Hoops Preview: Florida State, Elite Eight Comment Count

Brian March 23rd, 2018 at 1:21 PM

SPONSOR NOTE. HomeSure Lending is sponsoring our tourney coverage. If you need a home loan, you should probably get it from a guy whose Ted Valentine impression is just as thunderously sarcastic as yours. Matt will get you a good loan, fast. And call you for a charge while doing it. Unless it is actually a block.


WHAT #7 Michigan (31-7) vs
#26 Florida State (23-11)
WHERE Ann Arbor Elder Law Center
Los Angeles, CA
WHEN 8:49 PM Saturday
LINE Michigan –4 (KenPom)

uhhhhhhhh in the process of finding an ent picture i found an ent related music video


That'll do.


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 3 Trent Forrest So. 6'5, 215 78* 19 114 Yes
Driver with no jump shot, top ten FT rate. 52% from 2, A:TO ratio close to 1.
G 11 Braian Angola Sr. 6'6, 195 76 23 112 No
Versatile SG-ish hits 48/38, creates most of his own twos. TOs an issue.
F 14 Terance Mann Jr. 6'6, 204 58 21 118 Yes
Another pure driver, 63% from 2 w 8% OREBs. Transition dependent.
F 0 Phil Cofer Sr. 6'8, 218 67 19 114 No
55/38 from floor, no assist, low TO gent.
C 25 Mfiondu Kabengele Fr. 6'8, 245 43 24 110 Yes
Rebounding beast with 6% block rate and some range.
C 21 Christ Koumadje Jr. 7'4, 233 27 17 118 Very
Enormous man w 10% block rate. Dunks on assists, putbacks.
C 12 Ike Obiagu Fr. 7'0", 240 26 14 88 Very
20% block rate! Terrible at everything else.
G 2 CJ Walker So. 6'1, 195 33 19 102 No
Former starting PG has more TOs than assists, shooting 47/36.
G 2 PJ Savoy Jr. 6'4, 195 51 19 102 No
Just a shooter hitting 38%. Minutes have surged lately.
F 23 MJ Walker Fr. 6'6, 205 47 19 100 Sort of
FR is scuffling badly, shooting 42/35 from floor with TOs, but still plays

*[last five games minutes from Kenpom.]

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


FSU is an unusual Elite Eight opponent in many ways. For one, they're a 9-9 ACC team that got bounced in the first round of the conference tourney by NIT-bound Louisville, and they didn't do much in the nonconference to recommend them other than bombing Florida on the road. Their only other top 100 nonconference game was a loss to Oklahoma State.

For two, Florida State is simultaneously an extremely typical Florida State outfit and one of the weirdest teams I've ever previewed in these parts. The typical Florida State stuff: they're stacked back to front with enormous dudes ranging from African Guy Who May Literally Be An Ent to Future NFL Tight End. The weird stuff: nobody averages 30 minutes a game and there's approximately two guards on the roster, if you're judging by body type.

It's futile to lump guys into traditional 1-5 roles here because of the rotation and general weirdness. FSU sports a couple of no-shoot drivers, some all-around guys who are competent from three, and then Ents.



WDE Trent Forrest: good bend around the corner

The no shoot drivers include FSU's point guard (ish), Trent Forrest. Forrest is a 6'5" Darius Morris type. He does his best work attacking off the dribble on the pick and roll. Forrest is FSU's main assist guy and initiator and possesses a top 60 steal rate; that's offset by a 20 TO rate and a 3/14 season from three. Forrest's FT rate is 10th nationally, and he hits 69% once he gets to the line. Almost 70% of his shots are at the rim. Forrest drives, and then drives, and then drives some more. He's an 8th percentile spot-up shooter.

Small forward(?) Terrance Mann is is extremely similar to Forrest. He's a 6'6" slasher who attacks off the PNR and has no jumper. His ORTG near 120 is built off impressive 63% shooting from two; that, in turn, is built on a bunch of transition, OREBs, and cuts to the basket. He's shooting 25% from three on about two attempts a game.


Three guys fill out the wing shooter role. Nobody is Just A Shooter; everyone has at least 50% of their attempts from inside the arc and a healthy FT rate. 6'6' senior Braian Angola is the most prominent. He's a 48/38 shooter with 22% usage, a deadeye from the FT line, and just gets inside the top 500 on Kenpom in FT rate and assist rate. He creates most of his own shots inside the line, but he's very much a rim-and-3 guy. If you can force him into a 2PJ he scuffles badly.

6'8" stretch four Phil Cofer is fairly efficient thanks to a low TO rate and 55/38 shooting. He's FSU's best spot up shooter and will face up on the block to take two point jumpers he's decent at draining; he's less transition-dependent than most of his teammates. If FSU decides to post anyone it'll probably be Cofer, who's averaging a solid PPP on about one post up a game.

Freshman MJ Walker is another wing; he's been locked in a terrible slump for the last month. He's failed to hit a three in the last seven games and is shooting 41% from two on the season. He doesn't offer much else except turnovers, but FSU has not dropped him from the rotation. He's averaging 15 MPG in the tourney. Unless he breaks out those minutes look like a gift.


And the guard type persons. CJ Walker is the only guy on the roster under 6'4". He's 6'1". He was the starting PG until seven games ago, when FSU went with Forrest more. Walker is just an okay shooter—36% from deep—and has a TO rate higher than his A rate, so that move isn't a huge surprise. Walker was also extremely poor in transition—Forrest is excellent—and since FSU appears to have gone all-in with a frenetic style, Walker wasn't a great fit. He did get 24 minutes in the Gonzaga game, FWIW.

PJ Savoy* is Just A Shooter, hitting 35/38 with just 23 attempts inside the arc on the season. He missed seven games midseason and is averaging about 20 MPG after his return, and he's been very hot during that stretch. He's 25/51 from 3 since February 10th. Michigan should limit his attempts, as they do to everyone; if they don't Savoy will hurt them.

*[Yes, FSU has a PJ, a CJ, and an MJ.]


At center… take a breath. There are actually two African maybe-Ents. Christ Koumadje is a 7'4" dude from Chad; Ike Obiagu is a 7-footer from Nigeria.

Koumadje has started every FSU game since mid-January but struggles to stay on the floor because of his 6.3 fouls per 40 and general rawness—in the tourney he's played 9, 11, and 11 minutes. When he's on the floor he's about what you'd expect: a swat machine (10%, on par with Robert Williams) and rebounder who gets virtually all of his shots via an assist or a putback. He has no back to the basket game. No Seminole does, actually—only 5% of their possessions are classified as post-ups and they're actually worse at them than Michigan is at defending them.

Obiagu, a freshman, only gets about ten minutes a game because his sole discernible basketball skill at this juncture is blocking the ever-living hell out of the ball. He does this on every drive vaguely in his area and is rewarded with a spectacular 20% block rate, which would be by far the #1 rate in the country if Obiagu had clocked 16 MPG. He also cracks into double-digits as an offensive rebounder.

Everything else is a disaster. Obiagu has two assists on the year, a 27 TO rate, is shooting 32% from the line, and has vanishingly small usage. He has 18 post-up possessions on the year. At least his 88 ORTG isn't attached to a 30% usage point guard who plays all the time.

FSU's third center is by far their most skilled. Freshman Mfiondu Kabengele—who is from Ontario—doesn't have the sheer size of his compatriots but can shoot a bit (38% from three, albeit on just 26 attempts) and generates a fair number of his own shots. He gets the bare plurality of C minutes, uses almost 25% of FSU possessions when he's on the court, and maintains a fairly healthy 110 ORTG. Despite the fact that he's just 6'8" he goes toe to toe with the other guys as a rebounder and has an impressive 6% block rate himself.


Screen Shot 2018-03-23 at 12.16.44 PM

The first thing that jumps out about FSU is their tempo. FSU ranks 41st, which is higher than any Big Ten team—Iowa is tops at 71st—and amongst the fastest teams in the country who aren't total butt. Only Oklahoma, Auburn, and North Carolina State are faster major conference teams. The top 50 is littered with SWAC and MEAC and Big South teams.

This should play into Michigan's hands, but FSU has a secondary source of transition opportunities: explosive blocks that hit a Seminole in the chest.

The Seminoles's tempo-free statistics are admirably descriptive. Their offense is 33rd on the strength of excellent two point shooting and good-not-great offensive rebounding; they are meh at threes and take an average number. They have a slight turnover issue.

On defense they look every part the team that tries to swat everything and accepts the consequences. This means they're top 20 in block rate and 17th in two point D, but they're surprising bad at DREBs for a team of Ents—because those Ents are swinging wildly at any basketball-shaped object that comes within 15 feet of them. FSU is also pretty bad at defending the three-point line, giving up a dead average number that go in the basket at a slightly worse than normal rate.


WIN. TRANSITION. Absolutely imperative. FSU is one of the most transition-heavy teams in the country on both ends. The only team that gives up more transition looks than FSU and is not complete trash is West Virginia and their Huggy Bear press. While you can feel the thunderous Tayshawn Prince blocks oozing off the page when you check FSU's 86th percentile transition D, they still give up significantly more PPP on the whopping 20% of opponent shots Synergy classifies as transition.

On the other side of the ball, a similar deal. 21% of FSU possessions are in transition and they lose a significant amount of offensive effectiveness when forced into the half-court. The dropoff is not as severe as it was for A&M, but it's still 0.2 PPP—which is a ton.

Michigan counters with an excellent, if slightly infrequent transition O and the best transition D in the country. I know I've mentioned this again and again but this is another team that wants to run and pound the boards and must be checked, and then punished, for their predilections.

Survive on the defensive boards. FSU is going to crash the glass with everyone from all angles in search of the second chance points they'll need to keep up. Each one of these opportunities is a big swing between a likely FSU bucket and a Michigan transition opportunity.

Drag 'em out. FSU's very traditional bigs can't swat everything and respect the Wagner pick and pop. First Wagner Three in this game might be worth 20 points, not ten. Michigan should try to line up their minutes so that Teske mostly goes up against Kabengele, the least threatening swat machine at C.

Shoot. Michigan doesn't have to shoot like they did against A&M to win. They probably have to do better than they did against Houston. This game is likely to be closer to A&M. Michigan isn't coming off a layoff, isn't playing at 10 PM against Central/Mountain teams, and isn't playing a team that's capable of switching everything.


Michigan by 4.



March 23rd, 2018 at 5:18 PM ^

because shame on them for not standing up too.  And if they were another teams fans, shame on them again.  I had Gonzaga fans behind me and I was probably blocking their view half the game.  They obviously did not care because it wasn't their game.  Really nice  folks.  They were mostly like, wow, you guys are good.

Our Man in Havana

March 24th, 2018 at 1:00 PM ^

Terence Mann: . Well, I've got news for you. I spent all my misery years ago. I have no more pain for anything. I gave at the office.

Hold on there, Mr. Mann...we’ve got just one more little misery to inflict before you go away...


March 23rd, 2018 at 1:37 PM ^

to pay much attention, but a transition team going against Michigan is going to have a bad time, provided we don't have a nightmare shooting performance again. Only think I can think of that could really hurt is foul trouble with the right dudes (Z, MAAR, and Mo) but that's basically true for every game.

Just make shots, play our game, and stay out of foul trouble. That formula might just be good enough to win a title.


March 23rd, 2018 at 1:38 PM ^

Every game this postseason except maybe Iowa or Montana has given me the willies. So this one is no different, I guess, and the others have turned out ok.

Still, though, I worry about our transition offense struggling like it did in Wichita, and I worry about our guys getting psyched out by the FSU shotblocking. But then, I'm not considering what those shotblockers will be feeling like guarding Moe on the perimeter.

Win the Game.


March 23rd, 2018 at 1:39 PM ^

Good point about the first Wagner three. If we get him a couple early buckets, he is a completely differnent animal. An ubermensch. If he struggles early, he has a tendency to force it more later, and even seems worse on defense. 


March 23rd, 2018 at 1:45 PM ^

in more than 1 sport. Michigan the favorite in both recent matchups.  Michigan is no doubt FSU's toughest opponent in the last few weeks. FSU will be a dog again... for the 4th straight game in the tourney.

FSU is a very untypical team in that they have 10 guys who can produce, so as long as 5-6 of the 10 do, they can succeed with balance.  For example, only 1 player had double figures vs. Gonzaga last night, and yet they scored 75 points.  The reason they've been succeeding lately is that they've started playing defense (again)--last night Gonzaga had their worst point per possession performance since 11/2010. And FSU's big. Last night they had 9 blocked shots; and scored 38 (of their 75) points in the paint.

Simply put: FSU is peaking right now (at the right time).


March 23rd, 2018 at 2:13 PM ^

Gonzaga was also shorthanded last night, playing without Tillie.  Tillie averaged 13 and 6 and shot 48% from 3 this season - that's a big loss.




March 23rd, 2018 at 5:38 PM ^

or this thread.

Gonzaga was missing arguably the most important player on their team.  So Hachimura and Williams ended up attempting way too many twos against FSU's shot blockers and the 3 pt shooters had a bad night and that was it for them.  Very fortunate for FSU (and possibly more fortunate for us).

There are only two things that scare me a little bit about FSU:

1) is that they pressed a lot last night. And given how bad we were against A&Ms press, I'm certainly FSU will pressure pretty hard.

The two things that do make me feel better about that than how we played TA&M's press last night:

a) We had Zavier passing it in and that seemed like our late game "don't let Zavier get fouled" strategy.  So it put the ball in hands of Livers (who really struggled against the press) and others way too often.  If FSU presses early, we have to get the ball to Z and MAAR almost exclusively.  I'm sure we'll be working on our press break today.

b) We didn't really care to punish the A&M press when we did beat it because we were mostly in clock kill mode.  So while they got a lot of TOs and immediate points off those TOs with their press, I don't think they paid for it like they would have had the game been closer.

and 2) they have a tall PG that draws a lot of fouls.  Z has struggled sometimes with taller PGs or those that thrive in the paint (McIntosh II, Washington, Tony Carr briefly). I still think that matchup should go his way.  He'll force tough shots but FSU's height will allow them to get shots off over him.  I feel good about Matthews on their other driver but one more thing I worry about:

3) if the refs call Matthews for too many ticky tack fouls on Mann, that could be a guy that goes off for them.


March 23rd, 2018 at 5:51 PM ^

Gonzaga shot 39 twos to only 20 threes plus they shot 24 FTs, so those were probably mostly on two point attempts in the paint (so your points in the paint number is misleading because it doesn't count FTs that resulted from fouls in the paint).

But yeah, Gonzaga only made 15 of those 39 2 pt attempts because FSU had 9 (!!) blocked shots.

I was dumbfounded that Gonzaga kept taking it inside on the Ents but then realized halfway through the game that they didn't have Killian Tillie.  I still wonder why they didn't shoot more threes, but they kept taking inside (with poor results).  It was a bad game for Gonzaga.  Didn't shoot well.  Didn't take good shots and were missing arguably their most important player. 

Big Boutros

March 23rd, 2018 at 5:48 PM ^

It's something that Torvik tracks. Basically quantifies how much of the game the team spends leading or trailing. In 7 of FSU's last 10 games they have spent more time losing than winning, even though they haven't lost all of them.

Even though they went 9-9 in the ACC, they were cumulatively -18.6. So when they won, they won close, and when they lost, they got blown out.

Since February 7, Torvik's metric has Michigan #1 in the country (+91.4). In that same timeframe, FSU is cumulatively -24.6 and that includes their three straight wins in the NCAA Tournament. They were getting destroyed on the regular by the time Selection Sunday came around.


March 23rd, 2018 at 1:44 PM ^

Michigan handled Ivan Drago and a Dutch Windmill in the BTT. Size doesn't scare me anymore. Also, no way slashing "point guard" as big as Forrest can get by Z. Especially since Z doesn't need to respect his shot.


March 23rd, 2018 at 2:16 PM ^

The sweet spot for frontcourt players seems to be 6'8"-6'10" these days.  I don't think the extra height makes up for the comparative loss of quickness in today's game.

If you don't have shooters then a seven-footer can really make your day miserable, but Michigan has them everywhere.  Unless something weird happens, this could get out of hand.