this blog does not acknowledge WMU's revamped mascot and never will

Hoops Preview: Western Michigan Comment Count

Brian December 13th, 2018 at 1:15 PM


WHAT #4 Michigan (9-0) vs
#222 Western Michigan
WHERE Crisler Arena
Ann Arbor, MI
WHEN 2 PM Saturday
LINE Michigan –24 (Kenpom)


Michigan has reached their annual near-dormant mid-December. The next three opponents are all buy games that Kenpom favors Michigan in by absurd margins. This is in part because the teams are bad, but they're not as bad as they usually are. Last year's trio of Detroit, Jacksonville, and Alabama A&M were all 319th or worse in Kenpom. A&M was a 3-28 SWAC team.

This year's slate is more respectable, and Michigan might be slightly disappointed that they're getting slightly down versions of WMU, which is usually around .500 in the MAC but seems headed for the bottom of the league this year, and Air Force. Even somewhat weak versions of those two programs are (probably) much better for NET purposes than the confused time-traveling Mongol squads of yesteryear.

Binghamton? Well, can't win 'em all.

Michigan should cruise past all three of these opponents in dominating fashion, but Michigan's seven-man rotation is looking a little vulnerable to foul trouble and injury so there will be moments of import for down the road when Jon Teske, in particular, exits.


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 12 Michael Flowers So. 6'1 195 76 23 106 No
PG shooting pretty well and getting to line; TOs an issue. Mansome DREB PG.
G 4 Jared Printy Jr. 6'4, 185 68 12 117 No
Just A Shooter.
G 3 Josh Davis Sr. 6'5, 200 79 24 95 No
Senior's uptick in usage is almost all turnovers. Shooting almost the exact same, TO rate nearly doubles to 28, ORTG 95.
F 11 Kawanise Wilkins So. 6'5 235 60 18 119 Maybe
JUCO transfer shot 37% from 3 last year. Struggling from there so far but solid all-around game otherwise. Getting his own shots.
C 50 Seth Dugan Sr. 7'0, 240 79 27 115 Yes
Traditional C has taken big leap forward in his final year. Shooting up, assists up, rebounding up. Very good at rim (75%, half assisted). 14% on other twos. Not a shotblocker.
G 2 Adrian Martin Fr. 6'3 170 41 16 49 Yes
FR shooting 14/15 from floor. Not a typo. On 41 shots!
F 15 Patrick Emilien Fr. 6'6, 190 39 15 80 Yes
Uh this guy is at 27/19. Gets some OREBs at least?
G 20 William Boyer-Richard Fr. 6'1, 185 32 16 77 Meh
Hey this guy's at 40/33! … with a 42 TO rate.
F 24 Adida Ikongshul Jr. 6'6, 265 13 22 76 Yes
Ye gods: shooting 3/24 from two for his career.




WMU got hammered 90-64 and 78-52 by the two major programs (Ole Miss and Cincinnati, respectively) they've played so far this year. They also have losses to Nicholls State and USC Upstate, soooo… yeah. All their wins have been against teams ranked 242nd or worse.

That said, the individual offensive stats these guys are putting up don't look terrible until you roll them together. Center Seth Dugan is a seven-footer who's having a solid sendoff season, pushing up towards 30% usage while improving his FT rate and two-point shooting while maintaining a big-time OREB rate. He gets everything at the rim, where he's a 75% shooter with about half of his makes unassisted. Get him away from the rim and he's hitting 14%. The mandate is clear. Teske hasn't really played a true back-to-the-basket C much this year, so Dugan will be an interesting Happ-ish preview?

Fellow senior Josh Davis got a bit more usage heaped on him this year and has spent almost literally all of it booting balls out of bounds. He's shooting 57/34 and getting to the line some, but his TO rate nearly doubled this year. Feels like a Charles Matthews situation where he can get some shots but when pressed into higher usage he struggles.

JUCO transfer Kawanise Wilkins looks like a find for the Bronco program if he can just pull his three point shooting up, which he should. He was a 37% shooter last year and is hitting 81% from the line, so his early struggles (4/17) behind the arc are probably just a blip. Despite that he's hitting 63% from two and has an assist rate higher than his TO rate; in addition most of his shots are not assisted. He's creating for himself and others with a high-ish but acceptable TO rate for a guy in his first season of major college basketball. His main issue: usage. He's the best non-Dugan option on the team by a fair distance and is stuck at 18%.

PG Michael Flowers is shooting pretty well but a 23 TO rate is a problem; he got about 5 minutes a game last year so there's nothing else to go on.

The final starter, Jared Printy, sits in the corner and shoots threes.

Everyone outside the starting lineup is a rando WMU picked up from the YMCA. I've never seen an entire bench contingent that fails to break 80 ORTG, but here we are. Adrian Martin, Patrick Emilien, William Boyer-Richard, and Adida Ikongshul cannot shoot, turn the ball over constantly, and use far more possessions than they should when they're on the court. Collectively they're getting a quarter of WMU's minutes.

One decent bench player probably takes WMU back up to their level of the last few years.


WMU is about equally poor on both ends of the floor in eerily similar ways. They're horrendous at taking care of the ball (319th) and acquiring turnovers themselves (347th!); they get to the line and keep others off it; they're good inside the arc on both ends and bad outside it.

The only thing that really differs is that WMU crashes the boards a bunch but is a poor defensive rebounding team. So: WMU is a team that usually has a big shot deficit because of the giant turnover disparity of their average game, and they can't shoot away from the rim so it's hard to keep pace two at a time, occasionally.

This has been especially bad against the two major opponents: WMU turned it over 24 and 17 times in those two games.


Win the game. I mean.

Work Brandon Johns and David DeJulius into the rotation some. Michigan might not exactly need players 8 and 9 to be a very good basketball team, but an evident hole at backup C and Eli Brooks seeming more like an off guard means there's an opportunity to scratch out some minutes as the season progresses.


Michigan by 24.



December 13th, 2018 at 2:47 PM ^

If you have the Google Chrome browser, it's fairly easy to see them online.. without paying any extra stuff. All you need is you get a couple extensions for the popups and the ads. Then it's just a matter of going to a website. And there you go. And with the hand Chrome Cast for the TV.. it's magically on the big screen. Takes me about 35 seconds to get it loaded. Whew. I'm beat. 

Not to sound like an ass. I just rarely post on here.. and see so many people that ask for ways to see if they are out of state, or over seas or even people ask how to see it online. It's not super complicated at all. 

As for me.. cause I live in Lake Charles Louisiana.. I'll be going to on the interwebs.


December 13th, 2018 at 1:31 PM ^

I read the 14/15 shooting splits for Adrian Martin as "fourteen out of fifteen" and was really confused when you said "on 41 shots. Not a typo!"


Good preview, I'm excited for the opportunity to see if Johns can work his way into the rotation.


December 13th, 2018 at 1:49 PM ^

Yeah, I was working through a weird scenario where maybe it meant "shot equivalents" and people had just started tackling the guy because he was so lethal from the floor.  But then I figured you'd start a player like that.  It wasn't until I read the 27/19 line for the next guy that I realized what he meant. :)


December 13th, 2018 at 2:23 PM ^

Either that or his feet are stapled to the floor.

In fairness,

1) He is 7'0, not 7'2

2) He is an ok shot blocker with a block rate of 4.6% of opponent shots (top 250 in the country).

3) Moe Wagner was 6'11 and very much Not A Shot Blocker.  His 2.0% block rate was less than half of Dugan's and in the range of an average shot-blocking wing player - barely higher than Duncan Robinson's rate of 1.7.  And it's not like Wagner is a lumbering behemoth. His inability to block shots (without fouling too much) always baffled me.


December 13th, 2018 at 2:05 PM ^

He was a 37% shooter last year and is hitting 81% from the line, so his early struggles (4/17) behind the arc are probably just a blip.
I'm fully expecting him to make improbable step back 3s now.


December 13th, 2018 at 3:35 PM ^

I hate the cupcake games as much as the next person.  But maybe there is a method to this.

Is it possible that Beilein plans this "dead period" between semesters as a 2-4 game period to make major mid-season corrections in his team?  This does create a low-risk environment for tweaks such as changing the rotation that is likely to provide meaningful feedback and create an opportunity for success.

It's as if he has gathered the marketing data (first ~10 games), is updating the product, and will roll out the updated version in a test market to confirm.  We can probably extend the lifecycle analogy further thru B1G regular season and post season tournament readiness, but this is a sports blog.

We have talked about JB's willingness to adapt, but I think there is more to his genius.  He has a plan to innovate, not just between seasons, but within them.


December 13th, 2018 at 7:27 PM ^

It is not that.  It is 1) downshifting the load on players during the final week of classes and exams to let them focus on studies and 2) not scheduling too many games during a period when students mostly won't be on campus and when attendance would suffer as a result.

This definitely isn't just a Beilein thing.  It's CBB wide.

Duke only plays two (!!) games between Dec 8 and Jan 5!! MSU also just plays three no names in the 3.5 weeks prior to resumption of Big Ten play. UNC plays only four games in the entire month of December.  You get the idea.


December 13th, 2018 at 9:57 PM ^

I will be so angry if they win by 23 or less. I will fire off an angry letter to John Beilein making it clear in no certain terms that I mean business Mister. We must play with Wolverine pride and gusto! No lollygagging and such.


December 14th, 2018 at 9:50 AM ^

Talk about cupcake schedules, I watched a few minutes of the Wisconsin Savannah State game last night (just flipping to the game during commercial breaks while watching something else).  Wisconsin won 101-60 (the score was 69-32 at the half!). Savannah State is the worst college team I think I've ever seen (they were down to just 8 players, I'm not sure why). On offense, they would get across half court, and before even making more that one pass or doing anything resembling an offensive set, someone would jack up a 3, miss, no one around to get a rebound but Wisconsin players.  Then at the other end, after more than 3 passes, someone was usually wide open for a shot. There was almost nothing resembling team play, and btw, South Dakota State beat them 139-72 in their previous game.


December 15th, 2018 at 7:19 AM ^

And playing a team that is this bad doesn't really help improve a Wisconsin or SDSU other than maybe help a player's confidence (Davison's 3 point shooting and Happ's free throw shooting were much better than against Marquette).  It certainly helps pad stats and gets all the bench warmers in the game, but except for there being a crowd in the stands, it's nothing like a true game experience.