3/9/2019 – Michigan 63, Michigan State 75 – 26-5, 15-5 Big Ten
On the one hand: it was a five point swing against the team I like to see win basketball games. On the other: it was so ludicrous that it immediately crushed all hope, and that turned out to be the right emotional state. I of course refer to the 15 seconds during which Zavier Simpson missed an uncontested layup and Cassius Winston subsequently banked in a three. These are not the events that need to happen if you're going to win on the road against a top 10 team.
There were many problems. Some with Michigan, some with the way the game was officiated, some with the ensuing lineups after the way the game was officiated. But also aaaargh, randomness.
I repeat: a dude. The #1 reason Michigan's offense bogged down was Michigan State's ability to switch screens. The guy who gave them that ability: Xavier Tillman. Tillman had 5 blocks in this game; his performance was reminiscent of Michigan going up against Isaiah Roby last year.
Both Roby and Tillman were able to mirror and contest Michigan shots on supposed mismatches, sending Michigan into a bog of uncertainty and recriminations as the "be aggressive on switches" option backfired. Via Orion Sang, DeAndre Haynes on Tillman's impact:
“I mean, he was really good," said assistant coach DeAndre Haynes. "He impacted a lot of our shots. Every time we drove to the basket, he was blocking one of our guards’ shots. It was tough.
"We tried to change some things up with him, but he’s really quick off his feet. He uses his body well, and he was able to get his hands on a lot of balls that usually we make in games. Our guards really work on the layups we have. He was a better player today. He was an impact today, couldn’t do nothing with him.”
Michigan was horribly inefficient when they drove that supposed mismatch.
**By my count, Michigan scored 24 points on the 29 possess. (0.83 PPP) Michigan State switched with its '5' man. Xavier Tillman's ability to effectively switch unlocked this gameplan for MSU. His defense was *superb,* stifling Michigan guards all night: pic.twitter.com/9hc1AYGkNE
— Eric Shapiro (@eric_shap) March 11, 2019
Nick Ward going out was the best thing that could have happened for MSU in these two games.
This is the primary subject of a new Solving Basketball podcast that I haven't had the time to listen to yet but I guarantee is very good.
NEW pod! @HalfCourtHoops is back for another game breakdown, this time on Michigan-Michigan State. The x's and o's and coaching adjustments that went into Saturday's game. Plus what the NBA does to attack switches
— Jordan Sperber (@hoopvision68) March 11, 2019
Dumping it down. Michigan again struggled tremendously to take advantage of the other portion of that switch. Teske got the ball once, IIRC, and was called for a dubious travel. Extremely frustrating. Understandable, maybe, as Michigan is a team that absolutely never posts and you can't go from "we never do this" to "we are very good at this" in two weeks. But holy hell, frustrating.
I wonder if this will be an offseason focus for Michigan. It probably should be. Tillman's coming back.