Basketbullets: Big Nasty Edition

Basketbullets: Big Nasty Edition

Submitted by Ace on November 20th, 2017 at 2:37 PM

It's Teske Time

[Marc-Gregor Campredon]

Michigan heads into this week's Maui Invitational with a 3-0 record in body-bag games. There's a good chance you haven't seen too much of this team yet; two of those games were on the dreaded subscription-only BTN-Plus stream.

As expected, this young team still has a lot to figure out. Neither Zavier Simpson nor Jaaron Simmons have taken control of the point guard position. Charles Matthews's scoring, and seemingly his confidence in his jumper, has waxed and waned. The offense, as it often does early in the season under John Beilein, looks disjointed, and the team is connecting on only 32.9% of their three-pointers.

We do, however, have a definitive answer to one looming preseason question. Jon Teske removed all doubt about his standing on the depth chart with a ten-point, 11-rebound outburst against Southern Miss, going a perfect 5-for-5 from the field in 15 KenPom MVP-worthy minutes. Competition caveats abound, of course—bold prediction: Teske doesn't shoot 100% in most games—but USM at least fielded a 6'11", 260-pound center. Here's Teske eating that center alive:

Before getting into the serious analysis, some Small Sample Size Theater with Teske's early-season stats:

  • He's shooting 100% from the field and 80% from the line with an 83.3 free throw rate.
  • He's posting a 19.3 offensive rebound % and 37.9 defensive rebound %.
  • His 7.7% block rate would be Michigan's best over a full season since Ekpe Udoh in 2009-10.
  • According to Synergy, Teske has used nine possessions, including assists. Michigan is averaging 2.11 points on those possessions.

Pretty, pretty good. 

[Hit THE JUMP for a bunch more Teske GIFs, Z's lockdown defense, and more.]

Michigan 61, Southern Miss 47

Michigan 61, Southern Miss 47

Submitted by Ace on November 16th, 2017 at 9:46 PM

Big Nasty. [Marc-Gregor Campredon]

In an effort to speak a new identity into existence this offseason, Michigan's coaches and players started calling sophomore Jon Teske "Big Nasty." They hoped that would replace "Big Sleep," the moniker Teske picked up during a quiet freshman year as a little-used third-stringer.

Now Moe Wagner's primary backup, Teske was every bit Big Nasty tonight against Southern Miss, tallying his first career double-double with ten points and 11 rebounds. The seven-footer made all five shots from the field and grabbed five offensive boards. He did all this in only 15 minutes, earning a standing ovation when he exited in the game's waning moments.

Without Teske's breakout performance, this could've been another uncomfortably close game against an overmatched opponent. After Michigan jumped out to an early 9-2 lead at the first TV timeout, USM fought their way back as—stop me if you've heard this before—Michigan couldn't can open looks while their opponents made an unsustainable percentage of their three-point shots. Fittingly, an off-balance pull-up triple by Tyree Griffin fell at the buzzer to give the Golden Eagles a one-point halftime lead.

Michigan still looked disjointed to open the second half, trading the lead with USM until Teske checked in with 13 minutes to play. He was a much-needed spark. His defensive rebound led to a quick Duncan Robinson three in transition to give M the lead for good; he'd cap a 13-0 run with a putback and a smooth baseline jumper. USM didn't threaten again.

MAAR finished with a team-high 14 points. [Campredon]

It was the third straight game that Michigan couldn't dominate a body-bag opponent. Their expected stars again underwhelmed. Wagner posted a quiet 12 points and six rebounds. Charles Matthews went scoreless in the first half, finished with six points and two turnovers, and looked unsure of when to assert himself. Point guards Zavier Simpson and Jaaron Simmons didn't make a shot from the field, though Simmons at least dealt out five assists, including a slick cross-court feed for a Matthews corner three that blew the game wide open.

Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman was a notable exception, grinding out ten first-half points when the offense was struggling. He'd finish with a team-high 14 points and gave out five assists; his ability to make something out of nothing in late-clock situations proved critical.

Michigan will face a significant step up in competition with three games in three days at next week's Maui Invitational, starting with LSU on Monday. While the early portion of the season hasn't been pretty, there's reason to believe a simple correction in shooting luck, much like what occurred midway through last season, will have this team looking dangerous. Through three games, the Wolverines are making 32.9% of their three-pointers, even though their looks have been of decent quality; opponents are hitting a scorching 48.1%, even though the perimeter defense hasn't looked nearly that awful.

There are still problem areas. Michigan needs more production from their point guards, and Matthews looks alarmingly gun-shy for a player who's supposed to be one of the team's top two scorers. Teske's emergence, however, answers at least one big question, and could even give John Beilein some added lineup flexibility down the road.

Stick around, Big Nasty.

[Hit THE JUMP for the box score.]