One Frame At A Time: Minnesota

One Frame At A Time: Minnesota

Submitted by Ace on January 20th, 2013 at 2:25 PM

Glenn Robinson III, quite casually, threw down a 360 dunk against Minnesota. I have no memory of a Michigan player ever doing the same, let alone with such ease. So, yeah, the full gif treatment is in order. Above is a little photoshop job, because something about that play didn't quite feel real. Below, every damn replay angle imaginable [click each thumbnail for the gif]:


Salute.

[For the rest of the Minnesota gifs, featuring several more dunks and John Beilein's strange facial tic, hit THE JUMP.]

Hoops Picture Pages: Spacing Issues

Hoops Picture Pages: Spacing Issues

Submitted by Ace on January 15th, 2013 at 3:12 PM

For the first time this season, Michigan's offense looked stagnant for prolonged stretches against Ohio State, largely due to the Buckeyes shutting down the pick and roll game. Going back over the film, it was clear much of this had to do with the on-ball defense of Aaron Craft, who hounded Trey Burke into a 4-for-13 shooting performance.

Interestingly, Craft was able to get away with going under the screen for most of the game despite Burke hitting a three-pointer when he did so in the game's opening minutes. With Burke not shooting over the top, Craft was able to take away his ability to get to the basket, and with that the easy buckets that Burke usually creates for himself and his teammates.

While Craft played a stellar defensive game, however, it wasn't his play alone that mitigated Michigan's go-to offensive play; the Wolverines simply didn't execute well on offense. Here's one such example—Michigan has just reset after an offensive rebound, and Mitch McGary comes out to set a screen for Burke:

Note that there's plenty of space in the middle of the Buckeye defense above. In the next frame, you'll see Craft has gone over McGary's screen and is now stuck behind Burke, so OSU center Evan Ravenel steps up to cut off the drive while McGary starts his roll to the basket:

At this juncture, Michigan should be able to create a good look. Burke is past Craft and therefore occupying Ravenel. McGary is heading to the basket, which should force Deshaun Thomas (defending in the paint) to abandon guarding Tim Hardaway Jr. entirely—which, of course, leaves one Buckeye to guard both Hardaway and Nik Stauskas. If Sam Thompson—at the top of the screen—comes down to help, Glenn Robinson III should be open in the corner for a... wait, Glenn, where are you going?

Unfortunately for Michigan, Robinson cut to the basket at precisely the wrong time—he heads right into the space that McGary is cutting towards. When coaches talk about the importance of spacing, this is what they're talking about. The spacing issues Robinson's cut creates are really apparent in the next frame:

Even though Burke still has a step on Craft, OSU has every Michigan option covered. Ravenel is both taking away the drive and any passing lane to McGary, while Thompson is doing the same on Robinson. Thomas is able to step out on Hardaway. Stauskas is occupied in the corner. Now Burke is forced to try to make something out of nothing:

That something turns out to be a contested layup over Ravenel that doesn't even catch iron. Note that a small blanket could cover both Robinson and McGary.

Video:

While Craft recovered nicely, this is a play that should've resulted in a Michigan basket, but it was thwarted by inexperience; a simple mistimed cut from Robinson is enough to throw off the entire play.

As Michigan romped through non-conference play, it was easy to forgot that they're still a very young team. Some freshman mistakes are more obvious than others, like when Caris LeVert threw a pass to no one after leaving his feet, giving Ohio State an easy fast break layup. Plays like the one above—after a reset, when a player needs to know on the fly where the offense calls for him to be on the floor—are more subtle, but also show off mistakes born from inexperience.

Those plays should be fewer and farther between as the season goes along; at the same time, this team is going to rely all year on five freshmen. Trey Burke is a great example of a player making a big leap after getting familiar with John Beilein's system—that leap, of course, came between his freshman and sophomore seasons. It's doubtful Michigan is going to eliminate these types of errors by March.

That's not to say Michigan can't make the Final Four by sheer force of talent combined with Beilein's coaching; if they do, though, they'll have to overcome their youth.

One Frame At A Time: Nebraska

One Frame At A Time: Nebraska

Submitted by Ace on January 11th, 2013 at 1:25 PM

Within seconds of Glenn Robinson III's tip-slam on Wednesday night, @pnbloem (BlockM around these parts) recognized some serious gif potential:

I'm here to serve:

[For the rest of the Nebraska game in gifs, with a heavy emphasis on Mitch McGary and the NCAA's foremost attention-starved refs, hit THE JUMP.]

Michigan 62, Nebraska 47

Michigan 62, Nebraska 47

Submitted by Ace on January 9th, 2013 at 10:24 PM


Bryan Fuller/MGoBlog

After his team held Michigan to their lowest point total of the season, Nebraska coach Tim Miles revealed his bold defensive strategy: the power of statistics.

"We thought, hey, they've been shooting the three great. They've got to return to the mean."

Did they ever. Michigan connected on just 3-of-17 three-pointers, and the Huskers succeeded in taking away their transition game, holding the Wolverines to a single fast break bucket. The Crisler Center crowd expected a blowout; instead, they got a slow-paced affair that was closer than the final score would indicate.

While the Wolverines didn't trail after the opening seven minutes, their lead didn't reach double digits until just 4:39 remained. Up to the final stretch, Miles's plan worked to perfection, with Michigan missing an uncharacteristic number of open looks from deep and failing to get out on the run.

That changed with just under eight minutes to go, when Glenn Robinson III picked Dylan Talley's pocket near the scorer's table, then took flight from not far inside the free throw line for a highlight-reel dunk. After Nebraska responded with a three, Robinson came out of nowhere to tip-slam a missed three by Caris LeVert, snapping the crowd out of a game-long funk and opening a 15-5 Michigan run to close the contest.

Robinson was the only Wolverine to shoot better than 50% on the night, scoring 14 points on 5-of-6 shooting while adding six rebounds. Hardaway, Trey Burke, and Nik Stauskas scored 46 of the team's 48 remaining points, but they also shot a combined 15-for-39 from the field. The Wolverines could not find a rhythm in their half-court sets, tallying just six assists on 21 made shots.

Mitch McGary and Jordan Morgan scored just two points between them, but their work on the boards kept Michigan in front—Morgan finished with 11 rebounds (eight defensive), McGary six (three defensive), with the latter repeatedly hitting the deck for loose balls. With just over six minutes left and Michigan holding on to a nine-point lead, McGary threw himself into a pile of three Nebraska Cornhuskers and one orange sphere, coming away with a held ball—possession arrow, Michigan.

As he walked to the other end of the count, McGary threw his hands in the air, summoning perhaps the loudest roar of the night. Moments later, Stauskas found McGary under the hoop, and he banked home a right-handed layup. The Wolverines finally had their double-digit lead, sparked not by Burke and Hardaway, but a pair of freshmen.

As the final seconds ticked off the clock, chants of "Beat Ohio" rang out from the Maize and Blue faithful. Michigan survived their first bout with regression, pulling away from a conference cellar-dweller.

If the trend continues on Sunday, they won't be so fortunate.

Inevitable Ragecomic Panel Four

Inevitable Ragecomic Panel Four

Submitted by Brian on January 7th, 2013 at 3:31 PM

1/6/2012 – Michigan 95, Iowa 67 – 15-0, 2-0 Big Ten

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the desolation of the Fran (Bryan Fuller)

Less than a minute into the second half, an Iowa post fumbled what would have been an easy dunk into the stands. The television cut to Fran McCaffery, a rising star when it comes to volcano-coach sideline outbursts. He obliged, roaring out "TWO HANDS TWO HANDS TWO HANDS" as he quiveringly pantomimed catching a basketball with, yep, two hands. Ace is GIFing this as we speak.

Exactly a minute later, Iowa closed out Nik Stauskas hard, so he drove past his defender and threw down a rim-rattling dunk like he was not, in fact, a freshman 6'6" three-point specialist. On the next possession, same thing except nastier: closeout, Stauskas drives past his man except this time he's in good position, lane-covering audacious spin move for a finger roll. Gus Johnson's voice hit a questioning falsetto pitch as he exclaimed "OH?!," because he is in our brains too.

Nik Stauskas did this, and the camera did not cut to Fran McCaffery because directors aren't that eager to put resigned shrugs on camera. What are you going to do? What can you do?

I've got this Burke guy to check, three star my ass, and he's playing with two sons of NBA players, and they're raining in threes, and that Robinson guy is dunking on anyone I send out there, and now this guy with the ears, the one shooting 55% from three and also being the dunking guy. Screw it. The guy with the ears tears it. I will save my rage for another time, when there is the vague semblance of a point. For right now I'm just going to—

—watch their freshman center block Aaron White's face.

via UMHoops

It's okay. I didn't really like his face to begin with.

—watch their freshman center start a break with a half-court outlet pass to Burke. I can deal. That doesn't seem any fairer than finding Canadian Larry Bird but whatever.

—watch their freshman center do the same thing after dribbling three times in the open court… aaaaaaah…

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

They are going to lose. It is going to happen. They are seventh in Kenpom, and Kenpom's pretty good. Everyone loses, even the really good teams, and it's not like the Big Ten is an SEC-like trip through the daisies. It is brutal. Michigan has nine of their ten toughest games left to play.

Rank Opponent Difficulty KenPom RPI Result
- MICHIGAN 5 7 3 -
1 @Indiana 7 1 15  
2 @Minnesota 7 8 7  
3 Indiana 8 1 15  
4 @MSU 17 16 22  
5 MSU 19 16 22  
6 @Illinois 20 34 10  
7 Illinois 22 34 10  
8 @Ohio 24 11 42  
9 N.C. State 26 36 16 79-72
10 Ohio 27 11 42  
11 #Pittsburgh 38 10 70 67-62
12 #Kansas St. 38 39 40 71-57
13 @Wisconsin 50 18 91  
14 Iowa 65 51 78 95-67
15 Arkansas 75 66 83 80-67
16 @NW 91 100 101 94-66
17 NW 101 100 101  
18 #WVU 101 108 105 81-66
19 @Purdue 107 85 150  
20 Purdue 118 85 150  
21 @Bradley 119 106 156 74-66
22 WMU 123 175 71 73-41
23 Nebraska 131 189 73  
24 @Penn St. 138 162 141  
25 Penn St. 152 162 141  
26 CMU 163 216 109 88-73
27 Cleveland St. 218 242 194 77-47
28 EMU 233 296 170 93-54
29 IUPUI 273 284 262 91-54
30 Binghampton 341 339 343 67-39
31 Slippery Rock NR NR NR 100-62

via MGoUser mistersuits

 

Have you seen Trevor Mbakwe? That guy. Victor Oladipo. That guy. Michigan will go on the road, and get it from the refs, and boy this conversation with myself is only indicating the deluded heights expectations are reaching.

If this team bows out in the first round to a MAC team, there will be no "good try you guys, thanks for the banner." There will be wailing, and rending of garments. Because this doesn't come along too often unless you're a Duke or North Carolina type team. Illinois had it back in 2005, and they still talk about that team in a reverenced hush despite its narrow demise in the elite eight. They had it back in 1989, and the MGoWife reports from an undergrad tenure spent in Champaign that they still aren't over losing to Michigan in the Final Four. The rest of the time they've wobbled around good, not great. Even the powers don't always have it all come together.

It has come together for Michigan, and every game starts out with the same doubt—what if they're not that good? What if this is all a mirage? What if I wake up and Nik Stauskas is in fact Gavin Groninger?

Those persist for anywhere from one to 15 minutes, whereupon the nature of this year's team causes the opponent coach to smirk wryly as his guys fall behind by lots. So far. One more whipping, and then the acid test.

Photos

From Bryan Fuller:

Bullets

I know the McGary stuff happened before the Stauskas stuff. Artistic license! It's a nicer way to say "lies!"

GUS. Follow us around, Gus Johnson. You and Raftery, follow this team around, going "uh" and saying "onions" and literally just squeaking in the best way possible. National treasure, Gus Johnson is.

Gus Johnson and the fact that when I check out Big 12 conference games half the time I find they're only on ESPN3 make me almost not bitter that the BTN ended up making the Big Ten grab Rutgers and Maryland.

Big Puppy. McGary had a great game, probably his best at Michigan so far. I mentioned the block and the outlet pass hockey assist stuff above, but I think my favorite play of his was a defensive rebound he corralled in the first half where he had little shot at the ball, so he tipped the thing off the backboard to himself. That kind of thing is one of the reasons he's got the ridiculously high rebound rates he does*. He's got a huge rebound radius.

McGary took a relatively big fall from one-and-done territory to pretty good prospect territory late in the rankings cycle, and that was justified. You can see a version of McGary peeking through the lack of polish that could be the #2 high school basketball player in the country. The rebounds, of course, and then the outlet passing, ability to lead a break for a couple dribbles, what looks like a pretty smooth stroke, and just size in general. Give him a couple inches more vertical leap so he doesn't occasionally leave a dunk on the rim and blocks more shots, and… yeah.

Caris arriving. So we got 32 minutes of LeVert against Central with Hardaway out. Here's what his next two games look like squeezed into one:

30 minutes, 15 points, 1/3 twos, 4/5 threes, 1/2 fta, 3 reb, 2:1 A:TO, a steal, 5 fouls

The three point shooting distorts that a bit, but it's pretty nice to have a guy who's 8/17 so far coming off the bench, and he's got a 3:1 A:TO rate. Dumping the redshirt was the move to make. He's starting to do some of the stuff I expect Burke to do with his ability to shake people with his change of direction.

It is almost redundant to talk about Trey Burke. 19 points on ten shots, 12 assists, one TO. Just another day at the office.

He's got to be the best point guard in the country, bar none. People in the Michael Carter-Williams camp have to explain why having the #4 assist (MCW) rate versus the #11 (Burke) makes up for MCW shooting 42%/28% versus Burke's 62%/41%. There is no amount of defense that can make up for that, especially when Burke is turning the ball over at less than half the rate MCW is.

Two things leapt out about a couple of possessions in the second half after Michigan had blown the lead out big. On the first, he cleared everyone out and went at Iowa's Anthony Clemmons. Clemmons did a great job, first cutting him off and forcing Burke to pick up his dribble, then hounding him on a couple of shot fakes; Burke finally went up and under for an easy two, and the color guy was all like "I don't know what you're supposed to do about that if you're Anthony Clemmons." On the second, he loosed himself with a crossover and launched an eighteen-footer, AKA The Shot Brian Hates More Than Any Shot Ever.

On neither of these possessions did I think what was going on was a bad idea—okay maybe there was a moment in the Clemmons one—and I was not mad at either shot. Because it was just going down.

*[If-he-was-averaging-40%-of-minutes checkin: 7th nationally in defensive rebound rate, 4th in offensive.]

Remember when we were worried about Tim Hardaway Jr. sliding back to his sophomore form? A quaint concern at the moment. Hardaway's coming off 19 points on 13 shots against Iowa and 21 on eight(!) against Northwestern. Against the Hawkeyes he added five assists and five rebounds; Morgan has passed him in DREB but only barely.

Hardaway hasn't had fewer than three assists since the Bradley game, BTW.

Fouls: none. All of Michigan's starters are in the top 200 in terms of fouls committed per 40 minutes, with Stauskas's 0.9 sixth nationally. The bigs will get in trouble from time to time, especially McGary, but once Horford's back—which I imagine will be soon since he dressed yesterday—that concern is not, uh, concerning.

That's the other bedrock of Michigan's defense. They give up the second-least free throws of anyone in the country, and they go together. By not challenging a ton of shots they're in position when and if you miss.

It's also a help for the offense. To date, Michigan hasn't had a period of time where they had to sit a starter for more than a few minutes. I hope that in the event a Michigan non-post picks up a couple quick ones that Beilein will consider the situation and be a little more flexible than he usually is with these things. If it's Stauskas I'm not sure he should even change the rotation.

Philosophy. Michigan's defense isn't good, sure, but the philosophy they've taken is: let's make this a shooting contest. We won't get fouled, and you won't get fouled, and we won't let you have any second chance opportunities, and we won't turn the ball over so you can have transition buckets. Let's see who's better at HORSE. Oh it's us yay.

Michigan 95, Iowa 67

Michigan 95, Iowa 67

Submitted by Ace on January 6th, 2013 at 7:58 PM


Bryan Fuller/MGoBlog

For the first 13 minutes against Iowa, Michigan looked as disjointed and inconsistent on both ends of the floor as they had all season. The Hawkeyes, coming off a four-point loss to Indiana, looked poised to give another top-flight team a serious test, holding a 21-17 edge with seven minutes left in the first half.

Over the course of the next 27 minutes, the Wolverines scored 78 points.

The onslaught actually began on defense, when Mitch McGary electrified the Crisler crowd with a volleyball spike of a block against Iowa's Aaron White—a display of sheer athletic superiority. From that point, Michigan finished the first half on a 27-14 tear featuring three thunderous dunks—one each by Glenn Robinson III, Mitch McGary, and Tim Hardaway Jr., whose one-handed throwdown will assuredly crack the Sportscenter top ten.

In the waning seconds of the half, the Wolverines somehow moved the ball coast-to-coast in under four seconds, capped by a Robinson layup that sent the team running into the tunnel with an 11-point lead.

Iowa had made their upset bid. There would be no upset.

The acrobatics continued in the second half as the Wolverines pulled away; in all, Michigan totaled 11 dunks by five different players. They also connected on 10-of-22 three-pointers. Of their 36 field goals, 24 were assisted. They committed six turnovers.

Robinson, perhaps more representative than any other Wolverine of the new breed, led the charge with 20 points on 8-of-13 shooting and ten rebounds. After the game, he revealed one of his nicknames, "Light Rob," for his ability to register so-called quiet points within the framework of the offense. His points weren't so quiet today—five dunks tend to make some noise—but he once again displayed a knack for showing up in the right spot, rarely needing to do so much as dribble to put the ball in the hoop.

Trey Burke did what Trey Burke does: 19 points on 7-of-10 shooting, 12 assists, a steal, and a lone turnover. Michigan's other star, Hardaway, also managed 19 points, hitting 3-of-5 threes and stuffing the stat sheet with five rebounds and five assists. Nik Stauskas, working around the margins, scored 13 and threw down a slam of his own, using his lethal three-point shot to set up the drive.

Then there was McGary, doing the grunt work in his best game as a Wolverine. He finished with five points, hitting his only two field goals of the day; more importantly, he hit the glass, bringing in 11 rebounds in just 20 minutes and keying the fast break with quick outlet passes. Continuing to show more explosiveness after starting the year rusty, McGary tallied three blocks and, yes, dunked.

Despite a margin that hung in the neighborhood of 30 points for much of the second half, Crisler didn't begin to empty until the last couple minutes, after the starters had all been (mercifully) pulled. This was a show, the divine intersection of athleticism and skill, and woe be upon the fan who didn't savor every second.

Asked to compare this team to the others he's coached, John Beilein said, "we run a little faster and jump a little higher." In a grand concession given his previous, tongue-in-cheek dodging of such questions, Beilein even went so far as to say "a few" of his past players may even admit this Michigan outfit is superior to his past squads.

Indeed, Coach. Indeed.

Unverified Voracity Consoles The Bereaved

Unverified Voracity Consoles The Bereaved

Submitted by Brian on December 21st, 2012 at 3:58 PM

I'm sure you do. Youtube search feed scouring turned up something better than ads for illegal internet streams today:

Tate Forcier highlights set to Hell's Bells! Posted by… TateForcierHighlight (1 video). TateForcierHighlight thinks this about Tate Forcier:

Highlight complication of Tate Forciers 2 year career with the University of Michigan wolverines football team. He is in my opinion a under looked quarterback that is yet to prove him self.

ARGH TATE WHY DIDN'T YOU GO TO CLASS.

You are psychic, guy on facebook. The "representative comment" for the anti-Outback-uniformz faction mentioned in a previous UV asked "what's next a dubstep Victors?" Uh. Dammit, guy. Prepare for this next year:

[ED: DO NOT CLICK PLAY MGOBLOG CANNOT BE HELD RESPONSIBLE FOR ANY CARPETS, PETS, OR GRANDMOTHERS WRETCHED UPON AS A RESULT OF CLICKING PLAY]

nimnim2500, your evil is galaxy-spanning.

[HT: Stephen Nesbitt.]

The bereaved. Michigan State did not acquire one year of services from Jabari Parker, yesterday. Some guy at the LSJ hit "publish" on the wrong story, though, leading to the internet producing this:

A-paOiLCIAATccR[1]

source unknown

Parker is kind of a big deal—the #1 recruit in the 2013 class—and MSU is currently without a 2013 recruiting class despite having two open spots after missing on a variety of other targets. So it's not good. But is it worthy of having a sleepover and reassuring Izzo that people really actually like him?

RT @intrpdtrvlr: People are trying to organize a gesture of support for Coach tomorrow. Let's make it happen. #StandingOforIzzo

Let us come together in this time of trial when Tom Izzo only projects to have four McDonald's All-Americans on his 2013-2014 roster who kind of underperform expectations and are regarded by the NBA as poison.

This is ridiculous for a few reasons. Patrick Hruby details the extent to which Ohio State is monitoring their players now that Pryorgate has dropped:

In the wake of a tattoos-for-memorabilia scandal that violated National Collegiate Athletic Association amateurism rules and left this year’s undefeated Buckeyes squad bowl-season ineligible, the school has increased its annual athletic department compliance budget to more than $1 million and upped the size of its corresponding department to 14 full-time employees -- four more people than are on the football squad’s coaching staff. Where are the money and manpower going? Toward background checks on the 4,000-some people who receive free game tickets from football players, the better to sniff out agents and other undesirables. Toward investigating license plate numbers jotted down during regular surveillance walks through the players’ parking lot. And toward hiring a former NCAA investigator whose job, according to the New York Times, is to “educate local businesses -- like barbershops, nightclubs and tattoo parlors -- on NCAA rules.”

Rule No.1? Apparently, it’s start snitchin’.

At least all this has made the flow of money from booster to Buckeye a more annoying process. Slightly, anyway. As with most OSU waves towards legitimacy, it's designed to look good without actually doing anything. Until this thing called cash is banned, it'll still happen, but don't worry, the NCAA is working on this:

Michigan Compliance@umichcompliance

Awards received by student-athletes from a bowl game may not be sold, exchanged or assigned for another item of value.

Most bowls give out the equivalent of cash by deploying gift cards, because if they actually gave out cash they would have to stamp "NOT LEGAL TENDER" on it, and I don't think that's legal. BAN CASH.

That's one half of the brain—this is basically an unsolvable problem. The other half is: why is this a problem? Man with lots of money would like to give some of it to man without money. Man without money sees that his activities are so popular that he is overseen by man with lots and lots of money. I'd like people to follow the rules, but mostly because Michigan does, and level playing field and all this nonsense.

Aside from all the fairness reasons, your selfish Michigan fan reason to want NCAA amateurism to die in a fire is because it'll let Michigan do what plenty of other schools already do and collectively cannot stop doing.

Aw man. Kovacs's NFL prospects are not shiny:

ESPN draft guru Mel Kiper Jr. said recently that Kovacs has a shot to become a late-round pick in April's draft. But it could be a long one.

ESPN slots Kovacs as the No. 29 safety and projects him to go undrafted. Sixteen safeties were selected last year

CBSSports.com is higher on Kovacs, projecting him as a sixth- or seventh-round selection. He's ranked the 214th player overall, and the No. 6 strong safety.

I get it. I also think there's a decent chance he carves out a role for himself anyway.

HEY HEY HEY HEY HEY HEY HEY WHAT IS GOING ON. I both agree with and dread the implications of this statement from Mitch McGary:

"I just think I need to slow down a little bit, I'm moving too fast," McGary said. "A couple games here and there, I knew what I was doing, but my body was just moving too fast."

Also!

"Coming in here, I had never really lifted a weight," McGary said. "Being as big as I am, I'm still just trying to transition into the college format. I'm just learning the offense, learning all the footwork."

He's at least a couple years from being an NBA type player but in the long term, it's probably better for Michigan that he's the #20-ish guy instead of #2.

What I am talking about. The instachuck three from Stauskas is #2:

That is contested but it's up so quick and even falling away a little that it does not matter. [Via Five Key Plays at UMHoops.] If you can do that at 6'6" you are unguardable even without the handle.

Etc.: EDSBS on the uniformz. Why Illinois won't implode this time. (My reason Illinois won't implode this time: that was a –3 STDEV event.) Roundtree fluff. RIP Bob Derleth. Beard bullets. From Rod Beard, not about Elliott Mealer. Don't play CODBLOPS drunk. Michigan showing interest in a 6'7" wing from Shane Morris's school. Trey Burke annihilating WVU.

Basketbullets: Eastern Michigan

Basketbullets: Eastern Michigan

Submitted by Brian on December 21st, 2012 at 12:34 PM

12/20/2012 – Michigan 93, Eastern Michigan 54 – 12-0

Sometimes games just happen, and then we skip right to the bullets. Actually, here is some video

And here is Bryan Fuller's photoset:

The set features this guy calmly departing for his home planet:

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your efficient three point shooting has finally recharged my ionic crystals and I can return to my home planet thank you hooman. thank you hooman.

McGary, not so calm.

A rote domination. For comparison's sake, Syracuse took Eastern Michigan to a similar—but not quite as impressive—woodshed, winning 84-48. Therefore we are better than Syracuse. #math

No fly, zone. Eastern is a horrible offensive team, but defensively they present some challenges with their zone and Da'Shonte Riley's shotblocking, so this was a game in two phases

  1. hurry up already and get this defensive possession that tells us nothing over
  2. alright let's see if Michigan can figure out a zone with major conference size

The Kenpom numbers are stark: EMU is one of the worst offensive teams in the country (#322) and an average defensive team (#161) overall. They'd still be 12th in the Big Ten if Delany were to snap them up tomorrow (time's running out, Jim!), in front of only Penn State, but Michigan had struggled against zone so far this year. Having a 40-minute class on how to deal with it effectively against a decent D was useful.

In the first few minutes, Michigan continued to struggle, but the nice thing about Beilein teams is you know they'll adjust, which Michigan did in three steps:

  1. adding ball screens to disrupt the zone's balance and get the guy in the high post open
  2. getting that high post guy to dump it down to the big once Riley showed to contest
  3. teaching the bigs to finish against a shotblocker.

McGary and Morgan were 1-6 in the first half with swats accounting for half the misses. In the second half they were 7-7. Riley got in foul trouble, which helped, but more efficient ball movement got McGary some uncontested dunks and Morgan opened the second half with a couple of finishes against Riley.

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Fuller

This kind of thing happens regularly with Beilein; you can see the kids get something down in the middle of a game. I give that a thumbs up.

Wisconsonian. With just one game to go before conference play starts, Michigan's defense is looking like vintage Bo Ryan. Wisconsin teams rebound and try to get their chest into you when you rise for a shot but virtually never go for the ball. The result is a lot of contested jumpers at a poor percentage, no free throws, no offensive rebounds, no turnovers, no blocks, and no steals.

For example, last year the Badgers did this in conference (offense on the left, defense on the right):

image

Kenpom

The rebounding was a little weak and the blocks a little stronger than usual. Other than that, there is the platonic ideal of a Wisconsin defense. It has been effective despite the Badgers consistently lacking the sort of athletes that alter shots—they were third on D in a tough Big Ten last year.

Michigan is…

  • 89th (of 347) in eFG% D and about there from both 2 and 3.
  • 228nd in TO%, and that number will drop as teams like Eastern sag off the schedule
  • 7th in defensive rebounding
  • 1st(!) at not putting opponents on the line
  • 252nd and 273rd at blocks and steals, respectively.

The big thing Wisconsin does that Michigan has not been able to match so far is keeping guys from shooting threes: the Badgers were second nationally in fewest threes allowed last year, a stat that Kenpom has been hammering as more important than the actual percentage you allow from deep for a bit now. Michigan is below-average there, though they are giving up a low percentage… so far. If that trend continues into Big Ten play I don't think opponents are going to keep hitting 31%.

Another consistent aspect of Wisconsin's defense is not giving up assists—we are talking not huge margins here but the Badgers have not been lower than about 20th in a long time in that department. In general, assisted shots are high quality ones, so A/FGM is a decent proxy for shot quality. There too, Michigan cannot quite match Ryan's team. They are slightly above average; they're not elite.

The upshot: this is a model for defense that works in the Big Ten; Michigan is good at it but not as good as the Badgers, and they'll probably hold steady at around 4th or 5th on D in conference play.

Big Puppy. Michigan needs to get Mitch McGary's minutes up to 16+ a game so he'll rank on Kenpom leaderboards, because his rebound rates remain outlandish. If he'd played a couple minutes more per game he'd hit the 40% threshold and rank second in OREB and 31st in DREB; in this game he had a double-double in 18 minutes. 

McGary still looks a little heavy on the floor, so he's not blocking many shots and picks up too many fouls, etc., but he's a major asset. If he can undergo the same transformation Morgan did over the offseason, look out.

Bonus McGary thing: two assists to one turnover in this one including the announcer-must-reference-Wes-Unseld soccer-throw-in outlet pass to Hardaway for a slam dunk.

STAUSKAS SWAG ALERT. I don't care that the behind the back pass didn't work. SWAG.

(okay maybe he should calm down a little)

Also on Stauskas. Does anybody else have this sense of panic whenever Stauskas misses from deep, like he's going to suddenly revert to Disappointing Shooter Of Christmas Past and this nonconference napalming is going to be a faint, low-sample-size memory? I do. The airball from the corner was death despite it being a late-clock, heavy-contest instachuck.

So then the guy goes 5-7 the rest of the way with another couple of instachucks going in… and exhale. Our sample size in which Stausaks is a 56% three point shooter has risen to 61, praise everything. As a team, Michigan's long distance shooting dropped a half-point in Big Ten play last year, so the tougher defenses shouldn't actually impact that number much. As the attempts go up, so does our confidence.

What separates Stauskas from the rest of the universe is that instachuck shot. If he's got time to set up and fire, he's deadly; he also has a mode where he gets his shot off so quickly that he can make a heavily contested three not that contested. That is a skill that will see him linger in the NBA until you're like "Nik Stauskas is still in the league? I knew Nik Stauskas Jr and Nik Stauskas III were, but the original is still playing for the Triton Methane Atmospheres?"

Trey Burke turnover == shock. Eight assists to one TO in this game, which I think brings his total over the last seven games to seven, for a guy who plays 36+ minutes in most games and dominates the ball. The TOs are so rare that you can remember the most recent one: Burke tried to chuck an an OOB restart between two guys, who deflected it and eventually recovered, and you were like "dang" and then you were like "oh right if I get mad at that I do not understand math or life or anything."

Applicants to Hardaway face pantheon.

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Fuller

I feel like these should be called "the discovery of fire" or something.