Let's Grady those bitches.
To Grady Or Not To Grady....
For some reason, I was 100% positive that Michigan would make the tournament after the Iowa win (if the internet says it, it must be true!). I had no doubt that our name would appear eventually, so I was focused on our match-up. When I saw Oklahoma was the 2 seed in the South, I correctly figured that they would be our most likely potential second round opponent. I freaked out. "Wow, if our team has one crippling weakness, it's handling a dominant big guy," I thought. I resigned myself to - at best - a one game run in the tournament.
I was pumped to see Michigan's name finally appear, but I didn't know anything about Clemson. Imagine my chagrin at learning that they press every opponent for the entire game. "Wow," I told myself, "I forgot about our other crippling weakness: ball-handling under pressure."
So here's the dilemma. We have Mr. Grady growing roots on the bench. Say what you want about his defense; he is essentially the Hammer of God against a press. Our other guards are VERY shaky under ball pressure. I would trust Manny to help bring the ball up, but we don't want him tired out. If Beilein keeps Grady nailed to the bench, Clemson will be licking its chops after watching tape of our guards struggle under pressure (see, i.e., the end of the Northwestern game).
From what I hear, Clemson relies on TOs to feed its offense (hey, stat wizards of the world - is there any way to scrounge up some numbers on how Clemson's winning percentage, FG percentage, and three point percentage fluctuate with the number of TOs they force?). If we can take care of the ball, especially in the backcourt, can we dry up the well for Clemson? We are going to have to contend with their big hoss of a PF, but that's largely going to be on DeShawn (and maybe Gibson). The conventional wisdom seems to be that Grady is a vastly inferior defensive player to our other guards, but the best defense against Clemson might be to limit turnovers against the press. I don't there's even a plausible argument that anyone else on our squad can do that like Grady can.
Clemson apparently shoots a high percentage from outside (which would play into the hands of those that argue that Grady refuses to properly fight over screens), but I wonder if most of those threes come either in transition or off of kick-outs from their big guy. Anyone watch a Clemson game recently? What does their half-court offense look like?
Playing devils advocate here:
I don't buy either of the two crippling weaknesses listed. But I'm not saying we are great in either department. I know this post if primarily focused on Clemson, but I want to focus on the big men belief, I think that our weakness against them has been way over blown.
I think this is due in large part to people seeming to rely on the taller = better heuristic. We are not tall, so tall teams must be our big problem. I'd say there are just as many instances of us playing well and even beating teams with good/great big men this year as there are instances of us getting blown out by them. (Remember the heuristic suggests that this is our biggest weakness, so we should be getting kicked in the nuts when we play them.)
I think our big problem is when we play other good teams. Whether or not those other good teams have great big men doesn't matter. It's the fact that the other team is good that's the problem.
The only team we played more than once and didn't beat at least once with good big men is OSU. MSU has very good big men and we played them close in one of the ugliest games I've ever seen. UConn has great big men (NBA lottery pick great) and we kept it close in their gym.
So, my argument is that this belief that great big men = death for us is false.
They are a problem, but no different a problem than if the team we are playing has great guard play.
It's harder to really get a handle on how we will respond to 40 minutes of full court press because we haven't really seen it. Our team has kept the turnover pretty low all season. I can remember instances where we turned it over in pressure moments, but that doesn't mean we do it more often than one would expect. It just means that remember times where I screamed out NO!!! more than the times I smiled and said yes.
I'm for Grady being Johnny Flynn Thursday...
People always say that "we need Grady to beat the press", but Minnesota presses the vast majority of the time, and we swept them starting CJ, with Grady playing a total of 4 minutes in the two games. Further, I can't remember ever thinking CJ (or Merritt) was having a hard time breaking the press. The only player who I've seen get rattled is Stu, and I don't expect to see a backcourt of Lee and Grady.
Yes, Stu picks up his dribble too often and finds himself stuck. Agree with the rest, although Grady can split the press with his speed, which is great. The downside is that he sometimes gets too excited when he breaks the press and makes questionable decisions. With this coach's teaching how to make those decisions, I think Grady is going to be amazing for this team next year. I already think Grady's decision-making has improved from last year. As for now, I'll let this debate continue . . .
I agree - nothing will make me want to vomit more than seeing CJ Lee and David Merritt turn the ball over in the back-court time and again while Grady rots on the bench.
Sure, they need to hide him on defense as much as they can and maybe limit his minutes or pair him with CJ at the same time - but he HAS to play if we're going to get pressed this much. He is infinitely better at breaking the press than anyone on the team and I don't buy any argument that says his defense is significantly worse than Merrit's.
My hope is that with several days to prepare Beilein will have a recipe for success cooked up, hopefully involving Grady.
As for the big-man theory, I agree somewhat that you have to factor quality with the size (Minnesota for example). Heck, Purdue has a couple of decent big-men and they were sent home crying to their mommies by Sims. But the bottom line is that the offense works through Sims when it is going well and if he's facing dual 7-foot defenders and Novak is trying to box out guys who can jump over him, that doesn't bode well.
The bottom line is that Michigan only lost one game all season to a non-tournament team (@ Iowa). With time to prepare they have shown they can hang with anyone. I think Thursday will be a toss up.
I half wonder if all the Grady fans are in-state Michigan homers. Grady needs to apply himself to D. Beilein doesn't "have it in" for Grady, but he expects him to play D. Until Grady gets that, he stays glued to the bench. And this is a crummy time to find out if Grady gets that.
Didn't UM hoops have a great analysis of why Grady is on the bench, showing him almost blow the Northwestern game with bad defense and the entire coaching staff screaming on the sideline?
No, Grady didn't blow the Northwestern game. He did go under one screen and find himself on the bench. But CJ Lee is the one who tried to blow the game by turning the ball over TWICE in the last minute of regulation to force Overtime.
And yes, Minnesota does press at times but has gotten away from that in the second half of the season.
Personally, i've watched the few minutes Grady has gotten lately and you can see he gets it. Clearly he's not the defender that CJ is, but when you analyze every one of his plays it is easy to find a few he screws up. But the same applies to CJ - he isn't as perfect as people make him out to be on D.
All I'm suggesting is that you give Grady 10-12 minutes (take them mostly from Merritt) to help break the press and hide him on D as much as you can.
bielein has grady on the bench for a reason. are u really going to question a guy who brought your team back to the dance after an 11 year drought? maybe we will see grady but to this point he hasnt proved to the coaches (who matter most; not the lazy boy cheeto guy) that he can do everything that is required of him at the point guard position.
Hasn't DeShawn struggled a bit against beefier big guys? He is the player I am least worried about given his recent play, but I still have nightmares of the first game against Illinois when their big, gangly stiff ate us alive. I certainly hope to face the dilemma of having to prepare for Griffin (and his slumping Sooners) on short notice.
I think the Northwestern game exposed our guards as pretty subpar ball-handlers. We had some poor turnovers late in the game when they tightened up what had been lackluster pressure earlier in the game. We certainly turned the ball over in traffic in the lane throughout the game. I also get a sense that C.J. and co. aren't super comfortable as ballhanders becase you see them needlessly give up their dribble at the top of the key with regularity.
When Minnesota was pressing more earlier in the season, you saw Grady score 12 points in 14 minutes on four FGAs while slipping through the press with ease. I will take that any day. No one cares what he did in high school -- they just would like to see him developed because he has some incredible physical gifts with his handle and quickness.
I would say that if there was one common fatal flaw of the Amaker and Ellerbe teams, it was the lack of development of the talent we recruited. We had some decent players come through the program (Abrams, Harris, Horton, etc.), but they didn't seem to improve much between during their time in the program. I have faith in Beilein and I am certainly pleased with the progress of the program, but I want to see Michigan become a premier program once again. For the future, it would certainly be helpful to coax some useful contributions from a guy like Grady.
CJ Lee turns the ball over once for every 27.5 minutes he plays this year.
Kelvin Grady turns the ball over once every 24 minutes he plays this year.
Can we stop talking about how much less turnover prone Grady is?
With the pesky facts.
HOW they turn the ball over is worth dissecting when playing against different kinds of defenses. Grady's turnovers typically occur while trying to make a bad pass in the half court, well after he's once again securely gotten the ball over the half court line.
Conversely, as the OP wisely noted, Lee and co. have a bothersome tendency of needlessly picking up their dribble, which is exactly what a full court press wants their opponent to do.
Grady is our best ball handler. You want your best ball handler to beat the press. Don't be surprised if we see Grady and Lee play many minutes together against Clemson, with Grady ably traversing the press before handing the ball off to Lee once the press is defeated.
I disagree with the person who said they feel comfortable with Harris taking the ball up court. Notice he's done so less and less as the season progressed? There's a reason. He dribbles too high and is extremely turnover-prone in the open court. I panic when he plays a position resembling point guard.
AC, couldn't agree more re: Merritt. I'm sure he's a great kid, but I will puke if he plays more than 2 minutes. He's just not that good.
I haven't noticed them picking up their dribble when being pressed. The only guy with a tendency to do that is Douglass.
I'm confused as to why a turnover resulting from a bad pass is not as bad as a turnover resulting from poor ball-handling. Do you just want Grady to dibble it up the floor and then stand in the corner?
No, my point was that against a full court press Grady will have less turnovers than Lee, despite the statistics you provided.
Look at Grady's performance against Maryland, another team that pressed almost the entire game. 4/7 fgs, 3/4 from three. 2 boards, assist, steal, NO turnovers in 22 minutes. So yea, he can stand in the corner and hit threes after breaking the press.
Grady thrives playing a high-tempo game against the press.
I am with Gus on this one - context matters. No TO is good, but the fact that our non-Grady-guards often turn the ball over because of an inability to handle defensive pressure is a different story than Grady turning the ball being too aggressive trying to create for other people. Grady is physically capable of not forcing things on offense. I am not sold on the idea that our other guards are physcially capable of breaking an effective, aggressive press. The question is, are Grady's strengths important enough against a team like Clemson to outweigh his shortcomings in comparison to his elders at the guard spots?
Clemson feasts on TOs, and though I haven't seen them play personally, I have to assume that a lot of those are created in the backcourt by the 40 minutes of full court pressure. I am not saying that Grady is a cure-all. I wonder, however, if we give up less by rolling the dice with him for 20 minutes than by playing guards whose Achilles Heels line-up perfectly with Clemson's favorite way to attack a team.