If bball has hit GERG-level of defense, where do they find their Mattison?

Submitted by iawolve on March 16th, 2013 at 11:31 AM
For whatever reason, as soon as we have been blessed with explosive offenses, we have to get cursed with baffling defensive play. I was having this discussion with a group of Mich fans how watching basketball feels like watching GERG coordinate a defense. Average QBs (shooters) look like Tom Brady (Michael Jordan) as TE (forwards) run free down the field (lane) for easy scores. It is to the point that you don't trust any defensive stop to happen and hope the offense will simply convert more. While I think effort is there, technique is terrible and defies logic as to why we are not better. I am half expecting Dr Vorax to get rubbed on Morgan's head at some point. All of this leads to one question- where does the defensive turnaround happen? Is it a different assistant coach? A roster change? If the current staff could have solved it, you assume that we would have seen more improvement after 33 games. There obviously is not a single defensive coordinator on the basketball staff, would be interested in some thoughts.



March 16th, 2013 at 11:54 AM ^

The only time I've really seen this team play with effort on the defensive end for a whole game was the MSU game at home, and voila, held them to 57 pts the entire game, let alone the 51 in the second half by Wisconsin yesterday.

Also gotta take GR3 out of the game, or take Nik out and move GR3 to the 3 spot. I'm tired of watching him get worked by bigger guys on the defensive end (not entirely his fault) but then do nothing to take advantage of his offensive skill set and athleticism on the offensive end against these bigger more lumbering players. It's extremely frustrating to watch.


March 16th, 2013 at 11:58 AM ^

When I said that we need to play 2 bigs and gr3 at the 3 in january i was chastized......I am tired of being undersized, that sounds bad......anyways back on topic......It is just hard to get freshman to play 40 minutes of defense, let alone freshman who arent great defenders in the first place. 1-3-1 zone the majority of the tourney?? I dont know I get dumber every time I watch this team I think. 

Naked Bootlegger

March 16th, 2013 at 12:08 PM ^

This, in theory, is a great idea - if only for a handful of minutes at a time to mix things up.   Two things to consider, though:

(1)  GRIII has completely lost his outside shot.   He was regularly knocking down 3-pointers and mid-range shots early in the year.   That hasn't happened in recent weeks.   Even when Stauskas isn't hitting, his mere presence on the perimenter makes opposing defenses react.

(2)  Can GRIII guard quicker wings?   I think so, but it's still an unknown commodity.   Stauskus has struggled against 2 guards and wings, too, so maybe this is a moot point.

I really like JB as a coach, and am not standing on the ledge like many other UM fans after the recent spate of losses.   But I have to admit that I didn't enjoy watching Evans manhandle GRIII on the block repeatedly in the 2nd half.  I think Horford or Morgan might have been a better matchup there.  If GRIII's offensive game is on, then I'm not complaining.  If his offensive game is not on, I would opt for the better defender against a guy who's killing you with his post game.



March 16th, 2013 at 12:40 PM ^

It's true that he was getting manhandled in the post, but my primary thought during that stretch of the game was "damn it, it's too easy to feed the post when you aren't getting any effective pressure on the ball."

I spent my Fridays this winter watching a high school team that was horribly undersized--only had one player over 6'2", and he was a thin, inexperienced 6'4" kid who was giving up about 50 pounds to everybody he had to defend. Most of the time they were playing four guards and a 6'2" center and they'd be giving up at least four inches at just about every spot on the floor.

One-on-one situations on the block were death; they won most of their games anyway, because they pressured the ball so hard on the perimeter. It wasn't easy to get the ball to the low post and when the other team did it was often with a pass that pulled the post man off the block, or he'd field it low and get into trouble with a quick double team. Sometimes it was a matchup zone, sometimes it was just really aggressive man, but the principle was always "harass the ball hard on the perimeter or we get killed down low."

There's no one answer here. You can try to get better post defenders on the floor, or you can look to put pressure on them somewhere else.


March 16th, 2013 at 1:14 PM ^

is never going to have a lock down defense, it is simply not what he stresses.  I don't think Michigan has all that bad on ball defenders, at times they can be disruptive up top and there certainly is athleticism on this team.  This team is, by design, a team where the best defense is a good offense.  The problem is that the offense is just not working right now.  They are turnover prone in transition and threes are not falling on a regular basis.  You take those two things away from this team and there is not much there.  I think that you are going to find that a lot with Beilien's teams.  I think at some question becomes is it OK.  Is it OK to have a supremely talented team who plays a style of basketball that will struggle with in conference play, but be capable of winning six in a row every year once the dance begins.  The proof is going to be in the pudding.  This team needs to make some noise in the tourney or I think the question becomes is this the staff to take the team to the next level.  I don't know the answer to that right now.


March 16th, 2013 at 3:24 PM ^

I've been on the 'play 2 bigs' bandwagon for a long time.Along with the obvious rebounding advantage, it also gives opponents a matchup problem with THJ.I believe the main reason Coach B doesn't do it is because it means a big has to play on the wing.Coach B is an offensive minded coach,he recruits that way and makes substitutions based more on off. than def.and fails to make def adjustments during games (no adjustment vs Zeller last Sunday was the most egregious example)

gustave ferbert

March 16th, 2013 at 11:39 AM ^

it's a mentality.  These guys don't have it .. .  It could be youth.   But the chicks dig scars attitude is absent from this squad. . .   This could be the year we could really have  used Novak and Douglass. . . 

Naked Bootlegger

March 16th, 2013 at 12:13 PM ^

Stu was an excellent defender, but last year's version of Stu was a senior who learned to play great defense over the course of 4 years.   I don't think I would have labeled him as a defensive stalwart during his freshman year.  

Your point is taken, though.  It would be great to have a defensive-minded perimeter player. 


March 16th, 2013 at 4:29 PM ^

You, sir, just hit the nail on the head. Our worst defenders are freshman. How long did it take Stu to become the best on-ball defender on the team? Exactly. Not in 30 games. Nik is slow. We knew that when he signed. And GRIII seldoms goes all out on the defensive end. These traits aren't going away in a single season.


March 16th, 2013 at 11:45 AM ^

in that sentence about Tom Brady and Michael Jordan. But here's my $.02

I'm way more of a believer in the "we're young" camp than the "we have no heart" camp. If you look at GR3, he's being asked to guard players that are bigger than him for probably the first time in his life. Watching him, he doesn't look strong enough to body them up, and he also just hasn't had time to develop that part of his game. It's takes a very different game to defend the perimeter than it does to defend down low. Give him time to bulk up this offseason and gain some defensive bball IQ points.

With Stauskas, I think he also needs to hit the weight-room. Just because he's "more than just a shooter," it doesn't mean that he is very athletic. He isn't quick enough to get around screens and stay with teams' quick slashers. So for him too I say hit the weights and work on foot speed.


March 16th, 2013 at 12:33 PM ^

Youth, no matter how talented, can't always trump seasoned veterans.

Go down to the Y and watch the old dudes take it to the high flying high school kids (extreme example I know).

Not only is there teamwork and gel on offense but a lot on defense and the best way to solidify any team into a truly solid one is time.

May be another horrible example but I look at my younger brother's AYBT (form of AAU) basketball team.  Most of their tournaments as freshmen/sophomores they were playing against juniors and seniors.  Many times their tallest guy would be the other team's shortest starter but at the end of the game my brother's team would be up comfortably.  They started playing together in the 5th grade so by that time they were all in sync.

Last year's Michigan team was less talented overall than this year but they had senior leadership from guys that were in the program for 4 years.  The game slows down as you get older which could be seen yesterday as Wisconsin's older team seemed to be able to run at half speed and take out Michigan's youthful team running full pace all game.

I would say Mattison's defense was comprised with a lot of guys that got playing time early on in their careers so he wasn't starting over like Rich chose to do.  This has helped the football transition.  Basketball has transitioned which is why I think it's just lack of upperclassmen running the court.  THJ is about it.  Burke does it out of necessity but being forced (probably a harsh word to use) into that position two years in isn't quite as effective as a player 4 years in that has gone through the entire process and comes out hardened.


March 16th, 2013 at 3:01 PM ^

as much as they could ... or much really. Tied last year for Big championship ... that is it.  Out quicky in Big and NCAA.  Underachievers because no one is committed to the  D... but we have alot of NBA talent.  Right?

Who is going to step up and improve on D next year?  Anyone? 

UM hockey is on tonight.  Red will tell you D and heart wins championships.  The bball team has a long was to go.  Sorry.  That # one rank got to their heads and they never recovered.


March 16th, 2013 at 11:42 AM ^

against teams wth physical big guys, is Gerg's 3-3-5, to this basketball team.  More zone defense would be this teams 4-3 defense (relatively speaking).  Must be a WVU thing.  Belien is starting to look about as stubborn as Rich Rod, making in game adjustments.....


March 16th, 2013 at 11:51 AM ^

That's how I see it too.  The problem we have, IMO, is that our HC fancies himself a defensive expert (father of 1-3-1 popularization) so I dont think HE thinks he needs a defensive expert.  The better analogy, again IMO, for the OP would be an Offensive Coordinator for RR cause the Spread n Shred had "hit the hall" offensively.  

For reasons I simply cannot fathom Beilein REFUSES to even try a zone defense no matter how badly the man to man is working.  For a guy who is always spoken about in revered tones when the subject of zone defenses is brought up (as recently as yesterday I might add) he doesn't seem to believe it anymore.

I'm baffled.  There isn't a soul watching M play over the past month that cant see that we're struggling mightily on D and yet we cling to the man to man like it's the Holy Grail.  There must be a reason but it sure escapes me.


March 16th, 2013 at 12:24 PM ^

There isn't a soul watching M play over the past month that cant see that we're struggling mightily on D and yet we cling to the man to man like it's the Holy Grail. There must be a reason but it sure escapes me.

We have played some zone. When we've done so, we generally haven't any more success than in man. There's no magic bullet here. We aren't very talented defensively.  That might change in the future, as some of the guys hit the weights, study film, etc., but that's where we are now.


March 16th, 2013 at 12:17 PM ^

For reasons I simply cannot fathom Beilein REFUSES to even try a zone defense no matter how badly the man to man is working.

There's no reason whatsoever to be baffled by this. Beilein has stated on more than one occasion that he hasn't been using zone defenses in games because when they try it in practice, the team doesn't execute it well. It's as simple as that.


March 16th, 2013 at 12:23 PM ^

I also believe Beilein said sometime in the middle of the season that his zone defense is something he likes to implement all-or-nothing at he beginning of the off-season. To me it seems like he saw his team on paper and predicted that their talents would be best used going with a Man defense. It hasn't worked out, but it's impossible to say whether or not his zone defense would work any better. This team has been giving up 3's like they're charity all season, and I doubt zone defense would have helped matters in that regard.


March 16th, 2013 at 11:59 AM ^

overachieved the last two years by playing great D, despite having minimal offensive firepower. The bandwagon fan climbs up, surveys the landscape, and weighs in (on people with more talent and brains than they ever have). "They're p*ssies," he declares, "Beilein can't coach D." Then he sinks back to sleep. 



March 16th, 2013 at 1:22 PM ^

The two years before the current season, Michigan was even worse in defensive efficiency.  Last year, they came in at 176th, and the year before they were 140th.  They were 135th in opponent FG% last year, and 106th the year before.

So before you go ripping people for saying "dumb" things, try doing 3 minutes of research.



March 16th, 2013 at 11:44 AM ^

Hate to say it, but if you saw the same first half of the Wiscy game that I saw, our offensive production was, to put it kindly, inconsistent.


March 16th, 2013 at 11:49 AM ^

I don't see any physical limitations from the players as a reason to be so poor defensively.  Beilein plays smallish line-ups when GRIII is considered a 4 and Morgan a 5.  I see no reason McGary shouldn't develop in to being able to guard any 5.  GRIII should be able to handle any 3.  THJ should be able to handle any 2.  Burke could have trouble with bigger 1's but should be fine off of the dribble and on the perimeter.  Physically, Michigan has the ability to have a solid defense.  I just don't see the mentality.  I think McGary will be a good defender but he still has a lot to learn.  I think he has a nastiness about him though.  I don't see it with GRIII, THJ, Burke, or Stauskas.  I think guys are frustrated that Burke dominates the ball so much.  They lose focus because they aren't getting enough touches or opportunities to score.  This shouldn't be an excuse not to give maximum effort defensively but I do think that is part of what is happening.  Aside from poor rebounding, the defense played well for much of the MSU and IU home games.  I believe this was due to the team playing with maximum effort and focus.  Coaching deserves some of the blame for the inconsistency and mostly poor defense as the norm.  However, I think they are coaching it and emphasizing it.  I question the buy in of our players.  I think they all want to shoot a lot and score a lot and win with flash. I would love to see Beilein recruit some guys with a nasty streak.  I feel that he might start to look like a better defensive coach as a result.


March 16th, 2013 at 11:53 AM ^

There is really one issue on defense. The 5 sucks at defending the on ball screen. The 5 sticks with the guard too long which forces the rest of the defense to rotate and the offense takes advantage. Often we have a hand in the face and they just hit tough shots.


March 16th, 2013 at 12:24 PM ^

which lies with the wings. Stauskas has gotten better, but GRIII is out of position, often guarding bigger guys, and still learning. Clubbing a freshman with his talent and promise over the head in imaginary fashion on the internet seems to get a lot of people off, but it really doesn't do much. 


March 16th, 2013 at 1:31 PM ^

That isn't poor execution, that's by design. Whether it's effective or not is an empirical question, but McGary and Morgan are doing what they're taught.

Anybody have stats on our defensive efficiency vs. ball screens as opposed to other types of sets? It doesn't seem to me that they've been a particular problem, but I could be wrong.


March 16th, 2013 at 12:03 PM ^

So to sum up the board the last 2 days.....the team sucks at defense, doesn't try hard, can't rebound, has no heart and is poorly coached.

So explain what the team expectation would be if we had those things?

Also, is Beilien the greatest recruiter in the history of basketball considering he just rolls the ball out and let's all these quitters just loaf around the court?

If someone complains about the offense can we just simply say..Michigan is #2 in the country in offensive efficiency!!!!    I understand the defensive concerns.  Certainly a problem,  but the morons on the radio complaining about Beiliens offense and all we do is jack up 3's is just too much. 



March 16th, 2013 at 1:51 PM ^

     i think one of the posters may have hit on a solution-we should try a 3-3-5.  Maybe if we had eleven guys on the floor, we could get an occasional stop.  I realize there would be a problem getting enough touches for everyone on the offensive side of the floor but it's worth a shot.


March 16th, 2013 at 12:04 PM ^

I don't think this team is as bad on defense as a lot of people think.  Part of it is that a lot of teams are having streaks against Michigan where they throw up contested shots at the end of the clock and they fall, not to mention hitting every remotely open shot.  I'm just happy that opponents see Michigan as a team they have to make a super-human effort against; it seems like it's been forever since that happened.

Despite the whining in an earlier, ill-fated thread, this is still a young team.  It's leader is only a sophomore, and five freshmen are getting playing time.  I'm still happy with where this team is.  They were one decent break away from being tied for first place this year.

Besides, if the Wolverines make it to the second week of the NCAA Tournament, many of the same people who are complaining about the team now will be posting about how great they are.  

Generic MGoBlogger

March 16th, 2013 at 12:10 PM ^

Is an idea that could help with an inexperienced team like ours. Zone in general is something I think we need to try more. Syracuse is one example of a team that plays a superior zone defense.


March 16th, 2013 at 12:15 PM ^

The few times we have tried the 1-3-1 this year we've been torched. Tried it briefly yesterday and it was "ok".

GRIII and Stauskas get beat a lot. Doesn't matter if we are man or zone, the defense needs to rotate and ours doesn't.


March 16th, 2013 at 12:27 PM ^

I would have liked to seen a starting line up, Trey Burke, THJ, GR3 (at the 3 spot), J Mo, and Mitch "Monster" McGary with Nick Stauskas being that shooter/scorer spark off the bench. That way you have GR3 in a position more suitable for his size and strength along with J Mo who is the best defensive player and understands where guys have to be on the floor.  In hindsight its looks to me that, that would have been a more productive line up as far as grabbing rebounds and defensively though the offense may have suffered a bit in some games. It may be to late to tweek the line up in that manner and of course as the saying goes hindsight is 20/20.