this may be of some local interest
Previously: Wisconsin Defense UFR
Before I start, I'd like to pose a question to you all: Given the wealth of valuable offensive metrics out there, is it worth doing the offensive UFRs? I think the defensive UFRs will have great value moving forward, but I'm questioning the value of going through every offensive play as well when there are so many good offensive stats out there and I have other work (read: recruiting) that I could be spending more time on. Read on, and let me know what you think in the comments.
Anyway, as you know, Michigan dismantled Wisconsin on Sunday, but while the Wolverines had an outstanding defensive performance, the offense was merely mediocre, mostly due to a lack of quality inside looks and a fair amount of missed open shots. Even the best offensive play of the day was really more of an outstanding defensive effort:
Fantastic. Moving on, let's dive right in—if you need a primer, as well as a point of reference (that point being the Oakland game), go here.
|Lineup: Burke, Novak, Hardaway, Smotrycz, Morgan|
|After Michigan wins the tip, Burke hands off on the right side to Smotrycz, who swings it to Morgan at the top of the key. Smotrycz (+0.5) sets a nice off-ball downscreen on Novak's man, freeing up Novak to take a handoff from Morgan. Novak gets an open look for three, but can't connect (3-pt, no contest, miss).|
|Novak and Morgan end up running a high pick-and-roll with 10 seconds on the shot clock. Morgan sets a decent screen, but Novak's man is able to fight over it, so no points either way there. Novak (+1) slips a slick bounce pass to Morgan just inside the free throw line, but Morgan can't hit a pullup jumper as the Wisco D recovers (2-pt, heavy contest, miss).|
|It's Novak and Morgan again on the high P&R. This time, Morgan's screen is effective, as Novak draws both defenders when his man tries to go over the top again. Novak (+1) drives hard to his left, then delivers a nice jump-pass to Morgan, who pivots as his man flops while trying to take a charge that isn't there, then banks in a short fallaway J (+1.5, 2-pt, no contest, make).|
|Blergh. Hardaway takes the ball up the court after hauling in a defensive rebound, barely gives the offense time to set up, and jacks up a very long two after getting a quick screen from Morgan. Brick (Hardaway -2, 2-pt, late contest, miss). As Brian pointed out in the game column, Hardaway can get that shot off whenever he wants, and putting it up with 30 seconds on the shot clock is not at all ideal.|
|16:57||2-0||2-1-2||Man||Novak||2-pt Miss/OReb/Layup Make|
|Burke gets a screen up top from Morgan, starts to drive, and pulls up for an open 18-footer that draws the back iron (2-pt, no contest, miss). The long rebound goes right back to Burke, who dishes off to Hardaway near the corner. Hardaway (+1) sees Novak open at the top of the key and gives it to him. Novak pumps, forcing a recovering Jordan Taylor to overrun him, then drives hard to the hoop and connects on a running one-hander (+2, dunk/layup, late contest, make).|
|Lineup: Burke, Douglass, Hardaway, Novak, Smotrycz|
|Douglass holds the ball at the top of the key as Smotrycz comes over from his center position towards Novak in the corner. Smotrycz fakes as if he's going to screen Novak's man, and instead pops out to the arc, where Douglass hits him with time to get off a shot before Berggren can get out there. Smotrycz can't connect (+0.5, 3-pt, late contest, miss), and while Novak GRITs his way to the rebound, he grabs it while his body is partly out of bounds. Really like the design of this play to get Smotrycz a clean look from deep.|
|Blergh the second. With 20 seconds left on the clock, Hardaway gets a half-hearted pick from Smotrycz (-0.5), pulls up at the elbow, and hits only backboard with a heavily-contested shot (-1, 2-pt, heavy contest, miss).|
|Smotrycz (+0.5) gets the ball up top, waits for someone to come open, then hands off to Burke while also setting a screen on Taylor, who is forced to go over the top and can't keep up with Burke. Burke doesn't stop and takes it right to the hoop, where he hits a layup over Berggren (+1, dunk/layup, heavy contest, make). Burke did a fantastic job getting the shot up quickly before Berggren could position himself for a strong challenge—he had little choice but to put up his hands and hope Burke missed.|
|Burke gets the ball at the top of the key, and unlike earlier, Smotrycz (+0.5) actually sets a screen when he heads to Novak in the corner. Novak (+1) makes a great cut to the lane, where Burke (+1) hits him in stride with a perfect bounce pass. The defense is late getting over, and Novak hits the layup (dunk/layup, late contest, make).|
|Novak spearheads a semi-transition possession after a defensive board. Michigan spreads the floor with all five players outside the 3-pt line, and Novak passes off to Hardaway, who drives hard to the left with no help coming and draws a shooting foul when he gets past his man (+1, dunk/layup, late contest, foul).|
|Lineup: Burke, Douglass, Vogrich, Smotrycz, Morgan|
|Morgan (-2) sets a blatantly moving screen on Burke's man, and is called for it. Sloppy.|
|Lineup: Burke, Douglass, Vogrich, Smotrycz, McLimans|
|11:58||10-7||2-1-2||Man||Smotrycz||Layup Miss (Block)|
|McLimans (+0.5) sets a good off-ball screen to briefly free up Smotrycz, who curl-cuts to the basket from the corner. Douglass feeds him and Smotrycz goes up for a lefty layup, but Evans makes a fantastic play to recover from behind and block the shot (dunk/layup, heavy contest, miss). Not going to fault Smotrycz there—he had an open lane and Evans just made a great play.|
|Smotrycz (-3) comes off an off-ball screen, gets it at the top of the key, then sends a really lazy pass in the direction of Burke. Taylor easily cuts it off and is ahead of the pack on the break, and he'll make an uncontested layup. You just can't make that pass.|
|Lineup: Burke, Douglass, Vogrich, Novak, McLimans|
|Great play design out of a timeout by Beilein. Burke runs a high screen with McLimans (+1), who immediately turns and sets another pick for Douglass, who comes from the baseline and is wide open for three. Burke (+0.5) finds him, and Douglass buries the trey (+0.5, 3-pt, no contest, make).|
|Burke (+2) comes off a screen, puts on a sweet hesitation move, and gets to the basket, but he can't hit a tough running layup (dunk/layup, heavy contest, miss). McLimans (+1) fights hard for the rebound between three defenders, and though he can't bring it in cleanly he draws a foul.|
|9:55||13-12||OOB||Man||McLimans||2-pt Miss/OReb/3-pt Miss|
|Nice play design off the inbounds frees up Vogrich for an open 18-footer, but he can't connect (2-pt, late contest, miss). The long rebound bounces out to Novak. Douglass ends up with the ball up top and McLimans pops out for a decent look from three, but he misses as well (3-pt, late contest, miss).|
|Burke gets a screen from McLimans, but McLimans (-0.5) isn't in great position and Taylor is able to go cleanly over the top. Burke still goes hard to the left and tries to get up a layup, but Taylor is right in his pocket and Burke's shot is short (Burke -1, dunk/layup, heavy contest, miss). With 16 seconds on the clock, Burke had time to reset there.|
|Lineup: Brundidge, Douglass, Hardaway, Novak, Smotrycz|
|Brundidge pulls in a tough rebound on the other end and, while falling over, gets it to Hardaway, who breaks out with Smotrycz. Both head to the right side and nobody picks up Smotrycz (+0.5) as he drifts towards the corner. Hardaway feeds him and Smot has all day, but he misses the open three (3-pt, no contest, miss). Nice breakout off the miss, just couldn't knock down the shot.|
|7:26||13-14||1-4 High||Man||Hardaway||Layup Miss|
|Hardaway (-1) comes off a good off-ball screen from Smotrycz (+0.5), who then pops out and is wide open for three. Hardaway instead drives right at Berggren and tries to scoop the ball in... brick (dunk/layup, heavy contest, miss). No need for Hardaway to be so hasty in getting up a shot, since there were over 20 seconds left on the clock.|
|Smotrycz leads a breakout after hauling in a rebound, with Michigan going 3-on-3 against Wisconsin. Smot passes off to Novak (+2), who drives towards the lane, draws attention from three defenders, then looks off a defender in order to free up Hardaway (+1), trailing on the play, for three. Hardaway drills it (3-pt, late contest, make).|
|Lineup: Burke, Akunne, Hardaway, Novak, Smotrycz|
|Smotrycz (+1) comes off a pick and roll with Burke, gets the pass, and makes a nice move to get to the basket, where he draws a non-shooting foul just before he makes a layup—that probably counts if this is the NBA. Off the inbounds, Burke gives to Hardaway, who draws three defenders near the lane, and Smotrycz pops to the arc, gets the pass, and hits a three (3-pt, late contest, make).|
|Akunne gets the ball up top and Smotrycz (+0.5) again sets that off-ball screen in the corner for Novak. Akunne gives it up, and Novak gets a good look on a pullup at the free-throw line, but it bounces off the back iron (2-pt, late contest, miss). Smotrycz stupidly commits a foul on a rebound he has no chance at.|
|Burke runs a high pick and pop with Smotrycz (+0.5), and both end up open as Burke gets by his man and Smotrycz drifts open for three. Burke takes the open look at the free throw line and knocks it down (+1, 2-pt, no contest, make).|
|Lineup: Burke, Douglass, Hardaway, Novak, Smotrycz|
|3:26||21-16||FB||FB||Burke||Layup Block/Foul/2-pt Make|
|Hardaway (+1) sees an opening after a Wisconsin miss and drives hard to the basket, and though his layup attempt is blocked (dunk/layup, heavy contest, miss), it probably should've been a foul and there's an immediate make-up call as he brings in his own rebound. After the inbounds, Hardaway gets it up top, and Smotrycz (+0.5) picks off Taylor in the corner and frees up Burke, who gets the pass from THJ, steps inside the arc, and drills a long two (+1, 2-pt, late contest, make).|
|Burke gets a pick from Smotrycz but crosses over in front instead of going around and using the pick. He tries a quick drive to the bucket, but Taylor slaps the ball out and steals as Burke (-1) picks up his dribble to go up for a layup.|
|Lineup: Burke, Douglass, Hardaway, Novak, McLimans|
|Lots of motion here. Burke (+0.5) starts the play by giving to McLimans at the top of the key, then goes to the corner and sets a pick for Hardaway, who comes over the top and gets it from McLimans as he gets another pick along the way from Douglass (+0.5). Hardaway (+1) drives hard to the right, three defenders collapse on him, and this frees up Novak to curl around from the right corner and take a pass on the run from THJ. Novak (+1) pump-fakes a three and gets Evans to bite, then dribbles into the lane and hits a pull-up J from the free-throw line (2-pt, late contest, make).|
|Pretty bleh possession here. Michigan cycles the ball around the perimeter until McLimans ends up with it at the top of the key. Novak, with no help from a screen, pops out to the 3-pt line and gets it, but can't hit the three with Evans right there to contest (Novak -1, 3-pt, heavy contest, miss). Too early in the clock for that shot.|
|Burke holds as Michigan can kill the rest of the clock for the half. With 8 seconds left, he drives, doesn't get anything, and jumps along the baseline to get the ball to Novak in the corner. Novak dribbles into the lane and has no choice but to put up a tough fallaway with a hand in his face (2-pt, heavy contest, miss). Not a fantastic play, so no positives, but not the worst end of half possession, either, so no negatives.|
|Lineup: Burke, Novak, Hardaway, Smotrycz, Morgan|
|Burke starts to drive from right to left on Taylor, but doesn't have a step and gives to Morgan at the FT line. Morgan fakes a handoff back to Burke and drives right into Burggren, turning his back, pivoting, and then putting up a tough righty shot off the glass that bounces out (-1, 2-pt, heavy contest, miss). This really wasn't there, and Morgan probably should've kicked it back out.|
|19:27||25-19||2-1-2||Man||Morgan||3-pt Miss/OReb/3-pt Make|
|Burke runs a high P&R with Morgan, but Morgan doesn't hold his ground long enough to actually affect Taylor (guarding Burke). Burke kicks out to Novak, who gets a decent look from deep but can't hit (3-pt, late contest, miss). Morgan (+0.5, with a half-minus for the crappy pick) is initially boxed out but backs Burggren right under the basket and gets his hands on the rebound. The ball is knocked around and Smotrycz (+0.5) ends up with it and kicks it out to a wide-open Hardaway, who buries a three (3-pt, no contest, make).|
|Hardaway (+0.5) hits Burke with a nice outlet pass after a rebound and Michigan has a 3-on-2 with Burke charging down the right side, Morgan (+0.5) cutting to the basket, and Smotrycz (+0.5) fading to the corner—great spacing here frees up Morgan. Burke (-2), instead of making a simple bounce pass that would almost assuredly result in a dunk, tries to hit Morgan with a lob; Gasser is able to get a hand on the pass and Evans grabs it.|
|Burke (+2) gets a good pick from Morgan (+0.5) and manages to split between three players, causing Evans to come over from Smotrycz in the corner. Burke immediately gets it out to Smotrycz for an open look, but Smotrycz completely air-mails the three, missing everything (3-pt, late contest, miss). Yikes.|
|Lineup: Burke, Douglass, Hardaway, Novak, Morgan|
|Burke (+2) comes flying out of the gate after pulling in a defensive rebound. He nearly blows by Taylor, takes a bump, and draws the two Wisconsin defenders as he stops inside the FT line and dishes to Hardaway under the basket. Taylor recovers, but only in time to foul Hardaway, who does a great job switching hands to make sure he gets up a shot and draws a shooting foul (+1 Hardaway, dunk/layup, late contest, foul).|
|15:44||30-19||FB||FB||Morgan||2-pt Miss/OReb/Layup Make|
|Burke (+1) again pushes the pace after a turnover, and with Michigan 3-on-3 he creates space by pulling up inside the FT line, where he gets an open look but misses (2-pt, no contest, miss). Novak (+1) bats the rebound off the glass, and Morgan (+2) comes from beyond the 3-pt line to grab the rebound inside the lane. He goes right back up with the left hand and hits the putback layup (dunk/layup, late contest, make). Great hustle from Morgan to even get into the play.|
|Morgan gets the ball in the high post, Burke runs by him with Morgan faking a handoff, then Burke stops and curls back around, this time taking the ball as he gets a step on Taylor. Morgan's man is forced to step over to stop the drive, and Burke (+1) dishes it off to Morgan, who's diving to the hoop. Morgan (-1) gets stripped by Taylor, however—get the ball up!—and Wisconsin comes up with the loose ball.|
|Burke gets a good screen from Morgan (+0.5) up top, freeing him up for an open 15-footer, but it rims out (2-pt, no contest, miss).|
|Lineup: Burke, Douglass, Hardaway, Novak, McLimans|
|Hardaway gets the ball and drives around a pretty half-hearted pick from McLimans (-0.5), but still gets a half-step on his man, pulls up at the free-throw line, and nails a jumper (+1, 2-pt, late contest, make). Would like to see him attack for that shot more often.|
|After getting a steal, Douglass leads a 2-on-2 fast break with Burke on the other side. Burke is well-covered by Taylor so Douglass goes hard at Kaminsky, drawing contact and getting to the line (Douglass +1, dunk/layup, heavy contest, foul).|
|Lineup: Burke, Douglass, Hardaway, Novak, Morgan|
|Hardaway gets the ball on the left side and drives over the top of a Morgan screen, but Morgan (-0.5) rolls before he actually picks off Jackson, who's able to stay right with THJ. Hardaway gets to the right block and starts backing Jackson down, does a slow spin to the middle of the lane, and is able to get to the left side of the basket and body out Jackson as he goes up strong for a layup (+2, dunk/layup, late contest, make). Nice work by Hardaway to use his frame to get himself a great look.|
|Trey Burke! Burke gets the ball on the left side and gets a screen from Morgan, and this time Morgan (+0.5) sticks around just long enough to throw Taylor off-course. Burke gets into the lane, hesitates, then goes right at Berggren, getting into his chest and hitting a righty layup as he falls over (+2, dunk/layup, heavy contest, make). Impressive.|
|10:19||40-26||FB||FB||Burke||Layup Make + Foul (1/1)|
|After a steal, Burke pushes up the court as he's one-on-one with Taylor, who is retreating quickly and can't get turned around until he hits the paint. Burke (+2) gets into the lane, executes a textbook jump-stop, and hits the layup while Taylor raps him on the arm for an and-one (dunk/layup, heavy contest, make). The CBS mic picks up a very excited/spastic Novak screaming "AAAAAAND ONE!" as he chest-bumps the freshman. Man, I love this team.|
|Lineup: Burke, Douglass, Hardaway, Smotrycz, Morgan|
|9:52||43-29||2-1-2||Man||Smotrycz||3-pt Miss/OReb/3-pt Miss/OReb/Turnover|
|Smotrycz gets the ball on the elbow, picks up his dribble, and is just kinda stuck there for a couple seconds. Douglass comes over and gets the ball, and Smotrycz (+0.5) sets a nice pick for him, then pops out to the corner. Douglass draws both defenders and passes out to Smotrycz, who can't hit the three (3-pt, late contest, miss). Hardaway (+1) uses his leaping ability to grab the rebound, and he's fouled as he comes down with it. After the inbounds, Burke eventually works his way into the lane, then kicks out to Hardaway, who fires from deep and misses (3-pt, heavy contest, miss). Morgan (+0.5) tips the rebound and Smotrycz grabs it, then loses it, but Morgan recovers and gets it out to Burke. After M kills clock, Burke (+0.5) gets the lane and kicks out to Smotrycz (-1), who travels while making a ball-fake. At least we killed a lot of clock.|
|Burke gets the ball on the left wing and drives baseline, attempting a tough right-handed runner from just outside the paint and missing (-1, 2-pt, heavy contest, miss). No need for that shot with 20 seconds on the shot clock. Morgan (+1) goes up strong, bats the ball off the backboard, and nearly grabs it before it goes OOB off a Wisconsin defender. TV timeout.|
|Lineup: Burke, Douglass, Hardaway, Novak, Smotrycz|
|Hardaway takes it on the left side, sees an opening in the middle of the lane, and drives there, drawing Evans, who was guarding Novak on the right. Hardaway (+1) dishes to Novak, who pump-fakes and gets by a recovering Evans, then is fouled as he pulls up and shoots a jumper on Bruesewitz (Novak +1, 2-pt, late contest, foul).|
|7:11||45-33||2-1-2||Man||Novak||3-pt Miss/OReb/Layup Make|
|Burke gets the ball on the wing and gets a great screen from Smotrycz (+0.5), and Burke gets a wide-open look from three, but can't hit (3-pt, late contest, miss). Novak (+2) comes flying over to grab the long rebound, dribbles into the lane after his man trips going for the board, and hits a layup before the defense can react (dunk/layup, late contest, make). MOAR GRIT.|
|Novak (+2), after diving on a loose ball at halfcourt, makes a beautiful flip over his head to a streaking Burke (+1), who runs by everyone and hits a finger roll as Uncle Verne has an aneurysm (dunk/layup, no contest, make). Fantastic play.|
|Burke penetrates after getting a handoff from Novak and coming around a screen from Morgan, but Taylor stonewalls the drive and Burke passes back out top to Novak. Novak (-2) pump-fakes, drives, and then travels as he tries to turn around and kick it back out again.|
|Michigan works the clock down below 10, Burke gives it to Hardaway on the left wing, and Hardaway (+1) makes a nice skip pass to Novak in the opposite corner. Novak pumps the three and drives hard baseline, getting into the lane and hitting the game-sealing layup (+2, dunk/layup, late contest, make). That's how you put the final nail in the coffin. Charting ceases for the ensuing foul-fest.|
Agreed. Zack Novak is pretty awesome at this basketball thing. Other than a late derp that resulted in a travel, he played as well as you could ask of him.
Gritscream. Also, Trey Burke covers ground with alacrity:
SHOULD I JUST KEEP SCREAMING?
Sure. It's Friday afternoon. Scream all you want.
|Burke||18.5||5||13.5||Not at all his best offensive performance (14 points on 6-15 shooting, 2 assists, 2 turnovers), but he still had a largely positive offensive impact to go along with his stellar defending of Taylor. Gets into trouble when he tries to do too much, but remember, freshman point guard and all.|
|Hardaway||12.5||4||8.5||Takes some dumb shots and disappears for stretches, then does something awesome that reminds you why he's an NBA-caliber player. Had 17 points on 10 shots with zero turnovers—if his in-game streakiness results in stat lines like that (he also had 10 rebounds, two on offense), I'm totally cool with it.|
|Novak||16||3||13||His ruthless efficiency may be a result of his relatively low usage, but I'd still like to see Michigan test that theory and get him the ball more. Novak has become very effective with his pump-fake and drive, and he's finishing well, too.|
|Smotrycz||7.5||4.5||3||Pretty quiet day for Smotrycz, who racked up almost all of his positives on screens, then had one awful turnover account for three of his negative points. His three points on 1-6 shooting with one assist and two turnovers jives with the small point total.|
|Morgan||8||5||3||Only played 19 minutes and did most of his damage on the boards, hauling in five offensive rebounds. Three turnovers is a little disconcerting considering he barely handled the ball.|
|Douglass||2||0||2||With Burke playing 37 minutes, Douglass spent most of the game as a spot-up shooter and Michigan didn't run many plays through him. No negatives means no bad shots, which is nice to see from Stu.|
|Akunne||-||-||-||Not even sure he touched the ball during his brief cameo.|
|Christian||-||-||-||One minute in uncharted garbage time.|
|Vogrich||-||-||-||Got up a shot during his short stint off the bench, but otherwise a non-factor.|
|McLimans||2.5||1||1.5||Set some good screens, set some bad screens. Looks like Big Bird.|
|Team||-||-||-||Like with the defensive UFR, the "Team" category will disappear next time, as it was a total cop-out. May introduce an RPS metric in its place.|
|TOTAL||67||22.5||44.5||Solid day against a tough Wisconsin defense—1.09 points per possession is very good against the Badgers. Michigan didn't shoot well, but held down their turnovers and did great work on the offensive glass.|
Okay, I've calmed down. That looks... good?
Yes, it does. As we'll see in the video breakdown, Beilein did his usual stellar job of setting the team up for success with his offensive ingenuity. The guards limited mistakes against a very good Wisconsin outfit—the team turned it over on 16.7% of their possessions—and the offensive rebounding was superb.
But Jordan Morgan is no longer getting a +23!
This is true. I toned down the points for successful picks—those really should've been worth a half-point from the beginning—and also Morgan only played 19 minutes. Smotrycz got most of his points setting the picks that Morgan didn't this game.
What about magic invisible Stu?
I'm really still trying to get a handle on Douglass and what he brings to the team. He scored very well (+10.5, third on the team) in the defensive UFR, and watching him in detail I think people are right in saying he's the squad's best perimeter defender. He did almost nothing—positive or negative—on offense, however, despite playing 30 minutes. With Burke handling point guard duties for nearly the entire duration of the game, I think this is mostly a function of his role in the offense. When Burke is running the point, Douglass is mostly a spot-up shooter, and with the emergence of Novak as both a very solid outside shooter and a threat to drive to the basket, any plays run for guys other than Burke, Hardaway, or Smotrycz (Morgan mostly just sets picks and crashes the boards) go to Novak. I'm totally fine with this—Stu had one open look from three this game, and he knocked it down. Keep doing that and there will be no complaints from me.
Speaking of shooting...
Yep, another chart.
|Burke||1/1||-||3/5 (1F)||1/4||1/1||0/1||-||0/1||-||1/5||1/2||3/6 (1F)||5/13 (1F)|
|Hardaway||-||1/1 (2F)||0/2||-||1/2||0/1||1/1||1/1||0/1||1/1||3/4 (2F)||0/4||4/9 (2F)|
|Novak||-||4/4||-||-||1/2 (1F)||0/1||0/1||0/1||0/1||0/1||5/7 (1F)||0/2||5/10 (1F)|
|TOTAL||1/1||6/6 (2F)||3/8 (1F)||2/5||3/6 (1F)||0/5||2/4||2/8||0/2||5/10||11/20 (3F)||3/15 (1F)||19/45 (4F)|
Michigan didn't have the easiest time finding open looks, especially inside, and while they hit the lion's share of their layups, open jumpers were an issue. That 2/8 number on late-contest threes is especially disconcerting, as those are exactly the type of shots this offense is designed to create. Still, those shots were created, and the Wolverines didn't force too much, so I'm not worried about this performance. The shots will fall if they play like this on most nights, and it's always good to remember that Wisconsin is very good defensively.
You forgot to mention the Hardaway thing.
Ah, yes, the Hardaway thing. Brian expressed his frustration with Hardaway jacking up long twos early in the shot clock, and, well, it's a legitimate gripe:
That's bad, mmmkay? Hardaway's length and athleticism allow him to rise above the defense for a pretty clean look whenever he wants to shoot a jump shot. It is never necessary for that shot to come from 18 feet with 30 seconds on the shot clock. I counted two pretty terrible early-clock jumpers from THJ, and he forced the issue a couple times when he drove inside, as well. It looks like he's getting frustrated by his recent shooting struggles (keeping Michigan afloat against Northwestern notwithstanding) and when he tries to jump-start his own offense, it comes at the expense of the team. Northwestern was an improvement on the shooting front, so hopefully this kind of stuff mostly goes away as the season progresses. It probably won't go away entirely.
Meanwhile, Beilein is a magician.
Yes. Michigan set a ton of high screens for Burke, and also had the center head over to the corner to set off-ball screens for the guard in the corner. Because the team almost exclusively sets up in that 2-1-2 before plays, making the start of every possession look pretty much the same, they are able to do some pretty simple things that can completely confound a defense when they're looking for x and Beilein calls for y. Here, instead of having the center go out and screen the guy in the corner, Douglass (playing up top without the ball) dives into the paint, then curls back around to get a screen from McLimans:
The screen gets Douglass wide open at the top of the key, and he drills the three. It's a really simple play that doesn't ask for too much, other than a pair of solid screens from the center, and when executed properly it creates a great look for three points.
Finally, some obligatory love for Trey Burke, who continues to impress even when his jump shot is a little off.
Burke uses picks very well, making sure to rub close to the screener and get as much separation as possible, and his quickness makes it so that few players will be able to recover once that happens. On the above play, he's even able to throw in a little hesitation move at the free-throw line before going hard in the paint, getting right into Bruesewitz and hitting the layup while attacking in a way that makes it tough to alter the shot. He just keeps getting better, and I'm starting to just hope he'll be around for more than two years.
Novak and Burke. Novak's efficiency definitely calls for further exploration of his role in the offense—I think he needs to get the ball more, as he's proven he can take it inside and finish well. Novak attempted four layups, all before the defense could properly contest, and while part of that is picking his spots well, it's also because the defense has to respect his outside shot.
As for Burke, he's not making many errors while creating a lot of shots for both himself and his teammates. His shot is still relatively inconsistent, but I think that will work itself out in time—his free-throw shooting (75% on the season) and great form lead me to believe he'll only improve in that regard.
There's no way I can call Hardaway a goat when he's putting up 17 points on 10 shots. No other player really qualifies for consideration—Smotrycz was forced to play center for much of the game due to Horford's absence, so he mostly set screens, and Morgan's five offensive rebounds more than offset his three turnovers.
Again, please let me know what you think of the offensive (and defensive, for that matter) UFR in the comments. This is really time-consuming and it'd be really valuable to know whether or not this is worth the effort. I'm pretty committed to the defensive UFR, but this one seems like it could be covered by a summary of the advanced metics and some picture-pages. Your input is greatly appreciated.
AKRON STATE IS HOCKEY BEAR TIME
|WHAT||Michigan at North Korea DPR|
|WHERE||Fri: Value City Arena, Columbus
Sun: Baseball Stadium, Outside, Cleveland
|WHEN||7:35 PM Friday
5:05 PM Sunday
|LINE||College hockey lines, junkie?|
Sunday: FSD Plus
The Bolivian Air Force
Record. 14-4-3, 10-3-3 CCHA. Ohio State is your surprise conference leader with 34 points in 16 games; Notre Dame and Western are seven points back with two in hand, and then there's the avalanche of .500 teams including M.
This is pretty weird after OSU graduated a flood of seniors. I should correct myself in re OSU oversigning hypocrisy: it was last year new coach Mark Osiecki ran off a bunch of dudes. This year's attrition was mostly natural.
Previous meetings. Part of Michigan's awful first-half slide was an OSU sweep in Yost. Friday night was an even game in which shots were 33-30 OSU. Michigan failed to convert on a major penalty and OSU won 2-1 when Hunwick let in his worst goal of the season on a shot from almost the goal line along the boards.
Saturday was a wild affair that OSU won 6-5; when Chris Brown was given a major for boarding (but oddly not booted), OSU scored twice in 16 seconds to establish a 4-2 lead they would not relinquish. Michigan was outshot 37-31.
Dangermen. This may be a conference that wins a lot of games but it's not one with a ton of offensive firepower. Even the club at the top of the standings has one PPG scorer, and he's got exactly 1.0. That would be sophomore Chris Crane and his 12-9-21; senior Danny Dries is the other double-digit goalscorer with 11-7-18. Freshman Ryan Dzingel would appear to be their setup man (or passenger) with 5-12-17.
After the top line there's one guy with 11 points, three defensemen who have the usual lines (2-9-11, 0-11-11) for guys who are on the ice when other people score, and then a bunch of Glendening types with 9, 8, 7 points. It's not a team that scares you offensively. Highlights from their most recent game feature just one goal, that scored from about a half-foot out, and a shootout reminiscent of Michigan's most recent adventure in meaningless showpieces:
Firepower is lacking across the league.
Defense and goalie and whatnot. This is where OSU makes its hay. Cal Heeter is having an outstanding year with a .932 save percentage. He stole the Friday night matchup in Yost. Team defense seems to have something to do with this, as backup Brady Hjelle has played four games and sports a .942.
Junior Devon Krogh and senior captain Sean Duddy are the mainstays. I won't attempt to pretend I know anything about them.
Special teams. Your power plays per game:
|PP For / G||5.8||5.2|
|PP Ag / G||5.7||5.2|
The expectation is for even penalties for and against.
The expectation is not for those opportunities to come out equal. You know this by now: Michigan's special teams are awful. Michigan is at 15.6 percent, 42nd of 58 teams. OSU's isn't great at 20.6, but when you combine that with the penalty kill it is a significant advantage for OSU. OSU is 8th nationally at 87%; Michigan is 37th at 81%.
Michigan Vs Those Guys
Stay out the box. Michigan would prefer a low-penalty affair the likes of which they've been playing recently since OSU's much better at both power play and penalty kill.
Find someone to go with Di Giuseppe. Isolated on a line with guys who aren't scoring chance generators, Di Giuseppe's production has collapsed. Michigan can afford to put together a pure scoring line against an Ohio State team that doesn't have much scoring depth itself; I'd like to see Moffatt out there with PDG; Treais or the perpetually scratched Lindsay Sparks would be a solid third option.
Don't inexplicably scratch Mike Chiasson for a guy you can't put on the ice in the third period. Just sayin'.
Jon Merrill. Extant.
The Big Picture
Michigan is 11 points back of OSU and four back of ND and WMU with both those teams possessing two games in hand, so they've probably blown their shot at a conference title already.
This is still a huge series for Michigan's at-large chances. Playing the #2 team in RPI is an opportunity that will only come around… like four more times this year because of Michigan's brutal schedule. Er.
Anyway. Even a split is a slight positive. It would leave M's RPI static and would help their common opponents comparison*. That is somewhat offset by the 1-1 dragging their TUC record towards .500, though, so it's change on the fringes at best.
Anything better than a split will be a considerable asset; anything worse will be a setback.
*[Nitty-gritty details on that: the COP category has changed from a simple sum of W/L to sums of percentages. Michigan is currently getting 0% of available points against OSU; splitting will get them 25% of available points.]
I have no tabs, alas.
Two fortnights ago I put it upon myself to review each of Michigan’s 2011 foes and their respective seasons. I reached Eastern Michigan and was administering the finishing touches on the post when suddenly the editor window closed without saving. Alas. Being of frail mental constitution, I was inconsolably disheartened. Days lengthened into weeks ere I dared to reassemble my thoughts, but the attempts were in vain. I could not write for the numbers and records dulled my eyes and numbed my mind. What evil times we live in that a blogger finds himself lacking the motivation to blog! Desperate and without recourse I sought council of Brian the Wise. I begged of him guidance for whether I should resume the ill-fated task that I set out to do so long ago. He spoke to me thus, and his word fell upon me like a spark upon a bed of straw damp with snake oil.
So here it is.
vs. Ball State / via Michigan Exposures
- Howard, 41-9 (W)
- Alabama State, 14-7 (W)
- @ Michigan, 3-31 (L)
- @ Penn State, 6-34 (L)
- Akron, 31-23 (W)
- @ Toledo, 16-54 (L)
- @ Central Michigan, 35-28 (W)
- Western Michigan, 14-10 (W)
- Ball State, 31-33 (L)
- Buffalo, 30-17 (W)
- @ Kent State, 22-28 (L)
- @ Northern Illinois, 12-18
Record: 6-6 overall, 4-4 MAC
Standings/Rankings: Tied 5th MAC-West
|Rushing:||218.3 ypg, 14th||140.5 ypg, 50th|
|Passing:||126.7 ypg, 117th||209.8, 42nd|
|Total:||345.0 ypg, 93rd||350.3 ypg, 34th|
|Scoring:||21.3 ppg, 103rd||24.3 ppg, 50th|
|T/O Margin:||-5, 91st|
Recap: In his third year as head coach of Eastern Michigan, Ron English led the program to their first non-losing season in about two decades or so.* They played most of their opponents close, getting blown out only by BCS schools and Toledo, which ended up one of the best teams in the MAC. If you have any ties or allegiances to Eagles football, you’d be saying something like, “Ron English has the program headed in the right direction,” while your buddy twirls his mustache and says, “Yes. Quite.” This of course presumes that there are at least two Eastern Michigan fans out there, which is a dangerous assumption.
Eastern Michigan benefitted from a significantly improved defense and a Mike Hart-inspired ground game that averaged 4.6 ypc, which is in the upper quartile of FBS rankings.** They were also second in the country in kick return coverage, so their special teams were pretty competent, too.
Michigan won’t play them again for at least another couple of years so I have nothing to say about what this means for their future.
* Wikipedia doesn’t go earlier than that.
** From what we saw when they played Michigan, they were more of an option/outside running team rather than HARTball, so saying that it was Mike Hart-inspired may not be entirely true.
Best win: Western Michigan. This was their only win over an opponent with a winning record. The Broncos also finished higher in the MAC standings so this was somewhat of an upset.
Worst loss: Ball State. Lost on a last-second field goal.
At the time, we thought they were as frightening as: A canker sore. Fear level = 1.
But now we know they are as frightening as: A hot slice of pizza. If you burn the roof of your mouth it's your own fault. 2.
What this win meant for Michigan: Michigan got the blowout as expected, but the manner in which it was achieved was pretty unsatisfying, if not downright unsettling. Eastern Michigan’s run game was the first to expose the Wolverines defense’s problems with perimeter defense and at the linebacker position. The Eagles found free yards all day by running to the edges, and they were stopped only at the goal line when there wasn’t much of an edge to run to.
The perimeter defense would get fixed gradually throughout the course of the season and would become less and less of an issue. The linebacking unit would see a little more rotation before reaching a level of moderate competency.
Really the most unsettling aspect of this game was that Bad Air Denard made his first full debut. He completed fewer than half of his passes (7 of 18) and threw an interception, forcing Borges to run him 26 times. Devin Gardner, who was expected by many to see his first significant playing time of the season, ran one play.
But there were some bright spots! Thomas Gordon made his first heads up play on the double-pass interception, and the year's only successful QB Oh Noes got Dileo in for the deciding touchdown … And that’s about it.
And it totally felt as awesome as: Pooping in a Porta-Potty.
Old McPointsalot had a farm, E-I-E-I-Oh. And on that farm he had…
A Rainbow-Pooping Unicorn. This isn't going to do us any favors with the New York Times. Also you should mentally add "unicorn pooping rainbows" to things you should never search for on Google Images.
What you are seeing (other than a unicorn pooping rainbows at a post-Apocalyptic Gowanus Canal) is the opening salvo of BlueSeoul's last game wrap of the season:
This week's love-hate relationship status with Al Borges is .... .... Love? That's odd, because during the game there were times when the needle was strongly tilted towards hate. But after a second look at the game film, the final analysis, just like the outcome of the game, is slightly positive.
Much like the Iowa game, the lack of production on offense wasn't really his fault so much as it was a combination of a lack of execution, personnel limitations, and a darn good defense.
Unto this breach goes hart20 to give an early and detailed count of returning starters for next season's opponents. He wrote this before Coker quit Iowa but for future reference whenever you preview Iowa always count at least one extra sacrifice to the Angry Iowa Running Back Hating God. Ohio State returns the most starters (they lose 5 on offense and none on D) while Air Force has to replace 17 starters and their backup QB. Diary of the Week, this.
And in That Future Was a Playoff, F-U-O-Hi-O. Playoff the first is by JeepinBen and takes parts of the basketball tournament that might work for football. It has 11 teams. The MWC and Big East champions plus four at-large teams play a week after the conf. championship games, then face three of the five big conference teams in Round 2. It would see Bama playing at TCU on December 10. I would give the at-large teams the home field instead of the crappy conference champs. Boise State fans will say different but Boise State's president probably won't be too hurt about splitting half of 110,000 tickets rather than half of 10,000 to have the game on blue turf.
The second is by Seattle Maize and isn't a playoff, more like "move the BCS decision until after the bowls." Ten teams go to BCS bowls based on tie-ins, and then we recalculate the BCS to pit the best two of the remaining five (the Cotton gets an upgrade) against each other. Upside: the only fans traveling on short notice are going to the National Championship game (which should be two weeks after). Downside: doesn't really solve anything – it's just another BCS, albeit a better one than we have now.
And in Those Playoffs Were These Recruits. I can't believe umhero wrote this composite ranking chart of three sites' Top 100 on the boards. Michigan's seven players who make someone's Top 100 is tied with Florida State for 3rd. Texas has 11; Bama 10. Our reality is the one that exists in some Alabama freshman's NCAA 2004* dynasty (his roommate plays Boise State and created Cam Newton as payback for the entire pack of Fig Newtons that disappeared from the fridge). Also in this universe he can edit recruit names to funny things like 2013 S.C. receiver, "Uriah LeMay," and Ace would interview them. Ace also spoke to PA tight end Adam Breneman.
If you are a recruit in RollTide06's reality, before choosing a school based on NFL potential, best to read docwhoblocked's study on your chances first.
* If it was '05 nobody would be able to catch; if it was '03 he wouldn't know to
hire name his generic middle-aged coach Saban.
And the Basketball Was Back, but it Never Left, Yeah It Did, No It Didn't, Yeah It Diddanoitdidn't. We join ClearEyesFullHart in an appreciation fest of where Michigan basketball has come from Dom Ingerson. However far this goes, it feels like the cagers have now crawled through the shit pipe to clear the program from the prison of the '90s, carved our name in the half-way house that claimed SMU football, put in our time at Amaker Grocery in the aughts, and now we're on a road to paradise. It makes a much better story than an ellipsis between tournament appearances:
I suppose that's why Brian's wording, "Right now we're going through the last vestiges of having no expectations because we have no program" made me just a little bit angry. Because I can remember when we had no program. I remember when beating Bowling Green was a big deal. I was there, and it was actually quite a while ago.
The argument is semantic, and on the Ellerbe years I'd rather forget too, but in ways I'm with CEFH. There were times in the lost years that Michigan was reduced to a 3rd string walk-on Jewish kid playing guard with literally no ligament in his elbow, but I'd still take any five of Dani Wohl's vital organs over this year's Penn State team.
The artwork is fantastic, and Six is really one of the good guys. You sense a 'but' in there. Okay there's a but, but first repeat the caveat about Six Zero being awesome in 99% of ways. But: social messaging future Buckeyes and trolling Spartan offspring when they ask an answerable question are acts that make me not like the Michigan fan characters. The Sugar Bowl one was great. He's got "Tom" down. "Desmond," the collegiate Blockham, appears annoying and probably got his MGoBlog account suspended for copious use of the word "Stud." Grandpa Glenn's an asshole. Needs MOAR character development. Am i being overly harsh on a comic that's six strips old? Yes I am.
And in Etc. There Was a Yak. Seriously, There's a Yak in This Diary! CRex's personal life and what the dry ear wax phenotype has to do with the bar scene in Ulaangom. And a shout-out to everyone who helped the Mathlete complete the now comprehensive list of D-I coaches and coordinators since '03.
Best o' th' Boards
THE SECRET AND ASTOUNDING ADVENTURES OF ACE, THE MAN WHO BLOGGGED
Using the sneaky but effective ploy of posing as a mild-mannered classmate of Ace, patstansik, better know as "Pre-Game Pat," scored the exclusive interview with the elusive Anbender. What mysteries lie behind the only person doing actual work around here? What improbable twists of fate and snappy dressing led a young man of San Francisco to climb to the heights of bloggerdom, and reach fame so great his mom gets questions from the checkout guy at Kroger's.* It's all there in Ace: The Podcast.
If you'd like to share your own story on how you became a Wolverine, you can do so in the thread by Mr.Mario86.
* There's no apostrophe-'s' in 'Kroger' you say? Well I say this is Michigan fergodsakes's
OHIO: BIRTHPLACE OF WOODSON, HOWARD, AND SCHEMBECHLER
Voting has concluded on the new Ohio license plate voting with "Bo" and "Worst State Ever" notable write-ins. Well trolled my friends.
NUMBERS TOO OR JUST WINGS?
The battle lines are drawn. Of things I don't like changing, the numbers on the helmets are somewhere between the fact that keys don't look like keys anymore and my hair line, i.e. doesn't bug me that much but if I had a choice I'd go back to the way things were.
It was this week last year. Who's awesome? You're awesome!
Other basketball takes. Grantland* oddly dispatched a guy to cover the Michigan-Northwestern game. He comes back with an impression of Ann Arbor clearly derived from the rims clanging so loud it sounds like a Gary, Indiana, steel mill before it closed in 1979, but once he gets past the grim midwesternness of it all it's a good piece:
. In the post, Smotrycz and Novak get rough with Shurna, putting their bodies into him, bumping him off the ball, and generally making him fight for every inch. Shurna hates this physicality, hates it viscerally and philosophically and every other way you can hate something. More often than not, he casts a look at the referee, hoping for a foul call, before retreating to the perimeter. He'll finish the game with 21 points, but after his second jumper of the half, with 19 long minutes remaining, he's scored all but four of that total. The rest of the game is a vanishing act.
I still think whenever Beilein ends up with an open scholarship late he should scour Northwestern's commitments for whoever their totally rad guy is going to be. That seems preferable to snatching Colton Christian away from low majors.
Holdin' the Rope credits Denard in the headline and provides a link to the Novak dunk that brought down the house during Michigan's 10-0 second half run:
Re: Denard, A half-dozen Michigan football players including Roy Roundree and Denard held court in the student section after they were honored for winning the Sugar Bowl. One thing you can say about Michigan football: they are not too cool for school.
HTR also dubs freshman NU PG Dave Sobolewski "Sobocop" in an attempt to insult him for prompting the Morgan tech. This will certainly backfire and cause Northwestern fans to admiringly dub him that for the rest of his career. Sippin' On Purple, make this happen.
*[Grantland pays Brian Phillips and Chris Brown money to write about sports. I'm not hearing criticism of it even if it runs some dumb stuff. That's easy enough to ignore; the good bits are very good. VIVA LOS SIMMONS.]
Donnal update. Even Jordan Morgan is impressed by this stat:
Perhaps no one on the team has bought in to the new approach more than Mark Donnal, the 6-9 junior who is already committed to the University of Michigan. The league's top post player is averaging a team-high 20.4 points and 8.7 rebounds after averaging 15 points and seven boards last season.
Donnal, who probably receives more double-teams near the basket than any other player in the NLL, is sinking 79 percent of his shots from the field, as well as from the foul line.
Big guys in high school usually tower over opponents and can just oaf their way to easy buckets, but if you've seen any video of Donnal you know he's unusually skilled for a 6'9" post type. He's Pittsnogalian.
That sounds like an adjective from a lost chapter of Gulliver's Travels featuring a race of lovable, enormous tattooed weirdos. It's a keeper, that is.
CSB midterms. The NHL's Central Scouting Bureau has released their midseason rankings, which are the first to put a number on prospects rather than a vague letter. Voila:
#9 Jacob Trouba
#28 Phil Di Giuseppe (freshman)
#31 Boo Nieves
#82 Alex Kile (2013)
#157 Connor Carrick
#175 Justin Selman
Incoming goalie Jared Rutledge is the #36 goalie, which would mean he's not getting drafted. Daniel Milne and future Rutledge backup Steve Racine are the only draft-eligible recruits not listed.
Trouba is the top-ranked American. A CSB scout on him:
“Jacob has offensive skills and he really does defend well. You can just tell by how he plays in all areas of the ice that he’s a big kid who skates really well, he loves to jump into the play and has confidence because he knows his skating can get him back, so he rarely gets caught out of position. He’s going to be someone people are going to talk about; we’ve known about him for a couple years and he’s not disappointing this year.”
Remember that these are North American skater rankings only; Europeans and goalies will push these folks down. Those are mid-second-round ratings for PDG and Nieves, not late first.
WCH calls out Connor Carrick as notably under-ranked; if that's true Michigan will definitely have five draftees with Selman a potential sixth. Kile is a surprise. One: I didn't know he was draft eligible this year. Two: he's got 7-8-15 in 29 games with the Green Bay Gamblers of the USHL, which is a far cry from the 38, 35, 30, 29 you see at the top of their scoring charts. He's kind of big at 6-foot, 195, but not the kind of big that gets you drafted above your skill level by the NHL.
Meanwhile in the odious machinations of junior hockey magnates. Nieves's rights were traded in the deadline flurry. This is never good, but Nieves has reconfirmed that he has no interest in the OHL:
Nieves was traded to Saginaw, which isn't any closer to home than Michigan or notorious for shelling out under the table payments. Also if he was going to leave he had an opportunity before signing up for another year of prep hockey with Matt Herr. Usually when a player committed to college changes his mind it's the year before he's scheduled to arrive. Only the specter of competing against Shawn Hunwick is sufficient motivation to ditch when college is around the corner.
Meanwhile in things you'd do for a dollar. Rumor is the Winter Classic is headed to Michigan in the near future, and not just the state:
Multiple sources told Yahoo! Sports this week that the NHL is in advanced discussions with the University of Michigan about holding the 2013 Winter Classic in Ann Arbor.
One source, who spoke on a condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to speak on the matter, said Michigan athletic director Dave Brandon wasn't initially sold on the idea of the NHL hosting an outdoor game at Michigan Stadium. But over a matter of a couple of weeks, the source said "something happened to make it go from looking like it could happen to [a point where] it probably will."
No doubt long deliberations with a man dressed in a curly fries outfit eventually led to the breakthrough. Would Dave Brandon threaten to break Michigan's own attendance record and hopelessly conflict a ton of people when Michigan inevitably plays a bowl game on the same day? Yes. The curly fries are very convincing, and there is at least one dollar in it.
Guh. I only talk about coaches who coach for Michigan unless I need to give Tony Gibson minus even more of the points:
The previous CB coach, Gibson, who I believe also is joining the Arizona staff, wasn't big on technique, at least not when he was a WVU. Players have stated that he would tell them, "just get to the spot." Lockwood came in and changed that, and with that change came nice strides of improvement in the cornerbacks.
Unfortunately, the spot was ten yards away from the receiver.
Etc.: The university's policy of exorbitant FOIA fees is an embarrassment. Roundtree's looking for a bigger role next year. BC Interruption is feeling the MGoPlayoff. Horford may be able to return this year. Silver lining if he can't: the ensuing redshirt will give some separation between Michigan's bigs, three of whom may leave in the same year if McGary is two-and-out. UMHoops picture pages a bunch of out of bounds plays.
Not entirely related, but this needs to be the intro (via MGoVideo):
DON'T LET ANYBODY COME IN YOUR HOUSE, PLAY HARDER THAN YOU PLAY, AND BEAT YOU. When Cazzie Russell says such things in "The House That Cazzie Built" (or is that now "The Center That Cazzie Built"?) you listen. Michigan listened.
The Wolverines narrowly defeated Northwestern at home last night in an ugly, ugly game, but on Sunday they put on perhaps their finest performance of the season in crushing Wisconsin, 59-41, to end a 10-game losing skid against the Badgers. I'm still not sure how often I can do these while still providing the proper amount of recruiting coverage, but I did UFR the game, and not only that, but this time I actually covered both offense and defense.
So, today is the debut of the basketball defensive UFR. It it likely fraught with errors and oversights, so as always I encourage the basketball coaches/junkies to please tell me what I'm doing wrong in the comments. The setup is much the same as the offensive UFR in that it tracks shot creation, but this time it's all about preventing good looks instead of creating them. Rebounding is mostly tracked in more traditional stats, so that is mostly ignored unless a player makes a particularly strong effort to haul in a rebound and prevent what would otherwise be an easy putback opportunity.
I made little effort to try and figure out what Wisconsin was trying to run on each offensive set, as doing so would've put the ETA on this post at sometime around the 32nd of Neverary. Instead, possessions are broken down as either half-court (HC) or fast break (FB). Defensive set is charted as usual, noting whether Michigan is in man, 1-3-1, or defending the fast break (the Wolverines did not break out any 2-3 this game, something they rarely do anyway). Without further ado, here's chart the first, broken into sections whenever Michigan makes a lineup change:
|Lineup: Burke, Novak, Hardaway, Smotrycz, Morgan|
|After running the shot clock down to 10 seconds (this is Wisconsin, remember), point guard Jordan Taylor runs a high screen with center Jared Berggren. Burke (+0.5) and Morgan both hedge hard, forcing Taylor to pass off to Berggren in the corner. Berggren gives back to Taylor, who tries to hit Mike Bruesewitz under the basket, but Morgan has fallen back into the lane—at first he's not looking for the entry pass, but recovers in time to deflect the pass (+1.5), and Novak collects the loose ball, but...|
|...Novak can't hold onto the ball cleanly, and it's stolen. Ryan Evans gets a pass with an open lane to the hoop, goes up for the dunk, and is fouled from behind by Morgan, preventing the basket (+0.5, dunk/layup, late contest, foul). Evans misses both free throws.|
|Wisconsin dumps the ball into Berggren, guarded by Morgan, on the left block. Berggren fakes to the middle of the key and spins to the baseline, beating Morgan (-1), who can only put his hands up and force him further baseline. Smotrycz (+2) slides over from the other side of the key for a well-timed double-team, then gets a great contest when Berggren tries a Dream Shake—he can't connect on a short, but tricky, hook shot (2-pt, heavy contest, miss).|
|Ryan Evans ends up with the ball on the right wing, and he's clearly looking to get the ball to Berggren on the block. Morgan (+1) does a great job of fronting him and denying any chance at an entry pass. Evans doesn't even try, instead doing a quick ball fake that creates some space against Smotrycz (-0.5). Evans misses a long two as Smotrycz recovers to get a late contest (2-pt, late contest, miss).|
|Fantastic defense from Burke here. Taylor spends the entire possession trying to post him up, but Burke holds strong, eventually forcing Taylor to receive the pass near the baseline 15 feet away from the basket. Taylor backs him down, but Burke forces Taylor to try a fadeaway from just inside the FT line and gets a hand right in his face—the shot doesn't even draw iron (Burke +2, 2-pt, heavy contest, miss).|
|Bruesewitz, whose name really sucks to have to spell out multiple times, gets matched up with Novak and posts him up. Novak (+1) does a great job forcing him away from the basket, and he catches the pass just a couple feet inside the 3-pt arc. Bruesewitz starts to back towards the basket, and Hardaway (+0.5) comes over for solid double-team. Bruesewitz travels trying to get a pass off.|
|Lineup: Burke, Douglass, Hardaway, Novak, Smotrycz|
|Michigan breaks out the 1-3-1 for the first time, and initially all Wisconsin can do is swing the ball around the perimeter. They flood the middle of the zone with two players, however, and Smotrycz (-1) strays too far from the middle. Bruesewitz finds Evans open with space in the middle of the lane, and he takes it over Novak—who has the backside and is caught between Evans in the key and Taylor up top—for a short runner (2-pt, late contest, make).|
|Great team defense here as Wisconsin simply can't find an opening. Eventually, Taylor gets a screen up top with 8 seconds on the clock, Burke fights past it as Hardaway (+0.5) also shows before falling back to his man. Taylor drives left and pulls up just inside the arc, missing the long two as Burke gets a hand right in his face (Burke +1.5, 2-pt, heavy contest, miss).|
|Wisconsin again works the ball around the arc for about 20 seconds, then Josh Gasser drives into the lane against Hardaway (-0.5), who's initally beaten, but Novak (+1) steps up and stops the penetration. Douglass (-1), guarding Ben Brust at the top of the key, takes a peek into the lane, and Brust cuts behind him into the lane, drawing three defenders and passing off to an open Berggren. Smotrycz recovers to get a late contest, but Berggren should've hit the relatively open look from 12 feet (2-pt, late contest, miss).|
|Taylor takes a pick on the elbow that draws both Burke and Novak. He dishes off to Rob Wilson in the corner as Hardaway (+0.5) rotates over nicely—Novak (+0.5) falls back and picks up Hardaway's man in the opposite corner. Wilson drops it off to Berggren on the block. He tries backing down Smotrycz (+2), can't get any closer, and bricks a baby hook with Smotrycz right in his face (2-pt, heavy contest, miss). Great on-ball defense from Smotrycz there, and M doing a fantastic job of showing on picks and not giving Taylor any room to maneuver.|
|Lineup: Burke, Douglass, Vogrich, Smotrycz, Morgan|
|Lots of confusion here. Wisconsin runs a high pick and roll and Smotrycz hedges hard, as he's clearly been coached to do on Taylor in this game. Smotrycz (-1) then slides back into the post, but Morgan is already there. Morgan is now confused about who to guard and is way late getting out to Josh Gasser, who is all alone behind the arc. Wisconsin swings it to Gasser, who fakes baseline, gets Morgan to bite, and takes it strong to the hoop, finishing with the left before help can arrive (Morgan -1, dunk/layup, late contest, make). I could be wrong, but I think Smotrycz wasn't supposed to drop back into the post since he's now the 4, but Morgan also has to do a better job staying between his man and the basket.|
|Lineup: Burke, Douglass, Vogrich, Smotrycz, McLimans|
|Wisconsin again runs the high P&R, but McLimans (+1) does a solid job of getting out on Taylor and then recovering to his man. Wisconsin ends up dumping it down to Ryan Evans, who's posting up McLimans on the right block. McLimans stymies Evans, who pivots around looking for somewhere to dump the ball to. Smotrycz (-2) comes over to double, but he's way late and has to scramble back out when Evans gives to his man, Gasser, who fakes the shot and easily gets the lane. The defense has to collapse down, and Gasser finds Bruesewitz in the corner for an open three (3-pt, late contest, make).|
|11:45||10-7||HC||Man||McLimans||3-pt Miss/OReb/Layup Miss/OReb/3-pt Make|
|Bruesewitz gets the ball on the block against McLimans (-1) in great position—McLimans lets him establish his spot way too deep in the lane. Vogrich collapses down to help and Douglass swings over to Vogrich's man, who gets the pass from Bruesewitz and swings it around the perimeter. Michigan is scrambling, Burke (-2) rotates down low to Evans, who McLimans has covered, and Taylor ends up with an open look from three, but he misses (3-pt, late contest, miss). Smotrycz (-1) doesn't block out Bruesewitz, who grabs the board, misses a very tough putback (dunk/layup, heavy contest, miss), gets his own rebound, and passes out to Ben Brust, who is all alone up top for a three (3-pt, no contest, make). Douglass gets a -1 for being the fifth(!) M defender in the lane on the second putback attempt, leaving the perimeter entirely unguarded.|
|Nothing Burke can do here as Taylor is out in front after stealing a Smotrycz pass near halfcourt. Taylor breezes in for a layup, and Burke smartly doesn't try to contest—he's too far back to do anything but give up an and-1 (dunk/layup, no contest, make).|
|Lineup: Burke, Douglass, Vogrich, Novak, McLimans|
|Let's follow Novak here. First he hedges nicely on a P&R up top, then drops back to Bruesewitz, his original man. Wisconsin swings it to Gasser on the elbow as Bruesewitz tries to establish post position on Novak, but Novak drives him nearly out to the 3-pt line. He bails on posting up, takes a handoff, and passes back out to the top of the key. Bruesewitz, with Novak still on him, ends up with the ball at the opposite elbow, gives to Taylor in the corner, then sets a pick with 8 seconds on the play clock. Novak (+3) hedges hard on Taylor as Burke fights through the screen, and Taylor's pass goes through Bruesewitz's hands and out of bounds. GRIT.|
|Taylor runs another high P&R that Burke initially is caught up in, but McLimans (+1) does a great job of getting out on Taylor and forcing him into the corner, where Burke gets over to recover as McLimans settles back into the post. Wisconsin works it around the arc while putting Burke (+2) through a series of off-ball screens, which he does a great job of fighting through and staying with Taylor. Taylor ends up with the ball up top and the clock winding down, drives left with Burke right in his pocket, and hits a tough pull-up jumper with Burke's hand nearly on the ball (2-pt, heavy contest, make). Unless he's two inches taller, there's no way Burke can play this any better.|
|Burke (-1) is way late getting back after missing an ill-advised layup attempt on the other end. Taylor takes advantage of having an extra man by driving hard into the middle at McLimans, which draws Vogrich and also, unnecessarily, Douglass (-1), who leaves Gasser open for three. He misses (3-pt, late contest, miss). Novak (+0.5), being Novak, gets a good blockout and then dives for the loose rebound, but he's tied up on the floor and Wisconsin maintains possession.|
|Lineup: Brundidge, Douglass, Hardaway, Novak, Smotrycz|
|Brundidge with an early cameo, and he acquits himself well, fighting through several off-ball screens and sticking right with his man. Evans ends up taking on Hardaway one-on-one, and Hardaway trips over Evans's foot (no minus for that unlucky break). Evans can't hit the now-wide-open long two (2-pt, no contest, miss), and Brundidge (+1.5) hauls down a really tough board between three guys. One point for the rebound and a half-point for strong off-ball defense.|
|Evans posts up Douglass on the left block and backs him into the middle of the lane, but Douglass (+1) doesn't give up any ground to the bigger player. Evans tries to put up a turnaround jumper anyway, and it rims out (2-pt, heavy contest, miss).|
|Taylor pushes the pace (no, seriously) after a Michigan miss and attempts to drive on Douglass, but Stu (+1) stays right in front of him and Taylor has to back out. Taylor passes to Berggren on the block, who tries to back down Novak (+1), but Novak holds strong and Berggren misses a contested turnaround fadeaway (2-pt, heavy contest, miss). Smotrycz (+0.5) gets up for a tough rebound in a crowd.|
|Brundidge (-0.5) gets called for a reach-in foul, and we go to a timeout.|
|Lineup: Burke, Akunne, Hardaway, Novak, Smotrycz|
|Evans gets the ball on the block and is closely guarded by Novak. Brust cuts to his side of the court, losing Smotrycz (-1), gets the ball, and drives to the paint, where it looks like he has space as Smotrycz overcommits at the arc. Novak (+1) smartly steps up and cuts off the drive, however, and Brust tosses a pass out of bounds. Nice play by Novak, but Akunne (-1) left Gasser wide open 10 feet from the basket—if the pass is on target, this is probably an easy bucket.|
|5:56||19-14||HC||Man||Smotrycz||3-pt Miss/OReb/2-pt Make|
|Wisconsin sets a double screen for Taylor at the top of the key, and though Burke (+0.5) stays right with Taylor, Smotrycz (-2.5) drops back into the lane despite the fact that his man, Berggren, has popped out to the 3-pt line. Akunne (+0.5) hauls ass to close out but can't get there to really contest, but Berggren misses (3-pt, late contest, miss). Smotrycz can't even haul in the rebound as Gasser beats him to the spot. Wisconsin resets, Gasser cuts to the top of the key and loses Akunne (-1), then drives to the free throw line and hits a runner (2-pt, late contest, make).|
|Wisconsin again sets that double screen for Taylor, and this time he drives, but Burke (+1) stays right with him and forces a tough pullup J as Smotrycz (+1) also comes over to contest (2-pt, heavy contest, miss). Berggren brings in the rebound after it bounces out of the lane. Berggren eventually gets it in the post, where Smotrycz has him covered, then he throws it out of bounds when Taylor zigs and he expects a zag.|
|Wisconsin works it over to Rob Wilson, who tries to back down Novak (+1) into the lane but can't make any progress. Wilson tries to slip a pass to a cutting Taylor but Burke (+2) is right there and pokes the ball away. Hardaway dives for the loose ball and is called for a questionable foul when he collides with Taylor, who was also diving for it. Let them play, IMO. TV timeout.|
|Lineup: Burke, Douglass, Hardaway, Novak, Smotrycz|
|Taylor drives to the baseline and has a half-step on Burke (-0.5), but Novak (+1) is there to cut off the drive. Evans, Novak's man, pops out towards the arc and gets the pass from Taylor, but Smotrycz (+1) slides over to contest, and he misses a long two (2-pt, heavy contest, miss).|
|Taylor ends up with the ball on the wing, tries to drive into the lane, and is stymied by Burke, forcing Taylor to pass back out top as the shot clock approaches 10. Taylor gets the ball right back and tries to get up a quick three over Burke (+2), but Burke blocks it (not credited in the box score, but Taylor doesn't airball by 3 feet if it isn't) (3-pt, heavy contest, miss). Ball to Michigan, which draws some legitimate protests from the Badgers.|
|2:26||23-16||HC||Man||Smotrycz||2-pt Make + Foul (1/1)|
|After Smotrycz and Burke (+0.5) stymie a high P&R for Taylor, Berggren ends up posting up Smotrycz on the left side of the lane. Smotrycz (-1) lets him get into the middle of the lane just outside the charge circle, and Berggren makes a righty baby hook as Smot fouls him on the other arm (2-pt, heavy contest, make + foul). Novak (-0.5) is late coming over to help, btw.|
|Lineup: Burke, Douglass, Hardaway, Novak, McLimans|
|Wisconsin can't do anything on this possession, thanks to great off-ball D by McLimans (+1) and Douglass (+0.5), who both fight off screens and blow up whatever play the Badgers planned on running. Taylor has to create himself with 10 seconds left on the clock. He gets a screen from Berggren and both Burke and McLimans hedge hard again. Burke (+1.5) stays right with Taylor and McLimans falls back, Taylor drives to the free-throw line and has to settle for a tough pull-up with Burke's hand in his face (2-pt, heavy contest, miss).|
|Taylor and Berggren run that high P&R, and with McLimans (+0.5) hedging on Taylor and stopping the drive as he's supposed to, Novak has to fall back off his man Evans briefly to stop any potential pass into the lane. Douglass (-0.5) rotates over onto Evans but drops back to his man, who's positioned himself for an open corner three, just as Taylor gives to Evans all alone up top. McLimans has recovered to his man, but Novak (-1) is way late getting back out on Evans, who luckily bricks the open two (2-pt, late contest, miss). This could be more on Douglass. Basketball people, let me know in the comments. Also, Burke (+0.5) impressively comes flying in for the rebound after it's tipped off the backboard by a sea of hands.|
|Lineup: Burke, Novak, Hardaway, Smotrycz, Morgan|
|This play looks to be designed to get Evans the ball in the post, but Novak (+1) does a great job of fronting and denying the ball. Taylor instead gives to Gasser, who gets separation from Smotrycz (-0.5) with a simple ball-fake and move to the baseline. Smotrycz recovers to get a late contest of the long two, which misses (2-pt, late contest, miss). Smot is not quick, and this play really exposes his slow feet even though no points come as a result.|
|Nice job by Hardaway here. Evans gets the ball in the post against Smotrycz, and Hardaway comes over to double on the baseline, then gets all the way back up top by the time Wisconsin can swing it around to Gasser, his original man. Gasser tries to drive left, but Hardaway doesn't charge out too hard and is able to stay with him step-for-step, forcing Gasser to pivot and try a fadeaway that Hardaway contests (2-pt, heavy contest, miss). To top it off, Hardaway (+2.5) then jumps over everyone to pull down the rebound.|
|Taylor gives it up initially, goes through a screen in the middle of the lane that Burke fights through, and ends up getting the ball in the left corner as Wisconsin clears out for him. Taylor doesn't attempt to drive and instead just shoots a long two, and Burke (+1) has his hand right there to contest (2-pt, heavy contest, miss). Not a great shot from Taylor, but Burke has been all over him all game. Unfortunately, Morgan (-1) grabs the rebound but doesn't keep the ball high and has it slapped off his leg and out of bounds.|
|Evans tries to post up Smotrycz, but Smotrycz (+1.5) pushes him out near the perimeter and slaps the entry pass out of bounds. After the inbounds, Hardaway (+1) does a great job denying on a designed backdoor cut, Wisconsin is forced to reset, and Smotrycz stays right with Evans as he drives, pulls up, and misses from the FT line (2-pt, heavy contest, miss). This time Morgan securely hauls in the rebound.|
|Taylor gets a pick up top and is hounded by both Burke (+1) and Morgan (+1), drives to the baseline and has to stop there and pick up his dribble. Taylor passes inside to Berggren, where Morgan has recovered to pick him up, and Berggren gives back out to Taylor, who jacks up a contested three (3-pt, heavy contest, miss). Novak (-1) loses Evans under the basket and doesn't box out, then Smotrycz (-0.5) picks up a foul pushing Evans in the back to prevent an offensive rebound. Smotrycz was put in a very tough position, but that's also his critical third foul early in the second half. Now he has to come out.|
|Lineup: Burke, Douglass, Hardaway, Novak, Morgan|
|Taylor curl-cuts off a screen on the left elbow, but Burke (+1.5) hangs right with him while going over the top of the pick. Wilson passes to Taylor, and Hardaway, who's guarding Wilson at the top of the key, cheats in to try to steal and then collapses down on Taylor. With Burke in good position, I don't think this is the right move, as Burke has the drive covered and Hardaway (-2) leaves Wilson wide open. Taylor kicks it out and Wilson bricks the uncontested three (3-pt, no contest, miss). Again, great D by Burke, but THJ gets a little greedy.|
|Michigan initially stymies the Wisconsin offense, forcing Taylor to desperately drive with the clock under 10. As he gets near the lane, Burke (+1) completely cuts him off with help from Novak (+0.5), but Morgan (-1.5) is also looking in and loses track of Evans, his man. Douglass (+0.5) has to switch and guard Evans, who's cutting to the basket, and this leaves Brust wide open for three. Brust has nobody near him when he gets the pass from Taylor, but his shot comes up short and draws front iron (3-pt, no contest, miss). Evans pulls in the rebound over Morgan and gets it back out top. Wisconsin eventually gets it in to Berggren in the post, and Novak (+2) sneaks over and rips the ball away from him.|
|Douglass (+1) fights through multiple off-ball screens, seamlessly executes a switch with Novak (+0.5), and gets out to cover Evans on a skip pass, forcing Wisconsin to reset. Taylor comes off a pick and passes to Bruesewitz, who hits a three with Hardaway (+0.5) right in his face (3-pt, heavy contest, make).|
|Novak pulls a seamless switch with Douglass (+0.5) on an off-ball screen, ending up on Traevon Jackson on the wing. Jackson drives baseline and tries to get a shot over Novak, but Novak slaps the ball away on the way up (not credited as a block in the box score, so no shot chart, but Jackson was clearly trying to shoot). The ball goes off the side of the backboard and back to Jackson, who goes back up with it and can't bank in a tough 10-footer over Novak (+2, 2-pt, heavy contest, miss).|
|13:44||32-22||HC||Man||Hardaway||2-pt Miss/OReb/Foul (1/2)|
|Taylor runs a high P&R, Burke (+0.5) and Morgan hedge well again, and Taylor is forced to throw a skip pass to Wilson in the opposite corner. Hardaway (+1), who had come down into the paint to help out on Morgan's man, gets back out and almost gets a hand on the ball as Wilson chucks a long two at the end of the shot clock. It misses (2-pt, heavy contest, miss). Wisconsin's Kaminsky grabs the board as he gets position on Morgan (-0.5, getting a half-point credit for his D on the P&R). Wilson ends up with the ball on the wing, drives against Novak, and picks up a really ticky-tack foul as he shoots while flying out of bounds (2-pt, late contest, foul).|
|Lineup: Burke, Douglass, Hardaway, Novak, McLimans|
|Wilson gets the ball up top as Wisconsin can't do anything with the first 20 seconds of the shot clock. He hesitates, then drives, getting a half-step on Douglass, but Stu recovers and with help from Novak (+0.5) contests Wilson's runner (2-pt, heavy contest, miss). Hardaway (-1) forgets to block out, Bruesewitz grabs the rebound, and Douglass (+2.5) bails him out by stealing the ball clean as Bruesewitz comes down with it.|
|Jackson has the ball up top and gives to Bruesewitz, who drives by McLimans (-1) into the paint as Jackson sets a screen on Hardaway, who switches with Douglass, on the opposite side of the court. Douglass (-1) is caught in no-man's land because of the penetration, but doesn't make a move to Bruesewitz or back outside to Jackson. He pays for his indecision as Jackson gets the ball and drains a three right over him (3-pt, late contest, make).|
|Lineup: Burke, Douglass, Hardaway, Novak, Morgan|
|Jackson gets the ball on the wing and looks to dump it into Bruesewitz in the post, but Novak (+0.5) fronts well and denies. Jackson then drives to the middle against Hardaway (-0.5) and gets a step, but Douglass (+1) rotates over quickly. Jackson panics when he sees Douglass and zips a hurried pass into the Wisconsin bench. Bo Ryan is not amused.|
|Berggren posts up Morgan near the baseline, about five feet outside the lane, and Wisconsin clears out for him. Berggren backs down to the edge of the paint, where Novak (+0.5) comes over to cut him off, but Hardaway (-1) cheats down and loses Bruesewitz, who's all alone for three up top. He misses (3-pt, late contest, miss), but Berggren gets the board over Douglass after Morgan (-1) doesn't block him out. HOWEVA, Douglass (+2) bats the ball away from Berggren and Burke collects the loose ball, starting a break the other way.|
|Lineup: Burke, Douglass, Hardaway, Smotrycz, Morgan|
|Taylor gets the ball up top and unexpectedly pulls up for three, hitting it just over Burke, who contested well (Burke +0.5, 3-pt, heavy contest, make). Nothing you can do about that.|
|Bruesewitz has the ball up top while Taylor sets a screen of sorts (he more just gets in the way) on Morgan away from the ball. Morgan (-1) is very slow to recognize this and has to switch with Burke, who's now stuck on the much-bigger Evans. Evans sees this and goes right at Burke (-1), who flails at the ball instead of getting between Evans and the basket, and Evans hit a layup before help can arrive (dunk/layup, late contest, make).|
|Lineup: Burke, Douglass, Hardaway, Novak, Smotrycz|
|Michigan does a great job sticking with their men and not giving any openings, especially Burke (+0.5) on Brust, who went through a couple off-ball screens. Wisconsin has to run the clock down to 12, not ideal in this situation, when Evans gets the ball on the wing and puts up an 18-footer over Smotrycz. He hits it (2-pt, heavy contest, make), but Michigan will absolutely take that possession in this situation.|
|When people say Stu Douglass is M's best perimeter defender, this is what they're talking about. He starts man-up on Taylor up top, comes over a screen, the smartly rotates over to Bruesewitz as Novak picks up Taylor. Bruesewitz gets the pass as Douglass is running over and tries to cut back the opposite way, but Douglass (+3) knocks the ball away with his left hand. Douglass and Bruesewitz dive for it, so of course Zack Novak (+1) also hits the floor and grabs the loose ball. He'll get more points for this on the offensive UFR, as he then flips the ball to Burke for a breakaway layup.|
|Taylor gets the ball off a sideline inbounds after a bizarre review of the previous play. Wisco is now in desperation mode, so Taylor just runs up the court, pulls up at the FT line, and buries a jumper over Douglass (2-pt, heavy contest, make). That's just a great shot.|
|Taylor dribbles upcourt and launches a three from well beyond the arc as soon as he gets up the floor, missing all but the backboard (3-pt, no contest, miss). Morgan (+1) boxes out Evans perfectly to grab a tough rebound.|
|Douglass (+2) picks Taylor's pocket as he comes across halfcourt, then is fouled by Taylor as he tries to reel the ball in. It's a parade to the free-throw line for Michigan from here on out, so charting ceases.|
Well, that was fairly dominant.
Indeed it was. Wisconsin couldn't get anything going, mostly thanks to fantastic perimeter defense from Michigan, especially against Jordan Taylor and the high pick-and-roll. The Badgers tried to free up Taylor on most of their plays, and he just never found any space. Take a bow, Trey Burke.
You might want to mention Novak and Douglass as well.
I might go into a GRIT-spasm in doing so, but sure thing. Novak is so incredibly sound on defense that I think his contributions on that end might actually be underrated. He's remarkably good at denying the ball against the post-up despite being all of 6'4". He doesn't get lost on switches, sticks to his man like glue off the ball, and is strong on the ball, as well. He is all of the grit, and that's why we love him.
As for Douglass, he's not the quickest guy out there, but like Novak he's usually in the right spot. He looked just fine when he ended up on Jordan Taylor, and was just as effective when playing against bigger guards. Then he comes up with five steals, and those aren't by accident—he knows just the right time to reach in and poke the ball out, and often does so when he sneaks up for a quick double that the ballhandler doesn't see coming. He picks his spots well. When you wonder why coaches love having seniors on the squad, it's not just because they provide leadership—the on-court benefits of experience are very apparent when watching Novak and Douglass play.
What about the bigs?
The scores for the big men aren't nearly as high as the guards, but I didn't think they were bad, at least not Morgan. Morgan had to hedge hard on a lot of high screens, and he did a very good job with it, as evidenced by Taylor's lack of production and inability to get off a decent pass despite Michigan constantly bringing two players out on him after picks. He did get out of position at times in the post, but for the most part I thought he was solid. The lack of a ton of positive points, I think, comes from him not making a lot of big plays (read: blocks) and me not factoring rebounding in heavily.
Smotrycz, well, is a work-in-progress. He looks lost out there more than any other player, and he's not athletic enough to make up for being out of position. The fouling is also a big issue—he goes for the ball a lot, but doesn't pick his spots well like Douglass, so he gets hit with a lot of reach-ins and the like when they're entirely unnecessary. When he's defending the ball in the post, however, he's actually pretty decent. That extra size he added this year is beneficial.
Enough talk. Let's go to the...
|Defensive Shot Prevention|
|Burke||20||4.5||15.5||Did a fantastic job on Taylor, holding him to a stat line of 12 points on 5-15 shooting and just one assist to three turnovers. His quickness makes up for a lot of his freshman mistakes on the defensive end, and he's surprisingly strong for his size, though he's still caught out of position at times.|
|Hardaway||6.5||5||1.5||Not an outstanding game from Hardaway defensively. Guards can take advantage of his lack of a quick first step, and THJ often gets burned when he tries to make a big play on defense instead of staying positionally sound.|
|Novak||18.5||2.5||16||Almost never in the wrong place, and at this point in his career he's entirely comfortable playing against bigger guys in the post. Simply GRIT-tastic.|
|Smotrycz||8||11||-3||To be blunt, Smotrycz's lack of athleticism really hurts him on this end of the floor, and it doesn't help that he seems to get confused fairly often about where he's supposed to be. I was actually impressed by his ability to hold up in the post, but his off-ball defense needs work.|
|Morgan||5||7||-2||I didn't really think Morgan had a bad game, but Wisconsin mostly stayed away from posting him up, instead choosing to go at Novak and Smotrycz. Spent most of his day hedging on picks, which he did pretty well.|
|Douglass||15||4.5||10.5||I see Douglass catching a lot of flak, but the talk of him being a very good perimeter defender isn't BS. Like Novak, he's rarely out of position, and he's learned to use his length to stay in front of quicker guards. Also has quick hands and knows when to go for the steal, and, just as importantly, when not to.|
|Akunne||.5||2||-1.5||Is Eso Akunne.|
|Christian||-||-||-||Got in for one minute after charting ceased.|
|Vogrich||-||-||-||Played very little during the meat of the game and didn't have a major impact either way.|
|McLimans||3.5||2||1.5||Not too shabby for being the third-string center. Did quite well defending the pick-and-roll, but still isn't strong enough to hold up well in the post.|
|Team||-||-||-||The team metric has been eliminated, since it was pretty much a cop-out for when I couldn't figure out where to give individual credit. This will be gone next time.|
|TOTAL||77||38.5||38.5||The exact 2:1 ratio was not intentional, but pretty cool, right? A strong positive number makes sense given that Michigan held the Badgers to just .76 points per possession and a 38.2 eFg% while forcing turnovers on 22.2% of their possessions.|
As you can see, the big standouts were Burke, Novak, and Douglass. Novak's tiny negative total came on a handful of -0.5s, while Douglass was a little more prone to making bigger mistakes that lead to baskets (same deal for Burke). Smotrycz obviously needs to improve on the defensive end, but it's really hard to criticize much about the defense after you look at the...
Jeez, I hear you, self. Shot chart.
|Man||-||2/2||0/1||0/1||1/5 (1F)||4/19 (1F)||1/4||2/5||2/4||1/5||5/12 (1F)||6/24 (1F)||12/41 (2F)|
|Fast Break||1/1||(1F)||-||-||-||-||-||0/1||-||1/1||0/1 (1F)||1/2 (1F)|
|TOTAL||1/1||2/2 (1F)||0/1||0/1||2/6 (1F)||4/19 (1F)||1/4||2/6||2/4||2/6||6/14 (2F)||6/24 (1F)||14/44 (3F)|
More like SHOT CHART OF DOOM.
Seriously, this is ridiculous. Well over half of Wisconsin's shots were heavily contested, and most of those came inside the arc but not close enough for a layup. The Badgers shot just four layups—plus a foul—all game (at least out of what was charted, which was the whole part that actually mattered). Yes, Wisconsin plays a brutally slow pace, but they still managed to chuck up 19 heavily contested two-pointers. I just... wow. I really didn't fudge this. That's just a fantastic defensive performance. The official box score shows Wisconsin—who shot a lot after charting stopped—finishing 16-51 from the field, a paltry 31.4%. They attempted all of five three throws. There was just nothing open.
NOTHING, I TELL YOU!
Nothing. Let's post some videos.
Trey Burke, yo:
Wisconsin tried everything with Jordan Taylor, and that included posting him up early against the smaller Burke. As you can see, that didn't work so well. Burke held up and Taylor couldn't get good position, then when Taylor finally got the ball, Burke was all up in his grill. If Burke was two inches taller, I think he ends up with three or four blocks.
Then there was Novak. Watch him through the entirety of this play, and you'll begin to understand what he brings to the defense:
That's tireless work against a much bigger player, fighting through screens and keeping up the pressure all while having an acute awareness of where he is relative to the ball. With the shot clock winding down, he executes a hard hedge on Taylor perfectly, and the other senior, Douglass, is in great position with his rotation in case the pass doesn't go out of bounds.
Just show that really awesome play already.
Really awesome play:
It speaks volumes that I'm a big fan Uncle Verne Lundquist despite the fact that he contributes to CBS's shameless shilling of the SEC (go away, Gary Danielson), and it's because he loses his mind at just the right moments. That was one of them. Also, check out Douglass's effort throughout the play. Just fantastic.
Burke, Novak, and Douglass, in case you just skipped to the very end and haven't read a word I wrote above.
Smotrycz? I guess? When your team chokes the life out of Wisconsin and six players get the vast majority of the minutes, there really are no goats.
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.]
This week's Thursday Recruitin' recaps the All-American games are takes a look at what could be a big visit weekend for the Wolverines. Usual request: please contact me via email or Twitter (or leave a comment) with any suggestions, tips, or links you think should show up in the next recruiting roundup.
Big Visit Weekend: Will Wright Make It?
The recruitment of four-star cornerback Yuri Wright took some bizarre twists and turns this week, as there remains disparate view between recruiting sites on whether or not he'll even be on campus this weekend for his previously-scheduled official visit. Sam Webb suggested on WTKA that, in essence, the staff has cooled on Wright and he's no longer among the list of visitors. Over at The Wolverine, Tim Sullivan talked with Wright and his coach and both were still under the impression that the visit was still on ($). I'm not sure what the situation is, though Wright looked very raw at corner during the Army All-America Game and the buzz is that he could project better as a free safety—the coaches want a true corner, so it's quite possible the staff have turned their attention to Armani Reeves.
Speaking of Reeves, the current Penn State commit, he will be in Ann Arbor for an official visit this weekend ($). He had played the waiting game while Penn State looked (and looked, and looked) for a new coach, and now that New England offensive coordinator Bill O'Brien is in the fold there, Reeves was able to make his schedule. Since O'Brian is coaching in the NFL playoffs this weekend, Reeves will be at Michigan, and he'll visit Penn State with his last official. Ohio State has also emerged with some new-found interest, and it's likely Reeves will take a trip to Columbus next week.
In other DB recruiting news, four-star corner Kenny Crawley decommitted from Tennessee, and Michigan could be in the picture for him:
Crawley, a shutdown corner who notched 43 tackles and five interceptions last season, will take an official visit to Kansas next week with teammate John Walker, a senior defensive back, Johnson said.
Crawley is also considering Auburn, Georgia, Maryland and Connecticut. He is also going to re-consider Michigan, Johnson said. His remaining official visits will likely be to three of those five schools.
“We’re sitting down and considering [official visits] today,” Johnson said. “I think Georgia is playing a key role in there. Colorado is real high on his list. He liked the school and liked what they got.”
Considering the lack of any word on Crawley and Michigan since last Friday, when the above article was posted, and the lack of clarity on whether or not the coaching staff is even pursuing him, consider this a longshot prospect for now. It looks pretty clear that the staff is putting most of their efforts into trying to flip Reeves to Michigan, then be done with defensive back recruiting for the class.
Meanwhile, Jordan Diamond has narrowed his list to a final five, though it's not set in stone:
"I've got five but things could change," Diamond said. "With coaching staff changes going on, I'm definitely going to wait it out."
Ohio State, Wisconsin, Michigan, Auburn and Arkansas are the final five listed by the Maxpreps number seven offensive tackle in the class of 2012. He has officially visited all but the Wolverines so far and is looking for each program to match the criteria he's laid out.
Diamond will visit Michigan this weekend, Arkansas next weekend, and he's tentatively scheduled to head to Wisconsin the week after that ($).
Another prospect who has just been confirmed by Scout to be visiting on an unofficial this weekend ($) is tight end Sam Grant—teammate of Kyle Kalis—who has maintained since December that he would like to wrap up his recruitment in the near future. He reportedly had a great visit at Oklahoma last weekend, and they will be a major threat, but if Michigan can make a big impression this weekend we could be on commitment watch.
Happy trails to Monty Madaris, whose finalists are Cincinnati, Michigan State, and Kentucky (and Ohio State, if they offer), and David Perkins, who was considered by the Wolverines as a running back prospect but now has a final five of Mizzou, Ohio State, Oregon, Illinois, and Cal after things never really got off the ground with his Michigan recruitment ($).
Ondre Pipkins: Video Gold
First of all, if you somehow missed Ondre Pipkins's Brady Hoke impression, just click here right now. DO IT. Now you can watch his highlights from the Army Game, where he recorded two tackles and a forced fumble—take special note of his annihilation of a poor, unsuspecting QB at the 2:05 mark and him somehow chasing down Stefon Diggs and knocking the ball loose at 2:35:
The big man has some surprising wheels, looked fantastic in the game, and he drew a lot of praise for his work all week. He won Rivals.com's Mike Farrell's award for the prospect who improved his stock the most ($), and was named by Brian Perroni as the #6 performer overall for the West squad ($), taking both practices and the game into account:
The huge 6-foot-3, 330-pound defensive tackle moves much, much better than a player his size should. Pipkins proved to be a tough matchup for a very good offensive line all week in practice. In addition to his strength he has a motor that is nonstop. He had one of the most impressive plays of the game where he chased the opposing quarterback all the way to the sideline and made a huge hit that left the crowd in awe.
On top of that, Farrell cited Pipkins as the "War Room Favorite" for the player who hit it off the best with the reporters, and he did the Hoke walk after nailing Hoke's introductory press conference speech. Quite a week, that.
Also drawing major praise from the Army game was Kyle Kalis, who earned the #5 spot among the East's top performers on Rivals ($):
The 6-5, 305-pound Kalis was moved between tackle and guard most of the week in bowl practices and showed he could be effective against college-bound defensive linemen in either role. When game time rolled around Kalis was used exclusively at right guard and was solid in that role, despite spending his entire senior season at tackle. Throughout the week, Kalis proved to be the most consistent offensive line prospect on the East squad. He does not have the upside of a D.J. Humphries, but he has the size, strength and technique to step on the field early in his career.
Kalis actually matched up several times against Pipkins in the game, and they both won their fair share of battles—they'll likely reprise that matchup many more times in future Michigan practices, as Kalis certainly looked at home at guard.
For more from the Army Game, make sure to check out highlight videos of all the Michigan commits plus Yuri Wright over at MGoVideo.
In the Under Armour Game, early enrollee Joe Bolden was one of the top standouts of the week from any position group, tallying seven tackles during the game (highlights courtesy of MaizeNBlueJ):
24/7's J.C. Shurburtt was duly impressed by Bolden in this free article, which also covers his thoughts on Terry Richardson:
The Michigan commit was impressive all week in practice, and quickly caught all the coaches attention at Under Armour. He is a guy that certainly really impressed with his football IQ. Not just that, but his ability to move laterally, and his general ability to play his assignments and to not take false steps. He reads the play and is more athletic than people give him credit for, and is one of those guys that if you go to a camp or see him at a 7-on-7, maybe he is not as high on your list, but you put him in pads and you can really see this guy having a great college career and playing a lot in the National Football League.
Shurburtt noted that Richardson is not physically ready for the college game, which does not come as a surprise, but was very impressed with his athleticism. Bolden, meanwhile, was also named the week's Best Tackler by Rivals.com's Chris Nee ($). Sam Webb has a complete rundown on Bolden, Richardson, and Josh Garnett, plus early practice impressions of the Michigan commits in the Army Game, in his column last week in the Detroit News.
Not to be forgotten is Mario Ojemudia, who participated in last Tuesday's inaugural Semper Fidelis All-American Game. Though an ankle injury kept Ojemudia out of the second half of the game, Scout's Josh Newkirk still came away with a favorable impression ($):
Ojemudia only played the first half because of an ankle injury he sustained right before half time. It was nothing serious, but he sat out the second half for safety precaution. That said, in the time that Ojemudia did play, his presence was felt. He made two tackle on the afternoon and held contain pretty well. He did get caught up with bigger bodies at times, confirming his admitted need to add bulk to his frame. Other times he showed why even at his current weight he can be a handful and why he’ll be even scarier when he is heavier.
Ojemudia matched up once against Jordan Diamond and used his quickness to beat Diamond with an inside swim move. He really needs to put on weight—as I noted last week, he was often stonewalled at the line of scrimmage—but he's a heck of a pass-rush threat even at around 215 pounds.
Quickly: Chantel Jennings profiles early enrollee Kaleb Ringer, whose dad hit it off so well with Hoke that Michigan's coach almost forgot to extend Ringer an offer when he was on his official visit ($).
Two blue-chip juniors will be on campus for visits this weekend: Joliet (IL) Catholic RB Ty Isaac will be in Ann Arbor on Saturday ($, info in header), and Woodbridge (VA) C.D. Hylton LB E.J. Levenberry will also visit on Saturday ($, info in header). It's great to get two highly-touted prospects on campus this early, as both players project to be near the top of their position groups nationally in the 2013 class.
Michigan offered several prospects in the last week, highlighted by five-star receiver Robert Foster ($, info in header). Foster wasn't the only receiver to pull in an offer, as Michigan also extended one to Uriah LeMay, who I interviewed this week, and Wylie (TX) receiver Marcell Ateman ($). Louisville (KY) Trinity DE Jason Hatcher—whose teammate, junior receiver James Quick, was recently offered—also picked up an offer ($, info in header).
New blog on the scene Tremendous scored a chat with Logan Tuley-Tillman, who named a top five, in order, of Michigan, Alabama, Arkansas, Ohio State, and South Carolina. Arkansas and SC were both recent offerrees, and Tuley-Tillman plans to attend Alabama's junior day, though he has yet to receive an offer from them—the newly-crowned national champs could be a major player in his recruitment.
Quickly: My interviews with PA TE Adam Breneman and IL OL Colin Goebel; 24/7 breaks down Michigan's current offer list for both offense ($) and defense ($); Shane Morris commits to playing in the 2013 Under Armour AA Game ($, info in header); and Michigan shows interest in Canton (OH) McKinley OT Xzavier McAllister ($, info in header), adding to the fantastic list of names on the 2013 recruiting board.
PROLOGUE. I kind of feel like I have to preview football games because if I didn't what's to stop this blog from evolving into a version of Bring Your Champions, They're Our Meat with a focus on obscure old videogames instead of European history. Which wouldn't be awful, per se, but wouldn't be a job either.
This existential necessity does not exist for basketball games and previous attempts at regular previews have mostly not said anything super interesting because what is there to say? We shoot the three and then we burn.
But… but… like… there we go with the existential necessity. So. I'm not making any promises, but here is a preview-type substance previewing tonight's game against Northwestern in the hoopythrowsport.
Shurna also has a recurring role on the Simpsons
Northwestern remains the maddening province of Bill Carmody and his one inexplicably good player per year surrounded by insane shootists. Sometimes the shootists are insanely good; sometimes they are lunatic foreigners who have never made a three but will not be dissuaded from trying.
This year's inexplicably good player is John Shurna. Shurna:
- plays nearly 90% of Northwestern's minutes
- shoots nearly 30% of Northwestern's shots
- hits 42% from 3 and 47% from 2
- is extremely responsible with the ball
- kind of looks like an albatross with a broken arm when he shoots.
He's a 6-9 Beilein power forward who Evan Smotrycz will likely guard. Michigan should run at him hooting like maniacs to force him off the three point line.
This year Northwestern has another excellent player: 6'5" wing Drew Crawford. He is at 43% on 67 attempts from 3 and is shooting 56% from inside the arc. He never ever turns the ball over, maintains a usage not quite as huge as Shurna's but still dang impressive, and also is on the floor for 35+ minutes a night.
Their shootists are a trio of no-usage short stuffs who never take twos and collectively average around 37%. Their uniforms read Sobolewski, Hearn, and Marcotullio. The lunatic foreigner is Luka Mirkovic, who's 0 for 9 from three this year and is a typical Northwestern big, which means NU sucks at rebounding.
Note that unlike Beilein, Carmody has stuck with the 1-3-1; expect to see it for big chunks of the game.
THE TEMPO FREE
Northwestern is a version of Michigan in many respects:
|Effective FG%:||53.0 51||48.8 178|
|Turnover %:||15.5 5||21.3 150|
|Off. Reb. %:||25.5 329||34.1 234|
|FTA/FGA:||32.0 265||30.2 55|
They shoot well, rarely turn it over, suck on the boards, don't get to the line, and play mediocre defense. Michigan's versions of these numbers are very similar with one exception: rebounding. Michigan sucks way less at it, to the point where they're actually very good (25th!) defensively. They're a bit below average offensively. Michigan turns it over quite a bit more and shoots it better; they're a more aggressive, more athletic version of the Wildcats.
They're 65th in Kenpom. Michigan is currently 26th. Kenpom projects a nine-point M victory.
NU played four Kenpom top 100 nonconference opponents and went 2-2, beating LSU and Seton Hall while losing to Baylor (by 28!) and Creighton. They also beat GT, the Penn State of the ACC, by 16. In the Big Ten they were annihilated at OSU, easily beat turrible Penn State at home, and lost a nailbiter to Illinois at home. They had a couple close shaves against poor teams, but Michigan is in no place to criticize that particular flaw.
Evan Smotrycz: your help defense is not required. I will go "ooooooh" like Yosemite Sam if Shurna gets an open three because Smotrycz is sagging off of him. If Shurna beats M, let it be from two-point range.
Going small may be to your benefit. Against the 1-3-1 having another ballhandler will help pick it apart, and it's not like Mirkovich is going to go off for 20 or whatever.
Tim Hardaway's inner Trey Burke. Hardaway is not a very good defensive player and will get a challenge from Crawford. Hopefully he can step up like Burke did against Jordan Taylor.
THE SECTION WHERE I PREDICT THE SAME THING KENPOM DOES
Michigan by nine.
Etc.: Rothstein on the Shurna/Smotrycz comparisons.
DEPARTURES IN ORDER OF SIGNIFICANCE
Van Bergen and Martin, Heininger
- NT Mike Martin. Penetrating, active nose tackle a major factor in Michigan's massive improvement in run defense; forced a pitch on a speed option; late-season run was absolute dominance; backed up by air, hope, and freshmen.
- SDE Ryan Van Bergen. Crafty veteran and iron man was less explosive than Martin but not by much; turned in huge OSU game; consistent production in UFR even if the actual numbers aren't that amazing; backed up by walk-on.
- DT Will Heininger. Walk-on evolved from liability against MAC teams to solid, maybe even better than that, Big Ten DT; made a play or two every game after the nonconference schedule; replacement will be Will Campbell and the hope he can finally play some football.
CB/S Troy Woolfolk. Bounced from CB to S throughout career; basically a NEVER FORGET poster all to himself after series of injuries robbed him of all or much of his senior year twice; marginalized by injury and burned by Posey; did not start Sugar Bowl.
- JB Fitzgerald. Touted recruit never managed to see the field except on occasional snaps spotting Demens or playing DE under GERG.
- Brandon Herron. Scored two touchdowns against WMU and was never heard from again.
- Jared Van Slyke. Saw some snaps due to injury over the course of his career.
Kovacs, Ryan, Roh
- SS Jordan Kovacs. Never going to be a great deep half guy but the best damn tiny linebacker there's ever been; great tackling in space; great angles; huge part of Michigan's lack of big plays given up; best safety since at least Marcus Ray and probably further back.
- SLB Jake Ryan. Explosive edge athlete with a burst opponents are unprepared for; did get confused sometimes as a freshman; outstanding flow; nickel DE.
- WDE Craig Roh. Solid, but did not provide the explosive edge rush Michigan was hoping for. May end up moving to SDE, but his size and body type seemingly disqualifies him from that.
- CB Blake Countess. Touted recruit stepped into the starting lineup when Woolfolk was struck down and played very well; crappy edge tackling needs work; had tough close to the season against OSU and VT.
- CB JT Floyd. Resurrected his career and even turned in a big play or three along the way; jumped a route against Illinois to salt that game away; best technique amongst cover guys; still not that fast; also crappy edge tackling.
- MLB Kenny Demens. Ate a lot of blocks after move to new system; hopefully will get more decisive in year two; highly underrated cover guy; not much of a blitzer; may seem a lot better if the NT in front of him is a space eater instead of a penetrator.
- FS Thomas Gordon. Also a big part of Michigan's excellent big play prevention; largely exempted from secondary criticism after OSU game because he was not on the field for the worst of it; sweet-ass interception against EMU; probably a better fit at SS.
WLB Desmond Morgan. Wrested the job away from a couple veterans once he got healthy, whereupon he was okay for a freshman; problems in coverage; problems with misdirection; a big chunk of Michigan's outside vulnerability; will either improve or see someone yoink his job.
- Nickelback Courtney Avery. Diminutive but quality underneath cover guy; PBU and INT sealed OSU game; also a crappy edge tackler; fine option as a third corner.
- WDE Jibreel Black. Spotted Roh, could not take his job; may be a candidate to move to SDE if he can put on the weight; emergence of Frank Clark threatens to cut into playing time.
- DT Will Campbell. Alternates tossing his man into the quarterback with passive acceptance of blocks. Conditioning and effort an issue.
- WLB Brandin Hawthorne. Tiny safety-sized LB a man without a position after Michigan ditched the 3-3-5.
WHAT'S NEW, OR CLOSE ENOUGH, ANYWAY
please don't be our DT.
Most of the DL. YAYAYAYAYAYAYYYYYYYYY. The best unit on the team is strip-mined by eligibility expiration, leaving the next generation to… oh, right, the next generation doesn't exist. Fantastic.
Michigan's options at SDE are redshirt junior walk-on Nate Brink, who saw occasional snaps this year and was blown up on 80% of them, guys no one has seen or heard from like Jordan Paskorz, or true freshmen. At defensive tackle they've got two spots to fill and two guys who have seen meaningful snaps, Quinton Washington and Will Campbell. Kenny Wilkins and Richard Ash exist, Chris Rock will be coming off a redshirt, and there are some freshmen arriving. The most prominent is 330-pound tank/battleship/Hoke impersonator Ondre Pipkins.
I'll wait for you to finish retching.
All right! We retched it real good! Anyway. Massive dropoff is all but inevitable here. I'm betting Brink, Pipkins, and Campbell are your opening-day starters with Washington a guy who rotates in on the interior; Godin, Strobel, and Wormley will all play immediately due to necessity, leaping past Wilkins and Ash. Rock may also get some PT.
Nothing else. So we've got that going for us. Except…
Maybe WLB. Desmond Morgan is far from invulnerable at WLB, especially with Joe Bolden and Kaleb Ringer enrolling early. James Ross is extensively praised for his play identification ability and should be a candidate for early playing time. Teeny-tiny Antonio Poole is coming off a redshirt and is presumably less teeny-tiny.
That is a lot of guys vying for a single starting spot, many of them more athletic than Morgan at a spot that puts a premium on athleticism. Meanwhile, Kenny Demens is backed up by Mike Jones and more freshmen. Like Omameh, displacing him from the starting lineup provides an ancillary benefit by creating a quality backup where there is none already.
WHAT'S THE FIRST FOUR SEASONS OF BATTLESTAR GALACTICA
Sanity. O Mattison, without whom we are naught, yea, verily doth we bring these burnt offerings to your lustrous feet. May they keep your pecs jiggling as they command our forces to do something wondrous.
Experience. Michigan has it with eight starters back. For the first time since Carr's final season Michigan will go into the year running the same thing they did the year before. Run and tell that.
Depth at linebacker and quasi-linebacker. Michigan may have to pirate one of the three valid options at WDE to help out on the other side of the line but right now you can have decent confidence in any of Roh, Black, and Clark. At SLB, Ryan is a bust-out star, Brennen Beyer is coming off a freshman season with some promise and a role in short yardage, and Cam Gordon's still hanging around. In the middle, a flood of touted freshmen arrive to back up returning starters; Poole is also around.
Bending but not breaking. Kovacs and Gordon gave up vanishingly few big plays over the course of the season; both return.
WHAT'S THE LAST SEASON OF BATTLESTAR GALACTICA
The line, obviously. There's some talent there but if Michigan doesn't experience a massive backslide it's time to assume that Michigan's DL will be great as long as Hoke and Mattison and Montgomery are around.
okay, but what about, like, teams other than Western Michigan?
Getting to the quarterback. Roh did not blow up as we hoped and most of the options to replace other guys are ponderous. Campbell and Washington and Pipkins are going to be the sorts of guys who shove a couple dudes at the LOS on passing plays. Michigan got away with a lack of pass rush from the outside last year because a couple of their inside guys were great penetrators; next year Michigan needs their outside LB types (WDE and SLB) to MAKE PLAYS or opposing quarterbacks will be able to grow small businesses in the pocket.
Secondary athleticism. I love Kovacs with all of the hearts and think whatever athleticism he lacks is more than made up for by his smarts. At this point I'm not sure athleticism is even an issue. I can't remember the last time it came up in a game.
The rest of the secondary… we don't know about. Sometimes you're going to get burned over the top. When you have great recovery speed you can live. When you don't you die, which happened to Michigan time and again against Devier Posey. JT Floyd is much better but isn't likely to get a sniff from the NFL; Countess and Avery are faster but little buggers ill-suited to take on the Michael Floyds of the world. Thomas Gordon has decent to good speed; he still got burned over the top big time by Nebraska.
There are no blazers and the big guy in the secondary is almost kind of maybe outright slow. Yeah. So… could be an issue.
WHAT'S INEXPLICABLE JIMI HENDRIX
Can these coaches salvage the line? Tell me lies, baby.
How ready to play are some of these freshmen? If Bolden comes in and rips Morgan's job away from him that's probably good, but we're really talking about Ondre Pipkins, Chris Wormley, Tom Strobel, and Matt Godin here. Pipkins all but has to start from day one and two of the other three will be frequently-used depth guys.
Are the cornerbacks for real? They seemed fantastic over the first 11 games but the results against OSU and VT are alarming.
MANDATORY WILD-ASS GUESS
I'm torn. There is a case for a backslide despite returning eight starters. For one, the fumbles will not be as plentiful. For two, a lot of Michigan's weakness was covered up by Mike Martin being essentially unblockable the back half of the season and Van Bergen being so reliable. I'm worried that without those two, Michigan is going to have issues. In the best case scenario the new guys prevent OL from getting to the second level, making a lot of plays available for the linebackers that the linebackers might not make. I also don't see where the heat comes from.
But they do return eight starters and go from year one to year two in the same system. They seem pretty injury-resilient at spots that aren't Jordan Kovacs and bring in a lot of talented freshmen. They will be much older at just about every spot.
It's mandatory, though, so… yeah, they'll be worse. The lack of consistent pressure will be a year-long problem that exposes some of the issues in the secondary and the linebackers are not at the level they need to be to benefit from planetoid DL.
Sacks backslide into the bottom half of D-I after finishing 29th, total defense slides into the 30s, and the scoring defense does not repeat its top ten performance from a year ago.