6'9, 325? Holy shit.
The Chaos Team: Examining Tennessee's Losses
Both of these teams swept Tennessee. One is good. One is not.
Tennessee is such a strange team—capable of beating Virginia by 35 or getting swept by Texas A&M—that a look at a game or two of film seemed like a potentially huge waste of time. Instead, I went through the box scores and available highlights of each of the Volunteers's 12 losses in an effort to find some common threads. Without further ado, here's the breakdown of each game, with a Michigan-centric overview at the end of the post.
All rankings reflect the current KenPom standings, which have Tennessee at #6.
#59 XAVIER 67, TENNESSEE 63 (Nov. 12, Away)
Key Tennessee stats: 16/38 2-pt, 8/19 3-pt, 7/19 FT, 35% OR, 17% TO
Key Xavier stats: 24/46 2-pt, 2/8 3-pt, 13/24 FT, 41% OR, 25% TO
Breakdown: Xavier led wire-to-wire in Tennessee's season opener despite missing two starters. They were helped by terrible shooting inside the arc by the Vols, as well as significant foul trouble for Tennessee's two bigs—Jarnell Stokes fouled out in 20 minutes and Jeronne Maymon had four fouls in 27. Xavier exploited this by generating a ton of shots inside the arc and rebounding far better than Tennessee's opponents normally do. The Volunteer bench, meanwhile, scored just six points in 57 minutes of playing time. Score one for "get the bigs in foul trouble" as a huge key to beating UT.
#96 UTEP 78, TENNESSEE 70 (Nov. 28, Neutral Site)
Key Tennessee stats: 19/42 2-pt, 3/21 3-pt, 23/39 FT, 54% OR, 21% TO
Key UTEP stats: 26/40 2-pt, 3/10 3-pt, 17/26 FT, 23% OR, 19% TO
Breakdown: Once again, shooting struggles got Tennessee into an early hole. Once again, foul trouble didn't help, as Maymon fouled out of this one in 22 minutes — he'd been bad anyway, going 1/6 from the field. I don't know if there's much to analyze from this, especially from Michigan's perspective. The Vols shot poorly enough that rebounding over half their misses didn't help much, and UTEP is one of the tallest teams in the country—they played five players standing at least 6'8" for 10+ minutes in this game.
[Hit THE JUMP for ten more losses and my takeaways from a Michigan perspective.]
#5 WICHITA STATE 70, TENNESSEE 61 (Dec. 14, Away)
Key Tennessee stats: 14/32 2-pt, 6/20 3-pt, 15/24 FT, 25% OR, 13% TO
Key Wichita State stats: 17/37 2-pt, 6/16 3-pt, 18/24 FT, 29% OR, 11% TO
Breakdown: WSU won this game by limited Tennessee's rebounding—and, in fact, winning the board battle—while turning the ball over just seven times and forcing the Vols to be a perimeter-oriented squad on the other end. Once again, fouls contributed: Stokes fouled out after 21 relatively ineffective minutes. With Stokes out for most of it, WSU guard Tekele Cotton scored all 19 of his points in the second half, nine of those coming at the line; getting a big in foul trouble and then attacking the paint is a running theme at this point.
#53 NC STATE 65, TENNESSEE 58 (Dec. 18, Home)
Key Tennessee stats: 17/44 2-pt, 3/24 3-pt, 15/20 FT, 40% OR, 15% TO
Key NC State stats: 21/48 2-pt, 3/6 3-pt, 14/19 FT, 38% OR, 24% TO
Breakdown: This one is pretty simple. NC State kept the rebounding battle relatively even, and Tennessee couldn't hit a shot inside or outside (especially outside) the arc. The Wolfpack stymied UT's post offense with 12 blocks—four by a 7'1" center and five by a 6'9", 325-pound forward—so I'm not sure this is the performance Michigan should look to replicate. Unlike the other games, big man foul trouble didn't play a factor at all.
#120 TEXAS A&M 57, TENNESSEE 56 (Jan. 11, Home)
Key Tennessee stats: 13/27 2-pt, 5/17 3-pt, 15/21 FT, 37% OR, 27% TO
Key Texas A&M stats: 12/35 2-pt, 8/15 3-pt, 9/18 FT, 24% OR, 14% TO
Breakdown: Tennessee lost on a three-pointer with four seconds left by a player who shot 25% from beyond the arc this season, so that part... yeah, unlucky, especially considering A&M hit half of their other three-point attempts. In a Big Ten-paced game (59 poss.), the Vols didn't shoot well, their rebounding advantage was canceled out by turnovers, and they let A&M get off enough threes to make up for horrid shooting inside the arc. This game mostly reads as a fluke, to be honest, though the Vols have an unusual number of games that seem to go that way; low-possession affairs involving iffy shooting teams will do that.
#13 KENTUCKY 74, TENNESSEE 66 (Jan. 18, Away)
Key Tennessee stats: 22/45 2-pt, 2/13 3-pt, 16/23 FT, 54% OR, 19% TO
Key Kentucky stats: 15/34 2-pt, 7/16 3-pt, 23/24 FT, 27% OR, 13% TO
Breakdown: Kentucky, a rebounding juggernaut and terrible FT shooting team, got dominated on the boards but hit 23/24 FTs while winning the turnover battle to come away with a win. Considering UK and U-M are about as different as two teams get, further analysis seems unnecessary.
#1 FLORIDA 67, TENNESSEE 41 (Jan. 25, Away)
Key Tennessee stats: 14/37 2-pt, 1/19 3-pt, 10/14 FT, 36% OR, 22% TO
Key Florida stats: 21/38 2-pt, 5/16 3-pt, 10/13 FT, 23% OR, 10% TO
Breakdown: Florida won this game by completely taking away Tennessee's top scorer, Jordan McRae, who finished with five points on 16 shot equivalents. That alone was enough to win comfortably, in all likelihood, but the Gators also benefited from terrible shooting by the Vols and made up almost the entire offensive rebounding gap (16-7, UT) by creating a 13-6 turnover gap in their favor. Michigan doesn't have a perimeter defender on par with, well, just about any of Florida's, so forcing McRae to go 0/9 inside the arc like the Gators did is a tall order.
#113 VANDERBILT 64, TENNESSEE 60 (Feb. 5, Away)
Key Tennessee stats: 16/38 2-pt, 7/23 3-pt, 7/11 FT, 51% OR, 15% TO
Key Vanderbilt stats: 18/31 2-pt, 6/15 3-pt, 10/17 FT, 25% OR, 11% TO
Breakdown: Vandy got great production out of their power forward spot, with Rod Odom scoring 26 points in 38 minutes as an inside-outside threat—he hit four twos, four threes, and six FTs—while limiting Maymon to 4/11 shooting and two turnovers on the other end (albeit with six ORs). Stokes went 3/11 against a center who's a couple inches taller but 20 pounds lighter than Jordan Morgan. With Tennessee's inside production lacking, even doubling up Vandy's rebound rate couldn't get the Vols the win.
#1 FLORIDA 67, TENNESSEE 58 (Feb. 11, Home)
Key Tennessee stats: 17/34 2-pt, 5/14 3-pt, 9/17 FT, 30% OR, 24% TO
Key Florida stats: 13/37 2-pt, 8/21 3-pt, 17/22 FT, 43% OR, 19% TO
Breakdown: The Gators bested Tennessee at two things they do well—rebounding and getting to the line—and shot just well enough from downtown to cover for a bad day finishing inside the arc. Stokes was dominant and managed to play 35 minutes despite amassing four fouls; Maymon, however, turned the ball over eight(!) times while scoring just two points in 34 minutes. I've watched a couple different highlight reels from this game—Florida's offensive success largely came from drive-and-kick situations, while they hounded Maymon with quick doubles in the post, both things Michigan can replicate. The Wolverines aren't likely to win the rebounding battle, let alone as emphatically; they also aren't likely to turn it over on 19% of their possessions like Florida did in this one.
#78 MISSOURI 75, TENNESSEE 70 (Feb. 15, Away)
Key Tennessee stats: 18/34 2-pt, 4/21 3-pt, 22/29 FT, 43% OR, 18% TO
Key Missouri stats: 23/41 2-pt, 3/5 3-pt, 20/26 FT, 28% OR, 18% TO
Breakdown: Mizzou simply outshot Tennessee in a game called tight both ways; three players on each team ended up with four fouls, including Maymon, who was limited to five points in 26 minutes. Mizzou's three 6'5" starting guards got to the basket regularly, and while they hit just 13/29 two-pointers, they combined to shoot 14/17 from the charity stripe. Their low-usage power forward went 3/3 from the field and 4/6 from the line, and his backup went 4/5 from the field—perhaps some GRIII-esque low-dribble, high-efficiency points created by the guards' penetration.
#120 TEXAS A&M 68, TENNESSEE 65 (OT) (Feb. 22, Away)
Key Tennessee stats: 20/39 2-pt, 3/15 3-pt, 16/24 FT, 25% OR, 20% TO
Key Texas A&M stats: 19/38 2-pt, 7/17 3-pt, 9/13 FT, 7% OR, 11% TO
Breakdown: The same crappy shooter who hit the game-winner in the first A&M game? Yeah, he hit the go-ahead three in overtime to win this one, too. While Tennessee didn't dominate the offensive glass, they completely owned the defensive boards; their shooting failed them once again, however, and the gap in turnovers proved just enough for another A&M upset.
#1 FLORIDA 56, TENNESSEE 49 (Mar. 15, Neutral Site)
Key Tennessee stats: 17/33 2-pt, 2/13 3-pt, 9/11 FT, 28% OR, 27% TO
Key Florida stats: 17/33 2-pt, 4/11 3-pt, 10/17 FT, 15% OR, 22% TO
Breakdown: Again, the Gators got a bunch of turnovers from a Tennessee big—this time it was Stokes, who coughed up the ball four times in a 60-possession game. Maymon, meanwhile, fouled out in 27 minutes—a huge blow given he was the only Volunteer playing effective offense in this game. Tennessee once again shot poorly from the outside, and Florida shot just well enough to pull out a very tight game that was nearly dead even on paper.
OVERVIEW: HOW DO YOU BEAT THESE GUYS?
Based on the above, my Michigan-specific keys to beating Tennessee:
1. Attack the bigs. Get one or both of Stokes or Maymon in foul trouble and the going gets a whole lot easier against the Tennessee defense. Opponents were able to attack the paint and get to the line when a big got into foul trouble, and it hurt the Vols significantly on the other end, too—they don't have an interior presence on either end coming off the bench. Florida's strategy of spreading the floor, driving, and looking to draw contact or kick it out seems like it best fits Michigan's strengths as a means to this end.
EDIT: Stat I just unearthed that really bears this out: Maymon's had 4+ fouls in eight games this season. Tennessee has lost six of them.
2. Let them shoot, hope they miss. A lot of these losses feature horrid shooting lines from beyond the arc. This could encourage Michigan to use more zone than normal or simply pack the paint and bring doubles down onto the bigs; a post-up look from Stokes or Maymon seems more dangerous than a kickout to one of Tennessee's guards, especially if that guard isn't Jordan McRae—and he's just a 35% three-point shooter prone to cold stretches, too.
3. Close the possession gap. Whether by a yeoman's effort on the boards or winning the turnover battle, one way or another teams that beat Tennessee usually found a way to mitigate the possession advantage the Vols normally earn with their offensive rebounding. This is another argument for going zone—LeVert could disrupt up top and come away with easy points off turnovers—although the worry there is getting killed on the glass. The more likely way for Michigan to make this work is by having one of those games when they just don't cough up the ball.
I'd fade away, too.
This picture shows the highest he has ever jumped...
He believes he can fly...
If his body has a Jordan Morgan transition from freshman to senior he is going to be....
Tenessee lost 1 game by more than 10 points and most of their loses were closer than the score. This is a very tough team. Big and athletic. Friday will be a very stressful day for both in-state schools.
Also, only four of their wins were by 10 points or less.
However, our stats together show that Tennessee is 4-11 in games decided by 10 points or less. Keep it close, and I like our chances.
Wins by 10+ points = All of them
Losses by 10+ points = 0
Conference = SEC
Conference Losses = 4
Kenpom rank = 1
Result vs. Michigan = Loss by 20
Tennessee will have had 4+ days to prep for us, while Florida had one off-day b/w their win over Florida Gulf Coast and then dealing w/Beilein's system led by Trey Burke.
We also have 4+days to prepare for them. To me, that is at worst a wash.
This game doesn't seem that different than any other we've played all year to me. Basically, if we shoot well, we'll probably win. If we don't, we'll be in a serious battle
I'm I'm not afraid of SEC teams in general but I am afraid of teams that defend the 3 well and have a strong interior presense. Too many times this season I've seen Stauskas face adversity and either force bad shots or tuck his tail between his legs. This team lacks lip-curl in general and teams that defend the perimeter scare me for that reason.
I was going to include the troll 3-man floor slap vs. sparty from last year for effect but BTN filed copyright claims and youtube took them down. If anyone has a .gif of that laying around I'd appreciate it.
While UT is definitely a different type of team than UM is used to playing this year, the same can certainly be said about Michigan in regards to who Tennessee has played. UM will by far be the best shooting team UT has played, and will also by far be the most efficient offensive team. If Michigan can turn this into a shooting contest I think they win going away. This game feels very similar to the Florida game from last year and while I don't think the margin will be quite that wide, I think UM wins pretty comfortably.
Really, What team that we have played this year does this team look most like?
MSU can rebound, but they also shoot from the outside.
Iowa can shoot ok at times, but can't rebound as well as Tenn
Texas is a decent comparison, but Tenn defends better.
I'd say Texas and Florida State are probably the closest comparisons. Really, 2012-2013 MSU with Gary Harris having an off shooting night is the closest thing I can come up with.
I know this is completely irrational, but "letting them shoot" scares the heck out of me. Bad 3-pt shooters have a knack for turning into Nik Stauskas from behind the arc against Michigan.
I am honestly completely talking out of my ass. I actually thought to ask if anyone knew how true that statement was, or if I just have images of Yogi Ferrell going 7-8 looping in my head or Roy Devyn Marble (.349 season 3PT%) going off against Michigan.
Well, that's not good enough; such observations have no place on an internet sports blog.
yogi ferrell twice and the johnson brothers for purdue. that said, i would put Nik on their worst shooter and let him sag into the middle to help GR3 on his man.
There may not be a 9-seed differential between these two teams but it is at least outside the margin of error. Michigan is the better team on the average night which is why they went 15-3 vs 11-7 in their leagues. Sure, we could have a first half @Purdue or @Indiana type of game, but UT laid an even greater number of eggs during the regular season. But it's not the third game in three days so don't expect a Charlotte or MSU BTT type of shooting night.
I'm sick of hearing how any team with a big man is going to crush Michigan and fails to mention the boatloads of NBA talent on Michigan's roster that will reign death from above on a decent night.
When we get down to only four teams remaining by Sunday, it will be a lot harder to ignore this Michigan team.
I 100% agree with you. Our team is pretty god damn good if you ask me. Sure we're missing McGary, but by the end of the Big Ten regular season we pretty much ran away with the regular season title and got to the title game in our conference tournament. I'm pretty tired of people jumping off the bandwagon and saying we better play great to win. Nope, sorry, Tennessee better play their best game of the season or they might be run out of the gym by all of our talent and shooters. Go Blue!
They're an experienced team, which is bad for Michigan, but that implies they're not outrageously talented (or those players would be in the NBA), which is good for Michigan.
They avoid fouls, don't force turnovers and hammer the boards. They have plenty of length but don't use it aggressively. This is the sign of a team that focuses more on giving their opponent bad looks and cleaning up than breaking up plays. It's the best way to utilize scrappy, experienced defenders with a bad offense and no frontcourt depth.
I think the takeaway here isn't that teams beat Tennessee by beating them at their own game, like that's the only option. I think the key is that if you stick to your strengths, odds are you'll just beat them. The above were narrow victories because that's what they did. I'm with MGoLogan on this one; Michigan has weapons the above teams don't have, and odds are Tennessee hasn't faced. They can, should and will try other things than out-big and out-slow Tennessee. You try that and you're not one of the above teams, odds are you'll get annihilated because they are good at what they do.
What I expect is an exchange of jabs to start, where Beeline shows some new looks to punish Tennessee's tendencies. E.g., the 3-shooters move around as decoys to free up JorFord; GR3 tests their inside athleticism and attacks the bigs. If it works, Michigan gets some easy buckets, the bigs foul out and Stauskas may have 6 assists by halftime. If Tennessee's forced out of their gameplan expect Beeline to blow the game open with Death From Above. If Tennessee leans on their experience, avoids contact and refuses to crack, expect a grinding, frustrating game to the wire. Tennesse hasn't been blown out all season so that's likely, but it's also possible Michigan's athleticism overwhelms them, in which case this'll be VCU redux.
JMo has seen good bigs before. It's nothing new to him. I'm more worried about Horford and GR3. We don't need another Behanan (sp) type problem like GR3 had in the NC. Horford ... I don't know what to say about him.
I will be very interested what Beilein does with Morgan. Maymon is the less skilled player per se so if you put Morgan on him I think they offset each other nicely but that leaves a very undersized GR3 on their best player. Or if you put Morgan on Stokes you leave GR3 guarding their center. Either way (a) GR3 is going to be in an ice tub for a long time Friday night post game and (b) you appreciate the hell Mr. Novac went through at 6'4!
Stokes sounds more mobile so I assume that is the guy who will be chasing GR3 around when we are on offense.
The games at this point are about the coaches and there is simply now way Martin will outcoach Belein.
...how no one has blown out Tennessee this year (with the exception of @ Florida, in which they were 1-19 from 3PT), but they fail to mention how (outside of UVa) they haven't beaten anyone. They're 0-4 against teams from their own weak league that made the dance, 1-5 against the current kenpom top 25, and (outside of the UVa anomaly) the highest ranked kenpom team they've beaten is the dumpster fire Iowa Hawkeyes at #30--and that game went to OT after Iowa had a double-digit lead in the first half.
Size and athletes, yada yada yada, but there are a lot of B1G teams we've smoked all year that has those attributes, too.
It's like this is Moneyball, we're the A's and everyone else is looking for Fabio.
I wouldn't say everyone. I've mentioned that on about 5 threads. If you take away their best win (UVA) and their worst loss (UF) it is a very pedestrian team and schedule. They beat up on who they should beat up on, and they lose to just about every quality team they face... and some not so quality teams. As I expressed elsewhere Iowa is a in a complete tailspin losing 7 of 8 to end the year and UMass has not had a quality win in 2014 over anyone of interest (George Washington) - even in late 2013 they beat Nebraska and New Mexico St very early.
If both teams play to their best, I see a comfortable win for UM. And Morgan must stay out of foul trouble.
By "everyone" I meant media pundits.
Is this week long or what? I can't wait for this game.
Tenn essentially plays 5 players, I think we run them into the ground. With about 3 minutes left we break their spirit with long 3s...good guys by 7.
Isn't it odd that literally every fanbase of a highly seeded team I can remember (and a lot of the teams themselves) that comes up against a lower ranked team doesn't even consider the opponent a threat, but this fanbase is constantly afraid of the upset, even though our coach has demonstrated time and again his ability to gameplan for any team. Could you imagine if Kansas or MSU was playing Tennessee? They'd probably be expecting they'd win by 20.
The last I saw Vegas has us winning by 1.5, and the almighty Kenpom has us losing by 1. To just assume that we will win by 20 simply because we are the higher seed and have a great coach is not being objective. I hope that we win big, but I am expecting a close game against a team that is capable of beating quality opponents.
Tenn makes me very nervous because they really look the part.
I think we just need to take very long possessions on offense and try to wear them down (assuming they don't go zone). If Stokes guards GR3, tell him to run around like he's Reggie Miller or Rip Hamilton. Make those big boys work on the defensive end so that they don't have the legs to beast on us on the other end.
Getting them into foul trouble seemed to be a theme in their losses, but I don't think we are good at forcing fouls. Obviously our big men aren't a threat to draw fouls. Furthermore, Nik and GR3 seem to take the path of least resistance when they drive to the basket. Caris is really the only guy that goes right at people in the paint. It just doesn't seem like a logical gameplan to try to attack them and draw fouls -- it just doesn't fit what we do.
i think we wear them down by running them out of the gym. we need to fast break at every opportunity to tire out those bigs of theirs. keep 'em tired. like we did with texas.
Right, but we don't get many fast breaks ... so when we are in the half court, make them play defense for 25+ seconds.
Doubt we get either of their bigs into foul trouble, it's not our style. On the off chance we do drive to the basket, it's because of an open lane, not because we are going to attack one of their interior men, else we will pull up for a jumper.
What I want to know is what happened in that Virginia game? It seems vastly out of character.
I believe Tenn just shot lights out inside and beyond the arc. They shot way beyond their normal percentage and Virginia shit poorly and the game was over pretty early.
Virginia may want to see someone about that.
One thing to remember is that UVA played a very different rotation then and was admist a horrible strech in their season. That in combination with Tenn shooting lights out at home probably led to it.
I live in Charlottesville and I can tell you that people were worried about this UVA team in November and December. Prior to the start of the season a lot of the fans had really high hopes about the talent and the system that Bennet has put together, now we see why. The way they were playing prior to the Tennessee lose was not what anyone expected, luckily for them things turned around soon after. If they played again it would not be the same result.
Tennesse's upset odds against Michigan. While I do not take every piece of journalism to heart, i think this was a pretty right on article to many of the comments I have seen from our MGoBloggers. Before I read the article I was thinking that GR3 might be the key to the game. If our shooters do their shooting thing and Beilein motions GR3 around the perimeter (and every where for that matter), I see this tiring out Stokes. Knock down open shots and contested perimeter shots pulling stokes from the middle allows for MorFord to be open for some high % interior shots. Tennessee has shown some ability to score, but not consistently and not as much agains top flight teams. I see this being a nice vicotory for us setting up a contest between Uk v. UL elight 8 game.