Basketbullets: Eastern Michigan

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

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

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

And here is Bryan Fuller's photoset:

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

8292610033_751c083bbd_z[1]

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

McGary, not so calm.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

8293674680_35a725c153_z[1]8293684554_76cea2d37b_z[1]

Fuller

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

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

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

image

Kenpom

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

Michigan is…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(okay maybe he should calm down a little)

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

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

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

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

Applicants to Hardaway face pantheon.

8293666472_6e193bc9d7_z[1]8292611869_f0570d21cd_z[1]8293664630_993076d31c_z[1]

Fuller

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

Comments

State Street

December 21st, 2012 at 1:17 PM ^

In the postgame recap on AA.com, McGary said he never even picked up a weight until he got on campus.  That is scary for every other B1G post player, especially after seeing how Morgan developed through the weight training program.

GoWings2008

December 21st, 2012 at 1:58 PM ^

I'm not the basketball scholar that I'd like to be, and although I understand Brian's point about instachucks, if his 3-pt shooting just maintains an average percentage (as opposed to his early season numbers) the THREAT (see what I did there?) of his hot shooting should be enough to effect opposing teams' defensive plans against Michigan.  However, the difference between now and, say last year, is that the credible scoring weapons that UM has added with Robinson, McGary as an inside presence, and the other freshmen that all augment the Burke/Hardaway/Morgan establishment.  If Stauskas can keep feeding the ball to open guys as defenses collapse to contest his 3-pt shots, I'd think there's opportunities for other scoring threats to step up like they all appear to be able to do.

Mr. Yost

December 21st, 2012 at 2:33 PM ^

Stauskas misses more when he's wide open than he does when someone is on him. Weirdest thing.

Also, was he the only player last night to miss a free throw?

Willhouse

December 21st, 2012 at 3:00 PM ^

I saw that 5 on 0 fastbreak too. I've watched a lot of hoops in my 32 years, and have never ever seen that before. I was freaking out with the guys I was watching the game with, but they didn't seem to think it was a big deal.

And it was not even off a turnover at the top of the key. If memory serves me right, THJ got the rebound on the baseline, ran up the right side line and ALL of the UM players sprinted back, while the EMU guys had lead in their shoes. The Michigan guys all looked surprised and weren't really sure what to do. Good thing common sense prevailed and we got the wo points.

Still one of the more incredible/surprising plays I have ever seen.

SF Wolverine

December 21st, 2012 at 3:12 PM ^

They've done a very nice job of staying together and sticking with the system.  The one fast break in the first half started with a rebound underneath and ended up as a five on nobody.  Be very important to be able to continue to play this was as the road gets stepper in B10 play.