Isaiah Livers: The Detail-Oriented Star

Isaiah Livers: The Detail-Oriented Star Comment Count

Matt Way November 20th, 2018 at 1:06 PM

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.]

Comments

What Are You Gonna Do, Stab Me?

What Are You Gonna Do, Stab Me? Comment Count

Brian November 15th, 2018 at 12:24 PM

11/14/2018 – Michigan 73, Villanova 46 – 3-0

During the consumption-of-entrails portion of the game someone tweeted a question at me.

Sort of but also no. "Death from above" is a particular genre of Beilein win where Nik Stauskas sticks contested threes in your face and no amount of scoring you manage is ever enough to climb up the Sisyphean treadmill that Michigan's offense presents you. Halfway through the first half your official twitter account issues a shruggie. The danger comes from the high-arcing artillery shells Michigan fires with unerring accuracy, and then a Lithuanian-Canadian dude dunks on your face.

That's Death From Above. This was different, except for the Lithuanian-Canadian dude. This was a shiv in the dark.

Michigan was most dangerous in the low places, where Zavier Simpson's fingers are stickiest and Ignas Brazdeikis's defense most implausible. The closest thing to a consistent perimeter threat Michigan presented came from Charles Matthews jumpers that started just outside the restricted circle and ended just inside the three-point line. The very, very burly Eric Paschall is going to hit 65% from two in conference play; he was just 3 of 13 against against a true freshman wing giving up 40 pounds.

At the same time Michigan was turning an All Big East C into a pumpkin they limited Villanova (VILLANOVA!) to 3 of 15 from behind the arc, on shots that were about 95% contested. Six different guys had steals. Zavier Simpson had five himself. Villanova had three turnovers for every assist.

At some point Gus Johnson said that Michigan was known for ferocious defense and a near-total lack of turnovers. I thought about tweeting out something in the "lol that's half-right" genre, and then stopped. Stopped like a wildebeest trying to drive the lane against Michigan. Maybe it's true. Or, at least, it's is going to be true.

And like, I don't know, fine? Let's go? I don't have the fingers to deal with this.

Never in the history of humanity has a program undergone such a dramatic 180 in how they get things done without losing its fundamental personality. And make no mistake: Zavier Simpson is as good of a Beilein-at-Michigan avatar as anyone despite the fact he'll hit 30% of his threes this year if he's lucky. He is not without precedent. He is the continuation of a theme. Seven years ago Darius Morris told Michigan State to "get the fuck off my court." Nik Stauskas terrified Kentucky fans despite Kentucky having 16 seven-foot jumping jacks. Charles Matthews?

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[Marc-Gregor Campredon]

Charles Matthews spent the entire first half doing this to various Villanova Wildcats. Everyone wanted to punch him and someone almost did.

These guys have always been assassins. Just not this kind. They've been guys who line your head up in a targeting reticle from two miles away. Now they knock on the front door and ask if anyone wants to play with all these knives they brought. You can say no all you want. The question is rhetorical.

stabme

Yes. Michigan is going to stab you until a palpably depressed Gus Johnson can no longer inject any life into the game. And then they're going to stab you one last time, because maybe you deserved it.

[After THE JUMP: some bullets and react from elsewhere]

Comments

Hoops Preview 2018-19: Wings

Hoops Preview 2018-19: Wings Comment Count

Matt Way November 6th, 2018 at 4:47 PM

 

Gone are Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman and Duncan Robinson. Enter Ignas Brazdeikis, Brandon Johns, and Adrien Nunez.

Despite losing two significant rotation members from last year’s squad, the depth at wing should stabilize Michigan as the team looks to repeat last year’s March run.

Charles Matthews

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[Bryan Fuller]

Year: Senior

Measurables: 6’6’’, 205

Base Stats: 30.1 MPG, 13.0 PPG, 58/32/56 2P/3P/FT%, 5.5 REB/G, 2.4 AST/G, 2.0 TO/G

Key Advanced Metrics: 25.1% usage, 105.7 ORating, 16.1 assist %, 14.7 turnover %, 17.0 total rebound %

Following a brief flirtation with the NBA Draft, Charles Matthews decided that his time in Ann Arbor was not complete.

Matthews’ first season under John Beilein was a bit of a roller coaster, but it ended strong with great play in March. Transferring from Kentucky, Matthews was learning a completely new system and implementing novel concepts during game play didn’t come without its struggles:

"I came into the season, we're going over plays and the freshmen were looking at me. And I was like y'all are going to have to look at somebody else. I don't know this stuff either." 

Now with a full season under his belt, Matthews will be expected to shoulder a heavier burden.

With the departure of MAAR, Matthews is the only proven playmaker Beilein has among wings. Although he sometimes over-dribbles, Matthews developed chemistry with Jon Teske in the pick and roll last season and he will continued to be called upon to summon it to create shots for both himself and others.

When he’s off the ball, Matthews showed an ability to recognize and occupy open space via cuts leading to easy buckets.

Defensively, Matthews often took the task of defending the best opposing wing and did so admirably. His athleticism and strength provide real deterrents for bigger wings and help slow down offense that has given Michigan trouble for years.

If Michigan is going to have a deep run in March again, Charles Matthews will need to be a big part of it. With his physical abilities and developing skills and chemistry in Beilein’s offense, it’s entirely possible that he can play just that type of role.

Ignas Brazdeikis

44774915165_4c17c033bb_z (1)

[Marc-Gregor Campredon]

Year: Freshman

Measurables: 6’7’’, 215

Recruiting Profile (Hello post): Four-star, #9 PF, #40 overall (247 Composite)

Arriving in Ann Arbor via Ontario, Ignas Brazdeikis earned the starting spot in Michigan’s first exhibition game against Northwood.

Brazdeikis is a unique freshman in that he appears likely to play multiple positions for the Wolverines right out of the gate. Beilein makes a point of defining player’s roles and that’s especially true among his young players who have a lot to learn in his new, complex system.

But Brazdeikis isn’t your typical freshman.

At 6’7, he possesses the size to play power forward but the skill and athleticism to move up as high as the shooting guard position. He moves fluidly on the court and can attack mismatches, both big and small, that will remind many Michigan fans of Moritz Wagner.

Of course, that’s not to say that Brazdeikis will produce at the level of Wagner as a freshman, but his versatility in all lineups will help fill a void left by Wagner’s departure.

As with all freshmen, there will be ups and downs with Brazdeikis’ first season in Ann Arbor. But his intriguing skill set makes it likely that the ups will be far higher than with your typical first-year player.

[After THE JUMP: Livers, Nunez, Johns]

Comments

Unverified Voracity Swiftly Reverses Dumb Decision

Unverified Voracity Swiftly Reverses Dumb Decision Comment Count

Brian November 1st, 2018 at 2:11 PM

Reminder. Tom VH will hold you at Literati tomorrow at 7. He'll also be on MGoRadio. Pat pat, there there. I'll be there, too, but I didn't write a book

So that happened, and then un-happened. Maryland retained DJ Durkin, and then fired DJ Durkin, because people are just in charge of things for no reason. Like Michigan State, the people in charge of things in this case are the regents. Reports that president Wallace Loh wanted to axe everyone were likely true, and after everyone from the student government to both candidate for governor publicly complained Maryland admitted what every adult American other than their board members already knew: DJ Durkin's career is toast.

Anyway, now's a good time to reflect on the colossal failure Big Ten expansion has been:

Let’s start with rutger. I don’t know if I need to say anything more about these guys that hasn’t been said in the past four years. They’re terrible at the major sports. They’ve embarrassingly brought down the strength of the Big Ten schedule. A few months after their Big Ten membership became official, the basketball coach was caught on video throwing basketballs and yelling homophobic slurs at players. Ex-AD Julie Hermann was routinely making shocking statements to the media and embroiled in controversy at her former schools. Ex-football coach Kyle Flood once threatened a professor if he wouldn’t change a player’s grade. The list goes on. rutger remains an easy target. We’ve already covered them extensively on this blog. Oh yeah, this [a Rutgers player being kicked off the team for a failed double-homicide] happened yesterday as well. Not great, Piscataway!

Moving onto Maryland. Until recently, the frustration with the Terps was a little more subtle than their New Jersey counterparts. The football team employed Randy Edsall. The basketball team hasn’t reached the heights it did under Gary Williams, attendance is down after a post-B1G boost, and an FBI investigation looms over the program. At least men’s lacrosse and women’s hoops have been reliable, though.

But then there is the situation with head football coach DJ Durkin, which after months of investigations regarding McNair’s death, was seemingly resolved yesterday. The Maryland Board of Regents overruled outgoing university president Wallace Loh, who seemingly wanted Durkin fired, and reinstated Durkin as the coach, despite the release of a 200-page report that illustrated the abusive behavior of the coaching staff under his watch. After all of this, one startling fact remains: a 19 year-old student-athlete died, and the head coach has been allowed to keep his job. Unsurprisingly, Jordan McNair’s family was angry about this decision, and at least 3 players walked out of a team meeting with Durkin yesterday. Now, the university administration has received tons of criticism, and is facing backlash from Maryland lawmakers as well as UMD students, who plan to hold a rally Thursday.

Great job, Jim Delany. Hope the brief surge in television revenue was worth it.

Urban's head. Meyer's strange behavior on the sideline has a cause:

Since kneeling down on the sideline in a game against Indiana on Oct. 6 because of severe headaches, Meyer has been peppered with questions about his health and future in coaching. He said the cause of the discomfort links back to a congenital arachnoid cyst in his brain, which has led to severe headaches at times in his career.

“The past four years, we’ve been working closely with coach Meyer to monitor and manage the symptoms that have risen from his enlarged congenital arachnoid cyst,” said Dr. Andrew Thomas, Meyer’s personal physician and the chief clinical officer at Ohio State’s Wexner Medical Center. “This includes aggressive headaches, which have particularly flared up the past two years.”

That sucks for him and does not excuse his conduct with Zach Smith. Verdict: still a bad dude. Not the kind that saves the president. An expired coupon kind of guy.

[After THE JUMP: secret scrimmages, ooooooh]

Comments

Open Practice Impressions

Open Practice Impressions Comment Count

Brian October 30th, 2018 at 12:19 PM

Michigan's annual basketball open practice was yesterday. Takes! You need takes!

Pick and roll focus. After a quick warmup the drills portion of the practice was largely pick and roll, with various managers simulating the various ways teams defend P&R and Michigan executing plays based on the opposition's reaction. There was also a fast break drill that started 3 v 2 or 3 v 1 with the defense getting extra players up to parity after an initial disadvantage.

Positional intrigue. Brooks played the two next to Simpson in the scrimmage; Beilein explicitly noted that a number of players were playing multiple positions. That's par for the course; the interesting bit was that Livers and Johns are both options at center. Michigan ran a little of Livers at C last year, where he looked lost on the offensive end. Johns looked pretty similar during the scrimmage. Despite that I'd expect to see him mostly at the 5. Beilein talked about his "four bigs" at one point and generally referenced Johns as a 5.

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[Campredon]

Scrimmage! Teams:

  • Maize was Simpson/Brooks/Nunez/Livers/Teske, with Castleton subbing in at the 5. CJ Baird also got a little run.
  • Blue was DeJulius/Poole/Matthews/Brazdeikis/Davis, with Johns subbing in at the 5.

Maize won by approximately 8 points (there was no scoreboard but Beilein had it in his head and kept exhorting blue to get some stops), largely on the strength of Simpson and Teske. Beilein was mic'd up and kept relaying items to the crowd—this was delightful—and one of them was a mention that Simpson and Teske had great chemistry in the pick and roll. This was borne out, as Simpson found Teske repeatedly with a series of slick pocket passes that set the Maize team up for easy buckets. Many of these drew "oooohs" from the assembled crowd.

Simpson didn't just find Teske; he was able to set up all manner of his teammates. His shot's still pretty broke; even so he looked like a guy who'd taken another largish leap forward. It felt like he'd be able to get to the lane with more consistency and pay that off more. Simpson's sophomore year already featured a 25% assist rate*, which was around 200th nationally. That was comparable to Derrick Walton's final two years. Trey Burke's Naismith year saw him rack up a 37% assist rate. Simpson could get to 30-32%, maybe? The kind of passes he was making felt like they'd work against a whole hell of a lot of folks.

*[IE, a quarter of Michigan's baskets when Simpson was on the floor were assisted by him.]

[After THE JUMP: a freshman who doesn't feel like one]

Comments

Unverified Voracity Decommits From Rutgers, Becomes Unimaginably Powerful

Unverified Voracity Decommits From Rutgers, Becomes Unimaginably Powerful Comment Count

Brian September 11th, 2018 at 12:43 PM

[Bryan Fuller]

Not many throws but they were pretty good. PFF B10 QB grades from last week:

Do not read the replies, which are all #TalkinBouttheBuckeyes. Unfortunately the PFF news isn't all good. Their list of Michigan's top five offensive players against WMU drops off pretty rapidly and implies that if any OL scraped over a 70 rating it wasn't by much:

In the past 70 has been "this person isn't terrible"; if they've still got the same scale they're attributing much of Michigan's success to WMU dorfs. Which is accurate.

Quick! Who does Rutgers have committed at running back? Recruiting services should probably give a running back who decommits from Rutgers six stars:

Imagine being Rutgers and watching two Heisman-quality RBs you had committed play in the Big Ten, a conference you would like to join but cannot.

[After THE JUMP: George Perles features, which is never a good thing.]

Comments

Maximizing Charles Matthews

Maximizing Charles Matthews Comment Count

Matt Way September 5th, 2018 at 1:17 PM

[Photo: Bryan Fuller]

[Ed-Seth: I know you all want more articles about Michigan's offensive tackles but basketball season is coming and we've brought Matt Way on board to talk about it. Previously: Maximizing Zavier Simpson, Maximizing Teske on Offense, Maximizing Teske on Defense]

The loss of Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman leaves a massive void in the Michigan basketball program. For the Wolverines to repeat last season’s success, Charles Matthews needs to fill that hole.

Abdur-Rahkman blossomed into an accomplished scorer and all-around great player and leader during his time in Ann Arbor. He also served an important role in his final two seasons, one similar to what Caris LeVert did when he was on the floor.

For years, John Beilein’s offenses were vulnerable against aggressive perimeter defenses. It was one of the few criticisms that were valid and not aesthetically-based. 

Michigan was often too entrenched in its typical motion offense. When opponents disrupted Beilein’s ball handlers, the entire timing of the offense was thrown off and the Wolverines often had no great counter.

At the highest levels of basketball, the best offenses are those which find ways to keep defenses off-balance. Sure, the top offenses nearly always have a defined system and a bread-and-butter scheme that they go to frequently. But when things break down, the elite of the elite find ways to counter and exploit defenses based on what they are trying to take away.

Beilein has always been known for countering aggressive defenses with back-door cuts in the hope that, if those cuts are effective, defenses will lay off opponents to prevent layups. It’s usually effective, but it only truly works if ball handlers are able to operate in some amount of space to see and make the necessary passes.

It then becomes critical to have a primary option that is able to create offense when everything is going wrong.

And that is when the LeVert and MAAR types became most useful.

[After THE JUMP: CM's role]

Comments

Maximizing Jon Teske's Defense

Maximizing Jon Teske's Defense Comment Count

Matt Way August 9th, 2018 at 12:04 PM

[Photo: JD Scott]

For years, a big man’s defense was largely determined by his size. If you could take up a lot of space, opponents struggled to create easy opportunities around the rim. In 2018, the game is far different. If you’re a center and you can’t move your feet adequately, your feet will find themselves on the bench.

Entering the 2018-19 season, mobility is an obvious concern with Jon Teske. Previously, we addressed how to mitigate the quickness concerns offensively through the pick-and-roll game. Now, we look at the other end of the floor.

During the vast majority of John Beilein’s tenure in Ann Arbor, Michigan’s big men have operated under a similar scheme defensively when operating in space. The message was clear: hedge the high screen and recover as quickly as possible.

The hedge-and-recover plan has had its highs and lows, sometimes dependent simply on a player’s conditioning, like in the case of Jordan Morgan. The most significant issue with the scheme is that it depends on more than the two primary defenders in a pick-and-roll to execute successfully. Often, the critical role falls to the wings who find themselves covering shooters. They must walk the tight rope of sticking to their man while, at the same time, cutting off the roll man’s lane to the paint.

While Jon Teske is probably a bit more mobile than what is generally perceived, he’s certainly not quick enough to single-handedly shut down high screen situations.

What he lacks in mobility, however, he more than makes up for in recognition and generally high basketball IQ.

[After THE JUMP: evidence of such]

Comments

Unverified Voracity Fires Traditional Money Cannon

Unverified Voracity Fires Traditional Money Cannon Comment Count

Brian April 9th, 2018 at 1:32 PM

Sponsor note. Police horses assembled on South U were the only people happy with the result of the Villanova game. And those riding them, I guess. Police-horse related business probably took a hit.

hoeglaw_thumb[1]

If you have one of those and have a contract you now regret, you probably should have hired Hoeg Law to execute it. Now you're stuck, and probably going bankrupt. Hopefully you shielded your personal assets, which Hoeg Law could have helped you with. But there's always next time. Maybe you could start a company that persuades advertisers to drop their weird months-long police horse saga in favor of something else. You should call Hoeg Law, then: he can be your lawyer and your client.

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Amara Darboh becomes a citizen

Charity Bowl time. The original money cannon target returns:

HOW LONG IS THIS GOING? Through the week and into the weekend. We’ll give daily updates about how big a lead Michigan has.

ARE YOU GOING TO GET A TATTOO AGAIN? No, but as always, if we reach, say, $40,000 in total donations, Ours Truly here will do something dramatic in honor of the winning school. Don’t doubt us on this point. We have a tattoo of a Michigan block M with the character Totoro over it as proof of our seriousness here.

Also we sometimes have famous people from your school call you to thank you personally. Heisman Trophy winners, actually. No big deal, just a little thank you from us to you for being a great American.

Since, uh, the great victories of yesteryear were less great than anticipated, this year's donation is in honor of Darboh and Jehu Chesson.

image

For the more rivalry inclined there are various basketball scores available. Please don't use the score of the Syracuse-Michigan State game, though. We're trying to raise money here, people.

The big lawsuit. Amateurism may end by brute force in the near future, as the other big NCAA antitrust lawsuit comes in front of the same judge that ruled against the NCAA in O'Bannon:

n a 36-page opinion, Wilken did not give either side total victory. However, she rejected several of the NCAA’s critical contentions and set the stage for the plaintiffs to seek a new system that would apply to Division I men’s and women’s basketball players and to football players at Football Bowl Subdivision schools.

The plaintiffs have proposed that limits on athletes’ compensation be set on a conference-by-conference basis, a change that could open the door to athletes being able to capitalize on their names, images and likeness if a conference's schools chose to go that way.

The plaintiffs also have suggested that athletes be allowed to receive all manner of benefits above the cost of attendance that are related to education and/or are incidental to their participation in their sports.

“We’d call this ruling a home run,” said Steve Berman, one of the lead plaintiffs’ attorneys. “We couldn’t have plotted it out better for us, frankly. … I absolutely think we are going to win this trial.”

Kevin Trahan goes a little more in depth in a post on Above The Law:

Here lies the NCAA’s problem: Its two most persuasive justifications — and explanations for why no less-restrictive alternatives would work — are premised on the fact that fans wouldn’t watch and athletes wouldn’t be students if they weren’t paid. But the more the FBI shows that athletes were getting paid, while athletic departments continued to rake in money and those players still showed up for class, the more the NCAA will struggle to argue that such strict rules are necessary to preserve college sports.

Before the FBI investigation, and during the O’Bannon trial, the plaintiffs relied on showing that athletes weren’t primarily students in a lot of cases. The academic scandal at the University of North Carolina, in which athletes were getting degrees for taking fake classes and weren’t allowed to pursue their desired coursework, was an instructive example. The plaintiffs will certainly bring up that point again — especially after the NCAA arguably failed to substantially punish UNC for its widespread academic fraud — but in O’Bannon, Wilken clearly saw the potential for payments to hurt the academic experience of athletes. Specifically, she worried that if athletes made too much money, they “might also be inclined to separate themselves from the broader campus community by living and socializing off campus.”

Not only can the plaintiffs now show that schools themselves separate athletes from the rest of campus, they can also show that the system didn’t come crumbling down when players did get paid. For instance, Marvin Bagley, whose family went from bankruptcy to a pristine house due to allegedly “illicit” payments, made the Atlantic Coast Conference’s All-Academic team while starring at Duke.

The NCAA is trying to prove a bunch of things that aren't true and have lots of evidence suggesting they aren't true, in front of a judge that's already ruled against them in a near identical case. The only difference is that this case is asking for the moon instead of crumbs.

Pendulum swings back ever so slightly. Basketball has rejected two point jumpers wholesale over the past ten years.

twos_vs_threes

We may be reaching the maximum extent of that trend. Spurred on by Trey Burke's sudden NBA emergence and all those clanged free throw line jumpers the 2-3 zones of the NCAA tournament induced, I've been wondering when a midrange jumper is actually good. The answer in the NBA appears to be "when it's the only open shot you can get":

The NBA Stats API provides some aggregate data on shooting performance based on both the distance of the shot, and the distance of the closest defender at the time of the shot, which shows that yes, usually a 3-point attempt has a higher expected value than a long-range 2. But if the 3-pointer is tightly guarded and the long-range 2 is wide-open, then the 2-pointer can be better. For example, a wide-open 2-point shot from 20 feet on average results in 0.84 points, while a tightly-guarded 3-point attempt from 25 feet only averages 0.71 points.

Neither of those numbers is good, obviously. Michigan's crushing tourney D was holding teams to around 0.84 PPP in their best possessions. But if the clock's running out and someone's closing out, that long two after a dribble is… eh… fine.

Speaking of Trey. His re-emergence into an NBA player is one of the more remarkable stories of the year:

Burke in New York has the statistical profile of a star. He's shooting well from everywhere: 39 percent from deep, Nowitzkian levels from midrange on colossal volume, and even 73 percent at the rim -- once a no-fly zone for an undersized guy with average athleticism.

Burke isn't just hunting points. He has assisted on almost 40 percent of New York's baskets while on the floor, a borderline top-five number. He has developed a nice pick-and-roll chemistry with Michael Beasley, captain of last year's Waltons; New York has scored 1.28 points per possession on any trip featuring a Burke-Beasley pick-and-roll, the fourth-best (!) mark among almost 300 duos that have run at least 150 such plays, per Second Spectrum.

Only six players over the past two seasons have commandeered such a large share of possessions with shots and assists: LeBron, Russell Westbrook, John Wall, James Harden, Dennis Schroder, and D'Angelo Russell.

He's probably going to come back to earth somewhat, but he's still gone from the G League to a guy who's going to get paid.

A denominator! The Detroit News provides a percentage for a basketball recruit:

David DeJulius, 6-0, Sr., G, Detroit East English

DeJulius had the ability to step up and carry his team to victories. He scored 17 fourth-quarter points to rally East English from an 18-point halftime deficit in an 80-71 victory over two-time Class A state champion Clarkston, then scored 49 two weeks later in a win over Illinois state champion Chicago Orr, making nine 3-pointers. He averaged 26 points, eight assists and seven rebounds, shooting 42 percent from 3-point range. “He was always trying to get better, always listened and was very coachable,” Coach Juan Rickman said. “He could score the ball, his ball-handling got better and he was able to read defenses, leading him to take the ball to the basket, find an open teammate or make the 3-pointer.” DeJulius, a Mr. Basketball finalist, will play at Michigan.

42% on huge usage pull-up threes is pretty pretty good. He should be pretty plug and play as a backup PG. Enough of that will translate even against better defenses.

Girard profiled. Joe Girard III is the all-time New York HS scoring leader with a year left in his career, and a major 2019 target for John Beilein. He likes basketball:

Wiping sweat from his eyes, Girard starts one of Dagostino’s finishing drills. Instructed to take two “slide dribbles” on the right wing before finishing at the rim with his left hand, Girard starts with three straight misses.

On the fourth miss, which he air balls, Girard slaps the baseline wall in frustration.

Dagostino gathers Girard’s miss, lays the ball up and in the bucket before passing it back to Girard and says, “try throwing (the ball) in.”

“My biggest thing was always if you could see the ball go through the hoop,” Dagostino said, “no matter if you make it or your teammate makes it, then you are going to have a better chance of finding your rhythm by seeing it go in.”

Girard adjusts by “throwing” the ball in an overhand motion rather than the scooping technique prior. Dagostino’s suggestion results in five straight makes and Girard ends the drill with a round of free throws, a staple of any Dagostino circuit.

Sounds like he'll be off the board in the near future:

“I am getting kind of closer to a decision,” Girard said on Thursday. “I am getting older and time is becoming less and less. So it is about things getting more serious that (my dad and I) talk about, and what I need to do in order to play at the next (college) I will be attending.”

Girard's dad played for Beilein, but Duke looms. As of a week ago the Duke 247 site was very confident.

Etc.: Northwestern picks up Evansville transfer Ryan Taylor, who took 41% Evansville shots(!) last year. Midfielder Marc Ybarra will play for AFC Ann Arbor this summer. The Hughes family is good at doing hockey. Beilein after the loss. "All or Nothing" reviewed. Morris and Genuinely Sarcastic bid this basketball team goodbye. Arizona State saying the quiet parts loud.

Comments

Let's Chart Some Threes Because We're Nervous

Let's Chart Some Threes Because We're Nervous Comment Count

Brian March 21st, 2018 at 12:12 PM

39069895180_51a3a83403_z

[JD Scott]

Michigan's offense during the opening weekend of the tourney was… not great. Michigan failed to hit a point per possession in either game. A sloppy, weird, late-night game against Montana with 14 turnovers rather explains itself. The Houston game not so much.

While Houston does sport one of the country's better defenses, Michigan turned the ball over just seven times. They shot 45% from two, nine points under their season average; they were a grim 24% from three before Jordan Poole's miracle pulled them up to 27%. If they'd hit their not-very-impressive season average of 36%, the end of that game is Michigan putting the clamps on whilst up 6-8 points.

Game-to-game shooting variance is of course the very heart of basketball but I wanted to see if Houston had done anything that warranted that kind of performance or if it was just one of those things. So I started poking around and got quite deep in the weeds, because quantifying what's a good three pointer and what's a bad one is tricky. But I'm willing to give it a shot after checking out this paper from the 2014 Sloan Conference. It uses NBA data to create a model of what a good shot is; that model is way beyond the scope of this post but there were a couple of graphs that confirm everyone's eye test.

The first: catch and shoot is better than off the dribble.

image

Second, and possibly counterintuitively, every foot matters when you're closing out.

image

As the paper authors put it it, "it is not simply a matter of a shot being “contested” or not but ... there is significant marginal value in every foot of space between the shooter and the closest defender." I wouldn't necessarily have expected that. (Also, I assume that the big uptick in long jumper eFG when a guy is in your grill is because he's fouling you.)

These are NBA numbers but there's no reason to expect that college basketball players would deviate from either of these assertions. So, here's a bunch of three pointers charted. Spoiler alert: the large majority of the attempts Michigan got off were good looks with reasonable space between the shooter and the defender. A fairly typical look:

image

image

Y/N Length Shooter State Defender distance Contest Notes
MISS 22 Mathews catch and shoot 3 light Late clock jack is surprisingly clean look
MISS 23 MAAR catch and shoot 2 heavy Curl screen gets vg closeout from Houston defender
MISS 24 Simpson catch and shoot 6 none PNR switch w big sagging off Simpson, no contest
MISS 22 Livers catch and shoot 3 moderate drive and kick rhythm three from wing
MISS 22 MAAR off the dribble 4 light switch confusion for UH gives MAAR opportunity to gather and go straight up
MAKE 28 Robinson catch and shoot 3 heavy late clock deep jack is worst look of game so far, goes down
MAKE 24 Robinson catch and shoot 7 light V-cut and Teske screen gets Robinson clean look
MISS 22 Wagner catch and shoot 3 moderate pick and pop open-ish, decent contest
MAKE 22 Robinson catch and shoot 2 moderate Robinson's defender is lax for a second and DR just rises over him
MAKE 22 Poole catch and shoot 4 light penetrate and kick to Wagner, extra pass, open corner
MISS 22 Simpson catch and shoot 8 none drive and kick, Poole upfakes and dribbles once to draw a second guy, Simpson wide open in corner
MISS 22 Poole off the dribble 2 heavy bad heat check stepback w/ 21 seconds on clock
MISS 24 Poole catch and shoot 4 light drive and kick from MAAR
MISS 27 Robinson off the dribble 2 heavy late clock, initial contest and one-dribble lanch
MISS 24 MAAR catch and shoot 8 none numbers for M, shot fake from MAAR gets wide open look, airball
MISS 22 MAAR off the dribble 2 heavy last ditch attempt at end of half
HALFTIME            
MISS 22 Matthews catch and shoot 4 light Wagner kick to Simpson over for open look
MAKE 23 Wagner catch and shoot 5 light Simpson pick and pop
MISS 23 Wagner catch and shoot 5 light Near identical pick and pop from same spot on the floor
MISS 23 Simpson catch and shoot 4 light Poole drive and kick, token contest
MAKE 23 Wagner catch and shoot 5 moderate Pick and pop from left wing, and one
MISS 24 Robinson catch and shoot 6 none wing pick from Matthews opens this up. No contest... airball.
MISS 25 MAAR off the dribble 4 moderate PNR switch, pretty good contest from the big MAAR rises up on
MISS 23 Robinson catch and shoot 6 light Simpson drives baseline and kicks to left wing
MISS 22 Robinson catch and shoot 5 light OREB to scramble drill to corner 3
MAKE 22 Matthews catch and shoot 4 moderate Simpson drive and kick; lucky bounce off heel and straight up and down
MISS 25 Matthews off the dribble 2 heavy late clock jack is not at all a clean look
MAKE 30 Poole catch and shoot 2 heavy THIS IS A BAD LOOK BUT OKAY

Leaving out the two must-launches at the end of each half and Michigan had just 5 off the dribble looks on 28 attempts, two of those from MAAR in pretty good situations. One was a pick and roll switch with the big playing off, the other an opening when Houston got confused on another pick and roll.

Houston did force five heavily contested late-clock jacks, one of which went down when Robinson hit a deep one. There was also one more heavily contested three as Corey Davis came around a screen really well on an early MAAR attempt. The other 20 attempts I charted were all reasonable to excellent looks that simply didn't go down. Eight attempts from Michigan's worst three-point shooters, Simpson and Matthews, isn't a particularly unusual ratio. Those guys have about 20% of Michigan's attempts on the year. 8 of 28 non-desperation threes is a couple more than you'd expect, but not outlandish.

Verdict: just one of those things. One that happens to a team like Michigan that's not exactly Villanova.

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