Moving Picture Pages: Iowa and Nebraska

Moving Picture Pages: Iowa and Nebraska

Submitted by Ace on March 9th, 2018 at 3:06 PM

Now that the bounty of Big Ten Tournament GIFs has been posted, I wanted to revisit the weekend's tactical battles like I did with Monday's post on the Purdue game. Today's post will cover the Iowa and Nebraska games. I'll have another one on the MSU game and probably a bit more on Purdue, too.

To the pictures, moving and otherwise.

Iowa: Shutting Down Bohannon, Evil Beilein Overtime Set

Switching and stealing led to easy points. [Marc-Gregor Campredon]


The top priority for any team that plays Iowa is stopping guard Jordan Bohannon, a 30-foot pull-up three-pointer waiting to happen. While one such shot sent this game into overtime, Bohannon otherwise made only 2-of-10 threes, and his lack of volume was just as important as his lack of makes. He went for a 13-minute stretch in the first half without attempting a triple and had another eight-minute long-range drought in the second. Four of his attempts came in the final minute of regulation or the overtime period.

While Bohannon was nearly the hero, he finished with only 11 points on 15 shot equivalents. The defense allowed Michigan to avoid an upset despite a brutal 3-for-19 performance from beyond the arc on the other end.

How did Michigan accomplish this? While Zavier Simpson has deservedly received a lot of credit, it also extends to the entire squad. Luke Yaklich deployed a switch-heavy scheme to prevent Bohannon from getting open looks and the team executed it with precision. Michigan not only slowed Iowa's most dangerous scorer but came up with eight steals in the process, which led to some easy buckets

Here's my favorite defensive possession of the game. The whole team plays it perfectly, and Simpson's ability to cover, and hold, a lot of ground stands out. He's circled in blue in these screencaps; the clock is circled to emphasize the speed at which all this occurs. Michigan's defense was flying.

Simpson picks up Bohannon at halfcourt but takes a hard pick, something Teske or Livers likely should've called out. While he gets over it, he ends up switching onto the screener, Tyler Cook—Iowa's 6'9", 255-pound post threat.

Iowa goes at this size mismatch right away, posting Cook on Simpson and clearing the near side of the court for him to go to work.

Cook only gets a couple dribbles—and nowhere near the hoop—before Jon Teske comes over for a well-timed double-team. As doubles go it's very low-risk; by clearing out for Cook, Iowa has no spacing on the weak side, so three Wolverines effectively cover four Hawkeyes. Cook doesn't have much of a choice but to kick it back out.

The ball quickly swings to Bohannon, and Luke Garza comes over to set a quick high screen. Simpson takes a brief pause to make sure Garza doesn't slip to the basket...

...then gets over to trap Bohannon in a flash, closing any window for a shot. Bohannon has to swing it back to Garza; Livers gets back on him before he can do anything.

Bohannon and Garza reset and try another quick screen. Simpson fights over the top, passes Bohannon off to Livers, and swings back around on Garza, closing off the pop for a three while Livers prevents a pull-up or drive from Bohannon.

Garza cuts hard to the hoop and Simpson hangs with him, anchoring in the post and holding surprisingly decent position. It doesn't matter, as Bohannon tries an aimless crossover, goes to pick up his dribble, and gets stripped by Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman, who's close enough to take a calculated gamble.

In motion:

Bohannon got only six three-pointers off in halfcourt sets and made two—one when Livers blew the switch, the other on a 25-foot pull-up. The final score may have been close, but Michigan held the nation's #19 offense (yes, the Hawkeye defense is very bad) to 0.95 points per possession, a huge drop from the 1.09 PPP they posted in Big Ten play.

[Hit THE JUMP to see how Beilein freed up Robinson in OT, his adjustments to Nebraska's defense, and more.]

The Grandmaster: How Beilein Beat Painter

The Grandmaster: How Beilein Beat Painter

Submitted by Ace on March 6th, 2018 at 4:41 PM

The net may as well be the heads of his enemies. [Marc-Gregor Campredon]

On its face, it's an odd decision. After Michigan made only three three-pointers in the first half of the Big Ten championship game, Purdue coach Matt Painter totally altered the way his team played defense. The Wolverines proceeded to run away with the game. Painter bungled the game, right?

A closer look tells a different story. Painter knew that John Beilein was one step ahead of him even though M's shots hadn't fallen early. Presented with a no-win situation, he chose to try to take them out of their normal offense, and to that end he largely succeeded. It didn't matter because Beilein, Moe Wagner, and M's backcourt stayed one step ahead.

The key to Michigan-Purdue games the last two years has been how each team handles the other's big man on defense. In Painter's case, that means finding a way to combat the high ball screen with, at times, five viable three-point shooters spacing the floor. Here's how he tried, and how Beilein countered.

The First Half: Hard Hedges, Layups, and Frustrating Missed Threes

Purdue spent the opening half defending high ball screens much the way Michigan used to: by overplaying the ballhandler. It's a different tactic than the switch-heavy defenses M has seen for the most part since the Nebraska debacle and, in addition to being something a lesser coach may not have expected to see, it better fits Purdue's personnel than switching every screen, especially when Isaac Haas is on the floor.

But Beilein was ready, even if his preparation didn't produce the desired results. For the most part, Michigan fans were treated to this: Wagner (or Duncan Robinson) slipping the screen, getting a wide open look, and missing.

That's not even the most open look Wagner missed, but it's representative.

"You can't allow them to do what they want to do," said Painter in the postgame presser. "And if you do, now it's just hitting or missing, especially when they put skill—[Beilein's] ideal thing is having a five that can shoot. That's why Teske's picking pops, going into the short roll into [the] elbow, Wagner being able to make the threes and drive the ball. He makes them special."

Even as M's shooters struggled to make shots they'd normally put down, the offense kept up an impressive average of 1.23 points per possession. The team didn't turn it over once despite Purdue's high-pressure approach. The scrambling Boilermakers defense opened up the lane for drives once the ballhandler broke pressure. Beilein busted out a 1-4 high screen with Robinson setting the pick and while the primary intention was to free up Robinson beyond the arc, Purdue's overplaying of Simpson also allowed him to attack the basket:

Beilein also made some adjustments. He got Wagner an easy layup by calling for a double ball screen out of a late-half timeout with Charles Matthews as the ballhandler, Isaiah Livers popping to the three-point line, and Wagner rolling to the hoop.

Michigan's ability to space, shoot, and drive makes this play almost impossible to defend given Purdue's approach. They switch the defender on Matthews but he's still able to turn the corner and keep his man behind his hip because of a solid screen by Wagner(!). Matthews' initial defender is forced to stay home on Livers or give up a wide-open three-point attempt. The center has to continue playing Matthews or give up a dunk. The weakside help defender is faced with a choice: rotate hard into the paint in a probably fruitless attempt to stop Wagner or stay home to keep Muhammad-Ali Adbur-Rahkman, a deadly spot-up shooter, from putting three points on the board.

"Our weak side and our guys in ball-screen defense, sometimes when the ball got deep, had to stay home," said Painter. "And you gotta force them to throw the ball out and they didn't do that."

One wraparound pass from Matthews is all it takes for the easiest bucket of Wagner's afternoon. Painter couldn't bank on M's shooters continuing to miss great looks and his team was getting ripped apart in the paint anyway—while they weren't quite as aggressive in their P&R defense against Jon Teske, they needed to alter how they defended him, too.

Unfortunately for the Boilermakers, Beilein also got a halftime.

[After THE JUMP: Painter makes his move and Beilein counters.]

Basketbullets: Matthews-Wagner Ballet, Point Guard Roulette, Two Bigs?

Basketbullets: Matthews-Wagner Ballet, Point Guard Roulette, Two Bigs?

Submitted by Ace on November 29th, 2017 at 3:33 PM

If you're looking for the UNC preview, click here or scroll down.

Charles Matthews, Point Guard

No point guard? Just run the offense through the wing. [Marc-Gregor Campredon]

Charles Matthews was nothing short of spectacular in the Maui Invitational. The only thing that could slow him down was cramps, which hit in the third game in three days after Matthews had posted back-to-back 20+ point, 8+ rebound, 3+ assist games.

If anything, those numbers undersell Matthews's impact. This offense now runs through him, much like the 2014 team's went through Nik Stauskas while the team broke in a freshman point guard. In the loss to LSU, Matthews took on 40% of the team's possessions with remarkable efficiency: 28 points on 22 shot equivalents, six offensive rebounds, three assists, and only two turnovers. While the final result may not have been desirable, Michigan established their offensive identity in this game. Once again, the two-man game with Moe Wagner will be the centerpiece of the offense, this time with Matthews running the show.

Early on, Michigan used a side screen to get Matthews going left-to-right into the paint, where he could either pull up for a short jumper or dump it off to Wagner for a jumper:

Like the Walton-Wagner duo, the two showed an innate ability to read the defense and make the right play off the screen, whether originating at the top of the key or off to the side. Matthews found Wagner with a nifty lob on the roll to set up an and-one; Wagner flipped a high screen to get a wide open jumper; when the roll wasn't open, Wagner cleared out so Matthews could isolate his defender and draw a shooting foul off the drive; when Wagner popped out for a three-point attempt, Matthews crashed the boards and cashed in with a putback.

What's been most impressive, and pleasantly surprising, is Matthews's court vision and passing out of the pick-and-roll. According to Synergy, Michigan ranks in the 88th percentile in pick-and-roll derived offense when Matthews is the ballhander, and he's currently providing more value as a passer (87th percentile) than a finisher (69th). This play jumped out to me the most from last week. Wagner slips the initial screen as VCU aggressively doubles Matthews. When the defender in the corner slides down to prevent a Wagner layup opportunity, Matthews throws a really difficult pass to Duncan Robinson over the double:

If that pass is late or even a bit off-target, VCU can recover to contest Robinson's shot. Instead, it's an easy three points because Matthews puts it right on him.

[Hit THE JUMP for the Matthews-Wagner off-ball two-man game and more.]

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

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

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

The Defense, For A Given Definition Of The Term

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[After THE JUMP: That said...]

Zak Irvin's Pick-And-Roll Prowess

Zak Irvin's Pick-And-Roll Prowess

Submitted by Ace on January 26th, 2016 at 4:13 PM

[Left: Patrick Barron/MGoBlog; Right: Bryan Fuller/MGoBlog]

Zak Irvin's transformation from unabashed gunner into complete player has become especially apparent over the last month as he's arguably become Michigan's most important player on both ends of the floor in Caris LeVert's absence. In seven Big Ten games, Irvin is averaging 13 points and five boards per contest; more importantly, the man who never tallied more than three assists in a single game until last February is doling out four assists per game over that span.

While Irvin's rediscovered outside shot has opened up the rest of his game, he's also become adept enough as a ballhandler and passer that he can make a significant impact even when he's not scoring much. That came to the forefront in Saturday's victory at Nebraska; Irvin had eight points on seven shots, deferring to the hot hands of Duncan Robinson and Derrick Walton, but when asked to run the offense he excelled, dishing out five assists—all coming off some form of screen—with no turnovers.

I went to clip highlights and ended up cutting videos of each of his five assists; while they all utilized a pick, they all took slightly different forms.

1. Cut, drive, and kick.

On his first assist, Irvin started in the far corner, took a handoff from Mark Donnal that acted as a screen, and drove hard into the teeth of the defense. This is something relatively new from Irvin: a drive clearly intended to draw in defenders to set up a pass instead of a drive directly to the hoop for a layup attempt. A couple hard dribbles towards the paint are enough to freeze the defender tasked with defending Duncan Robinson in the corner, giving Irvin an easy dumpoff that results in about as automatic a three points as you'll find in the college game.

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

Feed Weezy: Moe Wagner's Impact On M's Offense

Feed Weezy: Moe Wagner's Impact On M's Offense

Submitted by Ace on December 2nd, 2015 at 3:03 PM

Wagner is the rare C that can attack off the dribble. [Bryan Fuller/MGoBlog]

After playing all of 22 minutes through Michigan's first four games, freshman center Moe Wagner poured in 34 points on 21 shot equivalents over the last three contests—incidentally, all Michigan wins. He's gone from the #4 center to the #2 center in the span of a week; with how he's playing on offense, John Beilein may have no choice but to start him before long.

That's because Wagner's offensive skill level is leaps and bounds better than any other center on the roster in a way that opens up the entire offense. That impact was on full display last night against NC State.

Let's start with a look at his dunk; Wagner holds the ball at the top of the key, Michigan runs action like he's going to hand it off to Caris LeVert, and instead he goes off the dribble to posterize a guy:

Wagner's understanding of how the defense will react to this is so impressive for a freshman. He goes to the hoop the moment his defender, Beejay Anya, takes a false step towards LeVert; he also seems acutely aware that the weakside defender took a step out of the paint—he doesn't hesitate to go for the dunk because of the room that provided him.

Speaking of room, check out the spacing a skilled center provides in a John Beilein offense:

With two very dangerous shooters on the other side of the floor and Wagner operating on the perimeter, five NC State defenders have a combined one foot in the paint. This is also quite helpful when running the pick-and-roll, and Wagner did a great job as the roll man last night.

[Hit THE JUMP to see Wagner's impressive instincts on the high screen.]

Unverified Voracity Drops The Hammer?

Unverified Voracity Drops The Hammer?

Submitted by Brian on June 4th, 2015 at 1:32 PM


[Patrick Barron]

Max out. Max Bielfeldt heads to Indiana unless he gets cut before the season starts, which is about 50/50 given Tom Crean's roster ADHD.

It'll be interesting to see how that works out for both teams: Michigan knows exactly what went down in practice and did not ask Bielfeldt back even after it became clear they had an open scholarship slot. Since Bielfeldt was out-performing Donnal late last year (Doyle was almost always the first option when he was not sick as a dog), the confidence expressed by that decision seems to be about newly-strapping DJ Wilson. Wilson is certainly going to be more of a defensive presence than the ground-bound Bielfeldt.

Rebounding? Eh… leave it to Walton. I may actually be serious about that. In any case, rebounding is the most replaceable skill.

Why Michigan was willing to let him go. UMHoops has an item on Michigan's pick and roll offense that highlights the production of their big men when they get the ball on the roll:


That is a frequently-injured, pre-Sanderson, freshman Doyle outperforming everything with reasonable sample size except senior Jordan Morgan. (Donnal's numbers should be taken in context: there were a half-dozen roll attempts last year that looked good on which Donnal didn't even attempt a shot, kicking back to the perimeter instead of opting for what should be one of the most efficient shots in basketball.) Bielfeld had 12 pick-and-pop possessions, FWIW—on actual rolls to the basket he was at 23 points on 21 buckets. That's 1.09 PPP.

Doyle was on par or better than Bielfeldt at just about everything you can do on a court other than grab defensive rebounds. He should improve a great deal as he ages, and then you've got Wilson and Donnal… minutes are going to be scarce.

Speaking of Walton. Any fears you may have had that his foot thing was going to be a problem this fall should be put to rest:

Walton joins a Camp Sanderson field that includes almost the entire team plus guys like Nik Stauskas and Tim Hardaway Jr. Word is that one of the most impressive guys there is… Aubrey Dawkins. Going to be a good year.

Meanwhile, Spike's projected return:

Beilein also offered an update on Albrecht on Monday, saying that both of the guard's offseason hip surgeries were successful. Albrecht is still on crutches, but projects to a having a full return by the fall.

"In September, yeah, there's no question," Beilein said.

He should be ready for the season no problem.

A smart guy. Beilein on what the rules changes might mean:

Most focus on the offensive impact of the shot clock change, but the reverberation will reach the other end of the floor. Beilein noted that defenses will likely be more prone to shift from man-to-man to zone defense late in shot clocks.

"I think you'll see more teams flipping stuff and going zone later on because the ballscreen becomes so prevalent at that time," he said.

That would be interesting.

A litmus test. The NCAA just about gave up on serious punishments for anything short of child rape negligence after they threw the book at USC. OSU took a bowl ban and had to get rid of Jim Tressel after Tressel repeatedly lied to the NCAA, but they were spared the kind of scholarship restrictions that put a serious long-term dent in a program. Other than that it's been a series of wrist-slaps.

If anything is going to upset the current "do whatever it's fine" state of affairs, it is the situation at North Carolina. The NCAA at first decided to ignore it, but when forced to revisit the issue they seem to have done so with force. The notice of allegations has just been released, and it contains five separate "severe" violations, most of which are backed up by assertions of dozens of different incidents they encompass.

This will be the first truly major case since the NCAA moved away from calling everything from SMU to stretchgate "major" violations and implemented a four-level system. North Carolina is likely to admit lots and lots of "severe breach of conduct." The penalty guidelines for level 1 violations include:

  • 1-2 years of postseason ban
  • loss of 12.5% to 25% of scholarships
  • up to a half-year ban on a head coach

If the violations are deemed to have induced "aggravation" those penalties can double, and if they stack… hoo boy. The NCAA would be well within its rights to bomb UNC's major sports into the stone age.

Will they? I doubt it.

I'm not really paying attention to this any more. Phil Steele's All Big Ten teams are… well, there's a lot of them. They don't seem that accurate:

The Wolverines did have a few All-Big Ten honorees, however, led by senior linebacker Joe Bolden. Bolden, who broke the 100-tackle mark last season, is a second-team All-Big Ten pick, per Steele.

Linebacker Desmond Morgan (third), offensive guard Kyle Kalis (third), wide receiver Amara Darboh (fourth), defensive back Jabrill Peppers (fourth) and punter Blake O'Neill (fourth) also received mention.

Just from a Michigan perspective, no Jourdan Lewis, no Jarrod Wilson, and Kalis over Glasgow make me wonder if Steele does much more than look at stats and recruiting rankings and guess. (He also does the irritating thing where he throws corners and safeties into the same bucket of defensive backs.)

Ratings up. If softball seems like a bigger deal than it did a few years ago, you aren't alone:

ESPN saw record viewership for the 2015 Women’s College World Series, notching its top two most-viewed Women’s College World Series bracket round games ever this past weekend. LSU/Michigan on Sunday averaged 1,950,000 viewers for the company while UCLA/Auburn on Saturday drew 1,612,000 viewers. Overall, the 2015 Women’s College World Series bracket round (May 28-31) averaged 1,055,000 viewers. Meanwhile, the 2015 Women’s College World Series Championship Finals Game 1 on Monday drew a 1.0 overnight rating, which is tied for the highest-rated WCWS Championship Finals Game 1 on record (since 2007) and a 43% increase (0.7 overnight) from 2014 WCWS Championship Finals Game 1.

The final two games may have beat that admittedly short-lived record.

Bracing? ISS has its final draft rankings out:

Hopefully neither of those guys ends up in the wrong place. IE: The Kings or a like organization that doesn't want their guys to play college.

Etc.: In expected news, JT Compher is your hockey captain. Incoming forward Brendan Warren profiled. I could describe a great deal of commentators as "continual boofheads." AFC Ann Arbor origin story. You can chat with Stauskas and Beilein, get autographs and the like, for #chadtough.

Picture Pages: Defending The On-Ball Screen

Picture Pages: Defending The On-Ball Screen

Submitted by Ace on January 30th, 2015 at 3:02 PM

This appears to be an effective hedge. [Fuller]

Brian directed me to an excellent Vantage Sports article detailing how NBA teams defend the on-ball screen earlier this week and suggested it would be a good idea to take a closer look at how Michigan does it. Before getting into the Wolverines specifically, a look at the three basic ways to defend this:

  1. Hard Hedge — The way M's done it the most under Beilein. The defender guarding the screener (usually a big man) aggressively slides out on the ballhandler to cut off a drive to the basket and make quick passes more difficult. This temporarily commits two defenders to the ballhandler and usually requires quick rotation from the other defenders on the court.
  2. Soft Show — A less aggressive approach that still briefly commits two defenders to the ballhandler, in this case the defender guarding the screener moves next to the screener, cutting off a drive directly to the hoop; he doesn't move all the way out on the ballhandler, however, and dives back to the screener after cutting off the initial drive. This still requires some weakside rotation.
  3. Drop Back — The conservative tack. The defender on the screener drops back (surprise!) into the paint, discouraging the ballhandler from driving while also lessening the burden on other defenders to rotate onto the roll man. This does require the defender on the ballhandler to fight over the screen well, otherwise there's room for a pull-up three.

As best I can tell, college teams favor the more aggressive approaches. This is likely due to two things: pro point guards are really damn good, and there's less space inside the arc to cover in college, making it easier to recover after a hard or soft hedge.

I went through the last three games—Rutgers, Wisconsin, and Nebraska—to see how Michigan defended the pick-and-roll. I found nine instances in which Michigan was in man defense against a P&R*; six times they hedged hard and three times they played a soft show. The results:

A few takeaways with picture pages after THE JUMP.


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.


Picture Pages: Beating The Rail

Picture Pages: Beating The Rail

Submitted by Brian on February 12th, 2013 at 1:31 PM

After Michigan's first outing against Ohio State Zack Novak gave an interesting interview to UMHoops in which he described how the Buckeyes shut down Michigan's pick and roll game:

Well for the first 10 minutes of the game, it seemed like everything that could have gone wrong, went wrong. Coach has referred to “locking the rails” in describing what OSU does to guard sideline ball screens, a huge staple of the offense. They do this better than anyone else. Many teams will take away a ball screen by having the defender on the ball play with his butt to the other sideline and bringing a big man in front of the ball handler. They take it to another level. They pretty much play the ball handler not to go to the opposite corner of mid court, essentially taking away any chance for the ball handler to still use the screen. This takes away all uncertainty a big man would have in playing in front of the ball handler.

In other words, big men usually hedge after a ball handler uses a ball screen. Even if the plan is to deny the ball handler from using it, the big still must be ready to hedge in the event the defender does not prevent the screen from being used. This uncertainty can cause big men to be just a fraction late, which in basketball is enough time for a good offensive player to exploit it.

In my eyes, it seemed like their big men were in position every time because they knew there was no chance the guard could use the screen.

Michigan sputtered to an 0.88 PPP outing, one of their worst of the season. In the offense-heavy rematch that moved up to 1.19, thanks in no small part to 58% shooting from three. But Burke also got free on a number of P&R possessions in the first half, with a rolling Mitch McGary the frequent beneficiary. Here's an example from early in the game; this is actually McGary's first offensive possession.

Michigan initiates the offense with a pass from GRIII to Burke and then flashes McGary to the top of the key.


By the time he gets there, Craft has set up shop such that there's no way for McGary to screen him.


This is "locking the rail." If Burke goes anywhere, it is right, and the big no longer has any hesitation.

McGary backs off, taking Williams with him, and then Burke attacks the basket, getting Craft outside of him with a crossover.


If Michigan acts quickly now, they can get the screen. McGary is waiting for this and Michigan successfully breaks the rail and gets the P&R.


Williams hedges hard as McGary rolls; Burke finds him.


Lenzelle Smith comes over in an attempt to pick up a charge. He may or may not get there in time, but we don't end up finding out because McGary's agility allows him to pull up short and avoid the contact as the arena is bathed in a mysterious rush of light.


A quick two for McGary enroute to 5/8 from the floor in the first half.


Things And Stuff

Burke shakes free. Burke needs help, but even if that drive doesn't get past Craft it necessarily puts him out of position when McGary re-establishes the pick and roll. It takes a little more work to set it up, is all. Burke was also able to shake Craft from the rail at times, like this late-clock move that puts Craft out of the picture and gets Ravenel on his heels, opening up the three:

With everyone on the floor staring down Burke this would be an opportune time for someone to dive to the rim, but oh well.

Planning ahead. Michigan executes a similar set with Hardaway on the next possession, but actually runs it too fast. Hardaway ends up trapped as Williams is much closer to the ball*, but the idea is the same. Next possession: same. Hardaway makes a token drive to the right and then comes back to a McGary screen; McGary gets a roll pass and misjudges how much room he has to attack, throwing up an awkward elbow jumper. After getting very little from the pick and roll in the first game, Michigan adapted, with moderate success inside the arc and Great Success outside.

*[Hardaway gets it to GRIII, who makes an excellent shot for himself against Thomas; Williams throws it back, whereupon Stauskas does his stepback swag in the corner that gets him gif'd.]

McGary skill level. Ohio State gets a defender over in position to take a charge; McGary pulls up short of him and puts up a lane floater that sneaks over the front of the rim. McGary has a high skill level for a 6'10" guy.

Almost inevitable offensive rebound. McGary also pounds Smith under the basket after the shot goes up; Amir Williams is hanging out with Burke well outside your picture, and GRIII has gotten good position on Thomas here. Note also that by the time Burke's three goes down, Craft is trying to box out Horford. That's one vs four, but a relatively high chance of an OREB anyway.

One of the problems against Wisconsin was a relative paucity of shots where offensive rebounds are on the table in the event of a miss.