Jalen Perry commits to Michigan, poses for WINGSPAAAAN photo
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.]