Dead Last In Something

Submitted by Brian on February 18th, 2013 at 12:12 PM

2/17/2012 – Michigan 79, Penn State 71 – 22-4, 9-4 Big Ten

Y U NO PLAY DEFENSE (Bryan Fuller)

A home game against Penn State is supposed to be a laugher, and on one side of the ball it was. Michigan put up 1.2 points a possession even without the participation of their centers—literally. McGary, Horford, and Morgan combined for zero points in 43 minutes. No one really noticed because Glenn Robinson III spent most of the day playing NBA Jam and Nik Stauskas was so much more than a shooter that it took five or six drives before something akin to "Not Just A Shooter" got exhumed by the announcers. Michigan did what it does, on one side of the ball.

On the other side of the ball, raise your hand if DJ Newbill's umpteenth only vaguely resisted drive to the basket in the first half caused you to exclaim a variant on "you have got to be kidding me." That's everyone.

Now raise your hand if that exclamation included a swear word you invented on the spot. That's probably just me, but it got bad. Michigan turned to Matt Vogrich in the second half. Since Stauskas was going off this was presumably a move to shore up the defense; Vogrich promptly lost his guy and gave up open corner threes on consecutive possessions. The first one was a reaction to a bad McGary gamble, sure. The second… dot dot dot. At many points Penn State should have been down 15, and the scoreboard said they were down by 3 or 5.

This felt bizarrely familiar to me, and I figured out why: I've watched a lot of NC State this year. This game was disturbingly reminiscent of watching the Wolfpack play. This is not good. You get a window into the psyche of another fanbase when you adopt them as Michigan-by-proxy, and I think NC State fans are pretty pissed off that their combination of players is barely over .500 in a weak ACC.  I kind of hate them myself because they combine some breathtaking talent with total indifference on defense. They can beat Duke; they can give up 86 points to Wake Forest and Virginia Tech.

Finding a shadow of that team in this Michigan outfit that was until recently cruising towards a one-seed is not fun. This is analysis! This is Thunderdome!


Oh, but that shadow is there. Click the conference-only checkbox on Kenpom and you get a shocking splash of red:


Michigan is easier to shoot against than anyone in Big Ten play. Easier than Nebraska. Easier than Iowa. Easier than Penn State. Easier than Illinois despite Illinois playing with big men that may in fact be ghosts. Easier than the crippled husk of Northwestern.

Northwestern is the Rasputin of the Big Ten: shot, stabbed, poisoned, shot again, trampled by horses, chucked in the river. Finally dead and bloated, they are aimlessly floating towards the next life. It's harder to shoot against them than Michigan.

It gets worse when you consider the low number of transition opportunities Michigan provides since they're so responsible with the ball on offense. It has nothing to do with possibly-meaningless three-point shooting, at which Michigan is perfectly average at defending. It is entirely because they are also dead last at keeping twos out of their basket. It's repeatable stuff that the stats are probably not fully encapsulating. It is Not Good. (This is analysis this is Thunderdome.)

Earlier in the year a few people sounded the alarm about Michigan as a national contender, citing its defense. I said "but look at the outlying offense and wait for the defense to maybe move up a bit, Michigan is for real." That's a tough case to make right now. The offense has given up its massive lead and slid back to third; the defense has gone the wrong direction.

When DJ Newbill has a band in ten years they will be called The Unresisted Forays Into The Crisler Lane, man. Sound the alarm. It's time for a hard look at drastic actions, whatever those might be. Waving your hands in the general direction of a shooter is a start.


From Bryan Fuller:


Threes. They feel not random. The numbers say they are. Opponents' three point shooting since the start of Michigan's brutal stretch:

  • Indiana: 7/18, 39%. Season average: 42%.
  • OSU: 7/16, 44%. Season: 37%.
  • Wisconsin: 10/24, 42%. Season: 34%.
  • MSU, 7/20, 35%: Season: 35%.
  • Penn State: 6/18: 33%. Season: 30%.

It has felt like Michigan is giving up open look after open look and is getting scorched from deep. The result of this feeling: approximately three extra makes across five games, so far within the province of random noise that Autechre is jealous.

Way back in the ur-blogging days when Big Ten Wonk was an anonymous man with a large vocabulary and not John Gasaway we had a conversation about whether or not the fact that Michigan's opponents were raining in threes at a hellacious clip during a particular Amaker campaign was luck or not. I said yes, he said yes but only partially, and I eventually came around to his point of view. Any short-term blazing above 40% will regress.

Lately, Kenpom has been on a crusade to declare three-point shooting defense to be totally random. I entered this section planning to write that I felt streaks like Michigan's recent one were earned, and now I don't know what to think.

Two thoughts:

  • Michigan is average at defending three pointers (7th in the league, 99th nationally) but gives up a lot (10th in the league, 293rd nationally)
  • Their eFG% on threes is 50.4, which is in fact worse than their horrible 2-point defense, so the combination of these two things does make their eFG D worse.

Inside the line or out, pick your poison.

Another thing that doesn't seem right. Newbill ended up 3/10 from two. The guy who hurt Michigan was Sasa Borovnjak at 7 of 9, mostly on uncontested rolls to the basket. Michigan's rotations were late and sometimes the pick and roll guy was making the dump inside, which is a big no-no. When Michigan hedges, they play it such that if the guy getting the ball screen can toss it to the big, they're done. Too much of that in this one.

Trey. Dang man, 29 points on 16 shots—and four extra possessions with free throws, something we actually have to adjust for after this one—five assists, and zero turnovers. A couple of shots bugged me, as they were taken with no hope of an offensive rebound, but the efficiency speaks for itself.



Stauskas. Not Just A Shooter was in full effect as Stauskas picked up 12 points inside the line on perfect shooting—3/3 from the floor and 6/6 at the line, though IIRC one of those trips to the line was a non-shooting foul at the end of the first half. He also added four assists. The only thing he didn't do well was shoot the J, going 2/6.

I did have further frustrations with him on defense, and it seems like Beilein did too since we got to see Vogrich unearthed. That was the equivalent of a frustration foul.

GRIII: hello again. A series of highlight-reel dunks against a porous defense and Robinson is back. His success in this one only highlighted the reasons he'd disappeared in the previous few games: he's a top-quality finisher who rarely takes a bounce to get a shot. If put in a situation where he has to make his own shot, he defers. Once or twice a game he will go at the basket himself. That's all.

That's fine, but after the tough stretch it seems like far too much of Michigan's shot creation is on Burke's shoulders. Stauskas does a good amount for a third option; Hardaway not so much and then Michigan gets almost none from the 4 and 5 aside from putbacks.

Not so good: Hardaway, centers. Hardaway didn't shoot well. Okay, it happens.

The centers were a little bit more alarming. The shooting is one thing. They went 0/5 in 43 minutes. The rebounding is another: just 3 and 3 as Penn State outrebounded M 31% to 22%. Defensive rebounding is the only thing that Penn State actually does well (5th in conference; they have no other above-average factors) so I guess that's expected. But combine those numbers with Penn State's frequent dump-ins to Borovnjak—which are usually the hedger's fault for providing a passing lane or not getting back once the ball screen recipient tosses it to another perimeter player—and it was rough day.

I'm torn on Morgan. On the one hand, I'm hoping that Morgan's ankle is still bothering him extensively and he shouldn't be playing because then the fact that he seems like he's not offering any help to the beleaguered defense has an explanation. On the other, I'd really like him to be full strength posthaste. At least Michigan doesn't have a midweek game coming up. Hopefully he'll be ready by Illinois.

End of half heroball update. Burke was forced into the backcourt by his man, then trapped as he crossed the line, causing him to dump the ball with time running out and getting Michigan another terrible shot. Because Burke wasn't taking it, it did not go in.

What is the point of those end of half timeouts? All of them seem to consist of "Trey, go do something" and 28 seconds of staring at each other. I would prefer something with a second option like "Nik, go do something" or "Tim, go do something."

This week's refereeing outrage! Er, it actually went in Michigan's favor as Newbill picked up a critical third first-half foul on something that was not even close to a charge.

How do you fix charges? I don't know. Newbill's first charge was legit, as he plunged his shoulder into Stauskas and knocked him back with an arm, but this caused Pat Chambers to have a conniption fit because Stauskas didn't collapse into a Duke-like pile of flop and shame. His second was not, but did feature a guy getting bowled over. I think I'd change the rule so that feet had nothing to do with it except when it comes to getting outside the circle. It's a charge if the guy nails you directly in the chest, and a block if it's to the side. Expand the no-charge circle a bit and make the reform that Jay Bilas is always on about where if you move under a guy who's already in the air it's a block. And explicitly make simulating a charge a foul.

Anyway: Michigan got to the line a whopping 35 times after games of 2 and 6 FTAs. This is because Penn State is not at all subtle in their hackathon, for which I commend them. Unmissable foul perpetrators of Happy Valley, the honesty in your illegality is award-worthy.


Here is an award.

Uniforms. I liked them.



February 18th, 2013 at 12:44 PM ^

Can you explain what you mean by "not pulling its weight"? How do you measure coaching vs. experience/ability/all the other things that go in? [Note: this isn't a rhetorical question. I'm legitimately curious whether you've noticed something deficient in the coaching apart from the recent defensive regression.]

I'm not sure we've gotten worse defensively as the year's gone on than both played more difficult teams who have accrued more film. Teams are now clearly attacking Stauskas and GRIII in a way they weren't previously.

My theory, unsupported at this point, is that defense is the hardest thing for freshmen to pick up (aside for elite shot blockers, which is really a different skill than playing defense). In my experience, they're apt to spend far less time on it in high school or AAU, or just messing around in pickup games, so their fundamentals are likely shoddy.* Add in that defensive schemes, whether help-based man-to-man or zone are far more complex and contain myriad more responsibilities in college than at previous levels and it seems logical that freshman heavy teams would struggle defensively.


*I do think this is a place where someone could argue the coaching is deficient, as both Stauskas and GRIII seem to take pretty poor defensive stances. 


February 18th, 2013 at 1:32 PM ^

You're right that if we're trying to weigh the factors that have led to our atrocious defense, it's really hard to figure out how much youth, leadership, coaching, fatigue, scheme, etc. contribute to the outcome.

I do agree that defense at this level is complex, but we're not even executing simple things at this point. We look lost out there, and we don't seem to be playing with any sort of confidence or intensity. I'm just not so sure that youth alone (they all have plenty of experience at this point) can account for missed assignments and late rotations, particularly against a team like Penn State.  

Hopefully this time off will allow the team to work on fundamentals and figure out a way to stop the slide. Even with our youth, this team should be better than Northwestern defensively. 


February 18th, 2013 at 4:15 PM ^

coming into the season, Michigan detractors noted that beilein has never coached a team with a top 25 defense. So it is possible that his recruiting/coaching philosophy doesn't translate to a good defense. But obviously it is an impossible question to know fully, which makes baseless speculation more fun for chumps like me


February 18th, 2013 at 12:52 PM ^

What it means is MIchigan needs to spend tomorrow and wednesday fixing the pick and roll defense.  They have today off.  I like the hedging, but the book is out with how to attack.  Thank god they have this 'mini-camp' to address the rotations.

With the 1-3-1, Penn St found those 2 wide open corner 3s that kept the game from going into 10+ territory.  Sure, Vogrich had an error.  But to run 1-3-1 half the game is not a long term solution.


February 18th, 2013 at 1:10 PM ^

I think zone is even tougher for relatively inexperienced players on teams that aren't 100% zone, like Syracuse, because players really have to understand their part in the defensive whole at all times. One guy out of position causes the whole zone to fall apart. And you still need good defensive fundamentals so that opponents can't simply go by you on the dribble. 

The 1-3-1 can work well for this team as a sudden change up or a surprise coming out of a TO, but a late season switch to becoming a predominantly zone team reeks of panic in a way that I don't think is quite yet warranted.


February 18th, 2013 at 1:16 PM ^

Yep, IIRC MSU tore apart the 1-3-1 when we showed it against them.

Beilein is on record as saying that if you're going to run the 1-3-1 it is something you need to practice everyday for a significant amount of time. You need to really have it mastered in order for it to be successful.

It would appear he either doesn't have comfort with this team to run it anymore than a surprise possession or he's saving it for tournament time.

1989 UM GRAD

February 18th, 2013 at 2:18 PM ^

I think the people sitting near me during the game must've thought I was watching a different game.

Everyone is cheering and getting excited and I was sitting there like we were down by 20 throughout the entire game.

Not a satisfying performance...and, like everyone has mentioned, the defense is going to be a huge issue if we don't find a solution (and we need to find one if if J-Mo can't play).


February 18th, 2013 at 12:43 PM ^

Expand the no-charge circle a bit and make the reform that Jay Bilas is always on about where if you move under a guy who's already in the air it's a block.

Brian, that is already the rule. You have to establish legal guarding position before the shooter becomes airborne. In simple-speak, you cannot move under a guy who's already in the air. Which is exactly what you said.

It's a tough, tenth of a second difference sometimes, but that is the rule and that is what referees try to go by. It's just fucking hard, sometimes, to get it right at real speed.


February 18th, 2013 at 12:50 PM ^

Add in that referees jobs are made infinitely more difficult both because no one understands the rule (ie Chambers' complaint about Stauskas moving when Newbill clearly lowered the shoulder into the middle of his chest) and that players have been coached to lessen the impact of the charge and to accentuate any contact by spectacularly falling backward (I blame Coach K for this).


Kilgore Trout

February 18th, 2013 at 12:59 PM ^

The whole Craft / Hardaway thing earlier in the year got me to read the actual rules and I was surprised that I didn't really know them that well and it's pretty clear that most TV color guys (especially former players) don't know them either. If you read the rules as written, a lot more charges should probably be called. Once a guy gets legal guarding position (still a little ambiguous to me) the offensive player needs to get their head and shoulders past the guy or any contact is the offensive player's foul as long as the defender doesn't reach over or move into the offensive player.


February 18th, 2013 at 12:57 PM ^

Tried to throw this in an EDIT, but got locked:

Here's an awesome run-down of 25 misunderstood basketball rules.

My favorite is #23:

23. Lifting the pivot foot does not constitute a travel unless the ball handler puts the pivot foot back on the floor prior to beginning a passing, or shooting the ball! The pivot foot cannot be lifted before the dribble is started.

HS refs get this wrong all the time and even a bunch of players don't understand that lifting your pivot foot (after you've started dribbling) isn't a travel - bringing it back down is. It is basically how you get "2 steps" on a layup. But if you do it in the post after a drop step it looks weird and people think you must have travelled.


February 18th, 2013 at 2:16 PM ^

The difference in the example you are describing is that in your example, there is not an airborne shooter.   That is, the referee judged that the foul was committed after (ever so slightly) the shooter returned to the floor. Since the shooter is no longer an airborne shooter, the foul is called and the basket is not waived off.

Waiving off the basket is actually an exception to the greater, over-arching rule. The exception is that you wave off the basket when an airborne shooter commits a player control foul. Therefore, if the official judges that the charge occurs after the shooter has returned to the floor, we do not apply the exception, the basket is counts, and the defense takes the ball out on the baseline.


February 18th, 2013 at 2:31 PM ^

That's another of my favorites and I've gotten into quite a few shouting matches over it playing pick-up ball.

It's basically exactly what it says: If you shoot an airball, you can rebound it. It's not traveling. Here's the technical details:

When you are dribbling you have player control of the ball. You cannot travel if you do not have player control of the ball - common sense there.  One of the ways you lose player control is by attempting to score a basket (shooting the ball).  Therefore, once the shot leaves your hand you no longer have player control of the basketball and cannot, by rule, travel until you regain player control.

The shot is considered a shot as soon as it leaves your hands. As long as the official judges that you are taking a shot at goal, you no longer have player control of the ball and therefore cannot travel.

Other ways for player control to end are passing the ball or losing/fumbling the ball (whether deflected or not). In both of these instances, your team still has control of the ball, therefore, all the rules around team control (most significantly, offensive fouls and their affect on whether your get to shoot bonus free throws) apply.


February 18th, 2013 at 3:07 PM ^

passing to yourself and a shot ruled? I mean if passing the balls is a way to lose player control, then in theory you could pass to yourself.

And if you rebound your own airball, since player control is broken, can you dribble it? Because I wouldn't see any problem with the rule if you are catching it, but if you're dribbling it afterwards it seems like a way to pass it to yourself.


February 18th, 2013 at 6:06 PM ^

So, this is going to be ridiculously technical, but here's where the travel call comes from in this situation.

Traveling is definied as (4-45):

Traveling (running with the ball) is moving a foot or feet in any direction in excess of prescribed limits while holding the ball. The limits on foot movements are as follows:

Note here that holding the ball implies player control (part of the definition of player control) of the ball.  One way player control stops is when there's a try for goal (Rule 4-13-3):

Neither team control nor player control exists during a dead ball, throw-in, a jump ball or when the ball is in flight during a try or tap for goal.

Therefore, when a shot goes up, we no longer have player control and therefore no longer can have a traveling violation until another player or the same player re-establishes player control. Furthermore, Rule 4-45-3b (Note: this is the traveling rule, so the "player" is the ball handler) states:

If the player jumps, neither foot may be returned to the floor before the ball is released on a pass or try for goal.

The key part here is if a player jumps, the ball must be released on a pass or try for goal. If the player comes back down with the ball without a pass or a try for goal occuring, then we have traveling.

A try for goal is defined as follows (4-41-2):

A try for field goal is an attempt by a player to score two or three points by throwing the ball into a team’s own basket. A player is trying for goal when the player has the ball and in the official’s judgment is throwing or attempting to throw for goal. It is not essential that the ball leave the player’s hand as a foul could prevent release of the ball.

Emphasis mine. It's the official's judgement on whether or not you were attempting to actually score or pass to a teammate. I've never seen someone actually try to fake a pass or shot just to get his dribble back.  However, if you rule that there was no attempt to score or pass to a teammate, then the player has returned to the floor with the ball without a pass or try for goal, and therefore has travelled.

Theoretically, you could not leave your feet and toss the ball up and not leave your feet and catch it without it being traveling - that's the only thing allowed and clearly not advantageous to the ball carrier.

snarling wolverine

February 18th, 2013 at 2:56 PM ^

Taking two steps on a layup is still (technically) a travel.  "One and a half steps" is what's legal.  When people complain about LeBron or whomever taking two steps, they're not talking about the "half-step."  They mean he's putting his foot on the ground twice.  The inconsistencies regarding traveling can be explained in a couple of points:

1.  There has been a kind of general understanding across different levels of basketball that if a guy doesn't really gain an advantage from that second step, that the travel won't be called.  You see that a lot when a guy catches a pass at the top of the key and takes two baby steps in the process, without going anywhere.  That won't be called.  But if one of those steps is toward the basket, then it will be called.

2.  On a fastbreak, the thinking seems to be that it's pretty tough to collect yourself when you have all that momentum, so a second step is forgiveable - but it is still a travel (though almost never called).

3.  In the post, if a player takes two steps in any direction from a standing position, that's going to gain him an advantage, and he doesn't have the excuse of his momentum being a factor.  That's why it gets called so much more.


February 18th, 2013 at 6:23 PM ^

I just broke down one rule, so I don't want to take the time to do another, but I put "two steps" in quotations for a reason. Nowhere in the rules is there "one step" or "one and a half steps" or "two steps."  That's all talk to simplify the understanding of the rule.

For the rule, it's all about the pivot foot and when it leaves and returns to the ground.

Cliff notes:

Let's say I'm going for a right-handed layup. In mid-stride I pick up my dribble. At this point, when my next foot comes down, it will be my pivot foot.

My right foot comes down.  It is my pivot foot.

Next my left foot comes down as I stride forward.  Fine, I can do whatever I want with my non-pivot foot, including striding forward.  I stride forward towards goal so at this point my right pivot food is behind me and my weight is transferred to the left.

My right foot comes up.  In other words, my pivot foot has come up. If it returns to the ground before I shoot or pass, I have travelled.

I jump off my left foot for the layup and release the ball before my right (pivot) foot comes down. No traveling.

The "two steps" or "1.5 steps" is usually described as the right foot hitting the ground (1/0.5) and then the stride to the left foot (2/1.5).  When I was taught this, I was told one way to know if it's a travel is to listen/and watch for the "thumps" of shoes hitting the ground.  Two thumps = the situation above, no travel. 

The NBA is its own bastardization of the rules and when I talk rules I am always talking about HS and NCAA. So, yes, at the NBA level they let the players shuffle their feet all the time. It has actually been written into the rule book to allow it.  So, I can kinda agree with your first point (1).

Your second point is wrong. It's not a travel, as I hopefully have described above.

As for your third point, I can't define what you mean by two steps. Like I said, if his pivot foot comes up and then comes down, it's a travel. But if he strides with his non-pivot, pushes off the floor with his pivot (pivot is up, could be called a second step) but releases the ball before the pivot comes down, then it's fine.

It's all about the pivot foot - momentum shouldn't play a role. Bad HS refs might let it play a role, but they shouldn't. Know what foot is the pivot foot and know when it returns to the ground/moves.

snarling wolverine

February 19th, 2013 at 10:59 AM ^

I have worked as a referee before.  The definition of a step as I was taught is pretty straightforward - a "half-step" is when you lift your foot up and a full step is when you put it back down.  I don't know what you're getting into with all this stride-to-the-right-vs-stride-to-the-left stuff.  Either foot can be the pivot, and either stride can be the one that commits the violation.

My second point is correct.  By the letter of the rules, almost everyone travels on a fastbreak - they take two full steps.  It's understood that because it's difficult to slow your momentum in such cases, so officials let it go.  But to say it's actually not a violation is simply untrue.  

Likewise, players take - and get away with - baby steps when they catch passes at all levels.  That's not just an NBA thing.  If they don't gain a clear advantage, refs will generally let it go.  The reality is that basketball is a difficult sport to officiate and that you have to be mindful of many, many different things at once, so you have to let some things slide.  That happens in all sports.  You're being a little too defensive.    


His Dudeness

February 18th, 2013 at 12:51 PM ^

I have always been told that defense in basketball is 90% effort and 10% scheme/coaching.

So are we saying this team just puts no effort into D?

Are they coached not to put much effort into D to see that energy put into the pretty awesome O?

Are they so poorly coached on D that the 10% skews higher than that and makes us look even shittier on D?


Are they just young and thus shitty at D?


February 18th, 2013 at 12:54 PM ^

Well we lost zero nonconference games and have lost 4 conference games I would certainly assume the stats to be not as good. Again the only game we were completely out of was the MSU game, so get some rest and I still think we have a pretty good shot at winning out with the schedule remaining. If not be thankful the rest of college basketball is falling on their faces and we won't face too many Big Ten teams in the tournament. Silver linings!!


February 18th, 2013 at 12:55 PM ^

I tend to think the defense will revert to average when granted a week to rest, heal, and gain competency. The team has certainly shown that they are not superhuman ass-kicking robots. I still tend to think they are Better than the very average B1G team we watched this week. Time will tell.


February 18th, 2013 at 12:56 PM ^

I have a theory (opinion) that the defense is not as bad as we seem to think, but because the offense is so good, it makes the defense appear worse than it actually is.  This year's defense is still in the 86th percentile nationally (KenPom), and is actually quite a bit better than last year's defense, which was in the 82nd percentile.  This year's defense has an adjusted efficiency rating of 91.9, good for 48th nationally.  Last year's defense had an adjusted efficiency of 95.1, which was 60th nationally.   


February 18th, 2013 at 1:17 PM ^

This team doesn't look like it's built for the tournament.  The half court defense is average at best and against elite half court defenses the offense becomes predictable.  Michigan State is built for the tournament.  They can pound the ball inside when they need to and play good if not great half court defense.  Michigan essentially has no inside game.  The only time they score inside is on back door cuts.  A good defense isn't going to allow that to happen very often.  The lack of depth is also a huge concern.  This team needs some more time to develop.  McGary and Levert are good freshman players, but their not one and done type of talents.   


February 18th, 2013 at 1:37 PM ^

While I agree that Burke and Hardawy are a solid back court, UM's going to need someone else to step up in the tourney too.  So far Stauskas and GRIII have for the most part been no shows against better competition away from Crisler.  It'll be interesting to see how Stauskas and GRIII respond on a neutral court in the Big Ten Tourney.

One other item UM might have going for it in the tourney is the teams they play in the tourney aren't going to be able to spend nearly as much time scouting UM as teams in the Big Ten conference have.


February 18th, 2013 at 2:45 PM ^

Maybe it's just me but I'm not putting a lot of stock in how Stauskas and GRIII performed in the pre-season NIT as a barometer for how they'll do in the big ten tourney or ncaa's.  There wasn't much in the way of scouting reports for either player at the time of the pre-season NIT and the pressure level of that tourney compared to the big ten tourney and ncaa tourney is apples to oranges. 

Blue boy johnson

February 18th, 2013 at 1:34 PM ^

I don't get the Vogrich bad D criticism. First two 3's: Vogrich was put in no man's land by McGary. Shit happens. Last 3 was a miss and Vogrich had a hand in the guys face. Wasn't bad D.
I thought Vogrich acquitted himself well: in 5 minutes he made 2 free throws and had a 3 waved off because of a charge call on Robinson.


February 18th, 2013 at 1:41 PM ^

Brian - I think some things need to be clarified in your summary:

  • Vogrich got to play (and get toasted) because LaVert rolled his ankle and Hardaway was in foul trouble.  I'm still shocked at how bad he plays D after being mediocre throughout his career.
  • I think in Beilein's press conference he specifically referenced Morgan not being able to move quick enough to hedge on screens.  I think he can hold his own in the post but can't react well enough on the injury to do what the coaches' want on the perimeter, hence his <10mpg recently.  Hopefully that's a big part of the easy 2-point shots we're giving up. 
  • I heard Flip Saunders on ESPN radio talking about playing defense and he said that it relies all on your legs.  He said when you play a lot of games in a short period of time with a short bench your legs get fatigued and you'll quickly find yourself on a 3-game losing streak. 

I think besides the film catching up with our freshmen we're also seeing a lot of fatigue on the defensive end.  With most of the bench playing just a handful of minutes per game the top 6 guys end up gassed after the stretch of games we just had:  5 games in 16 days, two OT games, three road games, four best teams in the conference. 

More specifically, I think our wing players are gassed (Burke, THJ, Stauskas) and they're getting beat off the dribble, leading to our less experienced bigs (Horford, GR3, McGary) to try and help. 

I think this fatigue is also seen in the ghastly number of missed layups by our big guys.  If there was a stat for layup percentage versus player height we'd have some of the worst players in the country - our bigs cannot make layups in traffic. 

Blue and Joe

February 18th, 2013 at 1:48 PM ^

I think the defense is in large part due to freshman being freshman, and not neccasarily coaching. I remember a few years ago our defense was attrocious in the Big Ten too. It wasn't until Zack and Stu got older that we were able to shut some people down. Defense is a lot harder than people think.


February 18th, 2013 at 2:10 PM ^

But it has nothing to do with being a freshman. They were seniors last yr in HS and I'm sure they were leaders on both ends of the floor. It is coaching as players will do what is emphasized. A familiar quote in our coaching circles is, "what you see is what you coach".

Many have written here regarding how we cannot be sure what is emphasized in practice, basketball or football. I agree as we are not privy to the inside stuff. But there is a philosophy, I haven't figured out if they're a steering the ball to the baseline or the middle. I don't know if their one pass away help guy is supposed to stick or give help earlier rather than later. I also don't know if the 2 pass away guy is supposed to be in the lane ready to help from weak side.

We don't know who is responsible for covering the roller on the screen and roll and if they're really bad on rotations or someone missed their assignment.

I guess I'd really like to know what their man principles are so it would be easier to pinpoint. Alas, I'm confident they know and are working on it. My biggest observation is guys off the ball are not good at leaving room for teammates to get through screens and the first guy or one pass away guy is doing a poor job on help. The earlier the help the better.

The post men seem to have different rules as McGary stays with the ball much longer than Morgan does on the screen and roll.


February 18th, 2013 at 2:22 PM ^

The post men seem to have different rules as McGary stays with the ball much longer than Morgan does on the screen and roll.

Ahh, but I think you've hit on it. McGary stays longer, but Morgan forces the ball handler further out. This allows him to abandon the hedge earlier than McGary and recover. That's the quickness we are missing right now without Morgan.  At least, that what my semi-trained eye sees.


February 18th, 2013 at 2:28 PM ^

The hedge just needs to effective enough to either make ball stop or reverse. Not sure why McGary lingers because there seems to be no trap with the guards, even though he has forced some TO's with it. Morgan does hedge a bit "earlier" and shows early enough to recover and give time for on ball defender to recover.

Issue then becomes are the coaches letting them do what they want this but still asking them to hedge while the rest of the guys are reading what the post guy is doing and having to make different rotations?