MORE LIKE JAMbien AMIRITE [Marc-Gregor Campredon]

I Have Been Suplexed Into A River But At Least I Have Company Comment Count

Brian December 3rd, 2018 at 1:33 PM

12/1/2018 – Michigan 76, Purdue 57 – 8-0, 1-0 Big Ten

Bigs are the college basketball equivalent of offensive linemen. They're hard to project. They take a significant amount of time to refine into their final product. Also they are big.

Once you get outside the rarefied air of the kids who go to basketball factories so fake they can't even bother to come up with a real name—there is now a place called "Spire Academy" which naturally now houses LaMelo Ball—when centers arrive on campus they've mostly spent their time raining fire on 6'3" guys who keep asking the ref if they can use pitchforks against it. Also, they are big, so they've been slotted into basketball teams whether or not they really care to be. The bigger the person, the more foreordained it is that they will play center despite a total lack of basketball-related skills. There's a 7'6" dude from Dakar named Tacko Fall who plays for UCF and shoots 27% on free throws. QED.

So when you hear the new big who looks like a newborn deer during the brief moments he's permitted on the court is nicknamed "The Big Sleep," well… this is our concern. Not even the guy with literal narcolepsy got called The Big Sleep.


Two years later, Purdue has switched Carsen Edwards onto The Big Sleep. This is a thing Purdue just does on instinct at this point. Does the tall man's jersey read "Michigan"? Okay, switch a firefly onto him because the one thing Michigan never does is post up. This gambit has waned in its effectiveness over time but usually because the Boilermaker on the guard is a great lumbering thing or, now, a Frenchman on a dilapidated bicycle. Michigan still doesn't post up, basically ever.

This time Jon Teske puts Edwards on his back, receives an entry pass, and dunks. Edwards shrugs afterwards. His face says "what I am supposed to do with that?" He knows the answer is nothing.

This is Teske now, with the rough edges sanded down. He puts up 17 points on 8 shot equivalents. He spearheads the #1 defense in college basketball. There are a lot of reasons that opponents are hitting 36% of their twos, but the foremost among them is Teske. When he's on the court teams are hitting 31 percent. 31! When he goes to the bench opponents get 13 percentage points worth of relief. Teske got switched onto Nassir Little in the last game and matched Little's drive to the basket. That ball ended up in the stands.

Teske roared afterward, much like he does in the photo that leads this post. That came when he put poor Grady Eifert on a poster:

At the top, Simpson is doing his Big Mood walk despite having no involvement in the play. And that's right too. Teske deserves to roar; he deserves all the chest-bumps and weird awkward arm-lock thingies Michigan is doing this year.

He still looks like the nice boy down the street after you increased his pixel count by 50%, and that's why he'll always be Big Sleep to me. Saddi Washington attempted to rebrand Teske as "Big Nasty" last year, but let's keep The Big Sleep around. Big Nasty is taken by Corliss Williamson and generic anyway. Ain't nobody named Big Sleep.

We just have to look at it a different way. The Big Sleep isn't about what Jon Teske is. It's about what he does to your offense, and sometimes your defense. The Big Sleep is a noir movie. The Big Sleep is a wrestling finisher. The Big Sleep is what happens when you tell Cement Ricky you'll have his money in two weeks and don't.

The Big Sleep is what happens when you manage to get past the forest of poking arms around Michigan's perimeter: a giant man in a trenchcoat throws you over his head into the water.

[After THE JUMP: cat and mouse between Beilein and Painter]


Moves within moves. Here's a good way to learn a lot about basketball in one minute:

That's also why Beilein stopped practice, per the announcers immediately after the shot that closes that, when Teske passed up an open look. Defenses are out of answers for a lot of things when centers can shoot from three. You probably know that. You've been around the block.



An ability to morph. Michigan's defensive gameplan was much more heavily focused on stopping a single player than any other game this year. Against Villanova Michigan doubled nobody, allowing Eric Paschall to go one on one with Brazdeikis and Livers without much success. Against UNC Luke Yaklich jumped out of his seat when an unnecessary attempt to double in the post led to an open three. Here Michigan was more than willing to help off of shooters if it helped them contain Carsen Edwards. In the shot above, Poole's just come off his guy and Edwards had to convert his shot to a tough fallaway that he missed.

That worked spectacularly well. Edwards had 50% usage(!!!) but only managed 19 points on 23 shot equivalents and committed five turnovers. That's half of Purdue's possessions checking in at an 82 ORTG.

The costs weren't too bad. Purdue got off 24 threes and hit 9. That's the highest number of attempts Michigan has given up this season but Purdue takes more than half of its shots from behind the arc. Here: 38 twos, 24 threes.

A side note. The average D-I team now takes 39% of its shots from three. This has gone up a percentage point every year since 2014, when it was at 33%. Prior to that the number was remarkably steady. There were two years of 34% and change; other than that every college basketball season from 2002 to 2012 saw a third of its shots come from behind the arc. So in 2014, 31.1% of the shots Michigan allowed on D were threes. This was 107th nationally. This year they're at 30.5 and 16th.

Probably time to move the line back to the FIBA distance.

Exceeding expectations. Per Ken Pomeroy these are the teams whose adjusted efficiency margin has gone up the most from preseason projections. It's a lot of teams projected to be terrible and someone else:

It's a lot easier to exceed expectations by a lot when expectations are low.



Iggy downshifts. Teske's emergence and an unusual burst of usage from Simpson meant that Brazdeikis was relatively in the background in this game. This was completely fine. Brazdeikis only took one shot you could consider questionable and it was this:

12 points on 8 shot equivalents, two assists, no turnovers. Freshman potential one-and-done star who's completely content to play within the offense.



Three panic: averted. Two consecutive 50% outings have Michigan back up to 37% on the season. As Ace noted, if you drop out Michigan's ugly first two games this looks a lot like your typical Beilein offense:

Those openers now look like the exception rather than the rule. Game by game offensive efficiency from Torvik:


Those two ugly games were almost entirely the product of awful three point shooting. Michigan hit 20% against Norfolk State and Holy Cross. Since they've hit 43%. Their true shooting level is somewhere in between but plenty good enough to make this a top ten offense by the end of the season.

The Matthews thing. So in the Iggy clip above you can see Matthews miming taking a shot as he moves back down court. This appears to be a thing he now does, in some cases hilariously.

Poole is 4/4 at this point in the game and after the dribble he's completely uncontested, FWIW. But Matthews started out 3/4 and is clearly Feeling It, so the agony of not getting an open rhythm three is notable.

FWD: I AM BACK. Jordan Poole is now 10/13 from three in his last two games, which were against UNC and Purdue. Scuffles: over. Ace's pants: at large.



December 3rd, 2018 at 4:11 PM ^

He'll keep calling me....he'll keep calling me. until I come over.  He'll make me feel guilty.  This is ridiculous...OK, OK, OK, I'll go, I'll go.  Shit.  

Also, Alan Ruck was 30 when he played Cameron.  He was 40 when he played Captain John Harriman.



December 3rd, 2018 at 2:53 PM ^

22 months ago a significant plurality of the fanbase wanted Beilein fired.

Since then he's won to B1G tournaments, made the Sweet Sixteen and the final two, and has an undefeated top five team with the best early-season resume in the country.

The commentariat doesn't always have the right answers. 

A worthwhile lesson for other sports, too. 


December 3rd, 2018 at 3:40 PM ^

I assume you’re talking about football.

Personally, I don’t think we can do better than Harbaugh and I think he’s done decently. 3 10-win seasons is nothing to sneeze at with the possibility this year is number 11.

Still, the commentariat has legitimate reasons to complain about Harbaugh since he is treated like a top 5 coach while not delivering that level of success.

Even when Beilein was being criticized he was still among our best coaches ever.

Still different situations but overall I agree let’s see where we’re at over the next few years with football.


December 3rd, 2018 at 4:23 PM ^

Even when Beilein was being criticized he was still among our best coaches ever.

Four years into his tenure, Beilein was 67-67 as a Michigan coach.  

After five years, he was 2-3 in the NCAA tournament.  

For much of Beilein's tenure there has been talk of him having a "ceiling" as a coach.  It took him time to get this program where it is now.


December 3rd, 2018 at 6:11 PM ^

I think people underestimated how challenging a rebuilding job Coach Beilein faced. The sanctions and dead decade profoundly damaged Michigan basketball.

Coach Beilein methodically built up the program without taking any shortcuts, including in recruiting.

The man has done a fantastic job, and we now have a great team, and a formidable basketball program.

When Coach Beilein decides it's time to hang 'em up, he will leave behind a million great memories for fans and a stellar basketball program.


December 3rd, 2018 at 2:10 PM ^

I don't even consider that shot from Iggy questionable.  Not in the least.  If you're that wide open for three coming off a screen or offensive rebound or something, you take it, so I don't think it's any different just because he created it himself.  A guy that big with that polished of a move isn't fair in college basketball.


December 3rd, 2018 at 2:53 PM ^

"A guy that big with that polished of a move isn't fair in college basketball."

It would be a damn good move for a senior. That he's doing it not even halfway through his freshman season is pretty remarkable.

Through his first 8 games as a freshman, Mitch McGary was averaging 5.6 pts/game, had 42 total rebounds;  for the entire season he averaged 7.5 ppg.

Right now, Iggy is leading the team in scoring average with 16.3 and has 42 rebounds.


December 3rd, 2018 at 2:18 PM ^

As trite as it may sound, I can't come up with a better description of Coach Beilien's program than to say that his teams are a joy to watch.  It's nice to recruit players who are outstanding from the get-go (future Chris Webbers are welcome).  But it's even more fun to see players blossom year after year.  At this point, I'm wiling to go out on a limb and say that John Beilein is a pretty decent basketball coach and that Michigan should keep him.


December 3rd, 2018 at 4:42 PM ^

It seems to be agreed by many that this program is probably #1 in the Big Ten right now.  I have been following M basketball since the mid-60's and haven't seen a "team" as consistently efficient and dominant as this one against quality opponents.  I will not soon forget watching Roy Williams throw in the towel with about 10 minutes to go, taking out all of his starters at once, totally frustrated.  What a compliment to Coach Beilein and the M team!  The question I have is:  how do they improve?  You know opponents will study film hard, improve themselves, and provide better competition in the future.  What a wonderful problem to deal with and hope Beilen & Company come up with some answers.


December 3rd, 2018 at 6:31 PM ^

I've been watching a long time as well, and JB is easily the best coach we've ever had. 

When I was a kid, we had lots of great athletes playing a very simple offense. Because we didn't run much of a sophisticated offense, Michigan had some terrific teams and loads of amazing players, but we often under-performed in the tournament - we just couldn't consistently win those pressure-cooker games. We also cut some ethical corners along the way.

No question we won a lot of games, and made some strong tourney runs (and grabbed a championship too). However, those teams never looked like a Beilein team.

From the time Coach Beilein got here, you could see the difference. For the first time in my memory, Michigan ran a real system, with actual sets and plays and strategies.

Turnovers became rare, and efficiency went up, up, up. He embraced the modern game, eschewing traditional positional roles and emphasizing flexibility. He understood the underutilized value of threes, and is a master of spreading the floor and creating space and great shots.

Once he fully implemented his offense, he recognized that to reach full potential he had to improve the defense. He was humble and self-aware enough to realize he needed new minds and talent on his staff - and he was smart enough to let go and allow others lead the defensive effort (thank you Coach Yaklich!). 

Throughout his tenure (and his entire career, it appears), he has been an incredible teacher, and a great man that players respect, revere, and accept coaching from.

Anyone who is in coaching, or any management position could learn a whole lot from John Beilein.



December 4th, 2018 at 8:02 AM ^

Agreed...sort of. I am reminded of Bill Cower's statement, upon the retirement of Troy Polamalu, when asked what made Troy such a great player..."He played better than we could coach him". Here, a good/great coach knows when and how to be a catalyst but otherwise to stay out of the way of his players. These kids are individually and collectively demonstrating great skill and intuition and the coaches have freed them to play fearlessly-with (almost) reckless your use of "assassins"...that's what they are. Beilein and his staff are doing an incredible job here...those assistants need to be the highest paid in the business!!! 

Indiana Blue

December 3rd, 2018 at 2:48 PM ^

I was fortunate to be at both UNC and PU games last week.  Crisler was actually LOUD for UNC ... and I'm NOT referring to spontaneous eruptions after Teske dunks.  I mean the crowd was loud on defense too - just like football.  It was a great night.  Unfortunately, it dropped off for the Purdue game.  Yes, thunderous for the spectacular offensive outbursts ... but we did go something like 13 minutes w/o a FG during the game, in which you could hear shoes squeak.

I sat next to to a season ticket holder who stated "he watched the UNC on TV" (he lives in AA), and during the entire Purdue game he NEVER cheered even ONCE !  WTF !!   This is my first year being a BB season ticket holder, and coming from Indiana - I had NO ISSUE in coming to a 9:30p game against UNC (UNC's only time ever playing in AA).

But oh man, we have a great BB team and Crisler needs to ROCK to create an actual home court advantage.  I've gone to several games at IU and Purdue and those places are rough on the visiting teams.  Unfortunately it seems like the "down in front" crowd seems to be very prevalent at Crisler.

Go Blue! 


December 3rd, 2018 at 3:56 PM ^

That Matthews clip cracks me up.  I am 100% confident he would have hit the shot as well.

This team is going to be fun.  Like, Ace no-pants level of fun.