Hoops Preview: Minnesota Comment Count

Brian February 2nd, 2018 at 3:00 PM

32900634261_7bb2b248d9_zTHE ESSENTIALS

WHAT #23 Michigan (18-6) vs
#91 Minnesota (14-10)
WHERE Crisler Arena
Ann Arbor, MI            
LINE Michigan –11 (KenPom)

Goldy wears weird shoes if you think about it


The sigh you hear coming from Crisler is Michigan hitting the ergonomic bathtubs and vaporous rubs during an incredible five-day break during this stupidly shortened conference season. This is Michigan's largest gap between games all year, and a welcome respite. Hopefully that means a game less ugly than many we've been treated to of late.

Minnesota should be of some aid here since they bring the nation's #129 defense. Michigan should have open shots and the ability to run their offense against a team that plays little to no zone defense; hopefully that should mean more threes go down for one Duncan Robinson. Also other people.


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 5 Nate Mason Sr. 6'2, 190 77 23 114 No
Main engine of offense can drive against anyone but is awful inside the arc (39%). Great A:TO ratio, 40% 3s.
G 13 Jamir Harris Fr. 6'2, 190 52* 15 105 No
Just A Shooter hitting 38% from 3.
G 1 Dupree McBrayer Jr. 6'5, 195 62 18 105 No
Low-ish usage, decent all around game and 36% from three. Another sub-40 guy from two shooting <30 on 2PT Js.
F 3 Jordan Murphy Jr. 6'6, 250 77 28 111 Yes
Burly board monster w top 15 OREB rate nationally. 83% at rim, almost half his shots there. Not a shooter.
C 21 Bakary Konate Sr. 6'11, 240 43* 10 92 Very
Tall man swats some shots and comically fumbles ball out of bounds if it ever gets to him.
F 15 Amir Coffey So. 6'8, 225 49 18 113 No
Stretch four w/ injury issues. Solid all-around player, good passer, lateral agility in question w/ injury.
G 11 Isaiah Washington Fr. 6'1, 190 43 27 87 Very
FR PG has solid A:TO ratio... and ranks 162nd in shot% nationally despite 39/19 shooting. Deranged fun!
F 20 Davonte Fitzgerald Sr. 6'8, 220 30 15 100 Yes
Just a guy.

*[Konate and Harris's numbers from the past five games, per Kenpom. More accurate than season numbers around 30%.]

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



Mason(#2) vs MAAR will be semi-frequent [Patrick Barron]

Post-Reggie-Lynch Minnesota is in a grim, grim place. They weren't exactly in a great place even with him, but Minnesota has dropped like a stone without him. They're 1-7. Their only win is in OT over Penn State. They've dropped from 43rd to 91st on Kenpom. Per Bart Torvik's site, post-Lynch Minnesota is 169th nationally, IE: Rutgers. Except a little worse. (Michigan is 13th in that timespan.)

This is appropriate; hopefully Minnesota's collapse will do what common decency evidently won't:

There's more than one rat-faced sexual assault enabler coaching in the Big Ten. For now. But Minnesota's athletic department is another post, one that's been made. Henceforth we'll just talk basketball except for one more shot at Richard Pitino. Maybe two.

Anyway: the Gophers weren't just missing Lynch for most of that time. Stretch four Amir Coffey has been out for six of the last eight games, including Minnesota's most recent L against Iowa. He is undergoing a doctor's appointment today:

“It’s been tough doing physical therapy all day,” Coffey said after making his return Jan. 20 against Ohio State. “It was kind of a weird injury. I just had to battle through it.”

Coffey is scheduled to have a doctor appointment on Friday to re-evaluate his shoulder. The Gophers play 1:30 p.m. Saturday at Michigan. So it will be interesting to see what happens if Coffey is out for the Iowa game on Tuesday.

McBrayer needed help into the locker room and couldn’t put weight on his left leg after a collision in the first half against Northwestern last week.

Coffey's initial prognosis was early February; he returned early but perhaps unwisely. If he can go he's a big man with good range and a rare acceptable 2PT FG%. He's also a good passer. If he does play it'll be without practicing, and the timing of the doctor appointment seems ominous for his chances. If he does play, he'll play a lot. The two games prior to Iowa he saw 32 and 35 minutes.

This is likely because he's one of only two available Gophers who is anything other than a disaster inside the arc. The other is Jordan Murphy, who's one of those 6'6" man-dinosaurs in the Branden Dawson mold. Murphy rebounds everything—13th in OREBs nationally, 57th in DREBS—and dominates at the rim. A sixth of his FGAs are putbacks he, uh, puts back at a 90% clip. With Coffey and Lynch out, Murphy's seeing half his time as a radically undersized center, and you can expect a ton of that in this game since he's a switch 1-to-5 guy and isn't the kind of largehuge big that Mo Wagner eats alive.

Murphy's one weakness: he doesn't shoot well. Half his shots are two point Js he hits at 32%, and he does not have three point range. He will still be a major challenge for Michigan's excellent-to-date defensive rebounding.

The other major Gopher star is Nate Mason, who is still not as good as Derrick Walton. Mason remains the lane-penetrating force that he was last year. His assist to TO ratio is excellent, and he's hitting 39% on a healthy volume of threes. Like everyone else we're going to cover in this section, though, if you can get him to take anything other than a layup or a three it's going to go disastrously for the Gophers. He's at 29% on two point Js.

He's still a tough cover because you can't sag off him and he can bull by you effectively. He'll also have a considerable size advantage on Zavier Simpson, but Simpson has the potential to cut off his drives and force Mason to rise up in a spot where he's miserable.

Wing Dupree McBrayer is another quality three point shooter (37%) who is a bricklayer inside the arc. He does get downhill enough to have a good A:TO ratio and shoots 70% at the line but 39% from two is something you can't get around. He spends way too much of his time shooting two point jumpers he cans at a 29% clip.

At center post-Lynch is either Murphy (40% of the time) or one of two tall guys who can't really basketball. Bakary Konate and Gaston Diedhiou are both around 6'11", both around 10% usage, and both hit under 50% despite that lack of usage. Their block rates are a far cry from Lynch's, and they don't even rebound that much. They'll get 20-25 minutes collectively and score approximately four points while altering some shots and giving up some OREBs as a result.

The rest of the roster is a collection of limited spare parts. I gave freshman SG Jamir Harris the starting nod based on his 16 minutes a game over Minnesota's last 5; he is a low-usage Just A Shooter. Fellow FR Isaiah Washington has SOCIAL MEDIA all A TWITTER over his cool "jelly" layup...

...and he is shooting 39%/19% for an ORTG of 87. But at least he shoots more than anyone else on the floor when he's in!

Davonte Fitzgerald and Michael Hurt round out the roster. Both are stretch four sorts with low usage and little shot creation. Both can can it from deep, though.


Given the Lynch situation it's probably better to look at Minnesota's conference numbers, which are about 3/4ths post Lynch, than their season totals. It's ugly. The Gophers have the 11th-best offense in the league because they toss up bricks almost as much as Rutgers. They get almost 15% of their shots blocked, allow almost ten percent of their possessions to end up in an open-court steal, and don't even hit the offensive boards very well.

Their defense is worse overall because they aren't good at anything and are particularly bad at shot volume categories like OREBs and TOs. I would say "this is going to feel like Rutgers," but Rutgers was actually a pretty good defensive team.

One thing that jumped out at me on Minnesota's hoop-math page: the Gophers have a crap ton of transition offense—a quarter of their FGAs—that they might as well not even run. Their transition eFG is 50%. Their half court eFG is 49%. Expect Minnesota to push at all costs several times in this game, and for that to seem like a bad idea.

On the other hand, Minnesota loses nothing with their late clock offense (49%). It does not matter how many seconds are on the shot clock, the Gophers are getting 1.0 points per shot.


Two point jumpers. Force Minnesota to take them. Their three point shooting has dropped off in Big Ten play but it's still vastly better than their 43% inside the arc and 29% on two point jumpers. This shouldn't be too hard since the Gophers are only 10th in league play at getting threes up and Michigan is #1 in preventing them.

Pick and roll switching. Minnesota's going to do it because everyone does it and it works pretty well and they're going to be playing Murphy at center a bunch. That's been difficult for Michigan to work through. Zones have given Michigan similar troubles, with a lot of standing around and waiting for something to happen. Hopefully the time off will give Michigan the ability to focus on those weaknesses.

OREBs. Minnesota isn't very good at them as a team but Jordan Murphy is extraordinary as a person, and a large chunk of the good Minnesota offense is Murphy shoveling back the copious 2PT misses that the Gophers offer up. Michigan is the top DREB team in the Big Ten, and has been repeatedly tested and come out on top. If they maintain that and the turnovers end up like they usually do in Minnesota-Michigan it's going to be very, very difficult for the Gophers to out-shoot M.


Michigan by 11.



February 2nd, 2018 at 3:40 PM ^

think that is partially an identity/team make up thing.  Some teams strike first blood, this team is definitively a counter-puncher.  It is stressful, and can have disasterous results when the punch back does not land, but I would not expect it to change much this season.

Part of it is because Wagner inevitably gets his first foul in the first three minutes of the game and inevitably comes out for the next six minutes of game action.


February 2nd, 2018 at 5:05 PM ^

Looking back, even on our most recent seven games (during which we've lost three), it's not necessarily a trend, although it does seem like it happens against bad teams that maybe we don't take seriously and then need that deficit to get our butts into gear:

(TL;DR: Our bad starts aren't as frequent as they might seem, and Wagner has been in for the majority of minutes during them (not in foul trouble in the most recent four) and his own slow starts are a leading cause).

Home Purdue Bad Start: went down 30-16...woof

At MSU Good Start: went up 13-10, 23-18 and played well throughout

Home Maryland Bad Start: went down 30-16, again!

At Nebraska Good Start: first 6 min were actually our best of the game as we went up 12-10, collapsed after that.

Home Rutgers Bad Start: went down 10-5 in the first 6 min but quickly went on 13-0 to make it 18-10 and it was never in doubt after that.

At Purdue Good Start: were up 12-8 and 17-14 on the road against Purdue.  Lost the next 25 min by 10.

Home Northwestern Bad Start: went down 14-5 before turning it around.

Let's also not forget our scorching starts against both OSU and UNC that both ended v badly.

As for the idea that Mo's absense is a culprit, that's just not supported by fact.  In fact, he was arguably as much the cause for the bad starts as anything in our four bad starts listed above:

Home Purdue Bad Start: we were down 16-10 when Wagner went out with 13 min left, we were down 22-12 when he came back in with 10 min left so it's not like he was making a big difference while in (and then we quickly went down 30-16 with him in. Didn't even get his first foul until 1 min left in 1H, nice!

Home Maryland Bad Start: Wagner went out at 14 min 1H with us down 13-7, he came back in with us down 23-12 so he was minus 6 in six minutes, Teske was minus 5 (which included the bank 3 by Cowan). Wagner was in for the stretch that it went to 30-16 and had zero fouls in the 1H.

Home Rutgers Bad Start: We were down 8-5 when Wagner went out with 13 min left (yes, we scored 5 points in 7 min with him on the floor).  He came out and we immediately went on a 10-2 run to make it 15-10 when he came back in.  No foul trouble for him again in this game.

Home Northwestern Bad Start: He was in the entire 14-5 start, at which point he picked up his first foul with 12 min left (we had 5 points in the first 7 min again!) and we started to get back into it.

The thing about Wagner is that he's so inconsistent on offense and so mediocre on defense that if his offense isn't there, he's not only using possessions inefficiently, he's hurting on defense and we get killed. But when he's good, he's great and we do things like go on runs in 2H against Maryland and Rutgers and Louisville and torch MSU.


February 2nd, 2018 at 3:27 PM ^

I enjoy as many shots at Richard Pitino as possible. In some families, douchebaggery is handed down from generation to generation like a twisted heirloom. Beat the Gophers.


February 2nd, 2018 at 3:37 PM ^

plays a lot given that he'll be a much better matchup for Murphy than Duncan will.  I even expect to see Livers at the 5 some while Murphy is there, with Duncan at the four.

I like Z's ability to matchup with Mason and this should be a smooth one for us.

Lot's of rolls to the hoop for easy buckets and open threes.  Just knock em down.


February 2nd, 2018 at 4:02 PM ^

Any opportunity Michigan has to put the screws to a team that may lead to a Pitino losing his job, they should do so with unbridled aggression.  Just run the whole damn family out of college basketball.