The Stu Effect

Submitted by Brian on February 2nd, 2012 at 1:16 PM

2/1/2012 – Michigan 68, Indiana 56 – 17-6, 7-3 Big Ten


Eric Upchurch

At the beginning of Michigan's most epic brutal stretch of the season, they made a radical change by consigning Evan Smotrycz to the bench in favor of Stu Douglass. Zack Novak wearily took up the mantle of power forward again and Michigan soldiered through. Five of six games into the MEBS they're now 3-2 and guaranteed to come out at least .500, eyeing a Sweet Sixteen seed if they can win the games they should down the road.

Small sample size and all, but I thought it would be interesting to look at the impact that shift has had on Michigan's defense. When Beilein made the shift he said it was his best defensive lineup, after all.  Chart? Chart.

Michigan without Stu in the starting lineup:

[note that there are more home games than road; I attempted to adjust for that by subtracting 3.5 points from the opponent's efficiency. A home-road swing is worth 7 points and let's blindly assign half of that to the offense]

Opponent Score Possessions B10 Off Eff Expected Score Delta
PSU 53 62 94.2   58.4 5.4
Minnesota 56 58 100.8   58.4 2.4
@ Indiana 73 66 109.1   72 1
Wisconsin 41 54 102.7   55.5 14.5
Northwestern 64 65 97.9   63.6 -0.4
@ Iowa 75 62 102.9   63.8 -11.2

Michigan with Stu in the starting lineup:

Opponent Score Possessions B10 Off Eff Expected Score Delta
MSU 59 57 109.3   62.3 3.3
@ Purdue 64 59 104.1   61.4 -2.6
@ OSU 64 59 111.5   65.8 1.8
Indiana 56 59 109.1   64.4 8.4

So, there you go. Exceedingly weak statistical evidence in a small sample size* that shifting Douglass into the starting lineup has been worth one and a half points per game. Since Michigan won two of the games he started by 1 and 2 points, this seems relevant to our interests. Let's not make too much of it—Michigan State could blow this away in one shooting streak. But our Bayesian estimate of Douglass improving the M defense should shift over 50%.


This is only part of what Douglass has brought to the table. Now I'm going to delve in to wishy feely stuff; I wanted to get some numbers on the internet to make me feel better about what's about to come.

But… close your eyes and envision the two most improved players on the team this year. Did you get Novak and Douglass? I'm guessing you did, what with images of Douglass driving into the lane and something bad not happening or Novak pulling up for a midrange jumper that gets only net.


this could be going well! (Upchurch)

That's weird. Freshmen get better faster than seniors, especially when the seniors are guards and the freshmen are largely posts. This year's most prominent freshman-to-sophomore transitions have not gone real well. Tim Hardaway Jr. is a fair bit less efficient than he was as a freshman. So is Jordan Morgan. Smotrycz is a lot better but has been marginalized during this important stretch; his incredible shooting in the nonconference season has evaporated in the Big Ten.

Normally that would spell doom. If I materialized in your bathtub in October and said "ooooOOOOOOoooooohhhhhh, TIM HARDAWAY JR WILL AVERAGE 27% FROM THREE POINT RANGE, oooooOOOOOOoooooohhhh" you would be more terrified for Michigan's basketball prospects than the fact you'd just had a time-travelling blogger ghost appear in a place you thought was safe from that sort of nonsense. And that's saying something.

But even though Hardaway and Morgan are less efficient and Trey Burke isn't quite at the level Darius Morris was last year, here they are aiming for a Sweet 16 seed. You can say this is Trey Burke's team, and you'd be right, and you can say Tim Hardaway Jr. is Michigan's most important player, and you'd be right. The two seniors are the guys duct-taping up all the leaks the team has sprung as it moves forward without Morris and Tim Hardaway's 44% conference three-point shooting.

Michigan may get better after they leave on sheer talent, but Douglass and Novak are two remarkable overachievers. Michigan needed two guys like that to change the culture around here after a decade-long tourney-free streak. No one thought they'd be guys snatched from Valpo (if they were even interested!) and Harvard. Even if their numbers shouldn't get raised to the rafters, those who come after them will stand on their shoulders. It may be Trey Burke's team but it's Douglass's and Novak's program.

*[FWIW, Arkansas put up about four more points than you'd expect if M was equal to an average SEC defense. I think that's more about Michigan being unprepared for the press—giving those points up on offense.]



Also some highlights and Beilein's pregame speech. Via MGoVideo.

Photogallery from Another  from UMHoops. And of course Eric posted his set last night.

Bullets That Always Go In If Shot By Jordan Hulls

GOOD LORD JORDAN HULLS. Dude was shooting 48% from three before yesterday's 4 of 5 performance. And a lot of those were tough.

God, what does it take to get a three point sniper who's actually lethal in college, too? Vogrich was reputed to be the best shooter in the country and is struggling to get above 25%. Come on, Stauskas.

Christian Watford guarding Trey Burke. It worked for a while as Burke seemed confused by the very idea; then Burke started crossing the dude over and screaming towards the basket. Weird, weird idea. Glad that Burke played through it. It was looking a little hopeless on offense for a while there.

Watford, by the way, annihilated Michigan in the game in Bloomington and is shooting 47% from three—actually much better than he is from 2 (42%). Weird player. 

Jordan Morgan guarding Cody Zeller. Great, great job.  Zeller is shooting 66% and has a top ten eFG%; Michigan held him to 4 of 9 shooting and IIRC two of his baskets were offensive rebound putbacks. This was almost all Morgan with a little Smotrycz in there, and Zeller could hardly get a shot opportunity.

Morgan's main advantage over most big men is his agility, activity, and endurance. He fronts everyone and rarely gives up good post position; Michigan cheats down behind him to cut off lob passes and leaves that backdoor three open. It's been effective overall.

You can see the good and bad of it in Michigan's conference Kenpom stats. They're #2 in the league at forcing turnovers; over 20% of opponent possessions end without a shot. They never put anyone on the line. Their 2PT% D is acceptable despite being short—their block percentage is last in the league. The main downside is giving up a lot of quality threes. 38% is good for only tenth in the league at 3PT defense. Given the composition of the roster, I'll take it. Michigan has to endure a lot of open threes to give themselves a chance inside. Considering the available athletes they're doing a good job.

Tim Hardaway jack watch. There were three or four, including another long two with lots of time on the shot clock. I don't mind him taking a three in the context of the offense. The ones where he just rises and fires are not good.

Michigan should start running him off Rip Hamilton-esque curl screens with the intent of getting him moving towards the basket with his man already to one side. That seems like it will result in profit. And possibly charges, but who cares about charges?


The Minute After from Inside The Hall. Crean calls the start "a joke." Then he married Roseanne, said "mein laven" and found that his stapler was covered in jello. #allthetomcreanlookalikes

Holdin' the Rope:

Watford and Zeller combined for 43 points in Bloomington; they only managed 19 between them last night. Hulls had 18 but he made some pretty tough shots to get there. You can live with that.

UMHoops recap. Michigan's RPI moves to 17. Zack Novak gives you a tour of the PDC.



February 2nd, 2012 at 1:27 PM ^

...that Mr. Morgan has been the most important player on the floor not named Trey Burke. Stu has been doing his Stu Douglass fill-the-scorecard thing, but Morgan has been playing great lately.  

Michael Scarn

February 2nd, 2012 at 1:29 PM ^

Totally off point in regards to Stu, but am I alone in seeing that THJ's defense has become a problem?  He's sagging way too much and opening up threes, getting beat to the basket on the first step and taking pointless fouls when he trails someone.

Mr. Yost

February 2nd, 2012 at 2:00 PM ^

I may get beat up for this, but...does anyone think that playing with the USA team and being talked about as a potential NBA Lottery Pick, and being "the best player on the team" has gone to Hardaway's head?

He jacks up waaay to many bad shots, he's always crying about a foul, he has lapses on's like he's just not focused like he was last year.

Last year it was Morris that got all the attention, he was a freshman just happy to be starting, he was underrated in high school and no one really knew about him. Now that he's the man, he seems to just act and play like it.

Anyone agree?


February 2nd, 2012 at 2:09 PM ^

I think in general, you're right, in that Hardaway is playing like he's "the man" even if the shots aren't going in and his game right now doesn't scream "the man". But I think he might be getting coached to play like that.

I think we have an excellent coaching staff, and I doubt that Belien would let Tim jack up this many shots without saying somthing or sitting him. They say shooters have to shoot through slumps, and Tim still had a few of the most important plays of the game last night. His Alley-oop got the lead back to 11 and rejuvinated the crowd, while that 3 he hit late in the second half was a huge one.

If I'm coaching him, I'm telling him to KEEP playing this way. If your star doubts his own abilities and plays like a shell of himself, that doesn't do anyone any good. They've got to keep his confidence up and keep him playing this way, so when the shots start falling, he still wants to take them.

Mr. Yost

February 2nd, 2012 at 3:04 PM ^

I like those points...certainly agree or could see that happening.

However, a couple things...that still doesn't excuse taking BAD SHOTS. Nor does it excuse crying to the officials on every call or the lapses he has on defense.

I'm not just talking about the number of shots taken. If that was the case, I'd agree with your post. But I'm talking about the quality of shots AND all the other stuff that doesn't seem to be helping the team.

Hopefully that makes sense.


On a somewhat different topic, I don't think Hardaway has that "The Man" in him. I think he's a #2. He may not want to hear that, but I think that's where he's best suited. Playing where defenses aren't keying in on him. I look at a Richard Hamilton. He may have been the best player on many of those Pistons teams. However, he never got the attention and he was always the one that just played his game. He just ran around, got screens and shot the ball...and he was REALLY GOOD AT IT. He wasn't Reggie Miller where it was about "me", but at times he was just as effective.

I think Hardaway is MORE effective in a mindset like last year. Where on any given night, he CAN carry a team...but every night he doesn't HAVE to carry the team.

If I was his coach, I'd just tell him to relax...have some fun, let the game come to him. He can play his game and still reach his goals.

To me, he's the type of player that sort of flys under the radar and you look up at the end of the night and he's got 20 points and you're like "huh? how?" he gets 20 and you see him work for every single basket.


February 2nd, 2012 at 3:19 PM ^

Re: shot selection, they might be erring on the side of "take more shots" as opposed to having him take too few. Again, I dunno. And with the officials, they're college basketball officials. They suck. Again, if it were a problem I'd trust Belien to say "get back on D". IIRC Tim hasn't been T'd up yet.

On to your second point, I'd agree that Tim would probably be best as a #2 option on a team. Some guys are clear cut alpha-dogs (See Jordan, Michael) while others can't quite carry that mantle (See James, Lebron in quarter, 4th). I think we'll see Tim's best year by far next year, when there are more options for defenses to worry about. Right now, we don't have too much of an offense. A lot of it is counting on Tim or Trey to break down their defender and get someone (or themselves) an open look. With McGary in the fold next year, that should change some. Last year Morris was enough of a playmaker that he created his own offense differently than Burke does. Morris could go into the post and either score over smaller guards or force a double and kick it to someone for a wide open 3. He also ran the pick-and-roll better than Burke does at this point (soph vs freshman, 6'5" vs 6'1") and all of that might have contributed to Hardaway's success last year.

All those critiques said, Tim is still really, really good at basketball. He probably knows that some of his shots aren't the smartest shots to take. Watching him play the high post to break down that 2-3 zone last night - he knows basketball. It seems to me that we're good enough to beat good teams like this, and we'll probably ride it as far as Tim and Trey can take us this year.


February 2nd, 2012 at 3:45 PM ^

I don't know one way or the other, but I do think you're on to something re: Beilein's coaching style.  He seems to be a coach who tries to build his players' confidence up rather than stripping it down like Bob Knight.  I also think that he's one of the few coaches who spends a good deal of time trying to teach shooting.  This is all to say that I could see Beilein's response to a player's troubles being telling him to just keeping shooting until they start going in.

Mr. Yost

February 3rd, 2012 at 9:57 AM ^

First, let me say I appreciate this's pretty refreshing actually. So thanks even though we haven't agreed on everything.

Anyway, I agree on shot selection...shooters have to shoot their way out of slumps. With that said, I don't think a shooting slump is an excuse for lapses on the defensive end, or the whining to the officials, etc.

If you're playing tough defense, showing great leadership, and giving everything you have...I don't care if you're missing shots. See Stu Douglass for details. He hasn't been shooting very well this season, but he's affecting the game in other areas and doing "the things he CAN control."


As for the #2, I completely agree (I know I'm pretty much agreeing with myself, lol...but I agree with what you said too). I think next year will be better and secretly I'm happy he's struggling this year (and we're still winning) because I think it'll make him come back for another year.

Hardaway really feeds off his teammates. It's weird...I think you can make a lot of similarities between Douglass/Novak and Van Bergen/Martin...but you also can make a lot of comparisons between Hardaway and Denard. Just watch body language...if someone hits a key 3 late in the game, Hardaway seems to feed off that. He goes nuts hopping back down the court. I love that. That was him last year. And then on the next possession, more times than not, it's THJ hitting that big shot to ice the game.

Denard is somewhat the mentality...sometimes I think he gets lost in games and then someone makes a play and it's like "boom, he's back, he's Denard again...everyone buckle up." You see the energy BOTH players get from their teammates. So you know they're not selfish guys, if Kobe sees a role player hit a big shot it's like "good job, if you would've missed...I would've killed you, but nice shot *fist pump*" If THJ (or LeBron, etc.) sees a player hit a big shot it's like "OMFG!!! &*^)&^! YEA!!! YEA BOYEEE!!! AHHHHHH!!!! HERE WE GO!!!"

I think when THJ is at his's when he's in THAT mentality. Not forcing the Kobe mentality. When he's bouncing around, having see that energy on the defensive end...he's up into his man and he's actually a good defender. When his head isn't in it, he's forcing shots and daydreaming while on defense.

THJ and Burke are going to carry this team (and Morgan to some extent)...I just think THJ is most effective when he's "himself," and we can still win that way.

Mr. Yost

February 2nd, 2012 at 1:55 PM ^

Should we honor Douglass and Novak's jerseys? Retire their numbers?

What would you do? Should anything be done?


...Personally, I hate retiring numbers in ANY sport. I think it's stupid unless it's like a Pat Tillman situation or you're a small or crappy school and basically someone like LeBron James came in, dominated, brought you a championship, etc.

A Jackie Robinson instance would be the only other one, but we don't have those types of issues in America anymore (thank God).

So either you have to be Pat Tillman, Jackie Robinson or Michael Jordan, that's it.

WITH THAT SAID...I think we SHOULD raise their names to the rafters. They deserve it and Brian's right, this is Burke's team, even Hardaway's team...but it's THEIR program. I'd love to see them honored in such a way on senior night. Thoughts?

(FWIW, I think a statue or monument of the football senior class should be put up somewhere. All the guys and then something saying who they are and what they overcame.)


February 2nd, 2012 at 5:27 PM ^

I like the idea of honoring them in some way.  They both took so much criticism from the self-proclaimed basketball geniuses out there.  They were the poster boys for why Beilein couldn't recruit and wouldn't survive.  I've had so many arguments about this over the last few years.  I've always believed that JB has a set of criteria when he goes recruiting and if a kid doesn't measure up in terms of heart, basketball IQ, passion for the game and coachability, he passes.  Were there a couple of 3* or 4* types he might have lured to Ann Arbor instead of Stu and Zach.  Absolutely, but I don't think they would have made half the difference. 

Brian's right, they built the program, at least a new foundation.  They helped validate Beilein's vision.  They helped open the new Crisler Center with a competitive team filling the seats.  And they helped give their coach a chance to get in the living rooms of the more talented kids. None of these kids will fill out JB's entire evaluation scorecard any better than Stu and Zach. 



February 2nd, 2012 at 2:00 PM ^

In regards to vogrich I honestly think the problem is not enough playing time.  Shooters get into grooves and let it go.  Vogrich knows he is getting maybe 3 minutes a game and doesn't want to take a bad shot in that time and see his numbers go down.  I don't know how you get him more playing time but he is for sure a better shooter than his percentage shows and I think its just because he never really has a chance to get into an offensive rythym. 


February 2nd, 2012 at 2:09 PM ^

Shooting was the only skill I had in basketball, which meant there were games that I didn't play much (like games when the coach needed a player who could dribble, pass or play defense). I never shot well until I'd been in the game for a few minutes to get loose. It's tough to come in cold after sitting for 15+ minutes and feel like you're in the flow of the game.

Also, that's a strange misspelling of "rhythm."


February 2nd, 2012 at 2:02 PM ^

I like how he played last night.  No turnovers or dumb decisions that I noted in just watching the 2nd half last night.  However, last night was an anomaly.  He still jacks up too many bad threes, drives to the basket without a plan of what he's going to do when he gets near there and commits too many stupid fouls, especially for a senior..  I'm probably too focused on his negative plays but just don't get the Stu love.  He's not in the same category as Novak by a long shot--1.5 points be damned!