i love this line "They had to replace only walk-ons and a Canadian." who would have thought that 2 walk-on guards were such a big reason why this team did what they did last year... as for the canadian... the sad part is shepard was pretty much the best player in canada when he came out of high school and he never got better...
Michigan Basketball 2009-10
Coming into the year, expectations were high for the Michigan basketball team. They were fresh off their first NCAA Tournament appearance in a decade, returning two of the best players in the Big Ten. They had to replace only walk-ons and a Canadian.
So that worked out great, right? Most Michigan fans probably would have told you that #15 in the nation was too high, but nobody would have had the audacity to tell you that the Wolverines would remain mostly healthy and still limp to a sub-.500 record. In its 18 defeats, the Michigan basketball team had found just about every way to lose. There was the time they were run off the court by an inferior opponent, the time they stayed in the game against a much better opponent despite missing one of their best players, the time they almost upset their instate rival but fell just short, and all variety of just not being the better team. Also times where Evan Turner hit a 37-foot prayer at the buzzer.
There have to be reasons for these things happening, and no, Idiot Message Board Guy, that reason is not "JOHN BEILEIN SHOULD BE FIRED OMG."
As with most John Beilein teams, Michigan was expected to bomb away from deep this year, and bomb away they did. Unfortunately, nobody seemed to tell them that they were supposed to, like, make some of those shots. For the season, they shot 41.6% from the field, and 29.9% from long range. This constituted 43.2% of their shots. Put it all together, and it results in a crappy 48.1 eFG% on the season. That's good for about 230th in the country. Last year, they shot 50.3 eFG%, and finished 117th.
For individual changes in shooting, I think we're going to need a...
Chart. Players are arranged by the number of shots they took in 2009-10.
|Player||2008-09 eFG%||2009-10 eFG%|
Every returning player except Manny Harris and Zack Gibson saw a reduction in their shooting percentage from last year to this. I didn't check how many of those dropoffs are statistically significant (I imagine not very many of them, if any).
Also, for all the talk about how Michigan "only lost two walkons," everyone seems to have forgotten (and I'm guilty of this as well) that Kelvin Grady was an important part of last year's team, and a true point guard with some experience could have helped Michigan a ton this year. While some of the variation is probably luck, a team-wide regression points to poorer overall shot quality, and that starts with the gutted point guard position. This is true both with and without the ball: last year Lee, Grady, and Merritt were 1-2-3 in three point shooting. The three headed point guard took more threes than anyone on the team—172—and made more of them. This year the point guard was no-shoot Darius Morris and two guys, Laval Lucas-Perry and Stu Douglass, who struggled massively with at the spot.
OK, so I take it back: injuries actually might have played a significant role in the season. Michigan was expecting to have at least one more big man in Ben Cronin, and maybe another in Jordan Morgan. Cronin, a true seven-footer, saw his season (and probably career) come to an end in November thanks to a recurring hip problem that surgery couldn't repair. Morgan is just a freshman, and probably wouldn't have played a significant role on the team even if he hadn't had a shoulder injury that forced surgery and a redshirt.
With Zack Gibson and Deshawn Sims Michigan's only players above 6-8 (and in Sims's case, he's only listed as so), this team was never going to be able to play big. Sure, they could have used Gibson and Sims together a bit more, but that also carried a risk of one of them getting in foul trouble and not having either of them when the other needed a rest.
Zack Novak is not a true power forward. Anybody who has watched the game of basketball and notice that he doesn't even graze 6-5 can tell you that. But Michigan didn't have a ton of (read: any) other options. Criticizing Novak for not being tall enough seems a little unfair, since I think that's mostly out of his control.
So, for all the coach-fans that say Michigan should have gone big or pounded inside more or whatever, they really couldn't do it much more than they did. They went to Sims early in nearly every game, but the opponents would figure it out in short order, and the option would disappear when shooters didn't emerge as a serious threat. At 6'8"-ish, Sims always struggled against guys pushing seven feet tall and no amount of development can fix that when you're the biggest guy on the court.
It's natural to look at the coaching of this team as a potential weakness. For all the limitations of this roster, it was mostly Beilein-assembled, particularly the guys who we were supposed to be relying on as shooters and either couldn't find the basket (Stu Douglass, Zack Novak) or the court (Matt Vogrich).
On a micro scale, there were individual strategic decisions in games that probably didn't make a lot of sense, either. Something with some guy named Turner comes to mind, I don't really remember. But for every one of those, there was probably a positive moment that either went unnoticed or, in one painful instance, un-capitalized upon.
At this point, it's far too early to even consider ditching the only coach who's taken Michigan to the tournament in the past decade. He has a track record of success at every level, and he hasn't done anything yet to show he's not capable of accomplishing that in Ann Arbor. For those who say "well he only lost walk-ons from a tournament team and went under .500," I reply: dude, you do realize that you just said this guy took a team to the tournament as he was forced to play walk-ons extensive time, right? As much as this team may have underachieved, it only looks worse because last year's squad overachieved so much by comparison.
There have been a lot of accusations over the past couple days that Michigan "underachieved" this year, which duh. However, those who say "Michigan only lost walk-ons off a tournament team should be in the tournament, bro" need to keep in mind that, as much as this team underachieved, last year's squad most definitely overachieved.
Luck most certainly played a role (F you, Evan Turner), and fortunately, Ken Pomeroy has a "Luck Rating" which measures a team's performance against expectation based on Pomeroy's rankings. Last year, Michigan was +0.004 in luck, 131st in the nation. This year? -0.086, 330th out of 347 D-1 teams. This team was horrifically unlucky this year, and slightly lucky last year, making the quality difference between the teams look much more severe than it actually was. In the end, Michigan finished 50th last year and 60th this year. The slide was real but not as severe as the numbers suggested.
For the record, this year's painfully inconsistent team was 238th in "Consistency" to Pomeroy. Last year's was actually worse at 266th.
Can It Get Better Next Year?
As the perpetually optimistic Michigan fan, I am inclined to say yes without even really thinking about the question. [Ed.: An exercise for the reader: if Tim is still perpetually optimistic, what short of a nuclear explosion centered on Michigan Stadium could cause him to lose this trait?] This team has to improve, right?
That partially hinges on the professional whims of Manny Harris. The eyeball test says he needs a senior, but he may be ready to move on. For what it's worth, Sam Webb suggests it's 65-35 Manny stays. The recruitment of Trey Zeigler is another huge factor, as he would be an instant-impact type.
The roster composition should be different next year either way, as Jordan Morgan and Blake McLimans will add some size. For the first time in Beilein's career at Michigan he'll have a true 4 for his system in the form of incoming freshman Evan "Metrics" Smotrycz. They'll have to be ready to contribute, since both of Michigan's post players are moving on after this season.
Michigan's shooting should (hopefully) improve after a decided downturn this year, and the roster should be much more experienced as long as Manny returns. Assuming "luck" is essentially random, the pendulum should swing back the other way (though that's not guaranteed - look at the football teams' turnover margin this fall), and hopefully break even at worst. If Manny comes back, it should be season in which Michigan contends for the NCAA tourney. Life on the bubble isn't satisfying four years into Beilein's tenure, but that's life.
The 2009-10 athletic season is on its way out, and bright times are ahead.
I agree. Next year will be better. Darius Morris will improve as a shooter in the off season and become more of a scorer. Size is coming in recruits and red shirts. I'm really excited about next year to see what happens. I think next year will be great.
I hope you are right, but I think you are drinking a little too much Maize & Blue Kool-Aid.
I managed to keep my e-mouth shut as you ignorantly attacked Beilein repeatedly in a thread for an article you plainly lack the ability to read. But this type of "Kool-Aid" comment adds nothing and is directly reducing the quality of the MGoDiscussion. Stop sucking so much.
Last year: the team overachieved. This is to all of their credit, including the coach.
This year: not enough height, not enough age, and poor shooting.
Next year: dependent on height. If the bigs don't develop into legit options, this team will have to overachieve again to make it into the tournament. If they do perform right away, this team can be very good. Better yet: Novak, Douglass, and LLP should start to provide upperclassman leadership, and Morris should continue his development into a top-notch college PG.
And they need either Manny or Ziegler. Both would be really, really nice.
I'm guessing they at least get back into the NIT next year, even if nothing good happens, but I could see UM getting back into the NCAA's and becomine a perennial Tournament team again with even minimal improvement. The team wasn't as far away this year as the record indicates.
Manny, Novak, L-P, and Douglass are probably never going to make more than a fraction past 50%, if that. Darius we can't yet judge with only one season, and Vogrich, Morgan, and Metrics are unknown quantities. Whatever the reason, for three full seasons in all games, Michigan has been the worst shooting team in the Big 10. That's too many seasons for me to dismiss by just assuming they "will" shoot better. Maybe it's the water at Crisler.
Um, I'll take a fraction below 50%.
You do know they shot around 35% this year, right?
Year Team FG% 3Pt%
1998-99 Richmond 44.7 36.0
1999-00 Richmond 45.1 36.7
2000-01 Richmond 45.8 37.2
2001-02 Richmond 40.0 31.2
2002-03 West Virginia 45.0 34.2
2003-04 West Virginia 43.3 36.0
2004-05 West Virginia 45.0 36.0
2005-06 West Virginia 44.5 34.9
2006-07 West Virginia 45.8 37.5
Avg at Richmond & WVU: 44.4 35.5
2007-08 Michigan 39.5 31.2
2008-09 Michigan 42.5 33.4
2009-10 Michigan 41.6 29.9
Average at UM: 41.2 31.5
Tom Crean would reluctantly disagree with you. (FWIW, I suspect Indiana's problem is partly that they're trying to play a higher-paced game with thin talent in a conference that specializes in lower-paced play.)
Besides, with poor play at the point and in the post, there's no reason for opposing defenses to worry about anything other than outside shots, and they'll happily contest those. This was likely a worst-case scenario for Michigan's shooting.
I think it's reasonable to suggest that even with improvement only at PG, the shooting would have to improve next year.
For a perimeter player who is mainly taking outside shots, a shooting percentage of 45% isn't that bad. A shooting percentage of 50% is really good. Did a number of players shooting percentages decrease this year? Yes, but it wasn't like their shooting percentages were really bad. Expecting your perimeter players to have a shooting percentage of 50% is setting the bar pretty high.
I'm at work so didn't want to spend a ton of time researching shooting percentages but I did look up two guys: Jon Sheyer (Duke) and Lucas (MSU). Sheyer had a FG% of 40% this year and Lucas shot 45% from the floor this year. Now, these two guys probably the focal point of the opponents defense and maybe didn't get as many open perimeter looks as some of the UM players not named Manny Harris, but Sheyer and Lucas shooting percentages are leaps and bounds better then UM's perimeter players.
Those numbers are "efg" not "fg". Efg has different factors in it like adjusting for a 3pt shot vs a 2 pt shot so the percentages are much higher. Stu, Novak, LLP were all below 40% shooters this year. They will get better or they will lose time to Vogrich and others. You can't have players that are designated shooters shoot those percentages. The depth on this team is very low, it should start to improve steadily from here.
is very risky. Most high school kids are not ready to play big ten hoops, and almost all that are play in the backcourt. They will presumably get thrown into the fire, but do not expect good things to happen.
I blame Eric Puls.
Epke Udoh had the season of his life at Baylor. He is now the all-time leading shot blocker in Big 12 history for a single season. It is too bad that his style of play could not "fit" in the "Beilein system". I think Michigan could have used a player this past season that just does the dirty work in the paint, but I guess he can't shoot the 3-pointer. Udoh only attempted 25 3-point field goals this season while averaging 35 minutes a game. That is less than Anthony Wright's 35 3PA (Wright only averaged 8.6 min).
Michigan basketball will never seriously contend for a Big 10 championship unless the progam values a player that does the dirty work similar to Udoh. Good luck in the tourney Udoh! I would have loved to see you stay at Michigan, but it looks like you made the right decision and you actually have a legitimate chance to make the Final Four. Baylor got a lucky draw...Duke sucks!
GTFOH we don't need you!
*face palm gif*
I don't think Beilein wanted him to leave, but he needs to recruit players that are similar to Udoh and Big 10 worthy.
in your infinite fucking wisdom don't think that he's doing that?
What the fuck do you think that we pay this guy for?
Your post was completely snarky and bs.
Name a player on the Michigan roster that blocks shots?? Name a recruit in the next class that can bang down low?? Evan Smotrycz is not the answer...try again. I think Michigan just missed another 3-pointer
(both above 6'8" and both are redshirt freshmen next year)
Jon Horford (2010) PF
Amir Williams (2011) C
Also way to stay classy at the end. In sum you have no fucking idea what you're talking about.
I'm with the general idea and tone of what you're saying, but have you seen McLimans in person or on his tape? I wouldn't be counting on him to bang down low. Morgan has the potential to be the next Grahm Brown, but his injuries are adding up. I'd like to see UM working hard on Gibson in the PSL, that looks like the kind of "mucker" they need.
Unless it is an injury situation, a redshirt freshman in basketball means that they suck and will probably never see the floor. You drop an F bomb every other sentence Mr. Classy!
I'm getting so sick of all of these shitty Michigan fans who think that they know what our coaches think. Because if you think that Beilein wants to play with as much size as he did this year you're mistaken and I think are putting the man down way more than he deserves.
The guy deserves your fucking respect because:
1. You know nothing
2. He has accomplished more than most of the people on the board and knows way more about basketball than most of us on the board. Just as I'd laugh if Beilein tried to criticize what I do for a living I'm sure he laughs at all of the people who criticize him.
But I loved how you completely discount this kids who were both injured and then completely ignore what I wrote about kids that we are recruiting. But hey just ignore the facts and go along with your rant about how Beilein is terrible.
Also I have no idea how the hell that since you've been posting these "posts" how your point totals haven't gone down. WHAT SORCERY IS THIS!?!?!?!
wanted to leave after his freshmen year before amaker got fired... he claimed to be home sick and wanted to play closer to home... JB got him to stay for one more year and then he decided to leave after his sophmore season...
I really wish you guys would quit saying 'replacing only walk-ons' as if walk-ons are universally terrible players that don't deserve to see the court ever in a million years. Clearly those guys who were 'only walk-ons' were much, much more important than you expected...
I think the biggest problem this year that the on-the-court and off-the-court leadership that Lee and Merritt brought to the team was completely torpedoed, and nobody could step up. Morris was only a freshman, and you can't expect leadership from a freshman. He was clearly doing better later in the year, but it took him several weeks to find his feet. Sims and Harris aren't team leadership players, they are talent players, especially Harris. Stu and Zack were the ones most likely to step up, but again, they weren't quite as effective.
And, I appreciate your optimism. At the end of the day, we're still Michigan fans, I prefer remaining optimistic while kids work their asses off for us. Hockey is still alive, after all.
Way to much in this post to comment on right away as I am at work. Great stuff all around.
Think about this guys....between Lee, Merrit and Grady the team probably got 2-3 treys. How many mores games could we have used 2-3 more treys this season. Actually, dont think about it, it might hurt the optimistic vibe.
Michigan is still down in numbers. No new bodies replaced those three, other than Morris, and the biggest difference was 15 more combined minutes for Novak and Douglass. Beilein needs to find a rotation that drives Novak's and Douglas' minutes back to 2008-09 level. Their shooting went downhill this year and it was because they were playing more minutes, getting more tired and forced to take more shots.
I really liked the 2009 recruiting class. It will pay off. I really like how this year's class is shaping up. We are moving in the right direction.
There are a lot of themes and thoughts I'd like to pursue off of Tim's post, but I will just close it with that.
On the issue of minutes and depth, Maize N Brew did a nice break down on the differences between this year and last year in terms of minutes played and overall depth.
The quick summary is that last year's team had a nice 8-9 player rotation and this year's team had basically no bench for most of the year leading to guys like Stu, GRIT, and LLP playing significantly more minutes than they did last year.
UM fans vary. Some believe if you don’t support the current coach you’re not a true fan. Some, especially those of us who went to UM in the 80’s and early 90’s, are a little spoiled with the excellence we expect, and disagree with the apologist fans who champion the status quo, looking for minor signs of improvement. Both camps want the same thing of course.
Recruiting: Simply put, next year MSU and OSU have monster recruiting classes coming in relative to what Beilin is reeling in. Forget top 10 or top 20, but is a top 40 class too much to ask for? Unlike RichRod, who is knocking it out of the recruiting park relative to the football team’s recent performance and issues, Beilin has yet to impress as a recruiter. Sad given that recruiting is twice as vital for basketball as it is for football (Boise State anyone?)
Coaching: For all the rose colored glasses, the regression of this team vs last year’s team is an indictment of Beilin’s coaching ability, and it’s sad we’re at a point where our primary reason for keeping a coach is because he has shown just mild improvement over two disastrous predecessors. Getting us into the top 64 once… WVU’s first Big East crown, conspicuously a couple years after replacing Beilin, is another indictment of both Beilin as a coach and as a recruiter relative to his upper echelon coaching peers.
Like all of you, I will root for this team and bleed blue until the day I die, but until I see us with a coach, be it Beilin or otherwise, who evidences the ability to compete with the top Big 10 programs as a recruiter, my outlook for this program diverges from Brian’s.
Why are teams like Cornell and Richmond (et al) in the tournament.
Yes recruiting in bball is more important to be a top end power, but to make the tourney recruiting IMO doesn't really mean shit.
Because they play in crappy conferences (Richmond) or conferences that don't give out athletic scholarships (Cornell).
I'm guessing Cornell and Richmond aren't going up against teams in their conferences that are hauling in Top 10 or Top 20 recruiting classes. UM is. I'd love for UM to get into the tourney but I'd also like to see them compete for and win big ten titles (haven't won a regular season title in almost 25 years and it's been 10+ years since they won the conference tourney).
who don't recruit well.
your point in general is valid, it is irrelevant for Michigan, unless you're suggesting Michigan start playing low major basketball. If Michigan is going to play in the Big Ten, they cannot do a shitty job of recruiting and have any hope of making the tournament. I'm not necessarily saying they are doing a shitty job of recruiting, I just don't see the relevance of your point to Michigan.
Those teams that win mid-major conferences and make the tourney do recruit well compared to their respective competition. Teams like Cornell or Richmond don't go for the same players that a Big 10 team shoots for. Players win, look at North Carolina this year: Top 5 coach, but NIT bound. Do you understand yet?
1) TAKE IT LIKE A MAN
2) "Forget top 10 or top 20, but is a top 40 class too much to ask for?"
Um, before you bash Beilein's recruiting being so lowly ranked, maybe you should wait for him to finish his recruiting class. He already has two good players in Smotrycz and Hardaway Jr., he has an assumed lock in Horford, and he has a good chance at a commitment from Ziegler. The future of the program is fine.
Actually I grew up in the 1980s.
I couldnt be happier that Beilein is our coach.
Recruiting is finally stablized. It took a while, the cupboard was next to nothing when he got here and I think there was some prejudice against him those first times on the UM recruiting. I lean on Manny's comments in the fall when he was recalling people whispering in his ear that JB couldnt develop people and that it was a white boy offense. JB has got past that, thanks to last year's success.
I really like this year's freshmen. And, I love the way the current class is shaping up. ESPN has it in their top-25 and there will be at least a couple other committments added. Here is an e-fact you're either ignoring or forgetting or not bothering to contemplate, but the 2009 and 2010 classes are shaping up to be the best back-to-back classes UM has had since the peak of the Fisher days. I think this is on the uptick. I like the way its going
As for WVA, I mean you realize that JB left the program stocked, right? Desean Butler was a JB recruit. Huggy Bear, a great coach in his own right, has put his stamp on the progam, but Beilein's influence is still there. They play like no other Huggy Bear team I've seen, Joe Mazzula famously drew up JB's D and offensive plays for Huggy that first year and he's been using them ever since.
Huggy has been awesome at WVA, but I actually think the instant success he had a WVA--Sweet 16 in his first year, all with the next round of starters that JB brought in after the Pittsnogle/Gansey class left--and his ability to grow from that relfects well on Beilein, not poorly. It's a great coach planting the seeds of success and another great coach coming in and building it more. It's what happens when you replace a great coach with a great coach.
Beilein can coach here until he wants to quit, as far as I am concerned.
I hear ya. We're ranked 24 which is good, and if Beilin can improve his recruiting then I'm for the guy, but it begins and ends with his success as a recruiter. Perhaps with new bball facilities coming soon that will help us out some too because I am flat out tired of being second rate. Sometimes I post negatively just to give more informed guys like you the chance to set me straight and return the optimism. Mission accomplished and let's see about doing better next year.
I really wish ...
Ed.: An exercise for the reader: if Tim is still perpetually optimistic, what short of a nuclear explosion centered on Michigan Stadium could cause him to lose this trait?]
... you hadn't said that.
Brian's going to be questioned by the Secret Service now.
Michigan's chances at a return to the NCAA tournament were basically zero once it became apparent that they had no new help in the post - Cronin, Morgan and McClimans were no-shows. Their lofty preseason ranking was based on an overachieving team last year, continued improvement from their stars, the addition of a prized freshman point guard, the addition of a prized freshman sharpshooter and the addition of several new post players. Even before these additions didn't materialize fully or at all in some cases, it was clear that they were probably overranked. They barely slipped into the tourney last year based on a couple big wins early in the year. A top 20 ranking would have been a major leap forward.
Their outside shooting woes are a combination of a lack of good shooters (losing their best 3 shooters, a freshman point guard who's a poor shooter and slow development of their freshman sharpshooter Vogrich) and a lack of size which allows teams to neglect the paint and pressure 3 point shooters. They need to add size and Beilein is making a significant effort in this area - hopefully Metrics, Horford (if he signs), McClimans and Morgan will all make some impact. The problem is that all these potential post players have zero college experience - so who knows if they all will be solid players or how quickly they will develop.
The next couple months will determine whether Michigan will have all the pieces it needs for a better year in 2010-11. There are a lot of big questions. Will they add Zeigler and Horford? How raw is Horford - will he take time to develop? Will Manny come back? Will Morgan recover well from his latest injury? Is McClimans a Big Ten caliber player? Is Hardaway a chip off the old block - the great playmaker/impact player we all hope for?
If all these questions are answered favorably, Michigan could have a great season next year. If not, it could be ugly.
So it's a bit premature for predictions.
Beilein is a great coach and with the right players, the sky's the limit. Let's hope he has those players.
The statistics say that FG% regression points to poorer overall shot quality but in watching the games, we missed a hell of a lot of wide open threes this year.
We were running the offense better and getting open looks but whether it was the yips or a lack of confidence, we missed way too many open shots.
I'm predicting a notable increase in 3pt% next year.
nicely saberist in flavor, too.
Obviously it was very disappointing this year and I hope next year we get better. If Manny returns and Morris develops and Smotrycz can be any type of a four player I see improvement in this team. With a little change in luck we could be a fringe tourney team.
Life on the bubble isn't satisfying four years into Beilein's tenure, but that's life.
That isn't exactly where we began the season though...Even if we grant that 15th was too high of a preseason rating, Michigan was looking at competing for 3rd or 4th in the Big Ten, a far cry from the bubble. (Remember "people" thought that Wiscy wasn't that good...too young or something like that. OSU was rated about the same as Michigan in the preseason--14th, 16th...I don't remember exactly. MSU and PU were supposed to be good--and they were generally right.) This was not "life on the bubble."
If this team (and to some extent, the conference at large) had lived up to expectations, Michigan would have been the 4th or 5th team into the tournament, where the B10 gets up to 6 or 7 teams into the dance.
Re: "Assuming 'luck' is essentially random, the pendulum should swing back the other way"
If luck is indeed random, having bad luck this year has no bearing on whether we will have good or bad luck next year.
Other than my one over-analytical nitpick, nice review.
Well written piece Tim. I don't disagree with your analysis at all.
No, a prayer is the only hope Michigan has of beating Ohio State in football in 2011.
Turner was left unguarded he dribbled up the floor and took a running jump shot, which he knew was going in the moment it left his hand.
If you ever want Michigan to pull out of this tailspin, you need to stop making excuses for them and start holding them accountable.
as stupidest shit in this thread.
1. He was guarded
2. There was a pick or he would have been guarded better
3. Knew it was going in as soon as it left his hand
4. Yes it was a prayer
expectations were high?
If expectations are just making the tourney than we will never be good.
Expectations should be win the big ten. Everything else will fall in place after that.