One Frame At A Time: Big Ten Tournament

One Frame At A Time: Big Ten Tournament

Submitted by Ace on March 8th, 2018 at 10:59 AM

There are a ridiculous number of GIFs from the Big Ten title run. Instead of attempting to rank all of them or cram everything into one post, I've changed the format up a bit, breaking up the GIFs by game or, in coach- or Poole-related cases, theme. You can find all of them and many, many more at the MGoBlog Gfycat page.

On with the show.

IOWA

Full album.

5. Poole Pocket Pass

4. Split and Assist

3. Corner Dagger

2. Wagner Spin, Dunk, Mug

FRAMES OF THE GAME: TEARDROP FROM HEAVEN

[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the tournament in GIFs.]

Michigan 75, Purdue 66, Big Ten Tournament Champs

Michigan 75, Purdue 66, Big Ten Tournament Champs

Submitted by Ace on March 4th, 2018 at 7:44 PM

BIG NASTY. [Marc-Gregor Campredon]

Four wins. Four days. A trophy.

Old hat.

For the second straight year, Michigan pulled off the improbable and ran through the best the Big Ten had to offer for a conference tournament championship. They sealed it this evening by running away from Purdue, which never held a lead after the game's opening three minutes. The big, bad Boilermakers could only stay at arm's length, then the Wolverines laid the hammer down in an incredible second half only marred by some late free-throw trouble that never put the outcome in serious doubt.

Just about everything John Beilein touched turned to gold; he outdueled Purdue's Matt Painter in what's been the Big Ten's most intricately fascinating coaching matchup the last two years. Painter chose to hedge hard against the ballhandler on high screens in the first half; while Michigan went 3-for-11 on mostly wide-open threes, they drew Purdue's towering big men far from the hoop—the Wolverines went 13-for-19 inside the arc and didn't have a shot blocked or commit a turnover.

Much of that was due to the stellar play of Jon Teske, who scored 12 of his 14 points in the first-half minutes after Beilein gave Wagner the usual break following his first foul. Teske was a force on both ends and Beilein let him ride for 12 first-half minutes. Teske rewarded his coach's faith with dunks off the pick-and-roll, increasingly lengthy midrange shots off the pick-and-pop, a thunderous block, and a stellar late defensive posseession on an otherwise dominant Isaac Haas, who picked up a cheap frustration foul in response.

"I really have no words to explain," said Teske.


Big lights. Little dude. Huge buckets. [Campredon]

Zavier Simpson was masterful on both ends as well. His chemistry with Teske created multiple open baskets. He got the hoop with regularity and finished. When Purdue overplayed him on screens, he generated wide open looks for Michigan's shooters. He played lockdown defense on Purdue's best perimeter player, Carsen Edwards, who went only 3-for-9 in the first half.

"He's a pit bull," said Beilein. "We have a picture of a big, mean pit bull in our locker room for every game. And he is that guy. He's one that loves to play defense."

"Muhammad and I just wanted to come out and set the tone," said Simpson. "We wanted to play great defense from the start so our energy could be contagious. And as you've seen, others followed."

While the Wovlerines went into the break up 38-33, however, it felt like they'd missed a golden opportunity to blow the game open. The announcers, and most everyone else, felt a tight finish coming.

That did not happen. Painter chose not to continue playing with fire on screens, switching them to prevent open looks instead of sticking with the aggressive hedging approach. After a few forced shots over Haas, Simpson and Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman ruthlessly attacked the basket, combining for 15 second-half points and five assists.

"It takes a long time to sort of build up the substance to your team that can persevere and just won't give in," said Beilein. "They won't give in to fatigue. They won't give in to momentum changes. They just stick in there."

"You always learn something when you play them," said Painter. "And you fix something. As a coach you think you've got them figured out, you don't have them figured out."


Wagner was all smiles in the second half. [Campredon]

Moe Wagner, with his mother watching from the stands, removed any doubt of the outcome. His 4-for-5 second-half performance featured a Dirk-like turnaround fallaway three as the shot clock expired, a blow-by layup, and another triple right in the grill of Matt Haarms. He did more than just score; he led the break after a steal then hit a trailing MAAR for a big three, and he battled hard on the boards, helping M limit Purdue to three offensive rebounds after they'd pulled down seven in the first half.

"Those guards are good but not everybody has a guy like Wagner that can stick 3s, drive the ball, and play with passion," said Painter.

Then Duncan Robinson got a thunderblock on Carsen Edwards and Zavier Simpson slipped a beautiful pass to Teske for a posterizing dunk on Haas, and the party was on. Michigan stretched the lead as far as 18 before a too-little, too-late Purdue run got them as close as seven while the Wolverines scuffled at the charity stripe. That's a concern for later.

For now, Michigan is once again on a tear heading into the NCAA Tournament, and today's championship may well have locked up a three-seed. John Beilein is a wizard.


Back-to-back champs. [Campredon]

[Hit THE JUMP for more photos and the box score.]

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.

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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]

Michigan 90, Detroit 58

Michigan 90, Detroit 58

Submitted by Ace on December 16th, 2017 at 2:49 PM


Detroit couldn't break through the Wall of Teske. [Marc-Gregor Campredon]

Mercy.

Fine, some notes:

Detroit was awful. I need to get this out of the way before discussing anything else from this game. Detroit came out looking like a team that had quit on Bacari Alexander, going 5-for-23 from the field in the first half with as many turnovers (15) as rebounds while allowing a parade of open threes for Michigan. Things didn't improve much in the second half. Unfortunately, Alexander may not be long for that job—there's only so much to take away from this game on the Michigan side because of how poorly Detroit played.

While Moe Wagner sat, Jon Teske balled out. As expected, Wagner's minor ankle sprain kept him out. Michigan didn't miss a beat with Teske in the middle, as Detroit simply couldn't handle his size on either end of the floor. In 28 minutes, he scored 15 points on 14 shot equivalents, pulled down six of his ten rebounds on the offensive end, came up with two steals, and somehow didn't record a block while impacting a number of shots. Teske's stamina got tested a bit as Austin Davis fouled out in seven minutes (Davis did provide four points before his exit) and he held up well.

Charles Matthews had a great second half. Matthews didn't even arrive at the arena until 45 minutes before tipoff. Per The Athletic's Brendan Quinn, Matthews's grandmother passed away last week, and Charles went with assistant coach DeAndre Haynes to the funeral yesterday before flying back to Detroit this morning. After a slow start, Matthews was brilliant in the second half, scoring 17 of his 20 points on 7-for-10 shooting while getting to the rim at will.

(Almost) everyone shot well. Duncan Robinson broke out of his funk with a 3-for-4 performance from downtown; Zavier Simpson hit both his triples and 3-of-5 twos; Jordan Poole scored 12 points on ten shots in just 15 minutes; even Ibi Watson got into the act, making 2-of-3 threes. Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman and Eli Brooks were the main exceptions, going a combined 2-for-10.

Isaiah Livers is getting close. He played with great energy, recording five offensive rebounds and two blocks. He showed off his passing skill with three assists, including couple really nice post feeds. He's on the verge of a breakout, but after missing his only three-point attempt, he's 2-for-15 from beyond the arc this season. His form looks fine; if/when those shots start falling, he's going to push for a bigger role and quite possibly Robinson's starting spot.

[Hit THE JUMP for the box score.]

Basketbullets: Can This Team Be Good?

Basketbullets: Can This Team Be Good?

Submitted by Ace on December 6th, 2017 at 2:48 PM


[James Coller]

After the collapse at Ohio State on Monday, there's been quite a bit of consternation among Michigan fans about the course of the season. The Wolverines sit at 7-3, and they're only 2-3 against viable competition, with their best win coming against the #82-ranked team on KenPom. If they don't at least come away with a split in their upcoming games against UCLA and Texas, there's good reason to worry about how this team is going to compile a worthy tournament resumé.

To get an idea of how the season could play out, I wanted to take a look at how John Beilein's Michigan teams have improved (or not) over the course of the season. I'm an idiot, however, so thankfully our very own Alex Cook had the same thought and could actually put it into action. Alex used the game score metric from Bart Torvik*—a 0-100 score for each game based on adjusted efficiency margin—to map out the in-season progression of Beilein's teams. This, for example, is last season's graph. The blue line tracks the individual game scores; the black line is a five-game running average; the gray line is the overall season trend. As you certainly guessed, the 2016-17 graph shows a great deal of late-season improvement:


Waltoning, The Graph

The first question that I had: was last year more the exception or the rule? Alex went through each season to get the answer. Positive numbers show in-season improvement, negative the opposite:

I'm about to get into much more detail, but the initial takeaway is we can't assume that Beilein is going to turn things around this season without a couple things breaking the right way. Using the above as a guide, it's time to take a look at the potential ways this season plays out.

[Hit THE JUMP for season scenarios with past precedent.]

Basketbullets: Big Nasty Edition

Basketbullets: Big Nasty Edition

Submitted by Ace on November 20th, 2017 at 2:37 PM

It's Teske Time


[Marc-Gregor Campredon]

Michigan heads into this week's Maui Invitational with a 3-0 record in body-bag games. There's a good chance you haven't seen too much of this team yet; two of those games were on the dreaded subscription-only BTN-Plus stream.

As expected, this young team still has a lot to figure out. Neither Zavier Simpson nor Jaaron Simmons have taken control of the point guard position. Charles Matthews's scoring, and seemingly his confidence in his jumper, has waxed and waned. The offense, as it often does early in the season under John Beilein, looks disjointed, and the team is connecting on only 32.9% of their three-pointers.

We do, however, have a definitive answer to one looming preseason question. Jon Teske removed all doubt about his standing on the depth chart with a ten-point, 11-rebound outburst against Southern Miss, going a perfect 5-for-5 from the field in 15 KenPom MVP-worthy minutes. Competition caveats abound, of course—bold prediction: Teske doesn't shoot 100% in most games—but USM at least fielded a 6'11", 260-pound center. Here's Teske eating that center alive:

Before getting into the serious analysis, some Small Sample Size Theater with Teske's early-season stats:

  • He's shooting 100% from the field and 80% from the line with an 83.3 free throw rate.
  • He's posting a 19.3 offensive rebound % and 37.9 defensive rebound %.
  • His 7.7% block rate would be Michigan's best over a full season since Ekpe Udoh in 2009-10.
  • According to Synergy, Teske has used nine possessions, including assists. Michigan is averaging 2.11 points on those possessions.

Pretty, pretty good. 

[Hit THE JUMP for a bunch more Teske GIFs, Z's lockdown defense, and more.]

Michigan 61, Southern Miss 47

Michigan 61, Southern Miss 47

Submitted by Ace on November 16th, 2017 at 9:46 PM


Big Nasty. [Marc-Gregor Campredon]

In an effort to speak a new identity into existence this offseason, Michigan's coaches and players started calling sophomore Jon Teske "Big Nasty." They hoped that would replace "Big Sleep," the moniker Teske picked up during a quiet freshman year as a little-used third-stringer.

Now Moe Wagner's primary backup, Teske was every bit Big Nasty tonight against Southern Miss, tallying his first career double-double with ten points and 11 rebounds. The seven-footer made all five shots from the field and grabbed five offensive boards. He did all this in only 15 minutes, earning a standing ovation when he exited in the game's waning moments.

Without Teske's breakout performance, this could've been another uncomfortably close game against an overmatched opponent. After Michigan jumped out to an early 9-2 lead at the first TV timeout, USM fought their way back as—stop me if you've heard this before—Michigan couldn't can open looks while their opponents made an unsustainable percentage of their three-point shots. Fittingly, an off-balance pull-up triple by Tyree Griffin fell at the buzzer to give the Golden Eagles a one-point halftime lead.

Michigan still looked disjointed to open the second half, trading the lead with USM until Teske checked in with 13 minutes to play. He was a much-needed spark. His defensive rebound led to a quick Duncan Robinson three in transition to give M the lead for good; he'd cap a 13-0 run with a putback and a smooth baseline jumper. USM didn't threaten again.


MAAR finished with a team-high 14 points. [Campredon]

It was the third straight game that Michigan couldn't dominate a body-bag opponent. Their expected stars again underwhelmed. Wagner posted a quiet 12 points and six rebounds. Charles Matthews went scoreless in the first half, finished with six points and two turnovers, and looked unsure of when to assert himself. Point guards Zavier Simpson and Jaaron Simmons didn't make a shot from the field, though Simmons at least dealt out five assists, including a slick cross-court feed for a Matthews corner three that blew the game wide open.

Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman was a notable exception, grinding out ten first-half points when the offense was struggling. He'd finish with a team-high 14 points and gave out five assists; his ability to make something out of nothing in late-clock situations proved critical.

Michigan will face a significant step up in competition with three games in three days at next week's Maui Invitational, starting with LSU on Monday. While the early portion of the season hasn't been pretty, there's reason to believe a simple correction in shooting luck, much like what occurred midway through last season, will have this team looking dangerous. Through three games, the Wolverines are making 32.9% of their three-pointers, even though their looks have been of decent quality; opponents are hitting a scorching 48.1%, even though the perimeter defense hasn't looked nearly that awful.

There are still problem areas. Michigan needs more production from their point guards, and Matthews looks alarmingly gun-shy for a player who's supposed to be one of the team's top two scorers. Teske's emergence, however, answers at least one big question, and could even give John Beilein some added lineup flexibility down the road.

Stick around, Big Nasty.

[Hit THE JUMP for the box score.]