[Marc-Gregor Campredon]

The best players on a basketball court are often easy to identify.

Their skill and athleticism set them apart. They jump off the screen every time they touch the floor.

The most impactful players are different and often harder to locate.

Impact is not measured just by bulk stats. Rather, the smaller details are sometimes the most important. Who is communicating with their teammates on where they should be? Who is always in the right position? Who is paying attention to the small things?

For Michigan, Isaiah Livers has proven to be that guy through five games.

When times get tough on the basketball court, the small details are often the most important. For Michigan basketball this season, those difficult stretches are most likely to come while executing half court offense.

The departures of Moritz Wagner, Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman, and Duncan Robinson mean John Beilein has to replace 214 of Michigan’s 361 made three pointers from a year ago. Spacing will inevitably suffer. And, although he wouldn’t be the first name to come to mind, Isaiah Livers’s attention to detail may just be the key to offensive execution in the half court.

During Michigan’s season-opening win against Norfolk State, the spacing issues were on full display. Recognizing that deep shooting is an issue for the Wolverines, the Virginia iteration of the Spartans previewed what Beilein’s team is likely to see a lot of this season: zone defense.

Attacking a zone defense can be tricky.

The common reaction is to shoot your opponent out of their scheme. Find your best teammate from deep and let it fly. If the zone extends, look for someone with huge range.

That isn’t always an option, though. Often, the most effective way to bust a zone is to beat it from within.

[After THE JUMP: Inside out.]

Smile 31, you're on somebody's touchdown photo [Bryan Fuller]

I know this game left a lot to be desired but there was one play in the IU game that went entirely to script, and also demonstrated a few things about Michigan's offense as it spurts and blorps its way toward being really good.

After all the field goals early in this game, it felt great to get an easy touchdown. It was also a route combination I've been hoping to see a lot more of from Michigan this year from their multi-TE sets. It's been a staple of Harbaugh's passing games going back at least to Stanford. And the guy who designs the playbooks for Madden noticed it immediately:


The primary concept of Harbaugh's offense is creating more gaps. Often this means bringing somebody from the backfield to insert somewhere, whether that be a fullback, a tight end from the other side, or a lineman who pulls. The other way to do that is extend the line of scrimmage:


Against Indiana, Michigan was running a lot of early pin and pull-type plays where they loaded up with tight ends and used a pulling guard as the kickout, starting with the first play of the game, a "counter" from their trips-TE look:

And then this almost touchdown a few plays later:



This is mansome stuff. Michigan is cracking the MLB with their best blocking tight end, blocking down on IU's weaker (normally backside) linemen with both offensive tackles, kicking out a safety on the edge with whatever Onwenu weighs times however much Onwenu is accelerating, and pulling an uncovered lineman (Ruiz) from the backside to boot.

[After the JUMP: Paper first]

Jim Harbaugh will try and beat Urban Meyer for the first time this Saturday

Things Discussed

  • Chase Winovich, Berkley Edwards and Juwann Bushell-Beatty updates
  • The Revenge Tour
  • Apparently there's a big game this week?

[After THE JUMP: Five days]

Jalen Perry commits to Michigan, poses for WINGSPAAAAN photo

Man is a rope over an abyss, and Michigan should cut the damn rope 

The hoody-doody, I hope they run that next week.

Michigan's defense is again dominant in win over Providence.