[Marc-Gregor Campredon]

Hoops Preview: 2018-19 Minnesota Part Two Comment Count

Brian February 20th, 2019 at 12:27 PM


WHAT #6 Michigan (23-3) vs
#46 Minnesota (17-9)
WHERE Williams Arena
Minneapolis, MN
WHEN 7 PM Thursday
LINE Michigan –5, 69% to win (Kenpom)
Michigan –5, 71% to win (Torvik)


Uh so the Penn State loss looks less bad now? The Nittany Lions eviscerated Nebraska at home and now that loss Michigan suffered is a top 50 road loss, which… eh? Not too bad? Although maybe it's not the best to start with that event when Michigan is going on the road against an opponent that's ranked almost exactly where Penn State is?

Maybe some hats?


Click for big

Is that better?



Click for big

Projected starters are in bold. Hover over headers for stat explanations. The "Should I Be Mad If He Hits A Three" methodology: we're mad if a guy who's not good at shooting somehow hits one. Yes, you're still allowed to be unhappy if a proven shooter is left open. It's a free country.

Pos. # Name Yr. Ht./Wt. %Min %Poss ORtg SIBMIHHAT
G 0 Dupree McBrayer Sr. 6'5, 195 73 18 102 Sort of
Vaguely PG-ish now with a 21 A/15 TO rate in B10 play. Shooting ugly: 45/28 in conference. Chucks up some ugly ones.
G 34 Gabe Kalscheur Fr. 6'4, 200 74 16 114 No
Composite #198 FR has expanded his game a little but is still mostly Just A Shooter hitting 40% from deep.
F 21 Amir Coffey Jr. 6'8, 210 84 24 106 Sort of
Wiry swingman being forced into a lot of tough shots, shooting 49/32, gets to the line a lot.
F 35 Jordan Murphy Sr. 6'6 250 76 27 111 Yes
Bull of a PF grabs all the rebounds but can't really shoot and lack of size makes him meh (59%) at rim. Assist rate has doubled in final year. Drawing a ton of fouls.
C 22 Daniel Oturu Fr. 6'10, 225 55 23 110 Yes
Composite #50 FR is already an excellent defensive C. 13% OREB rate, 7% block rate, almost all his shots at the rim. Black hole you can and should double. 5.5 fouls per 40.
G 23 Isaiah Washington So. 6'1 195 40 23 86 God Yes
Disaster unicorn questionable with tailbone injury.
F 1 Eric Curry Jr. 6'9, 240 22 15 96 Yes
Generic backup C except he doesn't really rebound.
G 2 Brock Stull So. 6'4, 210 22 10 95 No
Getting Washington's minutes in last 3; in those minutes he sits in corner and hopes to get a 3 off.
C 15 Matz Stockman Sr. 7'0, 245 13 25 106 Yes
Louisville transfer is a much better player than Curry, especially on D.

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



hope you've got some good sphincters eh [Campredon]

It's going to be a sphincter-testing stretch run for Minnesota, one of three Big Ten teams currently on the bubble. A twenty-one point thwacking of Indiana last weekend got them the very last bye in Joe Lunardi's opinion, but it's still very much touch and go. The Gophers are 7-8 in conference play and have a stretch run that's all A-tier; at Rutgers is the only game they're favored in, per Kenpom, and that's a 51% shot.

Winning a home game against Michigan wouldn't quite lock it up but would give them a lot more room for error. The Barn will be up for this one.

Minnesota remains the collection of large men who tend to dribble it off their face that they've been all year. They have in fact doubled down on this, as Dan Dakich pointed out in their most recent game: they're running a ton of high post stuff where the bigs will alternate posting and flashing to the free throw line, hopefully to get a good post entry angle. It's a response to not having a point guard, and… eh… it's fine.

The previous preview's personnel section is still mostly valid. The usual return-game adjustments:

  • I did not mention that C Daniel Oturu has a frosh-like 5.5 fouls per 40 and occasionally has trouble staying on the floor. He fouled out in 13 minutes against Indiana and played just 10 against Michigan because he had 4. His OREB rate has fallen to 10% in B10 play, which is still quite good but not insane.
  • Freshman shooting guard Gabe Kalscheur has started to diversify his game a bit and will venture inside a few times a game. 
  • Isaiah Washington has missed almost all of the last two games with a tailbone injury. He's now at 36/21 with a 21 TO rate. After a 0 ORTG game with 5 turnovers, no assists, and no points in the first Michigan matchup I don't know if the Gophers will be in a hurry to get him back.
  • UWM grad transfer Brock Stull has taken most of Washington's minutes. He's extraordinarily bad inside the line but at least his usage is at 10% where it should be. 3/13 from 2, 9/18 from 3. Similar but less severe split (37/38) at UWM last year.
  • Eric Curry and Matz Stockman are splitting backup minutes at the 5. Curry's playing time remains just as inexplicable some 200 possessions later. Minnesota is 0.14 PPP worse on D and 0.06 PPP worse on O with him on the floor; that former is a giant gap and it's one based almost entirely on two point D. Stockman is a hair better than other Minnesota lineups, probably because 400 of those possessions feature Curry.
  • Pitino continues to put out the other guys for 4-6 minutes per game seemingly at random. One of 'em has funny hair.


A strange development: Minnesota's offense has surged and its defense plunged since the last meeting between these teams. In conference play the Gophers have the #4 offense and #13 defense. Go figure.

What's even odder is that the only one of the Four Factors that the Gophers are above average in is FT rate. They lead the league in FTA/FGA… and are tenth at making them. That's still 68%, so those possessions are good, but that usually doesn't work out against Michigan. The Gophers had 14 FTAs in the first matchup. That rate (27) is closer to Michigan's (24) than Minnesota's (40).

Anyway: Minnesota's still a team of bricklayers, now 341st in getting threes up and 278th in making them. Their two-point shooting is 209th nationally but it's gone up a couple of tenths in league play, which is sort of impressive. Also in this point-guard-light and defense-heavy league going up a couple of tenths from 209th nationally lands you third in conference 2P%.

On defense Minnesota has been bad at everything except preventing threes. They're 12th in 2P% D, 12th in forcing TOs, 9th at grabbing DREBs, and 11th when it comes to putting folks on the line. But they do limit threes and limit the efficacy of the threes that go up.

This is a notable change from the last game, when I theorized that the Gopher defense might be underrated because they were pretty good at most individual components but were suffering when opponents shot the relatively few threes they got up. 15 games into the conference schedule that theory is correct only in a Costanza sense.



nope [Campredon]

Hit anything. The first game was close because Michigan decided to stop scoring with five minutes left. More generally, they were 3 of 22 from behind the arc. Minnesota does a good job of limiting threes but nobody does that good of a job. If Michigan hits 27%—still awful!—they win that game by 11.

I mean this is a stupid thing to say, "hitting shots is good." But what else can you say? Michigan is making things tough on themselves because they're getting open looks from three and not knocking them down.

Run on rebounds. One reason Minnesota's struggling on defense in league play is they're giving up more in transition than most Big Ten teams. Their average possession length is the second shortest in the league and that's not because they're forcing turnovers. 23% of opponent shots go up in the first ten seconds of the clock and those have an eFG% of 57%. It's the eFG that's an opportunity. Michigan is at 19% and a 45% eFG that's barely different than their non-transition number.

Michigan's final margin against Maryland was largely the 14 transition points they racked up by forcing steals and taking advantage of rebounds that bounced kindly. The Gophers crash the boards to help prop up their offense but they're just average in B10 play; they're not getting their money's worth there. Michigan's once-deadly transition game has been a little lame this year; hopefully they can sustain their most recent performance.

Double freely off Not Gabe Kalscheur. Other than Kalscheur (and Stull, I guess) the Gophers have no threatening shooters. Coffey's at 32%; McBrayer 29%. Michigan should be able to pick their spots to dig at Murphy, who will no doubt be trying to score through Brazdeikis's chest with frequency. Early in this one I'd rather risk threes from meh shooters than fouls on Iggy and Teske.

The X/Matthews Flowers For Algernon pills do not run out. X is 4/8 on his last 8 threes and had two others rattle out; Matthews has re-discovered his midrange ability; both are shooting free throws at rates that seem too good to be true. Long may it last.


Michigan by 5.



February 20th, 2019 at 1:02 PM ^

It would be nice if this team could channel their earlier road performances on the year for this one. Lately they can't seem to play well at all away from Crisler. Hopefully there's no foul trouble and Michigan can get by to set up what should be an awesome game against MSU.

Especially with Fisher, Glenn Rice, Terry Mills, and others from the 1989 squad in the building.

Reggie Dunlop

February 20th, 2019 at 1:07 PM ^

Regarding "Hitting shots is good", I'd love to see a statistical breakdown of our three point attempts and makes when separated by:

1) Catch-and-shoot jumpers. Where the shooter is set and assisted within the flow of half-court offense generating an open look for a ready shooter. And...

2) The rest of the prayers this team loves to chuck at the rim. Jordan Poole step backs, launches after jab-stepping 37 times, really any three preceded by extensive dribbling, etc. These never seem to go in.

Not sure if anybody does that. I'd guess no. I'm certainly not going to take the time. I'm just not wild about brushing off poor shooting as dumb luck. A lot of their struggles seem like shot selection - forcing the issue and not trusting the offense to create those same open looks organically


February 20th, 2019 at 2:07 PM ^

This is probably the least surprising post here.

Hoop-lens does actually provide a breakdown of what percentage of makes are assisted.  I'm not sure if you can get a breakdown of the percentage of attempts that were off-the-dribble, but it seems plausible that they would provide it.

Having said that, your premise is just off.  You continue to underestimate the effect of randomness in shooting outcomes.  Yes, Michigan does sometimes take bad shots, and yes, those go in at a lower rate.  However, they have missed a lot of open, in-rhythm shots too.  Beilein will sit -- and, in fact, has sat -- guys for taking bad shots early in the shot clock.  Poole has been yanked at least a couple of times for it; I think Matthews has too.

But you can be a 35% shooter, take 10 good threes, and make one of them.  In fact, it happens about 7% of the time, purely by chance.

I've definitely seen some ill-advised, early shots, but I think they seem more prevalent in hindsight than they actually are, because they're so memorable.

Basically, this breakdown is "Michigan needs not to have craptastic luck."  It's not satisfying -- we're all more comfortable when we can attribute success to hard work or skill -- but it's accurate.


February 20th, 2019 at 2:23 PM ^

You're assuming a 35% shooter makes 35% of his "good threes" in this instance. What if he hits 50% on his "good threes", but 20% on his "bad threes", and 50% of his attempts fall into good/bad categories? In this case it would be right to criticize shot selection.

Your point is valid, there is of course randomness, but without evidence (which places like hoop-lens provide) it's impossible to say whether the biggest issue is luck, selection, or just downright not having many good shooters


February 20th, 2019 at 3:25 PM ^

Yes, you're absolutely correct.  In practice, most 35% shooters are probably ~40% true-talent, in-rhythm shooters and have to throw up a contested shot now and then (or who go for the dreaded "heat check").

If you have someone who is taking that many bad shots, and you don't bench said player, I'm not sure what to tell you, except that you must really, really not have any bench depth -- even less than Michigan -- because that player is probably costing you more than a warm body at 0% usage would.

This is actually the fundamental, underlying reason behind the observation that teams don't really have much of an effect on opponents' three-point shooting, but can affect their volume.  Nearly all players will pass up low-percentage threes, or they won't be players for very long.  That includes Michigan's players, no matter what some people may want to believe in their constant attempts to explain why a team that's 23-3 and top-10 according to all available metrics isn't actually very good.

Reggie Dunlop

February 20th, 2019 at 5:23 PM ^

"In practice, most 35% shooters are probably ~40% true-talent, in-rhythm shooters and have to throw up a contested shot now and then (or who go for the dreaded "heat check")."

So contested shots and heat checks are less likely to go down and will likely drop a shooters percentage by about 5%? That's interesting. Hang on, I think I remember somebody saying something similar. Ah yes, here it is:

"I'm just not wild about brushing off poor shooting as dumb luck. A lot of their struggles seem like shot selection."

I said that! Very interesting. It's almost like we agree that poor shot selection can result in a lowered three-point percentage. Like your 40% guy who dumb-shotted his way down to 35%. But wait:

"Your premise is just off."

My premise is off? I thought we agreed that bad shots are less likely to go down and can adversely affect shooting percentage? Didn't we?

"Yes, Michigan does sometimes take bad shots, and yes, those go in at a lower rate."

Yup. We sure as shit did!

So bad shots are bad, there are such things as low-percentage shots that you should avoid, heat checks are bad, in-rhythm is good, and you should bench players who take bad shots because you're costing your team points via better opportunities (which Beilein has done numerous times already this season with Poole and Matthews).

That was all you. All of those thoughts are straight from your posts. Coincidentally, it's also exactly what I was saying in my first post that you told me was "just off". Good talk, J. Hope you feel better.


February 20th, 2019 at 5:34 PM ^

If you really think we're saying the same thing, one of the two of us should get an award for worst communication skills ever.

Let me ask a question, acknowledging that we'd both prefer that we have the data.  What percentage of bad 3s do you think Michigan takes?  Because, ultimately, I think that's what this discussion comes down to.  And, to be fair, I'll go first -- my answer is "no more than 15%" -- so, out of, say, 20 attempts per game, I'd wager no more than 3 are low-percentage shots.

If you agree with me, then we really have been saying the same thing.  If you think the number is much higher than that, then I re-iterate what I've already said.


February 20th, 2019 at 6:51 PM ^

Last sentence is dead on. 

Teams that are better at defense than offense are almost always underrated and over-criticized. Not scoring seems like the offense’s fault, not the defense’s doing (unless there’s a block or a steal, which M doesn’t get a ton of).

So teams like this Michigan one never get the benefit of the doubt. On offense, it looks like they’re failing, and on defense, it looks like they’re getting lucky. 

Reggie Dunlop

February 20th, 2019 at 2:55 PM ^

Well, if that's the case than your meandering contradictory reply is the second least surprising post here. 

I don't know where you're going with any of this. I didn't say everybody will always bury an in-rhythm spot-up three. I said those seem to drop at a higher percentage than Jordan Poole's hyperactive, contested, off-the-dribble, step-back hero-chucks and I'd love to see a split if one existed. You don't have one. So really, we're done right there. Your reply should have been "I dunno".

Instead, in your preconceived disagreement you posted this:

"Michigan does sometimes take bad shots, and yes, those go in at a lower rate."

Well, shit, J. That's exactly what I'm saying. Isn't it wonderful that we agree?

I think this team has a bad-habit tendency to ditch the offense and go hunting for their own shots at times - more often than previous Beilein outfits. Those generally lead to what you and I would categorize as bad shots. Like you clearly explained, I agree that those go in at a lower rate. Thus, if we could magically limit Michigan to only "good shots", you and I agree they'd probably shoot at a higher percentage.

If "bad shots...go in at a lower rate", then this isn't exactly random - it's controlled or at least influenced by the quality of the attempt. You spent your whole post inadvertently supporting my point. 

And feel free to delete your last paragraph because you debunked it in your previous 4.

Naked Bootlegger

February 20th, 2019 at 1:08 PM ^

Transition offense is key.   It totally transformed the Maryland game.  Nothing ignites a suffering offense than easy transition baskets, either on the fast break or secondary break.   I think we can replicate the Maryland transition game against a not-so-good shooting Minnesota team.    Key to this happening: minimize Murphy and Oturu offensive rebounds.

Also, interior defenders should be allowed to wear chest protectors while guarding Murphy.   Prepare for shoulder-in-your-chest rage drives to the hoop.  Repeatedly.


February 20th, 2019 at 2:27 PM ^

I feel like one of the most underrated traits of Beilein's past teams (mainly the Morris/Burke era teams) is how lethal they were in transition. I feel like every single transition opportunity resulted in a dunk or open three. Hence Izzo lamenting the "turnovers for touchdowns" problem when he went up against UM teams.

Naked Bootlegger

February 20th, 2019 at 2:45 PM ^

Relatedly, our transition offense has suffered at times this year.   Case in point:  the first Wisconsin game.   Wisconsin typically and effectively mucks up transition offense attempts, so every opportunity is precious.   We had at least 4 or 5 transition opportunities marred by errant passes, offensive fouls, missed dunks/layups, or other Kohl Center tragedies.    Those are as close to free points as you can get, and it's SO important to capitalize like those Burke/Morris teams did on a regular basis.  

We amped up the transition game against Maryland, so I'm hoping this trend continues.


February 20th, 2019 at 1:14 PM ^

How is it possible that John Beilein has a higher Bo Ryan Index (BRI) than Little Ricky?  That's got to be the upset of the year.  (For those that had to look it up, like I did: percentage of images in the first three rows of Google image search where the coach is looking furious, incredulous, etc.  Note that this is dependent upon how wide your window is).

One of Beilein's images -- I'm not making this up -- is of him holding up a whiteboard that reads "Mouse Double Eyeball".  I mean, really.  Do you think Bo Ryan has ever written "Mouse Double Eyeball" anywhere, except in the recipe for whatever horrible potion he brews in order to charm the backboards at the Troll Center?

I got 13 images in my search, and I think 2 of them meet the criteria -- and the latter is a cropped version of the former, and on eleven warriors to boot.

Beilein's BRI should permanently be the halo emoji.

Wolverine In Iowa 68

February 20th, 2019 at 1:26 PM ^

Loving the Michigan Lineup Card being added, but why is Eli listed as backup G?  I thought in the last few interviews that Beilein has been saying that DDJ was looking like he had taken over the backup spot???


February 20th, 2019 at 4:48 PM ^

His TO rate is 17.9%. That's more Derrick Walton as a sophomore (17.6) than Walton as a senior (13.2). I don't consider those numbers in a bubble--usage matters, assist rate matters--and both of those have gone up recently, but then so have the TOs.

The weird thing is he gets so many more on the road.

Road Games   Home Games
Opponent Turnovers Opponent Turnovers
Penn State 6 Maryland 1
Rutgers 4 Wisconsin 1
Iowa 3 Ohio State 0
Indiana 2 Minnesota 1
Wisconsin 3 Northwestern 0
Illinois 2 Indiana 0
Northwestern 3 Penn State 1
    Purdue 1
Avg/Gm 3.29 Avg/Gm 0.63

Big Brown Jug

February 20th, 2019 at 2:40 PM ^

It's weird to say in year 6 but the jury is still somewhat out.  He recruits really well for Minnesota, hasn't really shown himself to be a tactical genius, but has also had a ton of bad injury/suspension luck. Wins in Madison buy a ton of goodwill in Minneapolis, so he'll be around for at least one more year no matter how this season ends.


February 20th, 2019 at 2:04 PM ^

Hit anything. That's kinda been Michigan's motto for two seasons, and amazingly it has worked out great. Someone comes through. 

Wouldn't bet my hurricane-battered house, but I think there's a real chance Michigan whips up on the Gofetches tomorrow. 

Big Brown Jug

February 20th, 2019 at 2:45 PM ^

Having watched a lot of Gopher games this year, I can say that as goes Jordan Murphy so go the Gophers, but Oturu's looked on the verge of a breakout game.  He was consistently hitting a little 12 foot jumper that was absolutely wrecking Nebraska.