This Week’s Obsession: Hoop Futures

This Week’s Obsession: Hoop Futures

Submitted by Seth on January 11th, 2018 at 2:00 PM

image

[Marc-Grégor Campredon]

THIS ARTICLE HAS A SPONSOR: You’re a responsible adult who looks long-term instead of getting distracted by every which thing, so talk to Nick Hopwood, our MGoFinancial Planner from Peak Wealth Management.

Our deal is Nick is the guy I go to for financial strategies, and he gets to ask us Michigan questions on your behalf. Anytime it’s a Nick question, we’ll let you know. Anytime you’ve got a financial question, let Nick know. And when you’re ready to figure out how you’re going to plan your retirement and pay for your kids’ college when you just got done paying for your own, don’t wait to do something about that.

-------------------------------

Legal disclosure in tiny font: Calling Nick our official financial planner is not intended as financial advice; Nick is an advertiser who financially supports MGoBlog. MGoBlog is not responsible for any advice or other communication provided to an investor by any financial advisor, and makes no representations or warranties as to the suitability of any particular financial advisor and/or investment for a specific investor.

--------------------------------

Nick’s Question:

[long gushing thread about Poole’s ceiling]

Nick: And Livers and Teske are still so young. And then the incoming class…

Seth: Yeah in two years this could be Beilein’s best team ever.

Nick: I don’t even know which of these guys to be the most excited about!

Seth: Is that your TWO question?

Nick: Sure.

Seth: Good because we’ve been talking about the same thing in slack all this time.

Ace: Just one? Top three? Top five? I have a hard time containing my enthusiasm with this bunch and the 2018 class.

Seth: Should we try to come up with a consensus rank?

Brian: Top three. Ordered by projected alpha dog on the 2019-2020 team.

Ace: I’m gonna drop this in from the discussion that led to this topic:

Alex: I mean the roster in two years could look like:

PG - Z, Brooks/DeJulius
SG - Poole, Nunez
SF - Iggy, Johns
PF - Livers, Johns
C - Teske, Castleton

I don't want to get too far ahead of myself but that's a group that could do some big things, especially if Z continues to improve

This, of all things, is going to kill me.

Brian: First and second year players on this team and the incoming croots are eligible.

Seth: So Iggy has one spot.

Ace: Does he, though?

Brian: Alpha dog is defense and rebounding inclusive. Everyone has their own list.

Ace: I thought the same thing and then I looked over everything again and this is really damn hard. There’s a legitimate argument for everyone on Alex’s two-deep outside of Brooks and probably Nunez, and those guys aren’t exactly dead weight.

[Hit THE JUMP for very exciting gifs and stuff]

Basketbullets: At Least There's Walton

Basketbullets: At Least There's Walton

Submitted by Ace on February 6th, 2017 at 4:10 PM

Bracket Watch: The Other Bracket Looms


it us. [Marc-Gregor Campredon]

The outlook is grim. After everyone but Derrick Walton sleepwalked their way to a loss against a mediocre Ohio State team, Michigan is 14-9 (4-6 B1G) and out of the projected NCAA tournament field. The Wolverines have to climb out of an increasingly big hole and they may have already missed their chance; KenPom says they've played the easiest conference schedule of any Big Ten team so far, and that's about to change in a major way:

Michigan only has three home games left; of those, a more confident and rested Michigan State squad is by far the most beatable. The Wolverines have yet to win a road game this season; they'll need to take at least two, and quite possibly as many as all five left on the docket, to have a realistic shot at an at-large bid. They're 79th in RPI. I had to edit the second sentence of this post multiple times before it was family-friendly.

If they lose tomorrow night, NIT bracket-watching begins in earnest.

[After THE JUMP: Some good news! Really! Also some bad news.]

Basketbullets: DJ's Versatility, Irvin At The Rim, Walton The Specialist

Basketbullets: DJ's Versatility, Irvin At The Rim, Walton The Specialist

Submitted by Ace on January 25th, 2017 at 11:56 AM

DJ Versatile, Part One


Illinois couldn't keep DJ Wilson off the glass. [Marc-Gregor Campredon]

In Michigan's seven conference games, DJ Wilson is second on the team in scoring, first in rebounding, third in assists, and first in blocks. The efficiency numbers look even better than the counting stats: Wilson leads the Big Ten in O-Rating, ranks third in 2P%, 3P%, and eFG%, has the second-lowest turnover rate, and is top-25 in offensive rebound and block rates. Over the course of the season, he's gone from being most notable for his short shorts to being the most important—and perhaps outright best—player on the Wolverines.

Wilson bounced back from a scoreless foul-out against Wisconsin with a complete, dominant outing against Illinois: 19 points (6/8 2P, 1/2 3P, 4/6 FT), six rebounds (five offensive), five assists, no turnovers, a block, and two fouls in 39 minutes. Illini coach John Groce was duly impressed:

“I thought they beat us up on the glass, and obviously DJ Wilson spearheaded that. I thought he was absolutely terrific today. To be honest with you, he was pretty good in game one, too, when you look at his stat line. Today, he hurt us on the glass. Assuming that none of his five assists contributed to threes, he basically produced 29 points minimum for their team with his assists and his scoring.* That’s right at probably half of their production. That’s his energy level on the backboard, his willingness to make the extra pass, make his team better. I just thought he was absolutely terrific in the game. Thought he was a real, real difference.”

Let's start with Wilson's work on the boards. He grabbed six offensive rebounds for the second time this season (Iowa); excluding those two games, however, he hadn't surpassed two since the second game of the season. After the game, John Beilein mentioned he's been hammering home a specific coaching point with Wilson:

He can really shoot, but he’s got to understand, if we’re going to win, if he wants to play at another level, he’s got to mix it up inside. And he’s very receptive to that coaching, but the habit is to drift out. And getting in there, that’s where he gets stuff.

Wilson played with more aggression against Illinois and reaped the rewards. Incidentally, the threat of his outside shot is part of what makes him such a dangerous offensive rebounder. Take his first-half tip-slam, for example. Wilson is parked in the near-side corner while Zak Irvin and Moe Wagner run a high pick-and-roll. With Irvin a legitimate threat to drive and Wilson a legitimate threat on a catch-and-shoot, Wilson's defender, Leron Black—who's Illinois' best rebounder—ends up stuck in no-man's land. Black keeps his eyes on Irvin while shuffling back towards Wilson, except Wilson recognizes the opportunity and sneaks down the baseline:

That wasn't the only time Illinois had trouble picking up Wilson when he crashed from the perimeter:

If you feel like you've seen this before, Glenn Robinson III's putbacks came in similar fashion. Wilson is much bigger; he's also a better outside shooter. After this performance, he should be the second man hitting the boards much more often.

*Two of Wilson's assists did, in fact, contribute to three-pointers, so you can increment that up to 31 points produced.

[Hit THE JUMP for more DJ, a surprising Zak Irvin stat, and more.]

Basketbullets: Pick-and-Roll Defense, Shot-Blocking

Basketbullets: Pick-and-Roll Defense, Shot-Blocking

Submitted by Ace on January 16th, 2017 at 3:58 PM

The Defense, For A Given Definition Of The Term


Slicing through M's defense with little resistance. [Marc-Gregor Campredon]

Do you have a stick? Throw it. Congratuations, you have hit a horrifying Michigan defensive stat.

The Wolverines may have pulled out a victory against a Nebraska team playing without its only viable post player, but they didn't do it by solving any of their problems on defense; the Huskers scored 1.21 points per possession, a hair below the average performance against M's defense in conference play. Michigan is now 185th in adjusted defensive efficiency; their worst finish under John Beilein was 120th in his first year in Ann Arbor.

Through five conference games, Michigan has the worst Big Ten defense by 8.9 points per 100 possessions; B1G opponents are making 52.7% of their twos and 55.3%(!!!) of their threes—and they're rebounding 34.7% of their misses. Michigan is great at not fouling and above-average at stealing the ball; they're somewhere between below-average and terrible at everything else.

Dylan has a post today that goes into further, gruesome detail on Michigan's defense, with one area of focus being the collapse of their pick-and-roll defense:

Michigan’s pick-and-roll defense has completely fallen apart. In the last six games, the Wolverines have allowed .986 points per possession (including pass outs) in the pick-and-roll game. Compared to seasonal numbers across Division I, that would rank 336th nationally.

Only the first half of the Nebraska game is available on the YouTubes, which is probably for the best. This actually came out better than I expected and it's still far from good:

The issue, as Dylan mentions in his post, doesn't appear to be the scheme; no matter how Michigan approaching defending the high screen—usually either with a soft hedge or ICE technique—they're allowing baskets because of individual player breakdowns. Passes into the post, like in the first play, are too easy to make. Blown rotations, like in the second, lead to wide open three-point attempts. Michigan commits the cardinal sin of allowing the P&R ballhandler to split the hedge at the 0:34 mark, something that occurred at least once more in the second half.

They did a little better towards the end of the half, as you can see in the video, but I also forgot to include this abomination:

It was more of the same in the second half. There are two common threads: Michigan has zero rim protection, which allows opponents to attack without fear, and their help/rotation off the ball is awful. I grew up on the suffocating team defense of the mid-aughts Pistons. This is the opposite of that. The problems are so widespread that it's impossible to suggest one or two solutions that could turn things around.

[After THE JUMP: That said...]