Hoops Mailbag: What To Expect From Jordan Poole

Hoops Mailbag: What To Expect From Jordan Poole

Submitted by Ace on April 9th, 2018 at 4:06 PM


On the rise, but where's the ceiling? [Marc-Gregor Campredon]

I was going to do a longer mailbag on next year's team today. You'll be shocked to see which question I decided had to broken off into its own post instead:

Poole is clearly going to be the focus of the offense and hinted at his talent this year.  But how much can we really expect from him considering how little he played this season?

Everyone wants to compare him to Stauskas, but Nik was playing starters minutes as a freshman and was very efficient.  Poole played limited bench minutes and saw his efficiency fluctuate a lot and struggled on defense.  Would sophomore Levert or Irvin be better comparisons?

Adam
Chicago, IL
AC1997

Ask me to talk about Jordan Poole, you say? Let me warm up for a sec.

Alright. Let's go.

I am, as you probably expect, a Jordan Poole optimist. This isn't without reason, however, and said reason goes well beyond his personality. Setting the expectation at sophomore Nik Stauskas, when Stauskas won Big Ten Player of the Year, may be a bit lofty—I still lean closer to that than sophomore Caris LeVert, who played a very promising but less effective second banana to Stauskas for that 2013-14 season.

I've used Bart Torvik's invaluable site to pull the statistics of Poole and his comparables against top-50 (venue-adjusted) competition. When you ignore minutes and usage for a moment—two factors with clear explanations I'll get to momentarily—there's a clear match for Poole: Stauskas.

  G %Min ORtg USG eFG% AST% TO% FTM-FTA (%) 2PM-2PA (%) 3PM-3PA (%)
Burke '12 17 91.2 95.9 27.8 48.8 27.7 21.6 33-55 (60.0%) 62-126 (49.2%) 26.-81 (32.1%)
Stauskas '13 21 72.9 118.0 15.0 54.5 6.6 11.4 38-44 (86.4%) 31-58 (53.4%) 32-87 (36.8%)
LeVert '13 18 21.1 87.9 16.8 41.5 7.8 14.5 5-10 (50.0%) 9-25 (36.0%) 7-22 (31.8%)
Irvin '14 21 37.4 119.3 18.2 61.1 2.1 8.9 8-10 (80.0%) 11-28 (39.3%) 35-76 (46.1%)
Poole '18 18 29.9 118.8 22.4 56.2 7.7 9.0 27-34 (79.4%) 17-32 (53.1%) 16-41 (39.0%)

Trey Burke, mostly thrown in as an extra data point, had far different usage as a pure point guard. The rest are wings and therefore more comparable. The numbers that give me optimism regarding Poole are his two-pointers—taken with relative frequency, finished with efficiency—and his combination of high usage, extant assist rate, and low turnover rate.

The former is what separates Poole from LeVert, whose finishing took a long time to come along. Poole is already an impressive finisher at the rim for a guard; according to hoop-math, he made 25-of-36 (69.4%) shots at the basket with only eight assisted makes. That's almost exactly on pace, albeit on lower volume, with freshman Stauskas—38-of-55 (69.1%), 13 assisted—and way ahead of LeVert, who needed assists on four of his five makes at the rim as a freshman. Poole has already produced as a pick-and-roll ballhandler, and while he's not quite on Stauskas's level there yet, he was better as an isolation scorer—and Poole usually drew more of the defense's attention when he was out there than Stauskas did when surrounded by Burke, Hardaway, GRIII, et al.


Expect more of this next season. [Campredon]

The latter is what separates Poole from Irvin, who jacked threes and did little else as a freshman. Poole not only took two-pointers with much greater regularity, he actually passed the ball and displayed some tantalizing potential in that department. Irvin got exposed in his sophomore year when LeVert when down and he took on a lead role before he was ready; Poole looks ready (and certainly eager) to have the ball in his hands as much as possible.

As a refresher, here's how this group of players fared as sophomores against top-50 venue-adjusted competition: 

  G %Min ORtg USG eFG% AST% TO% FTM-FTA (%) 2PM-2PA (%) 3PM-3PA (%)
Burke '13 21 89.9 113.1 30.3 49.1 37.3 13.9 82-104 (78.8%) 91-204 (44.6%) 43-113 (38.1%)
Stauskas '14 21 90.9 120.8 23.5 56.8 18.6 13.6 89-108 (82.4%) 52-111 (46.8%) 55-126 (43.7%)
LeVert '14 21 87.7 101.2 22.9 48.2 17.0 17.5 52-71 (73.2%) 59-139 (42.4%) 33-86 (38.4%)
Irvin '15 15 88.9 95.2 24.6 48.5 10.2 12.5 19-33 (57.6%) 45-98 (45.9%) 33-97 (34.0%)

The Stauskas leap remains spectacular. He significantly upped his usage, improved his efficiency while taking on a much greater role as a distributor, and even improved significantly as a three-point shooter despite taking way more of his shots off the bounce.

I still think Poole can do something quite similar. He may not have played the early minutes Stauskas did, but he played a lot of important minutes and took on a bigger role when he saw the floor. Meanwhile, a lot of what he did on the court looked downright Stauskas-esque. Both are known for their unabashed three-point gunning, but what really separates the two is their ability to score from all three levels (rim, midrange, three).

Stauskas was a solid midrange shooter, especially when he could step into one off a screen. Poole was downright great from midrange in a small sample, going 12-for-24 on jumpers inside the arc, per Synergy. If you give him space, he's going to rise and fire.

Stauskas and Poole both learned early that the threat of a pull-up three combined with a quick first step poses serious problems to defenders. Stauskas had a ton of success on baseline drives—like his first Game, Blouses dunk—because defenses had to worry so much about keeping him out of the middle of the floor, where he was most likely to pull up for a jumper. Poole provides that same threat with, I'd argue, a quicker first step.

While Poole won't put up Burke-like assist numbers—and won't need to with Zavier Simpson likely manning the point—he could approach a Stauskas-level rate. He's shown the ability to find the open man off the drive, he keeps the ball moving in the offense despite his gunner reputation, and he's got some flashy dimes in his arsenal.

As for defense, I'm actually quite optimistic about Poole's ability on that end of the floor. While his freshman mistakes were numerous, they were notable in part because they were such an exception compared to the rest of the defense; they were also almost entirely mental. Poole, much more than Stauskas, has the lateral athleticism and defensive instincts to be an impact player on that end. He's already displayed potential as a ball-hawk, posting a 2.5% steal rate that wasn't far behind Zavier Simpson and Jon Teske for best on the squad. He'll challenge shots. He needs to focus more on that end of the court; an added year of experience and more consistent minutes should help.

I'm not saying Poole is going to be the Big Ten's best player next year. Not necessarily, at least. But I believe, barring a Wagner return, he's going to be the centerpiece of the offense, and I fully expect him to contend for first-team all-conference honors if that's the case. Poole after a summer of Camp Sanderson, immersing himself in Beilein's offense, and practicing pull-up threes off the high screen is going to be a boatload of fun.

The All-Beilein Teams: Giants

The All-Beilein Teams: Giants

Submitted by Ace on July 10th, 2017 at 2:50 PM


Space is limited. [Eric Upchurch]

Previously: All-BenchBench MobAll-Freshman, All-Senior, Small Ball

John Beilein has spent ten seasons in Ann Arbor. As of the most recent, he's the winningest coach in program history with 215. He snapped Michigan's post-sanction tournament drought in 2009, the first of seven NCAA appearances with the Wolverines, three of which have extended at least into the second weekend.

In recognition of the above, as well as the need for offseason #content, I've put together a series of All-Beilein teams, inspired by this twitter post and the ensuing conversation. My guidelines:

  1. I'm attempting to put together the best possible lineups, which isn't necessarily the same as picking the best individual players at each spot.
  2. I'm choosing individual player vintages (i.e. 2013 Trey Burke). A player can only be chosen once for each category, but different player years (i.e. freshman bench gunner 2014 Zak Irvin and well-rounded senior 2017 Zak Irvin) can be eligible for separate categories.
  3. The same player/year can be chosen for multiple categories—for instance, 2013 Mitch McGary making the All-Bench team doesn't exclude him from making the final All-Beilein team.

Eligibility for certain categories may be slightly fudged because of the limited pool of players.
I'm not putting too many constraints on myself for this exercise since the point is to let our imaginations run wild.

Today's lineup is the counterpart to the small-ball squad. This time I'm putting together the biggest conceivable lineup that'd still play with some cohesion. While attempting to construct a 2014 Kentucky facsimile is very much at odds with Beilein's approach, there are enough quality bigs and ultra-skilled wings to assemble an overwheling group.

POINT GUARD: 2015-16 CARIS LEVERT


LeVert's passing acumen makes him an ideal oversized PG. [Bryan Fuller]

I know, I know, a true 6'4" point guard is sitting right there in Darius Morris. I know, I know, LeVert only played half of his senior season. I still want shooting, though, and for all Morris's talent, 25% three-point marksmanship with no ability to pull off the high screen doesn't cut it here.

Also, I'm a LeVert stan through and through, and will insist until my dying days that he'd have been a national player of the year finalist if he'd been healthy for all of 2015-16. As the functional point guard and clear-cut #1 offensive option, he shot 53% on twos, 45% on threes, and 79% from the line with a high free throw rate; he dished out 74 assists against only 25 turnovers; he led the team in defensive rebounding rate. At 6'7" with a 6'10" wingspan, his length and NBA-caliber athleticism would overcome any quickness deficiency against opposing point guards on defense. Let me have this.

[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the post.]

This Week’s Obsession: We Scouted Bad

This Week’s Obsession: We Scouted Bad

Submitted by Seth on June 23rd, 2017 at 10:56 AM

The question:

Most humiliatingly bad recruiting ranking

The resposes:

Brian: Chris Wormley and Trey Burke spring to mind.

Ace: Can first-hand agree on Wormley. I don’t know how anyone could see that guy in person and not think he at least had a good shot at the NFL.

Brian: We've talked about Wormley before. Everyone saw a huge athletic man and ranked appropriately except Josh Helmholdt. He was the #22 player... IN OHIO.

Ace: That dude was built like a house as a senior and it was clear he could add another house.

Seth: Poor Helmholdt. We've probably hung that over his head more than any one ranking by anyone in history.

Brian: He's got a few more in the pipeline if he doesn't drag Mayfield and Hayes into the top 15 in state. But this is a key factor in ridiculous rankings: you miss when everyone else is on point. Sure, nobody saw a draftable CB in Jeremy Clark but I can't blame 'em for that.

Seth: So no Kevin Grady, even though Tom Lemming made him his #7 player in the country.

In. The. Country.

Brian: A key factor, not the. You can fire away on that ranking. By Grady's second year it was clear ranking him as a five star was total nonsense.

Ace: And we were all a little leery of his film when he was a recruit. But nobody flat-out said “De’Veon Smith is better” because of those dang rankings.

Seth: You're thinking of Green.

Ace: Ah crap, same thing.

Brian: A good answer to this question is "any highly touted Michigan tailback."

Seth: A-Train was way up there. #2 overall RB I think.

Brian: A-Train was so far back in the day that it has less impact. Literal mailmen were doing rankings then.

Seth: Well I may just happen to have some of those mailed Prep Football Reports and Prepstars in reach of my desk for some reason.

Brian: Grady was worse than Green because at least Green was a legitimately huge person. I have no idea what anyone was thinking about in re: Grady.

[Hit THE JUMP]

The All-Beilein Teams: Small Ball

The All-Beilein Teams: Small Ball

Submitted by Ace on June 21st, 2017 at 11:34 AM


Pick your poison. [Marc-Gregor Campredon]

Previously: All-BenchBench MobAll-Freshman, All-Senior

John Beilein has spent ten seasons in Ann Arbor. As of the most recent, he's the winningest coach in program history with 215. He snapped Michigan's post-sanction tournament drought in 2009, the first of seven NCAA appearances with the Wolverines, three of which have extended at least into the second weekend.

In recognition of the above, as well as the need for offseason #content, I've put together a series of All-Beilein teams, inspired by this twitter post and the ensuing conversation. My guidelines:

  1. I'm attempting to put together the best possible lineups, which isn't necessarily the same as picking the best individual players at each spot.
  2. I'm choosing individual player vintages (i.e. 2013 Trey Burke). A player can only be chosen once for each category, but different player years (i.e. freshman bench gunner 2014 Zak Irvin and well-rounded senior 2017 Zak Irvin) can be eligible for separate categories.
  3. The same player/year can be chosen for multiple categories—for instance, 2013 Mitch McGary making the All-Bench team doesn't exclude him from making the final All-Beilein team.

Eligibility for certain categories may be slightly fudged because of the limited pool of players.
I'm not putting too many constraints on myself for this exercise since the point is to let our imaginations run wild.

Today's lineup is a fun one. Small ball has taken basketball by storm, and it's a style Beilein teams know quite well. What would the lineup look like if you tried to field a team that could shoot the lights out, switch everything on defense, and provide matchup problems across the board? Here's a squad that would absolutely wreck Purdue.

POINT GUARD: 2012-13 TREY BURKE


Burke vs. Switch. Advantage: Burke. [Bryan Fuller]

Well, yeah, the national player of the year is going to make this team. Burke was a killer off the high screen with his combination of vision, decision-making, passing, finishing, and pull-up shooting. While he didn't have the reputation of a defensive specialist, he graded out well on that end of the floor, and his timely steals would lead to some spectacular transition buckets.

I'd tell you that a team that can space the floor and give Burke room to operate would lead to amazing things, but you already know that, because you also watched the 2013 squad.

[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the post.]

The All-Beilein Teams: All-Senior

The All-Beilein Teams: All-Senior

Submitted by Ace on May 11th, 2017 at 3:18 PM


This was a good year for seniors. [Marc-Gregor Campredon]

Previously: All-BenchBench Mob, All-Freshman

John Beilein has spent ten seasons in Ann Arbor. As of the most recent, he's the winningest coach in program history with 215. He snapped Michigan's post-sanction tournament drought in 2009, the first of seven NCAA appearances with the Wolverines, three of which have extended at least into the second weekend.

In recognition of the above, as well as the need for offseason #content, I've put together a series of All-Beilein teams, inspired by this twitter post and the ensuing conversation. My guidelines:

  1. I'm attempting to put together the best possible lineups, which isn't necessarily the same as picking the best individual players at each spot.
  2. I'm choosing individual player vintages (i.e. 2013 Trey Burke). A player can only be chosen once for each category, but different player years (i.e. freshman bench gunner 2014 Zak Irvin and well-rounded senior 2017 Zak Irvin) can be eligible for separate categories.
  3. The same player/year can be chosen for multiple categories—for instance, 2013 Mitch McGary making the All-Bench team doesn't exclude him from making the final All-Beilein team.

Eligibility for certain categories may be slightly fudged because of the limited pool of players.
I'm not putting too many constraints on myself for this exercise since the point is to let our imaginations run wild. Today's list is the logical counterpart to the previous All-Freshman squad: here are the best senior seasons from Beilein's players. Could I fill out a full second team? Well, no. No I couldn't.

POINT GUARD: 2016-17 DERRICK WALTON


It all came together for Walton in his final season. [Bryan Fuller]

Might I recommend the 5000-word version of this blurb? For those who don't have time, a relevant sampling:

Walton had spent his time at Michigan as the consummate teammate, always looking to get his talented teammates going before seeking his own shot. At the same time he called upon his team to step up and make plays, he embraced calling his own number.

"He’s really become the guard that he always wanted to be and we always wanted him to be. It’s not that he’s been bad in between. It’s just that he’s such a great, unselfish player who’s always about the team. I think he convinced himself that if it’s really about the team, then I need to do more." — John Beilein

The swaggering star of Chandler Park Academy and the blacktops of Detroit was reborn in maize and blue. This Walton fought through contact for and-one buckets. He made inch-perfect assists, whether hitting a slipping big man in stride, two-handing a 35-foot bounce pass, or launching an 80-foot outlet over the top. He hit pull-up threes over rubber-kneed defenders and let them hear all about it on the way back down the court.

After a promising freshman season was followed by an injury-plagued sophomore year and underwhelming junior campaign, Walton transformed as a senior into the best Michigan point guard to play for Beilein, Trey Burke excepted—and Walton was so good down the stretch that you could almost (almost) eliminate that caveat. I could watch this all day:

The early NBA departures of Burke and Darius Morris didn't leave much in the way of competition for this spot. That doesn't make Walton's senior year any less spectacular.

[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the lineup.]

The All-Beilein Teams: Bench Mob

The All-Beilein Teams: Bench Mob

Submitted by Ace on April 19th, 2017 at 1:39 PM

In fine form. [Marc-Gregor Campredon]

Previously: All-Bench

John Beilein has spent ten seasons in Ann Arbor. As of the most recent, he's the winningest coach in program history with 215. He snapped Michigan's post-sanction tournament drought in 2009, the first of seven NCAA appearances with the Wolverines, three of which have extended at least into the second weekend.

In recognition of the above, as well as the need for offseason #content, I've put together a series of All-Beilein teams, inspired by this twitter post and the ensuing conversation. My guidelines:

  1. I'm attempting to put together the best possible lineups, which isn't necessarily the same as picking the best individual players at each spot.
  2. I'm choosing individual player vintages (i.e. 2013 Trey Burke). A player can only be chosen once for each category, but different player years (i.e. freshman bench gunner 2014 Zak Irvin and well-rounded senior 2017 Zak Irvin) can be eligible for separate categories. The same player/year can be chosen for multiple categories—for instance, 2013 Mitch McGary making the All-Bench team doesn't exclude him from making the final All-Beilein team.
  3. Eligibility for certain categories may be slightly fudged because of the limited pool of players.

I'm not putting too many constraints on myself for this exercise since the point is to let our imaginations run wild. Speaking of running wild, this team is a little different than the others: today's group is comprised of the best contributors to the Bench Mob.

RINGLEADER: 2013-14 ANDREW DAKICH

The only member of the Bench Mob to merit his own highlight video. Dakich peaked in this role in 2013-14, when he could be the exuberant youngster instead of an assistant coach in the making. He's the ideal captain of a Bench Mob: he'll dance in the pregame huddle, be the first off the bench to greet players after a timeout, make a scene after a big shot, and coach up the point guards on the best way to approach the high ball screen. It won't be easy to fill (and leap out of) his seat.

Honorable Mention: 2012-13 Josh Bartelstein. Another walk-on who became a team leader, Bartelstein isn't your traditional hyper-excited bench fixture. Anyone with ESP, however, deserves serious consideration for the first team.

If we were ranking legendary Bench Mob moments, this would be at the top.

[Hit THE JUMP.]

Unverified Voracity Clones Pam Ward

Unverified Voracity Clones Pam Ward

Submitted by Brian on May 18th, 2016 at 12:52 PM

14902398469_77cd4bae00_z

it’s back [Bryan Fuller]

Single digits. Via the twitters,various numbers for incoming freshman are now known. The most significant development for Michigan numerologists: Crawford and EMB are both getting the #1. This is good; the number had gotten too bound up in its history to actually get used most of the time. I’m willing to give it to a guy who isn’t AC yet just to get it out of mothballs. Issuing it to a defender too is an interesting twist, especially a linebacker.

Other numbers: Devin Asiasi and Lavert Hill are both #2—no pressure, Lavert—and Rashan Gary will retain his #3 from high school—no pressure, #3.

[UPDATE: Seth relates that some of these numbers are just sticky notes, not plates, and that those are not official. Never mind some of this, then.]

Goodbye, ESPN. The last guy left in Bristol who can call college football is Joe Tessitore. All games this fall will be called by him or the army of Pam Ward clones currently being decanted in the basement:

  1. Mike Tirico left for NBC,which caused the accursed NFL to yoink Sean McDonough for Monday Night Football.
  2. McDonough’s broadcast partner Chris Spielman left for FOX, where he, too, will call f-ing NFL games.
  3. There are plenty of rumors that Brad Nessler is leaving for CBS, which seem to be backed by the fact that Tessitore got promoted to Saturday nights.
  4. Brent Musberger is still in SEC Network purgatory.

Tessitore is fine, and Fowler is fine. It sucks to lose McDonough, Spielman, and Nessler, all of whom are great.

Not that it matters so much to the Big Ten. They must have had a teleconference, because various reporters are now quoting ADs and Delany about the second half of the Big Ten’s rights package. Is the following real or posturing for a better deal from suddenly-miserly ESPN?

“No one has amnesia about the relationship we have had with ESPN. John Skipper and that group, they have been a wonderful partner. But we’re at a different place and I think they’re at a different place in 2016 than we were in the last round (of negotiations). That doesn’t mean we can’t get to the altar together and get married again. But we’re at the dating stage right now. And that’s a process.”

Whenever this comes up you hear that coaches are loathe to not have a relationship with the gorilla in the sports media ecosystem

“I believe the Big Ten schools are, at a certain point, going to demand from their leadership, ‘We have to be on ESPN, for recruiting and for publicity. We can’t give that partnership up, it’s too valuable for us in in terms of our conference competing against other conferences for high school players,’” Deitsch said on his podcast. “I’m going to bet, in the end, there’s a deal there.”

…but I’ll believe a college athletics conglomerate is willing to leave money on the table when I see it.

Departing ESPN wholesale for (probably) FOX would be interesting. Right now the Big Ten gets a ton of viewership—would that move tank it? Or would the prospect of having an army of Pam Ward clones do every game at ESPN do so?

On that Tunsil lawsuit. Tunsil’s stepfather is on the stepfather is on the warpath:

Miller met with an NCAA investigator in July and told him about other possible improprieties he had witnessed dating back to Tunsil’s high school recruitment, when Tunsil turned down Nick Saban at Alabama and Mark Richt at Georgia to sign with Hugh Freeze at Mississippi.

Miller claims Tunsil’s academic records were altered. He said Polingo used to receive Western Union deliveries of money from Barney Farrar, Ole Miss assistant athletic director for high school and junior college relations. An apparent reference to Farrar was made in the year-old text messages on draft night; when Tunsil asked the Ole Miss administrator for money, he responds, “See Barney next week.” Farrar has denied giving money to or being asked for money by Tunsil, Ole Miss is investigating and Farese predicts it will turn out to be “much ado about nothing.”

Some of that has already been accounted for in the allegations the NCAA has investigated. This lawsuit promises to uncover further things, because it looks like Ole Miss got caught giving him a bunch of different piddly stuff:

The NCAA said Tunsil was not initially honest but that five rules violations were confirmed: Tunsil improperly used three loaner cars without paying during a six-month period; received two nights’ lodging at a local home; accepted a free airline ticket; used a rental car for one day for free, and received an interest-free four-month loan to make a $3,000 down payment on a used car.

That’s not a one time thing, that is five different incidents of giving the guy cash, directly or not, and looks like the tip of the iceberg. What are the chances that this pattern is not repeated with other players? What are the chances that these are the only five things Tunsil was provided? Zero and zero.

Old school items. Via Dr. Sap:

I don’t know why people suspected Caris was soft. He has a broken foot:

LeVert revealed here this week that his injury -- the nature of which was kept under wraps during the season -- is a Jones fracture to the fifth metatarsal in his left foot. The injury, he said, is similar to the one he suffered earlier in his career.

He hoped the fracture would heal on its own, but when that process was slow-going, he opted instead to have surgery after the season by Dr. Martin O'Malley.

LeVert was still on crutches this week in Chicago, and said he will need to wear a boot on his left foot for another four weeks. That means he won't be doing any predraft workouts with teams.

The idea that Levert would try to avoid playing time this year was always goofy. Nobody wants to enter the NBA draft after two years mostly lost to injury. Even if he was only thinking of his draft stock, he would have played if at all possible. But rabblers gonna rabble.

Inevitable comparison. Beilein is going to go there with Xavier Simpson. He’s going with Trey Burke:

"I do," Michigan coach John Beilein was saying recently, asked if he sees significant comparisons between the two, other than they're both from Ohio.

"I see the dog in him, and I mean that in a positive. He goes out there and guards people and plays and he's a high competitor.

"This guy might be a guy that comes in the door with those competitive instincts."

Yeah buddy.

A step towards sanity. The Big Ten will start using campus sites for hockey playoffs once ND joins, with a single week of best two-of-three games before a single elimination final four at an as of yet undisclosed location that I hope is the league winner’s home ice. The winner gets a bye, you see, and it would be weird if their reward was not playing any games at home. 

Etc.: Coaches complain about transfers, news at 11. M a slight favorite at MSU, near touchdown dog at OSU. Wojo on satellite camps.

John Gasaway compiles a list of the top shooting performances in the Kenpom era that surprisingly does not include a Stauskas or Burke team; it does include last year’s MSU game, with Michigan on the “whoops” side.

Preview: Iowa

Preview: Iowa

Submitted by Ace on March 4th, 2016 at 2:38 PM

THE ESSENTIALS

WHAT Michigan (20-10, 10-7 B1G) vs
Iowa (20-9, 11-6)
WHERE Crisler Center
Ann Arbor, Michigan
WHEN 8 pm ET, Saturday
LINE Iowa -1 (KenPom)
TV BTN
PBP: Joe Davis
Analyst: John Crispin

Right: Sadly fitting that our best picture of Caris LeVert and Spike Albrecht together doesn't feature them in uniform. [Patrick Barron/MGoBlog]

THE US

Tomorrow is Senior Day, an even more bittersweet experience than usual this year because both seniors, Caris LeVert and Spike Albrecht, have season-ending injuries. For those attending the game, you're encouraged to show up early; the pregame ceremony starts at 7:45.

While LeVert is going to prepare for the NBA when he's healthy again, Albrecht could conceivably get a medical redshirt and play another year if there's a scholarship available. That's on the table, though it doesn't sound too likely:

On a conversation with Coach Beilein about a potential return: “I haven’t really had a conversation with him about it, just because I know like you guys know with the scholarship situation and things like that, but I know at this time that I’m not feeling good and I’m not ready to play. I always told him that I’m not going to use up a scholarship if I don’t think I can play and help. I won’t be making that decision until after the season, I don’t want to distract him more than anyone else.

: /

THE STAKES

Michigan is clinging to one of the final at-large bids in most NCAA Tournament projections. A victory over Iowa—even this patented late-season collapse version—should secure a place in the field. A loss and it'll be a nerve-wracking conference tournament; speaking of which, M is locked into the BTT eight-seed.

THE LAST TIME

Back when the Hawkeyes looked like a candidate for a one-seed, they beat Michigan by 11 in Iowa City, led by Jarrod Uthoff (23 points) and Peter Jok (16). While the Wolverines put up a strong 1.13 points per possesion, they allowed 1.30 to Iowa—the Hawkeyes lit it up from the field and only committed four turnovers.

THE LINEUP CARD

Projected starters are in bold. Hover over headers for stat explanations. The "Should I Be Mad If He Hits A Three" methodology: we're mad if a guy who's not good at shooting somehow hits one. Yes, you're still allowed to be unhappy if a proven shooter is left open. It's a free country.

Pos. # Name Yr. Ht./Wt. %Min %Poss SIBMIHHAT
G 10 Mike Gesell Sr. 6'2, 190 74 19 No
#30 assist rate nationally, low-volume but effective shooter, high FT rate.
G 5 Anthony Clemmons Sr. 6'2, 200 74 18 Kinda
Solid passer, decent finisher, outside shot is iffy (31% 3P).
G 14 Peter Jok Jr. 6'6, 205 65 25 No
Good athlete with solid jumper, getting to line more. 2nd in B1G in steal rate.
F 20 Jarrod Uthoff Sr. 6'9, 221 77 26 No
8th in KPOY standings. 47/39/81 shooting splits, excellent shot-blocker.
C 34 Adam Woodbury Sr. 7'1, 250 62 17 Very
Plus rebounder, skilled around the basket, might poke you in the eye.
F 25 Dom Uhl So. 6'9, 215 44 19 No
Backup big hits 47% of threes, hits offensive boards. Not a good finisher.
F 51 Nicholas Baer R-Fr. 6'7, 200 36 14 No
Efficient gunner (61% 2P, 43% 3P) also a decent shot-blocker.
F 0 Ahmad Wagner Fr. 6'7, 225 24 14 Very
Shoots 69% on twos, good rebounder and shot-blocker.

[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the preview.]

Caris LeVert Shut Down For Season

Caris LeVert Shut Down For Season

Submitted by Ace on March 1st, 2016 at 12:25 PM


Bryan Fuller/MGoBlog

While this news was beginning to feel inevitable, it is no less depressing: after missing 15 of the last 16 games with what's only been described as a lower leg injury, Caris LeVert has been shut down for the season, ending his college career. From the official release:

University of Michigan men's basketball head coach John Beilein announced today (Tuesday, March 1) senior co-captain Caris LeVert will sit out the remainder of the season to concentrate on his continued recovery after suffering a lower left leg injury at the end of December.

"After some prayer and talking it over with my family, Coach Beilein and the medical staff, we all feel it is best for me to concentrate on getting fully healthy," said LeVert. "There is still some discomfort that does not allow me to help this team the way I want."

"I am so thankful for what Coach Beilein, the assistants and the medical staff have done for me during my collegiate career and in particular while I have dealt with these injuries.

"U-M has provided me the chance to live my dream of playing college basketball and to earn a Michigan degree. There are really no words to express my gratitude for that as well as my love for all my teammates. I am so blessed to be part of this wonderful university and will forever represent the Maize and Blue."

"This has been a tough two months for Caris," said Beilein. "He has worked so hard to get back to this point, and Caris' long-term health is what is most important.

"Caris has been a pleasure to coach; he is a wonderful young man with a brilliant future. I am confident he will have a very successful professional career because his talent, attitude, quickness and versatility make every team better.

"He has always carried himself and handled these situations with such class and a level of maturity that is unmatched. This is not how he wanted to finish his career here; however, we know he can hold his head high for how he has represented this great university and our basketball program."

An unheralded recruit Beilein plucked from Ohio University, LeVert shed his redshirt to contribute to the 2013 Final Four squad and played an integral role in the 2014 Elite Eight team. After injuries cut short a disappointing junior year, LeVert began this season playing like a Wooden Award candidate, only for injury to strike again when he rolled his ankle in the waning moments of the Big Ten opener against Illinois. When LeVert briefly returned to the court against Purdue, he clearly wasn't close to 100%.

The program ran out of time to get LeVert healthy and incorporated back into the rotation while they fight for a tournament bid. While we won't see LeVert in a Michigan uniform again, he can now focus on getting back to 100% in time to convince the NBA that a lanky, athletic, sharpshooting wing is well worth the risk of a first-round pick.

Even though LeVert's college career ended far too soon, he left an indelible mark on the program. Here's hoping we see him fully healthy and reaching his prodigious potential in the NBA before too long.

Michigan 61, Purdue 56

Michigan 61, Purdue 56

Submitted by Ace on February 13th, 2016 at 4:39 PM


Eric Upchurch/MGoBlog

Derrick Walton had taken nine shots. None of them had gone in. With Michigan improbably within three points in the waning minutes against Purdue, however, he crossed over PJ Thompson and charged into the paint, laying his first bucket in off the glass as AJ Hammons knocked him to the floor.

While Walton missed his chance to tie the game at the line, he more than redeemed himself, pulling down two signature high-flying defensive rebounds and making 4/4 free throws in the final 15 seconds to seal the victory.

On the afternoon Caris LeVert finally returned to the court, only to play 11 scoreless first-half minutes before sitting out the second half, Zak Irvin also played out a redemption tale. Coming off an ugly 1/8 performance against Minnesota, Irvin went 2/7 in the first half and had his first shot of the second swatted by Hammons. Then he heated up from the outside and turned around his battle with burly Purdue forward Caleb Swanigan, scoring 16 of his 22 points in the second half, including the winning points on a pull-up from the free-throw line with 1:09 remaining that barely crested over Hammons' fingertips.

Despite inconsistent performances from their stars, foul trouble for Mark Donnal, and Rapheal Davis once again eliminating Duncan Robinson (4 points, 0/1 3P) from the offense, Michigan found a way to win. To earn it, they had to lean on defense and rebounding.

No, really.

Against the best rebounding team in the conference on both ends of the floor, Michigan won the battle of the boards, pulling down 28% of their misses to Purdue's 20%. While Swanigan (14 points, 6/9 FG) proved tough to handle, the bigs collectively slowed the two-headed center monster of Hammons and Isaac Haas (combined 21 points on 24 shots) with help from timely double-teams by the guards.

That's how Michigan could go 5/20 from three and still beat a team that presents major matchup issues. Purdue went 6/12 from beyond the arc but only 15/41 within it, and the second chances they normally rely upon weren't available very often. Days removed from one of the most demoralizing weeks in recent memory, Michigan is 9-4 in the Big Ten, all alone in fourth place and needing only two wins in their final five games—which includes a home matchup against Northwestern—to feel very good about their NCAA Tournament chances.

Perhaps—just perhaps—we were too quick to bury a John Beilein team. It wouldn't be the first time.