Basketbullets: South Carolina

Basketbullets: South Carolina Comment Count

Brian December 10th, 2018 at 1:23 PM

Sometimes I don't have a column. In these times: just bullets.

12/8/2018 – Michigan 89, South Carolina 78 – 10-0

A sloppy outing ends in an eleven point win as Michigan is clearly better, so that's nice. Items:

The un-Michigan game. Michigan 1) rebounded almost half their misses, 2) turned it over 16 times, 3) made 77% of their free throws, and allowed the bricklayers on the other team to shoot 53% from two. This was very un-Dude. Certain things did make sense in the recent history of Michigan basketball. South Carolina got up just 11 threes, didn't go to the line much, and Michigan burned the nets themselves.

The New York Football Knicks. Man, when South Carolina commits a foul it is not subtle. Iggy got flying shoulder thumps immediately preceding most of his FTAs. Michigan hit the bonus with about 12 minutes left in the second half and that felt late. In the first half I kept looking up at the scoreboard to see which South Carolina player had just earned an autobenching only to find out that Martin was rotating his guys so thoroughly that none of the hacking removed key players for long stretches. Both Alanzo Frink and Felipe Haase had three fouls in about ten minutes. Silva fouled out late; five other guys had two fouls.

Jon Teske got some back when he trucked Silva:

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[Barron]

That was deemed a charge; at least Teske got his money's worth.

Illuminati Charles Matthews. Matthews was 2/4 from two, 2/4 from three, 2/4 from the line, and had 2 DREBs and 4 OREBs. Spooooooky.

The defense slowly comes back to earth. Michigan's early two-point D was always going to be unsustainable and things are creeping back up. The good news is that folks are still posting items about Michigan's defense in relation to some of the best in the last decade of college basketball; the bad news is that Michigan's regressing back towards the mean faster than those defenses:

All of those teams had giant block rates. The only reason all three didn't finish first is that 2015 Texas (20%!) beat out 2015 Kentucky (18.2). Last year's MSU (18.5) team had Jaren Jackson (sometimes) and also finished first. Michigan is currently 115th—not bad, but not a number that is going to see you finish the season with a historically good two-point D.

Even if the absurd two-point D was a bit of a mirage, Michigan's D is still very very good in a sustainable fashion. They're forcing more "other twos" than anyone other than San Diego. They're 9th in the country at preventing threes from getting up, and are still top 50 at preventing the opponent from getting to the rim. Teske may not be a super elite shotblocking center but he's also averaging just 3.3 fouls/40, which is a major part of Michigan's #1 ranking in free throw rate allowed.

Michigan is going to be a very good defense. They probably aren't going to be #1 at the end of the year. If they are it's going to be because they're pretty good at two point D and funnel everyone inside the line.

[After THE JUMP: on the other hand this is still a Beilein team.]

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I Have Been Suplexed Into A River But At Least I Have Company

I Have Been Suplexed Into A River But At Least I Have Company Comment Count

Brian December 3rd, 2018 at 1:33 PM

12/1/2018 – Michigan 76, Purdue 57 – 8-0, 1-0 Big Ten

Bigs are the college basketball equivalent of offensive linemen. They're hard to project. They take a significant amount of time to refine into their final product. Also they are big.

Once you get outside the rarefied air of the kids who go to basketball factories so fake they can't even bother to come up with a real name—there is now a place called "Spire Academy" which naturally now houses LaMelo Ball—when centers arrive on campus they've mostly spent their time raining fire on 6'3" guys who keep asking the ref if they can use pitchforks against it. Also, they are big, so they've been slotted into basketball teams whether or not they really care to be. The bigger the person, the more foreordained it is that they will play center despite a total lack of basketball-related skills. There's a 7'6" dude from Dakar named Tacko Fall who plays for UCF and shoots 27% on free throws. QED.

So when you hear the new big who looks like a newborn deer during the brief moments he's permitted on the court is nicknamed "The Big Sleep," well… this is our concern. Not even the guy with literal narcolepsy got called The Big Sleep.

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

Two years later, Purdue has switched Carsen Edwards onto The Big Sleep. This is a thing Purdue just does on instinct at this point. Does the tall man's jersey read "Michigan"? Okay, switch a firefly onto him because the one thing Michigan never does is post up. This gambit has waned in its effectiveness over time but usually because the Boilermaker on the guard is a great lumbering thing or, now, a Frenchman on a dilapidated bicycle. Michigan still doesn't post up, basically ever.

This time Jon Teske puts Edwards on his back, receives an entry pass, and dunks. Edwards shrugs afterwards. His face says "what I am supposed to do with that?" He knows the answer is nothing.

This is Teske now, with the rough edges sanded down. He puts up 17 points on 8 shot equivalents. He spearheads the #1 defense in college basketball. There are a lot of reasons that opponents are hitting 36% of their twos, but the foremost among them is Teske. When he's on the court teams are hitting 31 percent. 31! When he goes to the bench opponents get 13 percentage points worth of relief. Teske got switched onto Nassir Little in the last game and matched Little's drive to the basket. That ball ended up in the stands.

Teske roared afterward, much like he does in the photo that leads this post. That came when he put poor Grady Eifert on a poster:

At the top, Simpson is doing his Big Mood walk despite having no involvement in the play. And that's right too. Teske deserves to roar; he deserves all the chest-bumps and weird awkward arm-lock thingies Michigan is doing this year.

He still looks like the nice boy down the street after you increased his pixel count by 50%, and that's why he'll always be Big Sleep to me. Saddi Washington attempted to rebrand Teske as "Big Nasty" last year, but let's keep The Big Sleep around. Big Nasty is taken by Corliss Williamson and generic anyway. Ain't nobody named Big Sleep.

We just have to look at it a different way. The Big Sleep isn't about what Jon Teske is. It's about what he does to your offense, and sometimes your defense. The Big Sleep is a noir movie. The Big Sleep is a wrestling finisher. The Big Sleep is what happens when you tell Cement Ricky you'll have his money in two weeks and don't.

The Big Sleep is what happens when you manage to get past the forest of poking arms around Michigan's perimeter: a giant man in a trenchcoat throws you over his head into the water.

[After THE JUMP: cat and mouse between Beilein and Painter]

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The Unusual

The Unusual Comment Count

Brian November 29th, 2018 at 1:14 PM

11/28/2018 – Michigan 84, North Carolina 67 – 7-0

Last year's game against North Carolina was a familiar script for Michigan fans. When one of college basketball's blue bloods deigns to play Michigan, it's the old college try for a while. Then the fact that the large men can jump over your head wins out, as it tends to in basketball games.

Sometimes Michigan stayed in contact until the very end, like they did in the Elite Eight against Kentucky. Sometimes they won the damn game, like they did in the Sweet Sixteen versus Kansas. Other times not so much. But even when the positive version of these events were transpiring every lead the opposition got felt like a million points; every Michigan basket was trying to empty the ocean bucket by bucket. Last year it was 20-20 in a flash because Michigan was hitting everything, but even then I was waiting for the bottom to drop out. North Carolina was taking a bunch of good shots. Michigan was taking… shots. They weren't all bad. They weren't all good. They were just shots.

When the lull inevitably came the deficit piled up quickly. Michigan never managed to eat into it. And that was the least unusual thing in the world.

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pre-hat-and-pistols phase[Campredon]

Last night Roy Williams got madder and madder and madder until he was Yosemite Sam in a suit. He was so furious about a four-point first-half deficit that he kept his team in the locker room for the full duration of halftime; when the second half started his team was so sped up that they were taking literally any shot they could get up without devolving into half-court offense. These were universally bricks.

Michigan responded with slick pick-and-roll baskets and open threes. Williams became beet-red at the neck, with the redness inching ever-higher. Jon Teske—honest friar Jon Teske—leveled the basket on an alley-oop dunk that I still do not believe happened; the red flew up Roy's forehead. The meter filled up shortly after. Williams pulled the ultimate high school move: all five starters on the bench, looking forlorn as their backups booted balls into the stands and threw up the kind of shots that are hard to rebound because they come off the backboard so fast they feel like bullets. By the time the starters returned the lead was well and truly insurmountable.

Afterwards:

"It was because they stunk it up," Williams said when asked about the lineup change. "Every one of them stunk it up, and so did I." …

"I've got no positive things," Williams said. "If you want positive things, you'd better go out and find someone on the street. I've got no positive for me, no positives for my team."

This was unusual. Michigan has exasperated coaches before. They've rained death from above against half the country. They've never comprehensively whooped one of college basketball's upper crust on both ends. If Michigan could hit a dang free throw they would have cracked 1.3 points per possession. UNC was held under one on the other end.

This wasn't Michigan scrapping out a victory with pluck and an improbable three pointer launched nearly from halfcourt. From the 12 minute mark in the first half on it was a +27 beatdown in which Michigan felt like the better team in everything except getting shots up (but not down) fast. This year it was UNC hitting just shots for a while, and then the bottom dropped out on them. Their vaunted transition game was more curse than gift. Once in the halfcourt they looked around for one on one opportunities and executed far too few of them.

This is a new world.

John Beilein's Michigan teams are known for scuffling through early rough patches as the complicated offense comes together with new folks in new roles. Then they hit the warp speed button. Sometimes in January, sometimes in February, but usually around halfway through the year.

What happens when a Beilein team that has ripped Villanova and North Carolina hits the go button? Is there even a button left to push? Where can they even go from here? What's the hole to patch? Okay, other than free throws? I have no idea what the answer to these questions are. I project finding out is going to be fun.

[After THE JUMP: old man game and a deer on fire]

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Hoops Preview 2018-19: Bigs

Hoops Preview 2018-19: Bigs Comment Count

Matt Way November 12th, 2018 at 3:42 PM

The loss of the dynamic Moritz Wagner to the NBA leaves a huge hole in the middle of the paint for John Beilein’s team. Michigan now looks to Jon Teske to fill that spot, albeit in a much different form.

Behind Teske, Beilein will call upon seldom-used Austin Davis and newcomer Colin Castleton to provide bench relief.

Jon Teske

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[Marc-Gregor Campredon]

Year: Junior

Measurables: 7’1’’, 260

Base Stats: 12.3 MPG, 3.4 PPG, 55/57 2P/FT%, 3.3 REB/G, 23 steals, 26 blocks

Key Advanced Metrics: 15.2% usage, 122.5 ORating, 90.7 DRating, 18.6 defensive rebound %, 5.5 block %

Now the starting man in the middle, Jon Teske will serve a critical role in Michigan’s success and failures in 2018-19.

Despite some limitations offensively, Teske’s offensive rating last season was second to only Duncan Robinson’s thanks to his efficient finishing and lack of turnovers. His role without the ball was far more important, though.

Teske proved extremely valuable as a screener during Michigan’s 2018 run. His large frame opened up driving and passing lanes that a Michigan big has not provided for teammates in many years. Returning players Zavier Simpson and Charles Matthews took full advantage of that screening, developing some very real chemistry with Teske as the season progressed. Because Michigan has an apparent lack of shooting entering this year, Teske’s screens could serve as a focal point for the offense to create easier looks in the pick-and-roll when shots aren’t falling.

Adding to the intrigue is the development of an outside shot for the Ohio native. Onlookers saw Teske nail an in-rhythm three in Spain and the big man seems to suggest that he’s added a three-point ball to his game:

“Obviously, every day Coach B is watching you and he keeps track of everything scrimmages, points, blocks, rebounds. So that's one thing that they do keep track of is makes and misses,” Teske said. “That's one thing that he's seeing me grow and I've been able to show him that I'm capable of shooting the 3.”

Teske’s true value comes, however, on the other end of the court. His huge size and ability to protect the rim adds an aspect to Michigan’s defense that John Beilein has not enjoyed since Mitch McGary. But it goes further that.

We discussed previously that Teske displayed a high basketball IQ. Although he’s not the most mobile big man in the country, his recognition of when to attack screens and when to lay off was exceptional. With an offseason to watch film and grow in his play recognition, Teske’s defense could improve to a dominant level despite his perceived physical limitations.

[After the JUMP: nothing soft]

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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]

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Unverified Voracity Has A Hut Belly

Unverified Voracity Has A Hut Belly Comment Count

Brian August 22nd, 2018 at 11:27 AM

Open practice! Sunday 6-7. Free parking, be there or be normal.

Sponsor note. In these trying times when every week brings another boggling scandal, you can turn to Richard Hoeg for a calm and reasoned take on the situation. If you'd like a calm and reasoned take on your small business, whether it's incorporation or contracts or any of the other varied legal niceties that come along with having a business, you should call Richard Hoeg.

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He's excellent at parsing things.

This is a separate bullet point and therefore not part of the sponsor note. Police horses.

Basketball practice. This was the longest segment of the open basketball practice I ran across:

Jon Teske for 3: eyeballs emoji. UMHoops and Brandon Quinn have some takeaways for you, Quinn's from Michigan's first game in Spain.

AS THE URBAN TURNS. If you thought things were weird in Columbus, you are correct, but we're gonna need a bigger word:

Zach Smith Ordered Sex Toys to Ohio State Offices, Had Sex With Staffer, Took Nude Photos at White House

More than $2,200 in sex toys! To the office! Hugh Freeze is impressed! He's like "dang, son!"

[After the JUMP: what does 2,200 dollars worth of sex toys even look like! How big was this box? I don't want to know the answers to these questions!]

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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]

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Maximizing Jon Teske's Offense

Maximizing Jon Teske's Offense Comment Count

Matt Way July 16th, 2018 at 10:02 AM

[Photo: Marc-Gregor Campredon]

Conventional wisdom in many basketball circles is that the old-school center is a dying breed. Gone are the days in which teams are willing to spend any significant amount of time dumping the ball in the paint and allowing players to maneuver their way into low-percentage looks.

Today, spacing is king.

The notion that a more traditional big man cannot provide significant value, however, is unfounded. One need only look at the NBA level to see the value in non-shooters like Rudy Gobert and Clint Capela. A reliable three-point shot is a valuable asset for anyone, but centers can help elevate their teams’ offenses in a number ways that can positively impact spacing.

For Michigan, Jon Teske is going to have to find ways to help the offense without a three-point ball. The trick for Teske is that he doesn’t have the athleticism of the rim runners that benefit an offense without a perimeter game.

Previously, we looked at maximizing Zavier Simpson in next year’s offense, focusing primarily on how he operated within the pick-and-roll game. As the screener, Teske is a critical component to what could be the primary schematic theme for the team in the fall.

As the season progressed, Teske showed that he can benefit his teammates offensively, particularly in the screen game. Understanding angles and where to move to promote optimal spacing is a skill, and it’s one that Teske developed nicely this past year. There was clear inflection point as February came about where the game slowed down for the sophomore center. Michigan’s numbers with Teske on the court reflected that improvement (on/off stats vs. KenPom top-100 via Hoop Lens):

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Despite lacking both ideal athleticism and a deep ball, Teske found a way to be a productive part of Michigan’s run to the Championship Game. Perhaps more importantly, John Beilein and the coaching staff took advantage of Teske’s size, screening ability, and generally intelligent play to benefit not just Teske but his teammates as well.

In typical Beilein fashion, Michigan ran a successful offense even when they had three relative non-shooters on the floor at once:

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Per Hooplens, Michigan’s offense was actually better with the trio of Teske, Simpson, and Charles Matthews, despite the fact that none could be confused for a sharp shooter. That success over a decently-sized sample is a good reminder that there isn’t just one way to score efficiently, even in today’s game. 

With that entire trio returning next season, we can look to what Jon Teske did well to gain some insight into what next year’s offense may look like.

[Hit THE JUMP for an extensive breakdown of Teske's offensive growth and potential.]

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Maximizing Zavier Simpson

Maximizing Zavier Simpson Comment Count

Matt Way July 5th, 2018 at 9:35 AM

[Photo: Marc-Gregor Campredon]

Fresh off a Title Game run, Michigan and John Beilein have plenty of re-tooling to do. Losing several rotation members, the team’s likely starting lineup of Zavier Simpson, Jordan Poole, Charles Matthews, Isaiah Livers, and Jon Teske played only 29 possessions together (15 on offense, 14 on defense) last season per Hoop Lens. That particular lineup struggled mightily, but given the sample size, there’s little real conclusions that can be drawn from those minutes.

We can, however, look at each player and their successes in 2017-18 for clues as to how next season’s starting lineup might operate.

Here, we start with the returning floor general.

Simpson made significant strides in his sophomore season, especially on the offensive end of the floor. The Ohio native doubled his two-point field goal attempts per 100 possessions while improving his shooting on those attempts from 45.8 percent in his freshman year to 56.2 percent last season.

The point guard’s increased efficiency resulted largely from his masterful work in the pick-and-roll. Simpson’s operation on high screens was important due to the less reliable outside shooting around him – Michigan’s three-point shooting dropped from 38.5 percent in 2016-17 to 35.7 percent a year ago. Losing Duncan Robinson, Moe Wagner, and Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman, Michigan will rely on Simpson off the dribble even more in the fall.

Simpson’s most valuable asset is his first step and general quickness. His quickness is particularly advantageous when there are fewer defenders that can potentially impede his route to the basket. That primarily comes in two forms – in space and along the short side of the court. The latter is perhaps less intuitive because it results in less space to operate. But defenses generally commit less manpower to those areas.

[Hit THE JUMP for Simpson torching MSU, his growing rapport with Jon Teske, and much more.]

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Let's Start Again: Center

Let's Start Again: Center Comment Count

Brian April 18th, 2018 at 11:53 AM

An irregular series about next year's basketball team. Previously: point guard, shooting guard, small forward, power-ish forward.

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[JD Scott]

ROSTER

Jon Teske (Jr): 12 MPG last year, top-30 OREB rate, rim protector, 118 ORTG(!) thanks to scanty TOs and huge FT rate. 60% from line.

Austin Davis (So*): Played well in scattered minutes here and there. Projects as traditional big.

Colin Castleton (Fr): Stretch five is Wagner except with crazy gumby arms?

I HAVE SOME QUESTIONS

Wither five-out, and how crippling the loss?

I mean… it'll be fine? Probably?

Midway through the season it became clear that Jon Teske had shed his freshman awkwardness and emerged into the kind of rim protector and possession generator that this site has craved for years. Once Moe Wagner became a borderline-NBA-level stretch five we stopped talking about it so much. The burning fire never left, though, for the ultimate Beilein C that doesn't need the ball to do a bunch of stuff.

Teske promises to do a bunch of stuff sans ball like nobody since Mitch McGary. Game columns around here more often than not had some note about how everything was going to be fine even if Moe left, usually citing Teske's excellent OREB rate—which would have been tied for 30th if he qualified for Kenpom leaderboards and got significantly better against better teams—and absurd-for-a-big steal rate. Here's a graph from Bart Torvik of 6'10"+ high major players who played at least 10 MPG:

image

Ray Spalding of Louisville and Javin DeLaurier of Duke are the only dots in the vicinity. Teske's combination of possession generation and sheer size is otherwise unheard of. That goes a long way toward replacing Wagner's diverse offensive skillset. (If you're curious, Wagner is the yellow dot just under the 2.25% steal rate line. Ethan Happ is the red dot at the very top in the middle.)

Meanwhile Teske's meh 5.4 block rate doesn't do his rim protection justice. This site after the game at Maryland:

Jon Teske didn't score but that might have been his best game of the season? I might be serious about that. His ten minutes saw him contest maybe a dozen shots, several of which looked like easy finishes until he got involved. Teske was able to fall off his defender despite the opposition starting their drive as Teske, back to the basketball, recovered on a pick and roll; he was only hit with one foul; he at one point intimidated Huerter into a bizarre miss.

In about 500 possessions against top 100 teams Teske's presence depressed opponents' 2P% by a whopping six points, at the cost of a slight uptick in threes attempted:

Screen Shot 2018-04-17 at 2.21.17 AM

Michigan also forced more turnovers, got more rebounds, and gave up fewer free throws with Teske on the floor.

He even managed to survive against Villanova's pick and roll. Very few Wildcat points could be tied back to Teske's relative immobility. And that's the only question left about his defensive prowess: what happens if he plays Haas against an opponent's Wagner? So far, so good—and a brief survey of the league next year turns up only a couple plausible stretch 5s, give or take annual development. Issa Thiam of Rutgers(!) is the only returning player over 6'8" to put up 100 3s last year, and he's a super-sized Just A Shooter SF. Luka Garza, Isaiah Roby, and Juwan Morgan all tried around 50 with acceptable-ish hit rates and might blow up.

Teske is likely to be a defensive difference maker and shot volume asset.

[After the JUMP: Teske O click, Moe 2.0?]

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