2/1/2019 – Michigan 59, Iowa 74 – 20-2, 9-2 Big Ten
Some losses are hard to decipher. This was not one of them. Michigan played five different guys at center, one of them by choice, and there you go. Teske was +3 in 13 minutes; Michigan lost the other 27 by 18. Teske had 8 points and eight rebounds, four offensive, in his 13 minutes. Johns, Davis, Castleton, and Livers combined for three points and three rebounds.
Without the Big Sleep, Michigan had no one to attack the part of Iowa's defense that makes them real real bad: Garza. Non-Teske Cs attempted just two twos. Meanwhile Garza spent his time against Johns dunking after Johns tried to front him and found out that was a not good idea. Garza finished 7/9 from two.
Michigan has one bench guy, who is only a center in certain limited circumstances, and when foul trouble strikes Michigan can quickly morph from conqueror to baffled cheese merchant. We are back in the Oh No A Foul Zone of two years ago, when Moe Wagner was backed up by Mark Donnal. I loved last year, the year when Michigan's backup center was pretty kickass.
Let's talk about risk management. This whole thing started when Teske got a reach-in foul on a perimeter hedge 90 seconds into the game. Don't get me wrong: I love the perimeter hedge swipe. Teske's excellent at it, and this is maybe the third or fourth time this season he's fouled attempting it. But there is a time to avoid the risk, and that is 90 seconds into a game. Zero fouls with 15 minutes gone? Swipe away. Autobench beckoning? Just say no.
Let's talk about verticality. On the other hand, Teske's second was a massively wrong, incredibly consequential call where he did the exact thing you're supposed to: jump vertically to try to block the shot.
Tyler Cook barreled into him, the ball went wherever, and Michigan got hit with a horrible, game-deciding foul call. I've praised the NCAA's rule changes over the last few years, but you've got to actually adhere to them. Lewis Garrison did not.
In general this game was a terrible ref show with a zillion bad, game-changing calls in the first half and then inexplicably swallowed whistles in the second. I about lost my mind when Brazdeikis got hammered by Cook in transition in the second half and there was no call. After the ticky-tack first half that sent me down a Craig Ross spiral of conspiracy theories and recriminations.
Lewis Garrison and DJ Carstensen both did the game in the Trohl Center. IT'S REAL.
[After THE JUMP: discussions of things other than Teske fouls]
Autobench. Oblig: Teske fouled out in 13 minutes anyway. The autobench didn't get you anything. This isn't Rock N Jock where the 50-point baskets come down late. Buckets count the same in every minute of the game. I'd rather leave Teske in with his two fouls, in case you get more minutes from him overall. By the time he got back in the game it was a 13 point gap.
The pick of the randos. If I was Beilein I'd see if Castleton could provide some minutes backing up Teske. He's slight but very long and while he did give up a putback after trying to block a shot he was clearly more effective as a post defender than either Johns or Livers. He's got more upside than the other options.
Zoned. Welp: Michigan played a team that actually practices a long-ass 2-3 zone and the outcomes were un-good. Michigan's default approach there was to chunk it around the perimeter until someone got an open (or open-ish) look. This was often Poole from NBA range, and he did hit a couple and get fouled on another. 3/9 doesn't sound great but it's a point per possession in a game where Iowa won with 1.01 PPP.
The problem for Michigan is how much of the rest of the usage against zone came from Simpson. Matthews was 2/7 from three—again not great but one point short of a PPP. Simpson was 0/5. He's now 2/20 since his mind-melting outburst against Northwestern. His career three point shooting: 26%, 29%, 27%. I don't think we can expect that'll change, and his streakiness means that most games it's going to be worse than that.
I guess the good news is that with the nation's top D, if someone puts up a 2-3 zone and Michigan can clunk up a point per possession they're probably going to win. It doesn't seem like much more is in the offing:
“We have this habit of playing at the NBA 3-point line, playing really deep, and shooting NBA threes when we could possibly shoot college threes,” Beilein said. “If you guys have any secret on how to break it, I’d like your help. We can’t get guys to move against the zone.”
Unbreak my Matthews, say you'll hit a two again. Charles Matthews, 0/5 from two. A depressing running theme.
Matthews's offensive regression has been steep and inexplicable. I don't think it has much to do with changes in personnel from last year. Teske shoots enough that he can pull posts out with him, and Matthews's giant slump has occurred after Teske established that aspect of his game.
And it's not like he was benefiting from a bucket of assists:
- 2017-18 Matthews: 37% of his shots at the rim (36% of those assisted); 37% of his shots other twos (27% assisted).
- 2018-19 Matthews: 30% of his shots at the rim (33% assisted); 43% of his shots other twos (24% assisted).
Matthews's shooting is fairly opponent invariant since the vast majority of his midrange is and has been those fadeaway jumpers his absurd athleticism makes un-contestable. And the assist rates barely change. So there is no ready statistical explanation for why he's dropped from 39% on other twos to 27% (and much worse than that over the past couple months) at the same time more of his usage has settled there.
I dunno man. Reminds me of that year Tim Hardaway Jr forgot how to shoot threes.