Preview: Detroit

Submitted by Ace on November 20th, 2014 at 1:05 PM

Site note: Brian's under the weather today, so content is going to be relatively light.

THE ESSENTIALS

WHAT Michigan (2-0) vs.
Detroit (1-1)
WHERE Crisler Center,
Ann Arbor, Michigan
WHEN 6:00 pm Eastern, Thursday
LINE Michigan -16 (KenPom)
TV BTN
PBP: Kevin Kugler
Analyst: Shon Morris

THE NAMES THAT LOOK FAMILIAR

Yes, that's that Carlton Brundidge, the highest-ranked guard in Michigan's recruiting class of 2011, alongside that Penn State decommit who didn't have the size to play big time basketball. Brundidge played sparingly in 15 games for the Wolverines before transferring to Detroit in 2012.

Yes, that's that Juwan Howard Jr. (photo via Lost Lettermen), son of Juwan Howard, a rather famous Michigan basketball player on some pretty noteworthy teams. I think this is a great opportunity to discuss the Fab Fab for a whi--

I'm being told this isn't a great opportunity after all.

Let's just watch some Bacari Alexander highlights from his time as a Detroit Titan instead:

I'm sure none of this will be discussed ad nauseam during the telecast.

THE LINEUP CARD

Projected starters are in bold. %Min and %Poss figure are still from last season for now. 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.

Pos. # Name Yr. Ht./Wt. %Min %Poss SIBMIHHAT
G 5 Matthew Grant* So. 6'0, 177 55 18 Sort of
Slides over to point after starting last year as low-usage shooting guard. Iffy shot.
G 12 Brandon Kearney Sr. 6'6, 188 9 16 Yes
The former Spartan, now a grad transfer via Arizona State. Turnover-prone.
G 1 Anton Wilson Jr. 6'5, 206 55 14 No
Gunner off the bench LY; 36% 3PT shooter, nearly 3/4 of shots from beyond arc.
F 2 Juwan Howard Jr.* Sr. 6'5, 232 87 27 Sort of
The focal point. Range extends beyond arc (32% 3PT career), volume shooter.
C 32 Patrick Ackerman Jr. 6'10, 218 -- -- --
Sat out last season after transfer from Penn State, where he barely played.
G 11 Jarod Williams* So. 6'1, 209 58 20 Yes
Not very efficient last year but not bad for FR PG; scored 15 off bench vs. Oregon.
F 35 Paris Bass Fr. 6'7, 187 -- -- --
Redshirt fr. 3-star out of Birmingham Seaholm. 8 pts in 21 mins vs. Oregon.
F 21 Jaleel Hogan Fr. 6'6, 233 -- -- --
Averaged a double-double at Mount Pleasant HS. 3/4 FT vs. Oregon.
G 23 Carlton Brundidge Jr. 6'2, 204 53 22 Yes
Splits between PG and SG; gets to line a lot, still not a good shooter.

*returning starter

THE THEM

Ray McCallum's Detroit Titans are 1-1 on the season, with a blowout home win over NAIA Rochester (MI) and a blowout road loss at Oregon—Detroit actually held a seven-point first-half lead and were tied with the Ducks at halftime, but were outscored 48-31 in the second half.

Three starters return from last year's 13-19 (6-10 Horizon League) squad, led by Juwan Howard Jr., a preseason first-team all-conference selection. Howard, an undersized but burly power forward, is tasked with putting up a ton of shots—34th nationally last season in shot percentage—that he hits with marginal efficiency: 44% on 349(!) 2PA and 32% on 141 3PA last season. He struggled against a quick Oregon team on Monday, needing 19 shot equivalents to score 16 points while turning it over four times. Howard's effectiveness comes and goes with his jumper; he attempted fewer than 20% of his shots at the rim last season, and he doesn't draw a ton of fouls, though he's an excellent free-throw shooter when he does.

The two other returning starters are now fighting for minutes in a crowded backcourt. Sophomore Matthew Grant is the nominal starter at point guard after playing most of his minutes at the two in 2013-14; he generated most of his offense as a spot-up outside shooter, but hit just 31% of his threes. Fellow sophomore Jarod Williams, last year's starter at the point, came off the bench against Oregon but ended up playing 27 minutes; he's more liable to attack the basket, and he's also an active defender. When both are on the court, Williams is more likely to initiate the offense.

The nomadic Brandon Kearney got the start against Oregon over Williams, but his stat line was downright ugly: 2 points (1/7 FG), 1 assist, 2 turnovers, and 4 fouls in 17 minutes. Kearney, the former Michigan State Spartan, spent last season getting very limited minutes at Arizona State before transferring to Detroit for his final year of eligibility. He's never played extensive time, but when he has he's rarely been effective: his shooting numbers are poor, and his freshman-year turnover rate of 24% actually stands as a career best.

Junior Anton Wilson represents Detroit's main (a less-kind previewer could say "only") outside shooting threat after hitting 36% of his shots beyond the arc last season. Over 70% of his shot attempts were three-pointers; he's a gunner through and through.

6'10" junior Patrick Ackerman, a Penn State transfer, gets the nod at center largely by default—he's the only five listed on the roster, and the only rotation player who stands above 6'7". Ackerman barely played at PSU in large part because he was rail-thin, and that still appears to be the case: he's listed at just 218 pounds. Against an Oregon squad that doesn't play anyone taller than 6'7", he went 0/4 with two rebounds in 18 minutes.

The Titans boast some bench depth, especially in the backcourt. In addition to Williams, there's Carlton Brundidge, whose game still revolves around attacking the basket; his free-throw rate topped 45% last season. Unfortunately, his shooting is still decidedly sub-par, with shooting splits of 44/28/67 (2P/3P/FT) in 2013-14. Redshirt freshman Paris Bass actually got more time on Monday; the lanky 6'7" wing scored eight points in 20 minutes, all coming inside the arc.

6'6", 233-pound freshman Jaleel Hogan is the primary big off the bench. He's been pretty efficient in his first two games, going 4/6 against Rochester and getting to the line a couple times against Oregon, though he's got to watch the fouls—six so far in 34 minutes.

THE TEMPO-FREE

Oh, what the heck, let's have fun with tiny sample sizes.

Detroit was a poor shooting team last year and that's carried over to this season thus far; unlike last year, the Titans have struggled on the boards, which will happen when you lose your top three big men.

THE KEYS

Stay disruptive. In the early going it looks like Michigan, with inexperience inside but tons of length everywhere on the court, has emphasized getting into passing lanes on defense and going for more steals in general; thus far, that's paid off with a very good turnover rate. Detroit lacks a true point guard in their starting lineup and Williams, who'll get plenty of minutes at the one, posted a turnover rate above 20% last season. Detroit boasts little in the way of outside shooting, so the Wolverines can take some chances defensively and see if they can generate some easy points in transition.

Be ready to help. Detroit is going to try to attack the basket as much as they can, and they've got some players who can be effective off the dribble. If the young bigs are a step slow helping out in the paint, we could see them get into some foul trouble and/or give up some easy buckets. This will be a nice test to see which of the fives is furthest along in terms of defensive awareness, as well as shot-blocking. Given how undersized the Titans are up front, this could be the game for DJ Wilson to get more extensive playing time, as well.

Attack the basket. Detroit has one true big man, and he's built a lot more like me than is ideal for a D-I center. Meanwhile, Michigan has settled a little too readily for midrange shots through two games. It'd be encouraging to see Caris LeVert, especially, finish more of his drives at the basket instead of pulling up. Getting Kameron Chatman in a rhythm would certainly be nice, too.

THE SECTION WHERE I PREDICT THE SAME THING KENPOM DOES

Michigan by 16.

ELSEWHERE

UMHoops preview. Dylan takes a closer look at Zak Irvin's great start to the season. MLive's Brendan F. Quinn on Zak Irvin refining his jump shot; the last quote sums it up best:

Following all the work, Irvin's jumper is better but still different. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

"I know I have a weird looking jump shot, but it goes in," he said.

Nothing wrong with weird, Zak.

Comments

BrownJuggernaut

November 20th, 2014 at 1:29 PM ^

We know this team can shoot from the outside. I think these games are an opportunity to get the confidence to drive and make plays closer to the rim. Guys like Irvin and Chatman will make the offense that much more lethal and multiple if they can get inside in addition to Walton and Levert. What I'm saying is that I'm not frustrated by them taking those outside jumpers and sort of stalling out in the second half of games against teams we know they can beat so much as getting frustrated that they're passing up the opportunity to work on something that will help them later in the season.

Defensively or at least on the glass, I want to see more of the boxing out. This could be the biggest development for the team because I think that it's been a weakness in the last couple of seasons. I want to see the bigs get their butts in on a man and I want to see the guards clean house. I hope Michigan can come out with the same defensive intensity they came out against Bucknell.

JeepinBen

November 20th, 2014 at 1:33 PM ^

First off, do we think that tape comes on during team meetings? because it should.

Secondly, there was a free throw in the highlight reel

Third, many of the highlights were just wide open dunks

Fourth, Bacari seemed to relish just backing down guys. You could say he's all about that base.

Elmer

November 20th, 2014 at 1:56 PM ^

I could never figure out how Brundidge was ranked so high after watching his high school tape.  I'm guessing he had the size to have some success as an underclassman and then just rode the wave through his senior season.

Trey's high school tape looked great, but as Ace mentioned, his size probably limited expections.  I was still really excited to see him play at the college level.

 

UMaD

November 20th, 2014 at 2:50 PM ^

Size is not why he is/was not a very good player at Michigan. He's bigger than Trey Burke and Walton.  Yeah, he's not a true point, and more of a combo guard, but the much bigger problem is that he can't shoot.  If he was 6'5 that'd still be a problem.  Beilein, much like with MAAR, figures he can develop his shot and play-making.  Brundidge didn't want to stick around long enough to find out if JB was right.