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:
Attack this week like Jon Teske attacked the rim against Purdue pic.twitter.com/BiA2IbmATb
— Alejandro Zúñiga (@ByAZuniga) December 3, 2018
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:
It was evident yesterday that Beilein and Painter have coached against each other 22 times in the last 12 years. Awesome chess match: pic.twitter.com/JWLxLELZN8
— Jordan Sperber (@hoopvision68) December 2, 2018
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:
Aggies are easily the biggest riser from the preseason ratings in both rank and AdjEM change. Biggest rises in AdjEM: Utah State, Michigan, Samford, San Francisco, Detroit. https://t.co/fvlJBaWghK
— Ken Pomeroy (@kenpomeroy) December 2, 2018
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:
Romeo Langford is a really good freshman, but he may not be the best in the Big Ten. pic.twitter.com/OK9t3lgegD
— Big Ten Geek (@bigtengeek) December 1, 2018
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:
— Ace Anbender (@AceAnbender) December 3, 2018
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.
Lol @ Matthews pic.twitter.com/KyIzBq3Lwm
— Mike Persak (@MikeDPersak) December 1, 2018
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.