Maximizing Jon Teske's Offense Comment Count

Matt Way July 16th, 2018 at 10:02 AM

[Photo: Marc-Gregor Campredon]

Conventional wisdom in many basketball circles is that the old-school center is a dying breed. Gone are the days in which teams are willing to spend any significant amount of time dumping the ball in the paint and allowing players to maneuver their way into low-percentage looks.

Today, spacing is king.

The notion that a more traditional big man cannot provide significant value, however, is unfounded. One need only look at the NBA level to see the value in non-shooters like Rudy Gobert and Clint Capela. A reliable three-point shot is a valuable asset for anyone, but centers can help elevate their teams’ offenses in a number ways that can positively impact spacing.

For Michigan, Jon Teske is going to have to find ways to help the offense without a three-point ball. The trick for Teske is that he doesn’t have the athleticism of the rim runners that benefit an offense without a perimeter game.

Previously, we looked at maximizing Zavier Simpson in next year’s offense, focusing primarily on how he operated within the pick-and-roll game. As the screener, Teske is a critical component to what could be the primary schematic theme for the team in the fall.

As the season progressed, Teske showed that he can benefit his teammates offensively, particularly in the screen game. Understanding angles and where to move to promote optimal spacing is a skill, and it’s one that Teske developed nicely this past year. There was clear inflection point as February came about where the game slowed down for the sophomore center. Michigan’s numbers with Teske on the court reflected that improvement (on/off stats vs. KenPom top-100 via Hoop Lens):


Despite lacking both ideal athleticism and a deep ball, Teske found a way to be a productive part of Michigan’s run to the Championship Game. Perhaps more importantly, John Beilein and the coaching staff took advantage of Teske’s size, screening ability, and generally intelligent play to benefit not just Teske but his teammates as well.

In typical Beilein fashion, Michigan ran a successful offense even when they had three relative non-shooters on the floor at once:


Per Hooplens, Michigan’s offense was actually better with the trio of Teske, Simpson, and Charles Matthews, despite the fact that none could be confused for a sharp shooter. That success over a decently-sized sample is a good reminder that there isn’t just one way to score efficiently, even in today’s game. 

With that entire trio returning next season, we can look to what Jon Teske did well to gain some insight into what next year’s offense may look like.

[Hit THE JUMP for an extensive breakdown of Teske's offensive growth and potential.]

The seal. [Campredon]

When we discussed Zavier, I highlighted a play where Teske expertly cleared a path to the basket for his point guard by sealing his man towards the middle:

That play became somewhat of a staple for Michigan late in the year, regardless of handled the ball.

Against Iowa, MAAR led Matthews into a Teske screen via a simple dribble hand-off. Like in the previous play, Matthews crossed the ball back over towards where he came from originally. Teske recognized that, spun to seal his man, and created a wide-open lane that led to a dunk:

MAAR took advantage of a great screen for himself on a similar play against Michigan State in the Big Ten Tournament:

In the dramatic second round win over Houston, Jordan Poole was the beneficiary of Teske sealing a driving lane. After he slipped a screen, the big man used his strength to push Houston’s one good rim protector, Fabian White, out of the paint. With White unable to go under Teske, there was no help defense when Poole got to the rim for his layup:

When you watch Teske carefully, his activity level on the block immediately jumps out. Whether he gets the ball or is even a threat to receive it, he’s constantly and aggressively fighting his counterpart for position. When things play out differently than expected, he doesn’t panic – rather, he adapts seamlessly.

Facing a zone against Iowa, Teske immediately opened himself up for a pass near the rim once the ball got to the middle of the court. When Livers switched it to the corner instead, Teske makes a slight spin to impede his defender who had responsibility for the corner:

Subtilties like these may seem inconsequential, but the little things add up to promote spacing amongst lineups that don’t necessarily stretch the court in the conventional sense. Simply occupying the corner defender gave MAAR the time and space to knock down an open shot.

Spatial understanding is critical for a guy like Teske and that knowledge was often on display when the ball moved swiftly for Michigan.

In Iowa City, Teske makes himself available multiple times by occupying open space when MAAR drives the baseline and the Hawkeyes blitz the Simpson pick-and-roll. After he completes his roll near the rim, Teske sealed the baseline in case of a drive in that direction. When Livers drove the opposite direction, the big man recognized it, shifted outside, and nailed a mid-range jumper:

Later in the game, Teske recognized another teammate being double teamed – this time, it was Matthews in the high pick-and-roll. Because of the double, he shortened his roll and turned into an easy outlet for his teammate. He then saw Livers cut along the baseline, made the pass, and caused the Iowa defense to scramble:

The timing on this play was a bit off, but the process was correct. Repetition breeds success and this shortened pick-and-roll could prove useful as teams attempt to trap ball handlers to eliminate driving lanes for a team who may not shoot the ball especially well from deep.

Teske’s constant awareness also proved useful against Ohio State in Michigan’s win in Ann Arbor. When Andrew Dakich called out the direction of the impending screen, Teske changed courses and slipped inside of the free throw line for an easy, open look that he knocked down:

Teske’s aptitude for the pick-and-roll quickly caught the eye of opponents and resulted in easier opportunities for both himself and his teammates.

With Michigan’s lead dwindling against Ohio State, Beilein called on Teske to calm the team’s nerves. That move paid dividends immediately on three offensive possessions.

The combination of a strong screen and quick roll forced Ohio State into a switch where MAAR used Teske’s large body as a pseudo-screen to get to the rim:

On the following possession, Teske did nearly the exact same thing except he consciously sealed his counterpart. MAAR could have used the opportunity to drive to the hoop, but he instead rewarded the center who showed off a bit of athleticism in adding two points to the scoreboard:

After setting a high screen, Teske occupied two Buckeyes as the roll man, forcing the corner defender to help cut off the Matthews drive. The result was a crucial open corner three to stabilize Michigan’s edge:

Jon Teske doesn’t jump off the screen when you watch a Michigan basketball team. Because of some of his relative limitations, that might not ever be the case. It is important to note, however, that he’s only two years into a program that completely transformed the body type and functional athleticism of Jordan Morgan. Regardless, Teske’s play makes it quite clear that he understands the subtleties of an offense predicated on screens and motion. He will never be the pick-and-pop option that Moe Wagner was, but his high basketball IQ and large presence provides John Beilein and company with numerous options to create space in ways that are more atypical in today’s game.


Harlans Haze

July 16th, 2018 at 10:38 AM ^

I'm so glad some of these screens were captured for posterity. There were about a dozen times last year, watching Teske open the lane, that had to make Harbaugh jealous of how much room Simpson had to drive to the basket. It was obvious that they were working on the pick and roll during practice, given the apparent chemistry between Teske and Simpson, and it appeared that Beilein called it several times after time-outs. I'm definitely interested in seeing how it works with him on the court 25+ minutes, especially when surrounded by 4 guys who can both shoot and drive.


July 16th, 2018 at 10:41 AM ^

Teske can and should play a very important role. And if you watch the clip from the Iowa game you will see why I am so critical of Simpson-offensively. There is a very simple pass to Teske on his roll to the basket, for a dunk that Simpson is completely oblivious too. Anybody, and I do mean ANYBODY,  who is worth two grains of salt as a PG is all over this. As a person who played the position-and played it well this is an unforgivable type of NEVER overlook your big man in this type of situation!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! NEVER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 

Additionally, yes I am not done, this same clip encapsulates my criticism of Beilein...because this "Iowa" clip is not an exception-this is Simpson over and over. As a coach you either correct this error if it is correctable or you play someone who can make that play. And to add further insult to injury here it is against a friggin, weak-assed 2-3 zone. For cryin' out loud-learn how to attack this-the weakest zone defense ever!!!!!!!

Okay, I'm done :)

Beilein 4 Life

July 16th, 2018 at 11:23 AM ^

This is an awful hot take and you should feel bad.

Zavier Simpson was 2nd in B10 play in assist to turnover ratio, and the only person better than him was MAAR. Apparently he didn’t miss that open roller on the screen as much as you think he did. Add in the defense he plays, and he is in the conversation for best point guard in the B10 next year. But yeah, he missed Teske on a roll (in which Teske hits a jumper on later because of the ball movement started out by Simpson) so you should totally be pissed at Beilein for playing him.

Also, your humblebrag about playing PG really well is hilarious. Like, legitimately funny that you think because you could hit a rolling big man in high school, that means you are a better evaluator of PG talent than JB


July 16th, 2018 at 12:07 PM ^

Having a good A/T ratio is fine but the fact is that he that it is only because he is overly cautious-which reduced his turnovers on the one hand and he had good shooters to overhype his assists on the other. And this year, unless he has miraculously developed an outside game, it is going to be very tough sledding for him. And FYI, I absolutely love his defense-it is as good as his offense is bad. I just believe that at this level of play you have to be more serviceable at both ends.

Otherwise, I guarantee that you will not find a coach nor a player that I played with, for or against that will not testify to my ability to play the point. And yes, when you play point you are the final evaluator of talent-both for your team and the opponent. Just the facts mister...whether you like it or not.


July 16th, 2018 at 12:20 PM ^

You are being unintentionally hilarious right now.  Do you think that anybody is going to conduct an investigation that includes questioning former unnamed player and coaches to determine whether you were an effective at "playing the point."  Is this something you really think is going to happen.

Teske was not rolling to the rim for an uncontested dunk, he had one step on a switching-back defender and Iowa had rotated a rim protected down already.  Teske is also a work in progress who frequently bobbles the ball in traffic on the catch if it is not absolutely pin-point.  It would have been a stupid pass for Simpson to attempt and that is why he didn't attempt it. 


July 16th, 2018 at 12:39 PM ^

What, you mean you don't obtain an investigative consumer report on an internet message board poster who declares he is a former amazing PG?

This is basically standard practice for me. I'm just waiting on outsidethebox to sign my FCRA authorization and disclosure.


July 16th, 2018 at 2:10 PM ^

Pretty sure he is a troll.  Other posts talk about how Beilein doesn't develop PGs, which is obviously not true as he has developed a ton. Throwing in his "expert" opinion on what a great PG he is without the college/ NBA team he played for is just something to try to legitimize his troll behavior.  


July 16th, 2018 at 12:16 PM ^

Commenting can and should play a very important role. And if you read the post analyzing Teske’s game you will see why I am so critical of outsidethebox-postingly. There is a very simple comment on Teske role in the offense, for a comment that outsidethebox is completely oblivious too. Anybody, and I do mean ANYBODY,  who is worth two grains of salt as a poster is all over this. As a person who has been a poster for a while-and posted well this is an unforgivable type of NEVER overlook your comment in this type of situation!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! NEVER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 

Additionally, yes I am not done, this same post encapsulates my criticism of mods...because this "outsidethebox" comment is not an exception-this is outsidethebox over and over. As a mod you either correct this error if it is correctable or you send the idiot to Bolivia. And to add further insult to injury here it is against a friggin, weak-assed offseason basketball post. For cryin' out loud-learn how to attack this-the weakest type of post ever!!!!!!!

Okay, I'm done :)


July 16th, 2018 at 11:14 AM ^

I’m not 100% convinced that Teske won’t be able to develop a 3 ball that at least keeps defenses somewhat honest. As I recall, he did shoot them in high school. 


July 16th, 2018 at 1:42 PM ^

Beilein seems like the type of coach to tell his players to let it fly if it's a good look.  Some of his longer twos looked like they had nice touch. I can imagine two to three 3 point attempts in a game with his increased minutes this year.  If he can't hit them at a reasonable rate, they should go.  I just think Beilein is the type of coach to develop and encourage that type of confidence. 


July 16th, 2018 at 11:21 AM ^

Good stuff.   Watching these clips reinforces to me how unstoppable this team can if Zavier comes back this season with a solid three point shot.  


July 16th, 2018 at 11:42 AM ^

Welcome Matt. Great work on the first few articles. In-depth, but not at all long winded. 


One question, all your youtube links seem to play 3-5 sec ads. I don't remember these on most of the articles with links on mgoblog. Would be nice to use the same process as the others to remove these advertisements. 

True Blue Grit

July 16th, 2018 at 12:46 PM ^

Great perspective on Teske.  I'm really hoping he comes in next season with a short jump shot in his arsenal.  I think that is realistic, especially compared to him hitting 3's on any consistency.  If Michigan could get 4 - 6 extra points per game from him this year, that would be really big.  


July 16th, 2018 at 12:47 PM ^

We really don't need Teske to be a big contributor on offense. If he puts up 6-8 points a night, along with 5-6 rebounds and quality interior D, we can call that good.


July 17th, 2018 at 2:47 PM ^

This is my standard public service announcement that "inflection point" is used incorrectly here and pretty much every other time it is used on this blog. It is also used incorrectly by most people period, but I have higher expectations from this blog.