Unverified Voracity Isn't Perfectly Accurate, Surprise

Unverified Voracity Isn't Perfectly Accurate, Surprise

Submitted by Brian on February 7th, 2014 at 12:36 PM

13_PennSt_InauguralSeason-Final[1]

Penn State on the docket. Michigan goes to Happy Valley for their first-ever games against the nascent Nittany Lion program. As you might expect, Penn State is not particularly good. They're 4-17-1 on the season, 0-8 in the league, and have been outscored 35-13 in those eight games.

They've had some close outings, including one-goal losses to Minnesota and Boston College in January; they're still real bad. Not a huge surprise when they have zero seniors. Goaltending is a major issue, with both platoon-mates under .900; leading scorer Eric Scheid has a 10-5-15 line.

Michigan needs to sweep this series if they're going to maintain any hopes of winning the league. That door opened up a bit yesterday when Wisconsin beat Minnesota 2-1. Michigan can draw within six, or even three, points if they keep the Nittany Lions on the mat.

Hyman making a move. I'd pumped him up a bit earlier this year, but the points did not follow. Nowadays, though, Zach Hyman's centering a line that can be reasonably described as "his" and they are performing:

With Hyman centering the third line between freshman Tyler Motte and senior Luke Moffatt, the performance of all three players has quickly escalated. Hyman and his linemates combined for four goals in two games against Wisconsin last weekend and supplied high energy in the offensive zone.

Hyman scored one of those goals, a Kaleniecki special where he blasted in a rebound from the edge of the crease. He's been near-impossible to bump off the puck on the cycle all year and hopefully now he can maintain some scoring production over the rest of the season.

Firing, firing, firing. Via Five Key Plays, Zak Irvin making it rain:

Scouting Stauskas. NBA scouts, this video starts at 8:35. Before that it's just Golden Girls reruns.

It's time to eat (a low-carb diet high in protein). Derrick Green seems to have acquired the message about being smaller and nimbler, and is tweeting out pictures of how much he weighs.

May he reach 220 by spring and leave corpses in his wake in fall. But fun corpses!

Obligatory signing day articles. Did you know that not every highly-ranked recruit works out? Well, they don't. Also, sometimes low-ranked guys do. Now prepare for the parade of quotes from players and coaches saying they don't care about rankings. Are you prepared?

“I don’t put much stock in (the star-rating system),” Hoke said.

“I think it’s a joke,” Mueller said. “I believe there’s some talented guys, and it’s obvious to point out who the elite college football players are coming out of high school, but there are a lot of guys who get overlooked.

“I do not think it really does anything for any of the college coaches — the star system at least. The kids themselves and parents, it’s more of a headache."

Sorry. You cannot be prepared for that much quote. Anyway, annual article from newspaper about how recruiting rankings are not right every single time is matched by Matt Hinton's annual article in which he comes up with a new way to show that, yes, recruiting rankings are generally predictive.

It's a landslide. On the final count, the higher-ranked team according to the recruiting rankings won roughly two-thirds of the time, and every "class" as a whole had a winning record against every class ranked below it every single year. (The only exception came last year, when "three-star" teams came up short in head-to-head meetings with "one-star" teams. Otherwise, the hierarchy held across every line.) The gap on the field also widened with the gap in the recruiting scores: While "one-star" recruiting teams fared slightly better against blue-chip opponents than "two-star" teams, both groups combined managed a grand total of 19 wins over "five-star" opponents in 112 tries. Broadly speaking, the final results on the field broke along a straight line demarcated on signing day.

There are outliers, of course. Michigan is likely one in a bad direction, but Hinton only picked out those who are outperforming. They include most recent opponent Kansas State, which takes so many JUCOs they are near-impossible to rank reasonably, and Michigan State. Which sigh.

If you were really in charge you wouldn't have to keep saying you're in charge. This is, in fact, an article from this week:

Brady Hoke: I'm running Michigan football program, not Dave Brandon

This is from the press-conference-type substance. Speaking of that…

Usual PR debacles. The odd "press conference" that blew up into a bunch of finger-wagging once the Daily complained about not being there was less a press conference and more five requested one-on-one interviews crammed into a brief, mutual window:

“We did not hold a press conference (Monday),” Ablauf said Tuesday. “Five reporters requested to meet with Brady to discuss football topics, so we arranged this meeting about three weeks ago and set the meeting day and time over a week ago (prior to publication of the Daily story about Gibbons).”

But when five different reporters start tweeting out things Brady Hoke is saying, it looks like a press conference. And when you release the statement about the Gibbons thing that stands as the only thing you're going to say about that topic to five hand-picked reporters, that looks horrible.

Michigan actually did something about a sexual assault on campus that they didn't have to do—unlike, say, Florida State. That they managed to come out of that looking like they do is miraculously bad PR.

Unfortunately, it's not a surprise. This space has been sarcastically declaring "it's almost like the athletic department didn't think things through" jabs for the past year as one bad idea after another was rolled out and quickly rolled back. This is the culmination of the tiny debacles with noodles and seat cushions and the band going to Dallas and not preparing Mary Sue Coleman to speak in a situation with feedback. The same shitty attitude towards everyone outside of the Circle Of Trust from the past few years finally got applied to something important, and now Dave and company are receiving their just desserts.

Hopefully they'll learn something this time.

Uh-huh. The annual Detroit News Blue Chip list generally comes with at least one salty remark about Michigan or MSU, and this year's winner is MSU commit Nick Padla on Michigan:

They talked about tradition (but) I was thinking about the future.

The previous sentence also might have something to do with it:

They were recruiting me my 10th grade then kind of stopped.

Etc.: Enormous piles of NBA data could lead to a holy grail stat to end all stats, but it'll take supercomputers to produce it. Stat updates on Michigan's hockey recruits. Everything you ever wanted to know about Derrick Walton's efficiency leap.

Nebraska Bullets

Nebraska Bullets

Submitted by Brian on February 6th, 2014 at 2:21 PM

2/5/2014 – Michigan 79, Nebraska 50 – 17-5, 9-1 Big Ten

A demolition that was into Kenpom time as fast as any game I've ever seen, so straight to various things about various things. Highlights:

So that's what it's like when the other team is like "take my threes, please." Generally, basketball teams playing Michigan make it a huge priority to limit open three point attempts. This is because Michigan shoots a lot of them (almost 40% of their FGAs) and is quite good at knocking them down—25th nationally. Sometimes this works and sometimes it doesn't, but everyone really tries to limit Michigan from long range.

For whatever reason, Increasingly Dangerous (At Least At Home) Nebraska™ decided against that. Michigan launched a whopping 31 threes—60% of their shots—and until things got sloppy late just about every one was a great look. Some of this was transition hurting Nebraska's ability to contest, and some of it was what looked like an ill-advised reaction to Michigan's pick and roll game where Nebraska bigs would hedge super-aggressively, forcing wing defenders to dip their toes into the paint to compensate. The ensuing passes beat Nebraska's rotation on almost every possession, and the threes rained in. Serendipitously, Luke Winn's latest power rankings address the adjustment Nebraska made to neutralize Stauskas at the expense of a billion wide open threes:

Thus assists. Michigan assisted on 21 of their 26 makes.

And thus Irvin. This was an Irvin game what with all the open looks, and Irvin took advantage with three consecutive threes in the first half, including a heat check that got a friendly roll off the front iron. He even took a couple dribbles(!) and made a couple of twos.

He is very much Just A Shooter right now, as he didn't add anything other than buckets to his stat line until after halftime and even then the only things tacked on were three rebounds and a foul. He is an endpoint for possessions only. His statistical profile is instantly familiar to anyone who's previewed a bunch of basketball teams using Kenpom as a crutch: miniscule assist, TO, and FT rates of 5.6, and 9.8 and 6.2, respectively, bunch of threes, few twos: corner gunner, corner gunner, corner gunner.

And he might stay this way. By this time last year we'd applied "Game, blouses" to Stauskas. He was getting to the bucket with some regularity. Just look at the FTAs: Stauskas had 87 last year; Irvin currently has 8. Even if his role is to be that gunner, previous editions of guys in that role have shown more diversity than Irvin is right now.

This is completely fine. If Irvin just turns into Bruce Bowen, that's a nice thing to have on  your team, and Walton and LeVert can drive play even in the worst case NBA pillage scenario.

Anyway.

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Michigan is considerably more diverse from three than other teams with noted bombers. Via Luke Winn.

Not just a shoot—wait is he even shooting? Nine points on just three shots for Stauskas looks like a bit of a crisis even if that's really six shot equivalents with Stauskas going 6/6 from the line, but in this one Stauskas effectively found shots for other guys (eight assists) much like Trey Burke did in the first half of the Kansas game last March.

Four TOs is a bit steep, especially since he had another four in Michigan's previous home game against Purdue. Seems like teams are more cognizant of Stauskas's playmaking ability and are trying to jam passing lanes when he drives.They're trying to play him like Wisconsin plays everyone: two point jumpers for you.

LeVert had a similar issue or two on drives where the shot looked like the right move but his assumption was that someone was coming over; he got away with a couple deflections on passes that should have been shots.

With the way they're calling charges now, once either guy turns the corner they should be more aggressive, especially since picking up an offensive foul hardly sentences either to foul trouble 99% of the time.

Almost there. Michigan needs Caris LeVert to hit like 2/3 in Michigan's next game and have their other five guys hold serve, and then they will have six(!) guys hitting 40% from three. Robinson, at 29%, is the only guy on the roster who takes threes that are not obviously a great idea.

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Walton has been crazy efficient in Big Ten play. [Fuller]

Quantifying Walton's improvement. At Michigan's 6-4 trough I noted that Michigan wasn't getting much out of either freshman and that turning that around was a major season key. Remember the brief period where people were wondering if Spike should be starting? It was around then.

Since, Irvin has established himself a shooter you have to reckon with; meanwhile, Derrick Walton has become a consistent double-digit scorer. He's doing this with much better efficiency. He went from bad 99 ORTG to 108 in the course of 12 games. While he is still the lowest-rated guy on the team in that stat, that's because Michigan's offense is bonkers. On a lot of teams—good teams, even—that's your #2 or #3 guy.

In Big Ten play, Walton's 18/31 from two and 12/23 from 3, a 66% eFG% that would place him third(!) nationally if that was his whole season. As it is he's now around 200th in both that stat and True Shooting %, which folds in free throws. Only Stauskas and the posts flushing excellent passes are above him in that department. The main thing holding him back is a TO rate that's a bit high for what you'd want, but a high TO rate for in a young guard is generally regarded a good sign as long as the rest of his game is solid.

Walton made a midseason leap; while he's still a complementary piece he's doing things that bode well for the immediate and long-term future.

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Petteway could not get to the bucket like he did in the first game [Fuller]

Hey: defense. Michigan finally had a legit good all-around defensive game, holding Nebraska to 0.79 points a possession and 0.63 in the competitive section of the game. Terran Petteway entered the game the leading scorer in the Big Ten, scoring at least 15 in every conference outing and barely removed from a 35-point demolition of Minnesota. He ended up 2/10 from the floor and acquired five points, with four turnovers and one assist. That is locking a guy up.

Oddly, Nebraska did not do much of the pick and roll action that Petteway thrived on in the first matchup. Michigan was highly unlikely to provide the soft hedge they did in that game, but even so you'd think they'd poke around with the same thing that gave Michigan fits a month ago. Nope.

Our walk-ons need to get it together. In a game with some rich trillion possibilities, no one came through. Sean Lonergan and Andrew Dakich both turned the ball over; Brad Anlauf had a third TO and a couple of fouls. Cumong, men.

FWIW, Michigan's 13 TOs seems high for them but three of them came from the walk-on crew in the final four minutes, so ten over 36 isn't bad.

How did Walter Pitchford escape? The Nebraska big man seems like a great fit for Michigan what with his three point shooting (37%) and all-around offensive skill. He is also from Grand Rapids. He was a DePaul commit who opened it up when the coach there got fired and ended up signing with Florida after committing in April. Meanwhile, Michigan was in the process of adding a late signee in 6'6" PF/C Max Bielfeldt, who seemed like a bit of a weird fit then and is getting scant minutes now. A rare recruiting goof from this staff.

Spike Albrecht turnover watch. Albrecht's lone Big Ten turnover remains the held ball against Michigan State where he tried to call timeout for about ten seconds without actually getting one. In conference play his assist to turnover ratio is… 22.

Michigan 79, Nebraska 50

Michigan 79, Nebraska 50

Submitted by Ace on February 5th, 2014 at 9:02 PM


Shooter [Bryan Fuller/MGoBlog]

After consecutive makes from beyond the arc, everyone in the building save one man within earshot of the press area knew Zak Irvin was putting up another one. "Shoot it!" implored the fan, who must not have caught a Michigan basketball game until today.

Irvin needed no such encouragement, firing away and getting a friendly bounce off the front of the rim for his third triple in as many possessions to give the Wolverines a 28-point lead over Nebraska—with 3:35 still remaining in the first half. Irvin had already scored all 16 of his points by that juncture, hitting four of his seven first-half 3PA (he missed two in the second).

It'd be one thing if Irvin's outburst stood out as particularly unusual; it's another matter entirely when the whole team plays at that level. Glenn Robinson III led the team with 23 points (5/7 2-pt, 3/7 3-pt) while adding five rebounds and two steals. Caris LeVert finished with 16 points (2/3 2-pt, 3/4 3-pt) after opening the game with an alley-oop pass to Robinson followed by consecutive three-pointers. Nik Stauskas only attempted three shots; he still finished with nine points, eight assists, and five rebounds.

Excluding the first four minutes of the game, Michigan peaked at 1.51 points per possession a couple minutes into the second half; they'd finish at an impressive 1.26 despite scoring four points in the final ten minutes. Their eFG% reached as high as 85.7 late in the first half before finishing at a mere 62.5. They led by 41 (41!) at two different points in the second half before slowly phasing out the starters.

On the other end, Michigan stymied Nebraska's offense, limiting them to 0.81 points per trip with a 39.8 eFG%. Until the extended wind-down period, the Wolverines were on pace for their best efficiency margin in conference play in the KenPom era. By halftime, this one was over, and attention could be turned to more important matters, like certain former players in attendance:


L to R: Denard Robinson, Devin Gardner, Will Campbell [Fuller]

It was a laugher, to be sure, and a great way to bounce back from the team's first conference defeat.

NOTES

Derrick Walton continues to round out his game impressively. His eight points (1/2 2-pt, 2/5 3-pt) and three assists don't leap off the stat sheet, but Michigan didn't need him to do a whole lot tonight. In addition to hitting a couple spot-up shots from beyond the arc, he had a very aggressive fast break finish early in the first half—his improvement running the fast break is apparent and continues to pay dividends.

Glenn Robinson III had as close to a "quiet" 23 points as one is going to get; this is largely because he scored 12 in the second half when the game was no longer competitive. He got his outside shooting game going, hit his favorite free-throw pull-up jumper, and finished with authority on the break for the game's first basket. He also did impressive work defensively, helping hold Nebraska's leading scorer, Terran Petteway, to just five points on 2/10 shooting and matching Petteway's three defensive rebounds with three offensive boards.

Spike Albrecht didn't score, though he still made an impact with four assists, including an alley-oop toss to Jon Horford (7 points, 3/5 FG, 2 REBs) which marked the precise moment this game should no longer have been played. Jordan Morgan played 20 minutes without recording a point, hauling in four rebounds (all defensive) while helping limit the Huskers to a 22.5 OReb%.

Picture Pages: Yogi Makes Baskets

Picture Pages: Yogi Makes Baskets

Submitted by Ace on February 4th, 2014 at 2:57 PM

Indiana took down Michigan on Sunday due to two things: their pick-and-roll defense, explained in excellent detail by both UMHoops and Inside The Hall today, and Yogi Ferrell's blitzkrieg from beyond the arc (video courtesy of ITH):

After taking a closer look at the film, much of the blame for Ferrell's 7/8 performance can be attributed to mistakes by Michigan, though bad luck and simply great shooting also played a big role. It's time for some picture pages, gut-punch by gut-punch.

ONE

Click all the images for a full-size view.

Indiana runs a simple weave on the perimeter, with Ferrell dribbling from the top of the key over to Will Sheehey on the wing; Ferrell hands it off to Sheehey. Something is already amiss here, as both Derrick Walton (originally guarding Ferrell) and Glenn Robinson III (Sheehey) are both focusing on Sheehey and have stopped moving their feet:

Sheehey smartly takes one dribble towards the hoop, cutting off Walton's route back out to Ferrell while forcing Robinson to prevent the drive instead of switch onto Ferrell:

Ferrell gets a perfect look at the basket as Walton is far too out of position to recover:

What happened? Obvious miscommunication/confusion between Walton and GRIII, for starters. Walton expects a switch; GRIII expects Walton to continue following Ferrell. Considering Walton had an easy path to stick with Ferrell and no screen was involved, I'm inclined to believe this was his mistake.

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

I Am Not A Bystander But I Am Standing By

I Am Not A Bystander But I Am Standing By

Submitted by Brian on February 3rd, 2014 at 11:53 AM

2/2/2013 – Michigan 52, Indiana 63 – 16-5, 8-1 Big Ten

imageimage

Stauskas was barely involved, but they don't take pictures of guys hanging around at the three point line. [Chris Howell/Hoosier Scoop]

There was a second-half possession on which Nik Stauskas stood in the corner and watched, hands on hips. Zak Irvin—this team has more guys apparently missing a C in their names than any in the country, where is that on Kenpom—banged in a three pointer that I barely noticed before it went in, because I was distressed and looking at Stauskas to rescue things. He did not.

The only thing that was unique about this particular possession was the hands. The standing eventually became standard. This was because Yogi Ferrell, Indiana's lightning quick, generously-listed-at-six-foot-even point guard, was guarding him. Ferrell started out in much the same way as Gary Harris did, denying heavily on the perimeter, and for whatever reason back cuts against this behavior are infrequent nowadays. Michigan did not even attempt one. When Stauskas did get the ball he felt harried enough to dump it to someone else most of the time.

Stauskas was effectively shut off for most of the first half until late, when he attempted to back Ferrell down on one possession, and drive by him on another. The post-up resulted in a shot that was well off; the drive ended with a charge call as Stauskas extended his arm.

And that was that, really.

I thought that Stauskas would be pissed and Beilein would do something to get his star into the game. Over the past couple years, Michigan has an excellent track record when it comes to storming out of the locker room at the half and putting it on the opponent. There was not a hint of that in this game. The second half largely followed the first. Other than a couple of nice passes, Stauskas's contribution was limited to a couple of jacked late-clock shots and the standing around.

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

In Stauskas's stead, things fell on LeVert, Walton, and Robinson, far less efficient players who went about the business of being less efficient.

This was massively frustrating. Cat-quick or not, ball screens require hard decisions on the part of a defense. When Michigan did get into the Stauskas pick and roll offense a couple times in the second half, Michigan got quality looks at the basket. I have a ton of faith in John Beilein's overall genius because I have eyes frequently applied to basketball games, and seeing the lack of answers on his part was distressing. So, too, was Stauskas's growing passivity.

This was the second time this year that Stauskas had been eliminated from the offense. The first time was against Duke, and that was another listless loss where Michigan was tagging along behind the opponent with a series of LeVert drives that never seemed like they would come together into the surge Michigan needed to take the lead. Cut off the head and the rest of the team flails; unlike Trey Burke, opponents have shown an ability to do that with Stauskas.

Whether that's because of an inherent difference in their attitudes or just the fact that Burke brought the ball up most of the time while Stauskas gets involved in the offense after lining up on the wing, I don't know, but somehow, some way Michigan has to get the ball in the right hands. They are not good enough on defense to get away with nights featuring six shots from the man.

Bullets

One call. I didn't have much problem with the refereeing in this one despite it being an Assembly Hall game. There were a couple of things each way that were wrong, sure. I was too busy being incensed about Stauskas's lack of involvement to really get any lather up about officiating.

But, man, if Derrick Walton gets what looked like a blazingly obvious charge call on Ferrell, this game changes significantly. That would have been Ferrell's second, knocking him out for about eight minutes, both freeing up Stauskas and removing 85% of Indiana's offense. I'm not sure what else Walton is supposed to do there: he was moving with Ferrell, square to the shooter, and got plowed in the chest. Ferrell got the same call a few minutes later, and it was the right one.

I have no idea what a charge is anymore, so I am now qualified to referee college basketball.

(The other thing that drove me nuts was Michigan getting a blocking call on a flop a few minutes after Indiana's flop didn't draw one.)

Our defensive stopper isn't stopping anything of late. LeVert draws the opposition's best perimeter scorer, and the results have been grim. Ferrell blazed the nets in this one, as did Gary Harris in the MSU game. While Purdue's guards didn't do much, they are Purdue.

After Ferrell's third late clock shot I started getting really frustrated with LeVert allowing Ferrell to take virtually uncontested jumpers, and then thought back to last year's Wisconsin game… why doesn't LeVert ever get a hand in anyone's face? He's six inches taller than Ferrell, he should be able to contest his shots. Instead there's a lack of awareness that leads to plenty of rise-and-fire threes that look like bad shots until you see the replay.

This could have been a super-ugly win you exhale and mutter something about road games after, except Indiana kept hitting shots they had to jack up with about two seconds on the shot clock. (This was a glacial 55 possession game.) Michigan's problem is that they let Indiana look like Jordan Taylor-era Wisconsin; almost all of their late jacked shots were actually decent looks. Compare that to the three Stauskas had to take from about 30 feet.

image

[Chris Howell/Hoosier Scoop]

Morgan up, except for the one thing. Jordan Morgan had an excellent game with ten rebounds, five of them offensive, to go with two blocked shots and two makes. His miss was blocked by Vonleh and immediately put back up by Morgan for two. His rotation on defense was part of the many, many late-clock situations Indiana found itself in, and the resulting makes were not really on him. He was pretty great.

The main exception, of course, was the free throw line, where Morgan was 1 of 5 with a critical missed front end late. That dropped his season percentage almost ten points and as the clock ticked down it was impossible to not look at Michigan's score and add in the missing two or three points even though the team's overall percentage at the line was about average.

Walton: improving, verging on improved. Thirteen points, six of them at the line. Walton's FT percentage has gone up six points in the last couple games and he's consistently chipping double digits more often than not. He's still not up to the task of taking over games in the fashion Michigan needed with Stauskas marginalized, but at this point a solidly productive night is the expectation.

Taking over games… is just not in the cards for GRIII. Like the Duke game, when Michigan was out of its element in the second half the burden fell on Caris. This was due in part to two or three ugly possessions earlier when Robinson tried to create and ended up with a bad shot or a turnover. Chastened, Robinson receded into the background again unless there was a transition opportunity.

It just is what it is. Robinson's NBA draft hype was always built on his ability to jump really high, not his skill level.

Spike limitations. This was a bad, bad matchup for Albrecht. He came in, got smoked a couple times by Ferrell, and then got yanked. He had a period of time in the second half where both he and Walton were in; he chased someone else around.

Michigan 75, Purdue 66

Michigan 75, Purdue 66

Submitted by Ace on January 31st, 2014 at 12:06 AM


Derrick Walton played perhaps the best game of his career [Bryan Fuller/MGoBlog]

Michigan fans worried about a sloppy, letdown performance after the Wolverines emerged unscathed from a brutal three-game stretch had a portion of their worst fears realized. They committed an uncharacteristic 16 turnovers tonight, including gaffes on three straight first-half possessions to give Purdue a brief one-point edge.

That didn't last long, however, as the home team simply couldn't miss against a porous Boilermakers defense. The final numbers: 21/33 from two and 7/13 from three for a remarkable 68.5 eFG%. Purdue managed to win the turnover and rebounding battles but few teams could've kept pace with Michigan's shooting this evening.

"We did just a wonderful job of getting good shots and doing just enough to win," said John Beilein in  the postgame radio interview, and he may have been understating matters.

The backcourt essentially called their own shots all night. Nik Stauskas scored 16 points on 5/10 FGs, including an explosive blow-by reverse layup late in the first half and a couple now-signature pull-up jumpers in the second. Caris LeVert recorded his first career double-double with 14 points (5/11 FG), 11 rebounds, two assists, three steals, and two blocks; his highlights included a LeBron-esque jump stop layup plus the foul and a coast-to-coast layup off his own steal.

Then there was Derrick Walton, who built upon his career-high 19 points against Michigan State with a 14-point effort on just seven shots, of which he missed one, while also chipping in three assists and two steals. He looked more confident than ever working the pick and roll, getting to the basket routinely—big man butterfingers robbed him of a couple more assists. After AJ Hammons committed a lane violation on the front end of a one-and-one with three seconds left in the first half, Walton made Purdue pay dearly by covering the length of the court—splitting two defenders in the process—and finishing at the buzzer before Hammons could react to give Michigan a six-point halftime lead.


LeVert [left, Upchurch] and Stauskas [right, Fuller] both got whatever they wanted offensively.

By the second half, it seemed like Michigan's players were trying to one-up each other's plays. Walton dove into the lane and suddenly scooped a pass to a trailing Jordan Morgan, who finished with a layup for two of his 11 points. LeVert followed with his Olympic long jump tryout. Stauskas knocked down a heavily contested jumper from the stripe. Jon Horford worked his way into the paint and hit a turnaround fade away for two of his four points on the night. Zak Irvin responded to a Hammons dunk with a nothing-but-net triple from the wing.

Even though Michigan never played fully within themselves—the split their 16 turnovers evenly between the first and second halves—their ability to create and make good shots* was on full display. They were lucky that their worst turnover performance of the season by both rate and number came against an overmatched opponent; at the same time, it's tough to complain when they still managed to score 1.17 points per possession.

NOTES

Caris LeVert made up for his four turnovers with some impressive transition defense, including two blocks (though Purdue recovered for a putback after one) and a clean strip that forced the Boilermakers to take the ball out of bounds after a two-on-one break. He used his length exceptionally on both ends in this one, consistently getting his hands on the ball whether it was in an opponent's hands or caroming off the rim.

Glenn Robinson III was a relative non-factor as the only starter to not score in double digits, finishing with eight points on six shots—though he did hit his first three-pointer since January 14th—and three rebounds in 36 minutes. He managed to get to the rim off a nice jab-step in an isolation situation, however, which was a good sign after a couple games in which he created very little in the halfcourt.

Spike Albrecht only played seven minutes due to Walton's superb outing, especially since Walton also played exceptional on-ball defense in this one, holding Terone Johnson to just four points (2/6 FG) and two assists to two turnovers. Spike made the most of his limited time, however, hitting his first layup in Big Ten play and draining a three-pointer on his only attempts.

The defense played well as a unit, forcing Hammons to work hard for his 16 points (7/14 FG), and the combination of Morgan and Horford limited him to just one offensive rebound; the guards contributed some nice help defense on him from the weak side, especially in the first half. (Nik Stauskas had three blocks all on this type of action if memory serves.) The team had issues boxing out, however, as Purdue rebounded 16 of their 37 misses (39%); while that's Purdue's M.O., it was still a weak area in an otherwise strong defensive performance.

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*In Stauskas' case, just about any shot is a good shot.

The Wizardry of Nik Stauskas

The Wizardry of Nik Stauskas

Submitted by Ace on January 29th, 2014 at 4:01 PM

Swish. [Bryan Fuller/MGoBlog]

In the last three games, Michigan earned their status as the team to beat in the Big Ten by sandwiching road wins at Wisconsin and Michigan State around a home victory over Iowa; all three teams ranked in the AP top ten when they played the Wolverines and sit at #6 (Iowa), #8 (MSU), and #14 (Wisconsin) in the latest KenPom rankings. Michigan ranks #7 on KemPom themselves after entering the Kohl Center at #19.

This brilliant three-game stretch also vaulted Nik Stauskas up the NBA Draft boards (from unranked to #14 in Chad Ford's latest rankings[$]), gave him the inside track for Big Ten MVP, and landed him the #8 spot in the KenPom POY standings. Before I get to the video breakdown, here are Stauskas' numbers from the last three games:

  • 68 total points (22.7/game) on 10/19 2-pt, 12/24 3-pt, 12/13 FT shooting
  • 13 assists to five turnovers, 11 rebounds (one off.), three blocks, three steals
  • 28 points generated by assists (includes FTM)
  • 96 points generated on 74 possessions used* for a mark of 1.30 points per possession
  • Let me state that again: 1.30 POINTS PER POSSESSION

Keep in mind that, while Wisconsin is struggling defensively (#10 in B1G defensive efficiency), Michigan State and Iowa rank first and third in the Big Ten in defensive efficiency. Those numbers are patently ridiculous; just as impressive is the variety of ways Stauskas generated those points. I compiled a video of every point Stauskas produced in the last three games, broken down by how the shot originated. It is highly recommended viewing:

Apologies for the slight audio issues in the Iowa clips.

Stauskas scored in just about every fashion imaginable, regardless of how opponents tried to defend him, and created most of his points himself—only six of his points and two of his assists came off non-transition spot-up opportunities. The "Not Just A Shooter™" meme is a tired one at this point; that doesn't mean it's not fitting.

For further examination of how Stauskas is this outrageously productive, hit the jump.

[JUMP, AS IS TRADITION.]

One Frame At A Time: Iowa & Michigan State

One Frame At A Time: Iowa & Michigan State

Submitted by Ace on January 28th, 2014 at 3:13 PM

John Beilein, with 4:01 left, more enraged than he's been since Costco raised the price of tube socks:

John Beilein, 1:33 of game time later:

John Beilein is Walter White if Walter White is also Benjamin Button and boy did this sentence get convoluted in a hurry.

Also, note Michigan's 8-0 run over that span. Coaches, if you have the self-control to not lose your mind at every opportunity, the moments when you completely lose your mind have a much greater impact. This is the Law of Beilein, and I'm totally not basing it on one piece of circumstantial evidence. Nope.

[Hit THE JUMP for Nik Stauskas, more Nik Stauskas, various reactions to Nik Stauskas, and a whole lot more from the last two games.]

Unverified Voracity Rides The Dolphin

Unverified Voracity Rides The Dolphin

Submitted by Brian on January 28th, 2014 at 12:54 PM

Pretty much. Midnight Maize returns with MS Paint sidearm:

nik1[1]

I do not know why Petway is riding a dolphin.

Brackets. Surveying the panoply of brackets at the Bracket Matrix gives the impression that to most Michigan is currently a three seed. Michigan's currently the last one overall, but the Matrix generally lags as brackets are up to a week old. They're on the cusp of a 2, especially with Oklahoma State losing last night.

That's where Jerry Palm has them, in a rather unpleasant region with potential rematches against Stanford (the 11), Iowa State(the 2) and Arizona(the 1) plus winged-helmet-on-winged-helmet crime in the opener against Delaware. There is  exactly no reason to get exercised about team placement in a random January bracket, I know. I just am not feeling positive about that business.

More on Aneurysm Two. Beilein has not and apparently will not disclose what set him off, but when MLive is getting screenshots from youtube of the LeVert layup attempt that was (officially) blocked by Appling, it seems that everyone agrees. Beilein, for his part, on Stauskas getting him away from the spittle exchange:

“Yeah, that was a good assist by him,” Beilein said of Stauskas in the postgame press conference. “He was a little rough with me, too. I was in control, though, believe it or not.”

I do not entirely believe it, and if it was anyone other than John Beilein I would be snorting in derision. Also:

"(Stauskas) made a great move there because I was an innocent bystander at the time," Beilein said. "At any rate, we got through that. That would have been a shame if I would have gotten a technical at that time."

The implication there is that Beilein started barking at this Wymer guy and it was Wymer who got in his face. Imagine that happening to, say, Tom Izzo. It does not compute. No wonder he blew up.

Coach Mitch. Presented without context.

“I’m Coach Mitch,” McGary said to reporters after the game Saturday.

Also, another photo in the Horford/McGary odd couple bin:

amf.BKC_.vsnorthwestern.1.5.13.176[1]

Photographers, you have been notified that side by side shots of McGary and Horford are of bottomless joy and utility.

Aw man. I was just getting into the swing of calling the Huskers something like Increasingly Dangerous Nebrasketball™ and they had to go and kick Deverell Biggs off the team.

[checks kenpom]

Nevermind! Biggs was a unique combination of high volume and absolutely miserable efficiency: his usage rate was 35th nationally and his ORTG 92nd. I'm only thinking this is a major loss because Biggs had 14 points against Michigan. Now I am worried abut Michigan's defense. More worried.

Just another Alabama offseason. Alabama fans believe they will take 27 kids in this recruiting class, which means they'll have to eject eight guys from the program. Unless it's actually eleven, ie, the different between Michigan signing the 16 or 17 they expect to this year and a near-NCAA maximum class. At least Bama fans are no longer able to deny what's happening with sleight of hand, and have to admit they don't care:

Don't care.

Scholarship limits are designed to limit student-athlete opportunities in the name of competitive balance. Those who laud scholarship limits while suggesting that oversigning is harmful to student-athletes are hypocrites.

Next question.

I knew I shouldn't have worn my I LAUD SCHOLARSHIP LIMITS t-shirt today. The only thing more endangered by Alabama than backup offensive linemen are strawmen.

Injuries issues for Wisconsin hockey. Badger defenseman Tyler Barnes will be out for this weekend's series at Yost. Nick Kerdiles, a first round pick, is questionable after missing the Michigan series in Madison. Even if they get a weakened version of the Badgers, Michigan is going to have to significantly step up their game to compete with the #5 scoring offense in the country.

Wow, Yost. Remember that? It's January 28th and this is the first game at Yost since December 11th. Scheduling. I am not impressed with it. If they're going to have all these bye weeks because the conference tournament is one weekend instead of three, they should endeavor to fill breaks like last week with nonconference series. I very much want to go to hockey in January, because it's a star attraction. In the heart of football season it's not.

Well now. There's been a kind-of-bonkers rumor floating around the past few years that when Red retires, one of the primary candidates to replace him will be Mike Babcock. Here is the first circumstantial evidence this is not something a twelve year old posted on a message board:

“He always mentions that -- (coaching college hockey) at some point -- when we talk,” Berenson said. “When he's done (in the NHL), he could see himself doing that. He's a student of the game and understands academics and sports and life after hockey."

IIRC, Red's tentative plan is to serve out the next two years of his contract and then hang it up. If Babcock wants the job I think we might let him have it.

Etc.: Obituary of the year. Venric Mark will return for Northwestern. Hockey moves up its recruiting calendar by six months so coaches can talk to guys before the CHL drafts. Nebraska's new ice rink will not support D-I hockey. Oh man I forgot to put the fact that MSU was favored by five by Vegas in the 30 for 30 pitch.

NEW BLACK HEART GOLD PODCAST THEME SONG

!!!

Unverified Voracity Is In, Is Out

Unverified Voracity Is In, Is Out

Submitted by Brian on January 23rd, 2014 at 4:41 PM

The ineffable lightness of McGary. Via UMHoops, Mitch McGary and Jon Horford have different opinions about things.

image

Did they play an Adam Sandler movie on the court at some point? Because this is how that would work out.

One in, one out. Injury news for this weekend's state game is a rollercoaster. First, Adriean Payne tells Facebook that he's been cleared to play Saturday. Then:

How did he acquire this injury?

Dude. Just lie. Say you got it caught in a thresher or something. This is not the time for honesty.

Dawson is a beast on the offensive glass and an efficient finisher off putbacks and dumpoffs but not a lot of State's offense ran through him. If Payne is full go and mobile by Saturday I'd guess they play him at the four, which he did plenty of last year with Nix around, and go with Costello and Gauna at the five.

State's other option is to play a lot of Kenny Kaminski. Kaminski is a redshirt freshman stretch four who is Just A Shooter™, with 31 3PAs vs 8 twos attempted on the year. He is hitting 55% of his threes, so, yeah, check him hand in the face etc. Kaminski doesn't have enough playing time to definitely say much about him but from appearances he's not in Dawson's class as a defender or rebounder.

Either way, MSU gets more shooting and less defense on the floor without Dawson.

UPDATE: Izzo says Payne's shot at playing is "slim to none" and that Kaminski is expected to start, presumably next to Costello.

Meanwhile for Michigan. If you're concerned about the prospect of Appling going up against Spike, it sounds like Walton will be just fine by Saturday:

Beilein said that Walton had a high temperature and flu-like symptoms, so there was uncertainty about how much he could play and contribute.

“He got to see the doctor and kept him away from everybody all day, so he didn’t even go to practice or see the game plan,” Beilein said. “The fever broke and he felt good today, enough to at least give us a minute or two. Spike was fine and I’m really pleased with the way he played.”

Again, if Walton is still a bit shaky Michigan can get away with Spike on Travis Trice whenever he's out there, which could keep Walton's minutes down to about 20 if necessary.

Grantland breaks us down. Shane Ryan on the unnoticeable slowness of Michigan's offense:

… unlike other plodding offenses, it never really looks like Beilein’s teams are taking their time. The reason for that is the Wolverines are astoundingly efficient, year after year, to the point that every possession takes on a rhythm and purpose of its own. And the results are so continually positive that there’s drama and anticipation in the lead-up; while teams like Wisconsin (no. 300 in Division I tempo) and Virginia (333) can suck the life out of a game with their effective control of pace, and others like Clemson (348) and Miami (dead last at 351) are clearly taking their time because they have no other option, Beilein’s offenses are so fluid and effective that they retain their sense of drama. Michigan is slow, but never boring.

Also, Stauskas highlights:

And with Michigan's resurgence comes the candy that is Luke Winn saying something interesting about you in his power rankings:

The Wolverines' Nik Stauskas-led offense has an adjusted efficiency of 120.1 points per 100 possessions, which ranks third nationally ... and is pretty much just as efficient as it was last season, when it scored 120.3 points/100 possessions.

They check in ninth, up from 31st(!) last week. It has been a good week.

Chad Ford don't fail me now. Chad Ford's latest mock draft($) for ESPN has zero Wolverines in the first round. Yes, NBA GMs. You are getting very sleepy. You are agreeing with Chad Ford in every way. You have completed your scouting for the season.

FWIW, Stauskas downplayed his dad's quote from the SI article:

“I apologize for my father’s comments,” he said Wednesday. “He doesn’t know what he’s talking about. I haven’t really thought anything about that yet. We’ll just address it after the season.”

I know he's got to say what he's got to say; the dad comment seems like a moment of unguarded honesty. We'll see where he's projected; if it's the first round I imagine he's out.

Mixed reports on Schofield. Mike Schofield's at the Senior Bowl this week trying to establish his draft bonafides. After a couple days moving back to guard didn't seem to go well, they've put him back at his natural position, where he has impressed:

"Not a highly acclaimed kid; a late add [to the roster]," Mayock said. "I thought he stoned everybody in the [1-on-1] drill. Now, he's a right tackle only, in my opinion. They tried him at guard. Right tackle only is not a good thing to be in the NFL unless you're a starter. I think he has the potential to be a starting right tackle."

You can look at this as affirmation that Darrell Funk can develop offensive linemen or further condemnation of Michigan's OL last year as you so desire.

But where is the part where he rescues a bus full of kittens? MLive profiles Andrew Copp:

Copp’s 3.2 G.P.A. wasn’t quite good enough for admission into the business school, so he worries about what lies in store in the future, even if it does include a stop in the NHL. He also said he at times feels at a disadvantage in the classroom.

“I study a lot, but when we have games and practice, some of these kids are still studying the whole time,” Copp says with a palpable stress in his voice. “When there’s a lot of readings in particular, other students don’t have a five or six hour block and weekends taken up by games where they have the opportunity to study.”

That's confidence in a kid: letting a reporter follow him around for a day.

Etc.: Dave Brandon sent around empty planes during the most recent coaching search. I think that means we win. Tom Izzo being histrionic? Never. Sports are supposed to be fun, and Richard Sherman is that. Sacks are lies.