miss/OReb/FT (1/2)|
|Burke (+1) drives to his right, hesitates, then finds room under the basket, where he kicks out to an open Hardaway in the corner. Hardaway can't connect (3-pt, no contest, miss), but Morgan (+2) jumps between two defenders to pull down the rebound. He pivots, goes back up for a layup, and is fouled in the process.|
|12:07||49-49||2-1-2||3-2 Zone||Burke||3-pt Make|
|Douglass and Horford in for Smotrycz and Morgan. Oh, hey, a zone! Oakland decides to put three guys up top instead of the more common 2-3. They don't come out far enough, however, as Burke is able to rise up from NBA distance and drill a triple (+2, 3-pt, no contest, make). If Burke can hit that shot, I'm all for him taking it given the complete lack of pressure from the D.|
|Surprise! Oakland abandons the zone. Novak and Hardaway run by each other at the 3-pt line and Novak hands off, but Hardaway drops the ball and LLP steals it (-2 Hardaway). THJ was moving a little too quickly for his own good and didn't make sure to secure the ball—the pass wasn't bad by any stretch.|
|Horford (+1) with another off-ball pick for Hardaway on the weak side frees him up for an open look from three, which he hits after getting the pass from Burke (+1, 3-pt, no contest, make). THJ and whoever is playing center are just abusing the man defense on the weak side—that's the third time they've created an open look using the same play this half. Gotta think Beilein saw something there.|
|Hardaway and Horford (+1) run a high pick and roll at the top of the key. Hardaway's defender goes under the screen, so he pulls up and drains a three (+1, 3-pt, no contest, make). Oakland made that one easy for THJ, especially with him on a bit of a shooting streak at the moment.|
|Burke steals an Oakland inbounds pass near midcourt and Douglass is already streaking up the middle of the court ahead of everyone. Burke (+1) floats a nice pass to Stu, who hits an uncontested layup (+1, dunk/layup, no contest, make). Stu's point is for getting up the court so quickly, not for making an open layup, FTR.|
|Hardaway is fouled by LLP going for a defensive rebound and M is in the bonus. He misses the front end of a one-and-one.|
|Smotrycz in for Novak. Burke runs a high pick and roll with Morgan (+1), his defender goes under, and Burke pulls up and hits a three (+2, 3-pt, no contest, make).|
|Burke gets another high screen from Morgan and drives hard to the left, drawing an extra defender as weakside help comes to cover Morgan. Burke (+2) uses a slight hesitation move to get himself space then hits Douglass on the wing with a jump-pass. Douglass collects the pass, which was a little low, and hits an open three (+1, 3-pt, no contest, make).|
|Vogrich in for Hardaway. Burke has to drive wide around a pick from Morgan, but gets around the corner and draws three collapsing defenders as he nears the lane. Burke (+2) kicks out to Smotrycz, who pump-fakes a three with the D recovering, drives around a man, then hits a tough double-clutch runner as he gets into the paint (+2, 2-pt, heavy contest, make).|
|High pick and roll between Morgan and Burke, again. Burke (+2) gets penetration, again. This time he hits a rolling Morgan for an open layup (+2, layup, no contest, make). Oakland can't stop Burke, nor, at this point, can they hope to contain him.|
|Douglass (+1) initially has a 2-on-2 fast break off a long rebound, but smartly pulls out and resets the offense. Burke again runs a high P&R with Morgan, but as he drives to the lane he loses the ball out of bounds (-1, unforced TO). Only Trey Burke can stop Trey Burke.|
|6:46||70-61||2-1-2||Man FC Press||Morgan||2-pt Make|
|Smotrycz gets the ball on the wing, tries to drive off a pick from Morgan, but can't get any penetration, so he gives to Morgan a couple feet outside the paint. Morgan squares up, pivots in a complete circle to give himself space, and calmly knocks down a jumper (+2, 2-pt, late contest, make). If he can consistently hit that shot, I'll be very excited about his offensive development.|
|Burke is fouled going after a long defensive rebound and goes to the line. He hits the first and misses the second. Thanks for the free point, Oakland.|
|So, this Burke kid. This time he stays patient after Oakland hedges hard on a—guess what?—high pick and roll with Morgan, gets another screen from Smotrycz, and pulls a quick crossover to split right between the two defenders. Burke (+3) ends up with all five Oakland players surrounding him in the lane, so he kicks out to Douglass, who can't knock down the open three (3-pt, no contest, miss).|
|Akunne in for Burke. After the ball cycles around for a while, Akunne (+1) eventually gets it on the left elbow and throws a solid skip pass to Douglass in the opposite corner. Stu gets a good look, but misses the three (3-pt, late contest, miss). Morgan (+2) pulls in another tough offensive board between two guys. Eventually, Akunne (-2, forced TO) gets the ball out top and just has it stolen from him, but...|
|...Smotrycz steals the ball right back, and M gets a fresh shot clock. He passes to Akunne, who awkwardly dribbles to his left and gets picked clean (-2, forced TO). Akunne just doesn't look comfortable handling the ball, to say the least.|
|4:39||73-67||?||Man||Douglass||3-pt Miss/OReb/FT (1/2)|
|Lots of confusion at the start of this possession as Akunne and Douglass go to the same spot on the floor, with Stu yelling at Akunne and pointing for him to go to the wing. He does so, and ends up getting an open look as Hardaway (+2) comes off a pick from Morgan and kicks out, but Akunne can't connect (3-pt, no contest, miss). Smotrycz grabs the long board (+1) and passes out to Douglass, who's now running the point. Stu (-1) gets trapped near midcourt, but is bailed out by a foul call and goes to the line.|
|4:04||74-67||4-1 High||Man||Burke||3-pt Make|
|Burke in for Akunne. Burke runs a high screen with Morgan, then doubles back and takes another pick from Smotrycz (+1) that frees him up to drive to the baseline. Burke (+1) starts to fall OOB but makes a last-ditch pass to Hardaway, who drains a killer corner three (3-pt, heavy contest, make). Dagger.|
|Smotrycz (+2) comes up with a steal, takes a couple dribbles, and threads a fantastic bounce pass ahead to Douglass, who's out in front of everyone. Stu dunks, which is always fun (+1, dunk/layup, no contest, make).|
|3:04||79-69||4-1 High||Man||Burke||3-pt Make|
|Burke, Morgan (+1), high pick and roll. Burke (+2) finds space on the right side, drives to the lane, and kicks out to an open Stu for three (3-pt, no contest, make).|
|2:27||82-69||4-1 High||Man||Burke||Layup Make|
|Burke kills clock until there are just six seconds left to shoot, drives left from a good five feet outside the NBA 3-pt line, and blows by LLP for a driving layup (+2, dunk/layup, late contest, make). Charting ceases as this becomes free throw city and M doesn't attempt another field goal.|
TREY BURKE LIKE WHOA
Indeed. It's a little easier to do this as the point guard, but he's the focal point of this offense, and right now he's having no trouble carrying that burden. Outside of a few freshman mistakes—usually when he tries to do too much—Burke is playing within himself and making a lot of fantastic plays in the process.
JOHN BEILEIN LIKE WHOA
Yep. Much like Memphis, Oakland played almost exclusively man-to-man, and Dylan threw in this tidbit about how the Grizzlies game-planned for Michigan:
At the press conference after the game on Saturday, Oakland coach Greg Kampe said the Grizzlies’ game plan was to limit the back-door cuts and make the Wolverines beat them from behind the arc.
Live by the sword, die by the sword, I guess. There weren't too many plays where Michigan freed up an open cutter to the basket, but that's mostly because they were busy pick-and-rolling Oakland's defense to death. With Michigan raining in open threes (more on that after the shot chart), many created by Oakland playing soft on screens instead of following over the top, you'd think Kampe would've made an adjustment, but none came. I guess there was one 3-2 zone, which in theory should limit three-pointers, but they played so soft that Burke calmly drilled a three anyway. After that, zone abandoned, and Michigan resumed death by picks. Fantastic game-plan by Beilein, and great execution by the team.
Big men like whoa?
You seem slightly less enthused, self, and I'm not surprised—I'm a little confused, too. As you'll see below, both Morgan and Horford come out with huge positive scores and barely anything in the negative, mostly thanks to both having solid days on the glass and being major parts of the pick-a-palooza. I'm still trying to figure out what a big man can do to earn a negative in this offense aside from turning the ball over—since they rarely get the ball in the post, there's not many opportunities to force bad shots, and otherwise they're mostly setting screens and getting in position to grab offensive rebounds. Suggestions, please?
Way to pawn off all the work on the readers.
Shut up. On to the...
[All credit to a2_electricboogaloo for the above]
|Burke||43||12||31||Holy Horton, we got ourselves a point guard.|
|Hardaway||16||8||8||Quiet first half, some bad turnovers, but mostly solid. Needs to find a way to get more involved early, though foul trouble played a role in this game.|
|Novak||9||1||8||Extremely sound. I agree with Brian—I'd like to see him get the ball more. Other than Burke and Hardaway, he's the one guy who can consistently create and knock down jumpers from inside the arc when he's got the ball.|
|Smotrycz||17||7||10||Very nice game for Smot. Still not great handling the ball, but he's creating more offense for himself and also doing a good job of hitting the glass. His slow, awkward drives are still slow and awkward, but much more effective these days.|
|Morgan||24||1||23||Product of tons of good screens and some nice work on the boards. Going to have to figure out what to do about tiny negatives for big men—Morgan did not have twice the impact as Smotrycz, though he still played well.|
|Douglass||5||3||2||Relative non-factor in the shot creation department. Dunked.|
|Horford||10||1||9||More death by screens.|
|Akunne||1||4||-3||Please, please, no more putting him at the point.|
|Vogrich||2||1||1||Starting to show ability to get to the basket and finish. Quiet day otherwise.|
|McLimans||0||0||0||Nothing of note in one minutes of PT.|
|Team||3||2||1||Some nice inbounds plays, and I really could've added a lot more here for killing Oakland with the off-ball screens.|
|TOTAL||130||40||90||Again, no context for these numbers, but Michigan had a very strong offensive game while playing at a high tempo, mostly thanks to Oakland pushing the pace like crazy.|
Those overall numbers are wildly in the positive, obviously, but I think as we go along (assuming I stay with this method, which I rather like on first glance), that will be the norm, though maybe not to such a high degree—basketball offenses score a lot of points, and usually it's missed shots that keep a team from scoring on most possessions, not poor plays. Since this is about shot creation, with shooting taken out of the equation, the numbers should be positive or something went very wrong.
Also, Michigan scored 1.25 points per possession against Oakland—the offense was lethal, and the numbers reflect that, at least as far as I can tell without another reference point. The only major knock against Michigan's offense this game would be turnovers—the Wolverines had a 23.7% turnover rate, which is not so good—but that was more than made up for by the team rebounding over 27% of their misses and also getting to the line with relative frequency.
As for individual players not covered in the previous section, I'm really impressed with the improvements in Zach Novak's game. He still has all of the grit, but he's also turned into a smart distributor—this game: eight assists, one turnover—and while he doesn't take many shots, when he does, they're good looks. Especially in situations where Hardaway is struggling or off the floor, I'd like to see the offense run through Novak a little more.
Smotrycz had the most impressive game statistically, scoring 20 points on just eight shots and hauling in nine rebounds, and he seems to be getting more comfortable in the offense. As you'll see below, he took advantage of a lot of open looks, but he got into the lane and was able to hit the two contested shots he took—tough to ask for much more from a sophomore big with limited athleticism.
Shall we go to the shooting chart? You're writing too much.
Yes I am, and it's Friday, dammit. Shooting chart (now with player and team totals so it's actually useful!).
|Hardaway||-||-||0/1 (1F)||-||1/2||0/1||4/6||0/1||1/2||4/6||1/3||1/4 (1F)||6/13|
|Smotrycz||1/1||1/1||(1F)||-||-||1/1||3/4||-||-||4/5||1/1||1/1 (1F)||6/7 (1F)|
|Morgan||2/3||1/1||(1F)||-||1/1||0/1||-||-||-||2/3||2/2||0/1 (1F)||4/6 (1F)|
|Vogrich||-||-||1/1 (1F)||-||0/1||-||-||0/1||-||-||0/2||1/1 (1F)||1/3 (1F)|
|TOTAL||7/8||3/3||1/3 (4F)||-||4/6||1/6||13/18||1/6||1/4||20/26||8/15||3/13 (4F)||31/54|
Almost exactly half of Michigan's shots were of the "no contest" variety, and all of those were either dunks/layups or three-pointers. This is exactly what you want to see out of John Beilein's offense, which is predicated on creating either open layups or good looks for three points. The Wolverines shot the lights out—their 71.3 eFG% is the third-highest in any game of the Beilein era, according to Dylan—and it's easy to see why when you look at the above.
Interestingly, most of the team's bad shots came on non-layup two-pointers, and looking back at the play-by-play, that's mostly because those shots came outside the framework of the offense. Of note: no single player took more than one heavily contested two-pointer, which says to me that this team is well-coached, though we already knew that. Same goes for tough dunk/layup attempts (on which M drew more fouls than they had missed shots), and only Burke and Hardaway jacked up threes while being heavily guarded—if I'm going to pick two guys to do that, it's those two.
Can we see some videos already?
Sure thing. Here's Trey Burke being totally awesome:
As Greg Kelser was saying before I cut off the clip, that's just a perfectly-run fast break, especially by Burke. I don't have much analysis here other than saying that, well, that guy doesn't look like a freshman point guard, even with the higher-than-ideal turnover rate. All three players run this perfectly, with Stu fading off to the perimeter to stretch out the defense, Smotrycz going hard in the paint, and Burke using the threat of his pull-up J to freeze the defense and allow him to dish for an easy assist.
More Burke ridiculousness, you say? Here you go:
That elicited a rather loud "WUT?" when I watched it live, and I'm still not really over this—that's just a sweet move in traffic that takes a bogged-down play and turns it into an opportunity for a wide-open three. Burke doesn't have the size of Darius Morris, which allowed Morris to bully his way into the lane with regularity, but he's quicker and those handles let him do many of the same things Morris did, just in a different fashion. He used that same crossover—though not between the legs—to slice between two defenders jumping out on a pick and create a wide open three for Douglass when the entire defense freaked and collapsed into the lane.
As for general Beilein scheme stuff, check out how much Novak moves on this play, which ends in him knocking down a pull-up jumper:
He starts at the top of the key, cuts hard to the hoop, sets a screen, pops back out the top of the key, goes over a pick from Morgan, and gets himself a good shot. This is what Beilein's offense is all about, especially against man defense—eventually, lots of cuts and screens should free up an open shooter, whether it's the guy with the ball or some moving away from the play.
What about the defense?
Ah, yes, there is now stuff on the defense, though admittedly not nearly as much as the offense. The main feature I'm introducing is the defensive shot chart, which is the same as the offensive shot chart but broken down by type of defense:
|Man||3/4||2/4 (1F)||3/6 (2F)||2/3||1/2 (2F)||1/11 (2F)||2/6||2/6||3/6||7/13||5/12 (3F)||7/23 (4F)||19/48 (7F)|
|Fast Break||-||-||1/2 (1F)||-||(1F)||-||-||0/1||-||-||0/1 (1F)||1/2 (1F)||1/3 (2F)|
|TOTAL||3/4||2/4 (1F)||4/8 (3F)||2/3||1/2 (3F)||1/11 (2F)||2/7||2/7||2/6||7/14||5/13 (4F)||8/25 (5F)||20/52 (9F)|
Turnovers: Man—8 (2 forced, 6 unforced), 1-3-1—0, Fast Break—2 (1 forced, 1 unforced)
This doesn't match up exactly with the stats from the box score (which has Oakland going 26/59), mostly because Oakland rained in 11 points in garbage time and I was done charting at that point. But yeah, check out that shot distribution versus Michigan's and you get the story of this game—Michigan was able to generate a lot of open looks, and Oakland was forced into taking a lot of tough shots.
Also, as you can see, Michigan spent almost the entire game in man, throwing out the 1-3-1 on one possession when the Grizzlies made their big run at the end of the first half. They also did a good job of getting back in transition, as Oakland wasn't able to generate many good shots even when out on the break. Some might look at the box score, see that Michigan gave up 80 points, and think that they didn't play good D, and I think those hypothetical people would be wrong. Oakland was hanging almost exactly at one point per possession until garbage time got them up to 1.09 ppp.
No lengthy breakdown on individual defenders yet, as this is long enough already, but off the cuff I was impressed with Smotrycz—who came up with two steals, had seven defensive rebounds, and only recorded two fouls, which have been a bugaboo this year—and the interior duo of Morgan and Horford, who didn't let much open up inside the lane. Burke needs to learn that he doesn't have to contest every shot, as he got into some unnecessary foul trouble, and Hardaway allowed Laval Lucas-Perry to blow right by him for an and-one, which was kinda embarrassing.
Burke, of course. Other than him, Smotrycz had a great day shooting and was solid all-around, Novak was very efficient, and THJ managed to score 18 second-half points after early foul trouble. Also, John Beilein for coaching circles around the other guy, again.
First-half Hardaway only had three points while amassing two fouls—he's got to snap out of that habit before Big Ten season. Eso Akunne should probably not play point guard again. I'm getting a little worried about Carlton Brundidge, because while Akunne has more experience, he looked lost at times in the offense and is completely out of his element as a primary ballhandler. Could Brundidge really be worse as a third-string (behind Douglass), couple-minutes-a-game point guard?
Nah, I think I've pretty much covered it all, though I'm sure I'll be proven wrong about that in the comments. Fire away, people. Let me know what you think of this.
Quality looks. Photos via Dustin Johnson and UMHoops.
(Stats via Kenpom($).)
With a 90-80 win against Oakland on Saturday, Michigan has completed the competitive section of their nonconference schedule with the exception of their annual inexplicable nonconference opponent stashed in the heart of the Big Ten schedule. This year's: @ Arkansas on January 21st. Why does Michigan do it? I have no idea. It's a persistent mystery.
Anyway, we won't learn much of anything about the team we don't already know as they take on Arkansas Pine Bluff, Alabama A&M, and Bradley. The former two are ranked 300+ by Kenpom; Bradley is 209 and has a loss to Wofford on their resume. We have 95% of the data we'll have by the time Penn State rolls into down on the 29th. So what have we learned?
The Big Ten is insane. Michigan checks in at #39 in the Kenpom ratings, which is good enough for a projected conference record of… 8-10. Glurp. That's because there are five teams in the league currently ranked in the top 15: #1 Wisconsin, #3 OSU, #12 Michigan State, #13 Indiana, and #14 Purdue. Michigan is currently leading a second tier from 39 to 52 with Illinois, Minnesota, and Northwestern. Nebraska's by itself in the 70s; Penn State and Iowa are horrible.
The Big Ten has a monster lead on the #2 Big Twelve for the title of best tempo-free conference in the country. It is a brutal league. Without a hugely disappointing tourney, it will be a runaway winner in the KenPom rankings for the second straight year.
Michigan is not in the top tier because of their defense. Their offense is 21st nationally (about which more later); their defense is 80th. The league has four defenses allowing less than 90 points per 100 possessions*; Wisconsin and OSU are 1-2 nationally at 81 and 83.5. Michigan's giving up 95, which is good for ninth. They beat out only Northwestern, Iowa, and Penn State.
That's a disappointing backslide for a team that you'd expect to be better on D. Darius Morris was the only loss and Michigan went from one of the youngest teams in the country to middle of the pack, but Michigan was 34th last year. Small sample size caveats apply; IIRC last year at this time Michigan's defense was just as shaky and they pulled it together in the Big Ten.
*[adjusted for schedule strength]
They are #1 in the country at something. Go ahead, guess. You'll never get it. No, none of those things: Michigan is #1 nationally in making two pointers. I should have told you to sit down. I cannot be held responsible for people falling over at this news.
Now that you've recovered, it makes some sense, doesn't it? I mean, Jordan Morgan missed a bunny against Oakland and Greg Kelser joked about how that will cripple his 77% shooting, and you were like "whoah." There is one guy on the team with enough minutes to register in the stats who's shooting under 55% percent, that Jon Horford at a horrendous awful terrible 53%. Michigan's four highest-volume two point shooters are at 76% (Morgan), 58% (Smotrycz), 56% (Hardaway) and 55% (Burke).
This is partially an effect of the schedule. The defenses they've gone up against have not generally been high quality. It was somewhat ugly against Virginia, possessor of the one elite defense they've faced so far. Michigan went 12 of 28 from two and only stayed in the game with blistering three point shooting—they actually shot better from 3 in that game than 2, 46%-42%.
That's an abnormally good defense, sure, but half of Michigan's Big Ten games are going to be against Virginia-quality Ds. This is a three-yards-and-a-cloud-of-dust conference. That second half against Duke, when they tore up ALL OF THE PLUMLEES, is encouraging. They're #1 for some reason, it's not all schedule.
The rest of their offensive stats are basically in line with expectations. They shoot a ton of threes (20th), are only decent at making them (86th), rarely turn the ball over, rarely grab offensive rebounds, and rarely get to the line. POT, now and forever.
That's not a revelation. That's just how Beilein plays the game. We should be looking at these items in relation to last year. The four factors:
- SHOOTING. Massively improved thanks to the aforementioned two-point fiesta. Third nationally.
- TURNOVERS. Poor relative to last year. There is no easy finger to point: everyone's TO rates are up. Burke does have an alarmingly high 22.6; raise your hand if "freshman PG's most obvious flaw is an excessive quantity of turnovers" surprises you. Right, that's Josh Pastner and no one else.
- OFFENSIVE REBOUNDING. Less putrescent than usual! Last year they were the Maryland-Baltimore County of offensive rebounding. This year they're Marist. This gives you no context at all. They're up three percent, good for a significant leap.
- FREE THROW RATE. Also less putrescent than usual; they've gone from the Towson of free throw rate to… well, not good but also not terrible.
Smotrycz needs to stay on the floor. Smotrycz has improved massively in just about any category you care to name save one: fouls per 40 minutes. He's at 5.9 this year and was at 6.4 before staying out of foul trouble against Oakland. Minutes that do not go to Smotrycz go to Stu Douglass and Matt Vogrich, statistically inferior players in almost literally all possible ways. And those stats don't even account for the defensive problems Michigan has when Smotrycz is on the bench. Michigan will get significantly better if Smotrycz can get his minutes percentage from the 50s into the 70-75 range.
The same assertion goes for Morgan but at least he has a positional analogue on the roster. Michigan's backup 4 is 6'4" Zack Novak.
Defensive issues. The main one: too many quality three-point looks from opponents. They have not been burned by it yet but Oakland missed an array of wincingly wide-open three pointers, as did Virginia. Duke… did not miss, nor did they shoot a lot of quality threes. But the overall point is this: Michigan is facing almost as many threes as they jack themselves. If they're still near 300th in threes faced at the end of the season opponents will have made it rain and Michigan will be staring at a disappointing tourney seed.
The other stuff is the usual: they're mediocre at defending twos, rarely get turnovers, and foul too much. They're kind of short, kind of young, and not that athletic, so none of these things are surprises, but, like, Wisconsin. Michigan can be better defensively—they were better last year—and getting that leap from mediocre to quality will be the difference between a season spent idling near the bubble and waiting for Stauskas/GRIII/McGary and a decent shot at a Sweet 16.
Novak usage. Zack Novak's shooting 64% from two, 44% from three, and has a TO rate under ten. His offensive rating is off the charts… and his usage is in the "limited roles" range. While you can't really run an offense through him, if Michigan could focus a little more on getting him shots it seems like he would reward that effort. That pump-and-step-in jumper he's developed is money.
Some Oakland-specific things? Sure.
Trey Burke! That is all.
Trey Burke! No it's not. How crazy would it be if he was backing Morris and eating up half of the minutes currently being forked over to Douglass and Vogrich? Ah, hell. That crossover-in-a-phone-booth that led to a wide open Hardaway three was fantastic, as were many other things. He just needs to get an increment better here (TO rate) and there (three point shooting) to be a bonafide collegiate superstar.
NBA: you hate 5'11" point guards. Leave him to us for now.
Laval Lucas-Perry. The festival of charges and other ill-advised decisions combined with defensive lapses to paint a picture of why LLP and Beilein had a falling out that led to his transfer. I was going to point out that he would still be welcome on a team with zero bench but I looked him up and he's shooting 26% from three and 48% from two. Michigan's getting that out of Douglas.
He does get to the line a lot, FWIW.
Tim Hardaway, come out and play. In the second half it seems like Michigan tries to run its offense through Hardaway for three or four possessions in a row, which is because he has two shots and two points in the first 20 minutes. He refuses to force the issue, which is why his turnover rate remains abnormally low for a guy with high usage. I'd still like to see Michigan force Hardaway into the game earlier; once he starts shooting regularly other opportunities open up.
Brundidge: there is no Brundidge. They have already burned Brundidge's redshirt unless they're going to Devin Gardner him an injury, so insert usual concern about Eso Akunne getting the backup point minutes, such as they are. Akunne looks about as comfortable at the point as I would and the offense gets extraordinarily ponderous when he's in the game.
He hasn't missed a shot yet, though. Let's give him time at the two. I'm not sure if I'm serious here. Vogrich is one for a billion from three, so Akunne may actually provide more value at the moment.