Your worst D man would be most year's best? [Marc-Grégor Campredon]

This Week's Obsession: Expectations are Back There Comment Count

Seth December 4th, 2018 at 10:00 AM

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The Question:

Why is this team exceeding expectations?

Ace: Just wait until Jordan Poole gets goin— oh, I see.

Seth: 1/1 Charles Mathewses agree: this is not a good development.

Ace: We can start with the obvious: Michigan had one of the best defenses in the country last year, upgraded on that end at the four and five spots (and arguably the two as well), and also moved into year two of Luke Yaklich’s teachings taking hold. Now it’s the best defense in the country by a significant margin so far this year.

This is very much Zavier Simpson’s team. Matthews’, too.

BiSB: To the defensive question, we didn't know if Iggy could play defense. Turns out... yeah, very much so.

Brian: His first real test is "hey, check Eric Paschall with zero help defense" and that goes spectacularly.

Seth: Let's not leave out 7'2" Zavier Simpson.

BiSB: Big Trogdor?

Ace: I meant in terms of temperament. Jon Teske is clearly one of the main reasons this team is so good. He’s a defensive savant. It’s not just that he can block shots, he’s almost never in the wrong place, his hands are great, and he moves surprisingly well.

BiSB: His foul rate is also insanely low.

Brian: Michigan's two point D is stunning and it is most stunning when The Big Sleep is on the floor. 31%!

Ace: (pulls out bullhorn)


[After THE JUMP: Florida gets mentioned once. Also Duke.]


Brian: He challenges everything without fouling, his hands are disruptive, he's able to check guys he absolutely should not be able to on the perimeter. Here's an excellent breakdown of Michigan's offensive performance against Purdue featuring a billion drives past switched bigs.

That does not happen to Teske, like, ever.

Ace: I was going to post the other excellent breakdown video that hit Twitter in which Beilein’s adjustments are shown.


Teske’s ability to pop out and hit outside shots is going to be huge. It was last weekend.

Also that video is hoops geek porn.

Seth: I can't state how much I loved that tweet. I feel like I became basketball smart in 280 characters.

Brian: It changes the game further. Also we should not neglect Teske's paint screening ability. The opening bucket against the Boilers was Michigan action that got Iggy an unbalanced defender he drove past, but the 7'3" windmill wasn't able to get to the hoop because Teske felt what was coming and moved to box him out.

BiSB: Simpson uses that seal once or twice a game.

Seth: To bring the Teske bit back to the question: This was our HOPE not our expectation for him right?

Ace: He’s the perfect center for this team, no disrespect to Moe Wagner. This team is downhill oriented in a way none of Beilein’s teams have been previously. Teske makes a real impact on both the initial screen and that tricky rescreen he’ll bust out. Simpson needs that, and it sure helps Matthews/Iggy get to the rack too.

I had very high Teske expectations and I’d say he’s still exceeding them.

BiSB: Imagine you brought You-From-2016 to the future and showed him this team.

Ace: Like, right after the Maverick Morgan game.

BiSB: I would probably wonder how John Beilein was doing in the NBA.

Ace: I’d be legit dead.


Not that I'm trying to steal your job, Tom [Fuller]

Brian: I spent much of last year saying Michigan wouldn't take a step back without Wagner. There's evidence and everything:

By the end of the season Michigan's offense was actually slightly better with Teske on the floor after February 1st. EFG, TO rate, and various other factors remained static; FT rate dropped a lot and OREB rate rose a lot. That's about 300 possessions—five games worth—against top 100 opponents. It's not nearly enough to declare anything but it certainly suggests that Michigan's offense can survive in the post-Moe era. It'll get tougher without Wagner since teams will be gameplanning for Teske and not focusing so much on pick and pop, but that's what team-wide offseason improvement is for.

If the rest of the team can pick up the usage slack, Michigan won't miss Wagner much. Moderately large "if."

But even my absurdly optimistic self was way short.

Ace: The defense honestly hasn’t surprised me as much as the offense? I thought it would take longer for things to click. This is kinda what I expected the final form to look like.

Brian: Yes. This was a D that was #3 last year shedding Duncan Robinson and Wagner and getting their three best players back. The offense was a much bigger concern.

Ace: Iggy being insta-awesome changed the outlook a lot.

BiSB: The pick and roll game has been the best since, what, Stauskas? Morris?

Ace: Stauskas. Dude rained threes off of those. Wait. Let’s not discount Walton/Wagner. Unless we’re eliminating pops.

Brian: Well when's the last time Michigan had a point guard who was healthy and experienced? Late Walton was great but he was not right for a lot of his career and before that Michigan couldn't get a guy to his junior year.

Ace: Simpson sees the floor as well as any Beilein PG since Morris.

Brian: 13 A, 2 TO vs UNC and Purdue.

Ace: It makes you wonder what Trey Burke’s A:TO would’ve looked like as an upperclassman.

Alex: I thought the ball-screen game last year with Wagner was better because the latter was so good at reading the defense and adjusting - slips, pops, and rolls.

Brian: I think Teske's just as good but in more subtle ways. He's a large reason that Michigan's able to get to the rack so consistently with no one providing help.

BiSB: And to Ace's earlier point, there are still Thanksgiving leftovers in the back of the fridge. This clicked EARLY.

BiSB: Debbie Downer Caveat: there's the potential for some recency bias on the shooting stuff. They shot like Sparty against a 2-3 zone for the first couple of games, on stuff that was pretty opponent-independent.

Brian: I don't think they're a 43% team like they've been since but neither are they a 20% team or anything like it. Zone is the looming question though that's correct.

Alex: I think people generally expected that Teske would be an adequate—if very different—replacement for Wagner. Matthews has gotten better, Simpson has gotten better, Poole is still adjusting but he's just played two great games against good teams and when he's hot Michigan is unstoppable.

BiSB: It's hard to see Charles Matthews shooting 50% from deep, just like it was hard to envision Jordan Poole shooting like 8% with a billion turnovers.

Alex: This may not be a 37% shooting team from three but it's not gonna be < 33% like some of us (read: me) feared.

Seth: I wonder if Charles Matthews has found his stroke. He's not going to be 50% but I like him so much more now that he takes and makes threes in rhythm instead of driving on them.

Ace: I don’t think Matthews is gonna be much more than a ~33% shooter from deep but he doesn’t need to be better than that. He’s at 29% right now.

Brian: He's hitting 69% from the line since the 0/5 start. I think there might be something to that. He can get to 33-35 maybe. His FTs improved a little last year too. I think he's leveling up as a shooter, slowly.

Ace: Obligatory “nice.”

Alex: Just needs to hit open shots.


And first in hair. [Marc-Gregor Campredon]

Alex: As for why this team is exceeding expectations, the single biggest reason to me is Iggy. He's Michigan's leading scorer and legitimately a good defender. Had we known he'd be this good this fast - say, if he were a top 5 recruit - the expectations would have been much higher.

He's fourth in Kenpom B1G POY right now, by the way.

Brian: And... he is, right? If you re-rank his class right now he's top 5. For college anyway.

Alex: Top 5 best college freshmen, sure.

Ace: Maybe not for NBA purposes but certainly for college, yeah.

Alex: To your point on the podcast, not the 5th best prospect but he's 20 and dominating high-major college hoops on both ends.



Alex: Livers has been quiet these last few games but he's 50% from three and a very good backup center. Not sure if anyone saw either of those things coming. Beilein even drew up a few looks for him against Purdue (one at the end of the first half comes to mind) and those were plays designed for a Duncan Robinson-type shooter. If Livers can be that and play three positions well defensively...

Brian: He really really wanted to take that three, which is nice to see.

BiSB: He's also getting to some of those shots that he seems unusually efficient at, like the lane fadeaway.

Ace: He also drilled a corner three over a closeout against UNC on a shot he never would’ve attempted last year.

BiSB: And the turnovers are down, too.

Seth: When is the last time Michigan had a sixth man of the year candidate?

BiSB: Last year?

Ace: …last year.

Alex: I think Robinson won it.

Brian: Livers's versatility is another excellent bonus. He makes the seven man rotation go because you can bring him in at any of three spots, and he can defend it.

BiSB: Over JJJ, even.

Brian: His usage has ticked up a couple of percentage points and he's chipping in D stats along with the shooting. I don't think he's going to be a guy who attacks the basket much but as a swiss army three-and-D guy he's great.

Ace: That versatility runs across the whole lineup and that’s huge when, at least for now, they’re running out a seven-man rotation. Livers can play three spots, Matthews can play (or at least defend) three spots, Poole can cover two (or even three), Eli Brooks plays both guard spots…

BiSB: Another nice part about Michigan's low foul rate is that Beilein gets to pick and choose his spots more with Livers at the 5. He hasn't had his hand forced often.

Alex: Livers does all the little things on both ends too.

Ace: It’s a seven-man rotation that functions like it’s got nine or ten guys, except the back end is still the good players.

Brian: Yes.

Ace: And not, say, Ben Carters.

Alex: I think Austin Davis probably deserves to play but with Livers doing so well in that role, he might not be playing a whole lot unless Teske is in foul trouble.

BiSB: I'm a liiiiiiittle concerned about Big Man depth...

Alex: Which... it's really remarkable that Teske doesn't foul much given that he's contesting everything and going for steals.

Seth: I don't think we should have expected Castleton to be contributing in the 2018 portion of this season.

Ace: Davis should be fine, and if he’s not, they can cover for that with Livers and potentially emergences from Brandon Johns and/or Colin Castleton. Beilein’s had plenty of freshmen break into the rotation late.

Brian: Davis seemed fine in small bursts last year. He's probably all right. Ward went right at him late in the first half at MSU last year and he defended that just fine.

Michigan's played a lot of teams where Livers makes more sense than Davis as the backup 5: Nova, UNC, and Purdue all feature small-ball Cs for large minutes.

slackbot: stupid ginger

Ace: Other things that can click into place:

  • The patented late-season freshman emergence (Castleton, perhaps?)
  • Poole playing every week like last week
  • More effective offense from the small ball lineup
  • Teske pounding the offensive glass like last year

BiSB: So... I mean... are there ANY concerns?

Alex: Davis is probably a perfectly fine replacement-level backup big.

Ace: Free throws.

Brian: Zone offense.

Alex: Bad three-point luck. I really don't think I'm crazy for thinking that this is a 30-win team.

Ace: I don’t think you are, either.

Alex: They're #1 in two-point defense. #1 in preventing free throws. #17 in preventing threes. Your floor is so high when that's the case.

BiSB: KenPom has them as a 26-5 team before any postseason stuff. Sooooo...

Ace: They’re up to a 27-4 projection on Torvik and are favored in every. single. game.

Brian: Kenpom still has more pessimistic preseason numbers baked in, too.

Ace: That’s the crazy thing! This team was in the 20s-30s everywhere preseason.

Seth: It's nice that the Big Ten proved itself a top three conference in the nonconf portion. You can take 4-5 losses in conference and be a 1 seed still as long as UNC and Nova don't turn out to be bad.

slackbot: stupid ginger

Ace: And we seemed to be the only people who thought that was batshit.

Alex: My biggest concern is depth. If one of the main seven gets hurt, you're playing guys who are very clearly not ready.

Ace: MSU: preseason Big Ten favorite, everywhere.

Brian: I think someone will emerge over the next month or two, probably DDJ.

Alex: He's surely getting hazed by Z every day in practice.

Ace: I feel like he gets blocked by Brooks. I honestly think every other freshman has a more obvious fit into the rotation.

Brian: God, being a freshman Beilein PG against Z has to be a private hell.

Alex: Get ready for the BTN Journey piece about how Z molded him into a killer when he wins the B1G POY in a few years.

Ace: That part I don’t doubt.

BiSB: But with a little twitch that say, "no for real I still wake up screaming about that guy"

Alex: None of the freshmen besides Iggy have looked anywhere near equipped to handle a five-minute stint in a high leverage situation.

Ace: I wouldn’t sleep on Adrien Nunez. Team could still use a shooting boost and the one thing they don’t have is a backup two who’s not really a PG. It’s still way early, Alex.

BiSB: Johns looks bouncy

Alex: The end-of-the-bench blowout variety hour has been so disappointing!

Ace: I don’t think any of them were expecting to see the floor against, say, Villanova.

BiSB: Castleton's usage is 47%. Just wanted to mention that.

Alex: That was intended to be tongue-in-cheek

Brian: Most of those minutes are against weird junk zones and I don't think mean too much.

At the open practice it felt like Johns and DDJ were the guys who were getting you might play attention, FWIW.

Alex: Yes it's the clumsiest basketball this side of the IM Building but even though those guys are all highly touted, I would be surprised if they didn't have major growing pains if forced into action.

Brian: The reason I push DDJ is that if Michigan does get stymied by some zones I want the off the dribble three shooter. But the points against him are good ones.

Ace: I’m less worried about zones because this team can shoot okay on spot-ups, they’ve got multiple great drivers, they move the ball well, and they have several players who could operate out of the middle of a 2-3. That Matthews FT-line game would be a killer.

Brian: This is me trying to patch a stress fracture in an aircraft carrier, I admit.

BiSB: Iowa has finally been playing more zone.

Alex: As for potential 2-3 issues, shooting is always a concern there. But like Ace said, there are guys who can play well in the middle. Teske and Livers come to mind.

Ace: It’s hard to dial back the optimism right now, I know.

Alex: Not many 7-footers out there who are more inclined to pass than shoot.



Ace: Also: Beilein is a wizard. People forget that. Somehow.

Brian: Michigan did do better against zones vs Providence.

Alex: I think Z's work on offense has been broadly underrated.

BiSB: When wild optimism is the most reasonable level of expectation, I get nervous.

Ace: It’s ever harder when last year’s team is used as a point of comparison.

Alex: He's the second-best distributor in the Big Ten behind Winston and he's not turning it over a whole lot. Has a good sense of when Michigan needs to push the ball following a bad shot or turnover. And like y'all have said, his work in the ball-screen game has been strong.

Seth: Z and Teske are two of the best defenders in the league AND they don't turn it over.

Ace: That should be emphasized, especially since both also somehow manage to avoid getting into foul trouble despite being so active. There’s so little margin for error already against this team and then they never give you the ball in the open floor. UNC never got to run.

Alex: Michigan's well-coached on that end obviously but Z, Matthews, Teske is a hell of a core to build around if you want to have a good defense.

BiSB: No regular rotation player is above 3.1 FC/40 minutes

Brian: Yeah, that's another thing that makes me optimistic. Some of their tougher opponents are very fast and that just doesn't work against Michigan. MSU, Iowa, and Indiana are all around 50th in offensive tempo.

Seth: Or very three-reliant.

Alex: Nothing works against Michigan.

Ace: Seeing a team that leans on transition offense is like when we saw teams that relied on press defense. It’s gonna be a murder.

slackbot: image

Alex: Unless a team somehow goes 10-18 from three or something—but there would have to be a lot of tough makes there.

BiSB: Maybe trash-talking Michigan will help. Rattle them, ya know?

Ace: I feel like I remember every open three-point look they’ve given up this year.

Seth: Most of them were against Purdue's short bald guy?

Ace: Yeah, it’s shocking each time.

Brian: oblig



Alex: Feel like many / most have come off of offensive rebounds - which, that happens.

Brian: Cline got some open ones on missed rotations, but they were so heavily on Edwards that'll happen. I like that Michigan can go from a no help D to a heavy help D.

Ace: Teske got a little too deep into the paint once or twice against balding stretch big, but that’ll happen too, and he didn’t make them pay. The no help D strategy is great. Everyone except the point guard can contest shots at the rim even after getting beat by a half-step. Meanwhile, drive-and-kick isn’t an option. There have been so many instances of guys getting caught under the hoop with no good option.

Brian: Should I mention that I think recent rule changes have made officiating much more predictable and less infuriating? Like, the verticality stuff is great. Guys aren't getting called for the O initiating contact nearly as much.

Ace: I’ve really enjoyed that the changes have come in tandem with Michigan going for more blocks and fewer charges.

BiSB: "Hook and Hold" stuff has gotten headlines, but that's overshadowed a general reasonableness that seems to have taken hold.

Brian: The charge stuff was good and necessary. Hook and hold is being misapplied; it's supposed to be about trying to bait a foul call and instead it's getting called on everything.

Alex: It’s just mind-boggling that Michigan can play this good of defense without fouling much. Like Z gets away with a lot, but otherwise it’s a lot of just staying in front and staying vertical.

Ace: Excellent individual defense across the board.

BiSB: I've been a little disappointed with some on-ball defender blocking calls. Guys in legal guarding position getting plowed in the chest.

Seth: The Iggy one is the only one that stood out, and it was so bad Dicky V was mad.

Alex: Also, a fun game is to rank Michigan’s best defenders: Teske, Z, Matthews, Livers, Iggy, Poole, Brooks? Everybody on that list is good!

Ace: That’d be my order. Brooks is the only one I get even a little concerned about. Biggest concern: analysts have started really talking up Yaklich.

Alex: And the median player is extremely good in whichever order you want to put them in.

Brian: Any order for the top three is defensible really.

Seth: In a "normal" Beilein year Poole might be #1.

Ace: They got bounced from the tournament two years ago because they couldn’t stop any isolations and didn’t have anyone they could insert to stop them.

Brian: God that Oregon game. A different world.



Alex: There was one play against the sad frenchman that really stood out to me. He was wide open on the roll and the guard found him. Going in for an easy dunk right? Then all of a sudden, JORDAN POOLE OUT OF NOWHERE CONTESTING ABOVE THE RIM AND NOT FOULING.

Brian: Poole also leapt out of nowhere to force Edwards into a tough fall-away. I admit that I was concerned about Poole's attention to detail hampering the D but that does not appear to be the case. This was based on nothing other than his outgoing charm, and is soundly defeated.

Ace: I think with Poole sometimes we assume his off-court goofiness will carry over to the court but he’s locked in.

Seth: A man with a baby-carrier looks adorably sweet until you threaten the thing in the baby-carrier.

Alex: For me I thought that it was more that players who fit his archetype usually don’t defend. Turns out that he does.


Brian: That's an area where I think intangibles exist. There are teams on which Poole is a bad defender. They are teams without Zavier Simpson.

Seth: Conversely if Yaklich had been around when Stauskas was here...?

BiSB: So moving back to the front of the line, Teske guarding Nassir Little on the perimeter puts him at the top for me right now.

Alex: I’m old enough to remember when Michigan’s bigs would reflexively assume the charge position on a drive instead of putting their hands up. It’s a whole new world now.

Ace: That and “Jon Teske mirrors Nassir Little and forces a badly contested brick”… yeah.

Alex: I can’t imagine telling 2014 me that Michigan basketball would be the type of program where you won’t play unless you can really really defend.

Ace: Yeah, you don’t get to slack off when everyone else is playing their asses off. I wouldn’t want to cross X or Matthews.

Brian: The defensive coordinator idea was a good one and Beilein executed it perfectly. Found a small school doing work on D, interviewed some guy he'd never heard of for hours, hired him.

Alex: Turns out that Beilein found a reflection of his past self but instead of that guy being a detail-obsessed offensive savant, he’s a detail-obsessed defensive savant.


They’re even both former high school history teachers, which is great.

Brian: i wonder if Beilein keeps trying to adopt Yaklich and he says "I am an adult"

Alex: I’d listen to a 45-minute pod of them discussing Antietam or some such shit.

Brian: lol

Ace: Needs to get rid of the damn-near-a-bowl-cut to stop Beilein from doing that.

Seth: "I'm not your Hadrian, John!"

Ace: But I trust any basketball coach who looks like he cuts his own hair on the way to the arena to watch film.

BiSB: We may have to prepare the Money Cannon if this keeps up.

Ace: Like I said, biggest concern.

Brian: I'd coach-in-waiting him if it would help.


Alex: Maybe it would be best for us in the long run if he got a head coaching job this offseason, proved he could run a functional offense on his own, and then was ready for us post-Beilein.

Seth: Of all the Brazdeikis facts they toss around in the 30 minutes of every game this year that's been blowout time, the one that still shocks me the most is he looked at schools that played defense and that's how Michigan came up.

Alex: This team is so good that I’m willing to interpret bad things as potentially good things.

Brian: I'm perfectly content hanging on to him for another five years and not interviewing anyone else.

Ace: But I want four straight national titles, Alex.

Alex: This team could win one.

Ace: This is a squad so good it’d be reasonable to be disappointed if they missed the Final Four except that it’s a kinda random single-elimination tournament.

Alex: Seriously. I feel like I generally lean towards pessimism but my only gripe is that they didn’t annihilate Holy Cross by enough or whatever.

BiSB: Hard to lose if the opponent is down 17 in the final possession, tho.

Ace: I want three banners, minimum.

Seth: I want Duke.

BiSB: So... no one wants to talk about playing Florida again?

Ace: image


Tom Bombadil

December 4th, 2018 at 10:22 AM ^

On the podcast Brian mentioned video footage of the Matthews smile and how you could read his lips saying "Get up bitch."

I would be very interested in watching this, if anyone has a youtube link.


December 4th, 2018 at 9:43 PM ^

Dang - Now, I realized that the ref was in between most of the media and Ward / Matthews.

I've got it cleared because somebody did not wanted the very first photo spot ...

 And moved me without asking 'cause I was the kid from outa town and all the local knew it was a bad spot!!!!!

I really should send a box of chocolate to that photog' for giving up that spot :).



December 4th, 2018 at 10:36 AM ^

Kinda surprised Brian is so deep into the coach in waiting idea. I don't think that's fair to Yaklich. When Beilein was out, it was Saadi that took over responsibility as head coach. If the current trajectory continues, when Beilein retires Michigan could be in a very good position to be the best job out there and a top 10 job overall. I can't see a program of that level settling for a young coach in waiting without interviewing anyone else. I think it'd be best for Yaklich future as Michigan's head coach if he left and proved he could be the head man, as Alex mentioned.


December 4th, 2018 at 12:16 PM ^

Yeah as much as it would suck to lose Yaklich, it'd be better to see him go after a few years to get data on him as a head coach before committing to him as Michigan's coach. He wouldn't be easy to replace but Beilein made a good hire in Donlon as his first DC, lost him after 1 year and made a better hire in Yaklich. Assuming Yaklich gives some input when he leaves, I'm confident we'd be able to find a suitable replacement at DC. Not Yaklich level, but close to it.

Whenever Beilein does retire, which will be a dark dark day, it'd be nice if Yaklich had left and had some success elsewhere. That way we'd have our choice between Jordan, Yaklich, Pat Beilein, or whatever other upcoming coaching is available (Chris Beard type of guy). As amazing as Beilein has been, the state of the program he leaves behind will only serve to further his legacy at Michigan. 


December 4th, 2018 at 3:12 PM ^

When a guy has proven to be one of the top 3 defensive coaches (maybe even the top?) in all of college basketball and is the primary reason for M so vastly exceeding expectations the past two years AND has shown good recruiting chops, you absolutely, 100% want to lock him up if you can.

His ceiling is limitless and his floor is very high because even if his offenses took a step back, his defenses will be good enough to keep the team at a top 25 level.  His floor is probably Beilein pre-Yaklich. And even if he doesn't have the chops to keep the offense elite, he'd be smart enough to hire an "OC".  Yaklich as HC, Patrick Beilein as OC.

When you're not a top tier blue blood basketball factory, that's the perfect guy to lock up.  A potential HOF'r that is (somewhat) homegrown.  I hate to make the comparison but he could be Michigan's Tom Izzo.

I don't have much trust in Beilein assistants prior to 2016ish.  The offenses of those teams were all Beilein, of course, and the defenses were terrible.  Considering how bad Bacari Alexander was as a HC, it seems like those guys were around for recruiting purposes only.  Mayyybe LaVall Jordan turns out to be ok as a HC, but he was bad his one year in Milwaukee (albeit in a bad situation but he certainly didn't Chris Holtmann that job), and he's not off to a great start in year 2 (the post Wile E Coyote year) at Butler.  His ceiling is probably much lower than Yaklich's.

To put it another way: if Brad Underwood doesn't make the tourney in year 3 at Illinois, they'll almost certainly take a shot at Yaklich if he's still an assistant at Michigan and not getting paid coach-in-waiting money.  How afraid are you of having to face Yaklich on the opposite bench? (I'm very afraid) And how likely do you think it is that Michigan could get him back? Not very because Illinois would pay to keep him and they're a solid destination, especially given his history in downstate Illinois.

The problem with letting him leave is that people are assuming he'd be an option whenever we wanted to replace Beilein.  I think the risk that he becomes not an option (i.e. hired away and kept happy by another good school) is larger than the risk that he's not an adequate replacement.

Yinka Double Dare

December 4th, 2018 at 10:49 AM ^

Another thing that makes the short rotation work: Teske's conditioning is rather ridiculous for a 7 footer who is that big of an influence defensively in a man-to-man. It's one thing if the guy is just parked in the paint in a zone. But he's everywhere. Guys that size aren't supposed to be able to play 34 minutes against one of the most athletic, paciest teams in the country. Played 31 against Purdue too, mixed between guarding another tall dude (Haarms only played 19 minutes) and guarding some professor that shows up to play at the IM building. 


December 4th, 2018 at 11:16 AM ^

I definitely want Michigan to do whatever it takes to keep Yaklich coaching at Michigan, including coach in waiting. In some ways, it would be great for Yaklich to be promoted to Assistant Head Coach, and for Beilein to eventually step back but stick around. They seem like the rare coaches who could work next to each other for a long time.

I also am wondering about recruiting, which wasn't the focus of this discussion. Still, I'm wondering if any high school kids are watching Michigan and considering how they would fit. I'm wondering if Brazdeikis is one and done. I'm wondering if there are any 2019 class recruits looking at Michigan and wondering if they should have considered coming to Ann Arbor. I'm wondering who Beilein has his eye on. I'm wondering if we have room for one more 2019 recruit, and what this does for years following.


December 4th, 2018 at 5:47 PM ^

He's already getting NBA interest.  There was an Athletic article this week about how GM's are buzzing a bit about him after this past week.

Your assertion that he's not an NBA athlete is just your own perception because he doesn't look like an NBA athlete.  He's a classic "Moneyball" type player that is highly effective after you get past the fact that he doesn't "look" the way you expect.  He's staying with guys after pick and roll switches, he's blocking a lot of shots without fouling, he's logging a lot of minutes without needing too much rest.  To avoid falling into bias, these teams put a lot of weight in block rate, steal rate, and foul rate and Teske has one of the best combinations of those three stats in basketball.

Those are very strong indicators that he could hold his own or be a plus defender in the NBA.  He can obviously finish off pick and rolls.  If you can defend and finish at 7' plus, that's enough to get a look.  If he adds outside shooting, he could actually stick.

If he keeps this up (close to the way he played against UNC and Purdue), the question won't be whether he's getting looks, the question would just be whether he's a projected first or second rounder.

Compare him to some other recent bigs that weren't super athletes/highly regarded recruits but ended up drafted in the top half of the first round:

Domantas Sabonis: Wasn't a 3pt shooter (made 5 his final year in college), terrible rim protector/defender, better FT shooter that Teske but that's about it.

Zach Collins (Gonzaga has a near monopoly on guys like this): Higher block rate than Teske but against inferior competition. Lower steal rate.  Didn't shoot threes.  Drafted 10th!

Justin Patton: Lower block rate than Teske but just one year at Creighton. Didn't shoot many threes (but was amazingly 8-14, have him shoot more!).  Also not a good FT shooter.  Not an elite rebounder like you expect from a 7 footer (so numbers are more in the Teske range). Drafted 16th.

He is getting looks and he will get a look.  Not saying he'll be a first rounder this year or even next but it's not a stretch to think he could be.




December 4th, 2018 at 11:26 AM ^

Torvik's seemingly ridiculous 27-4 prediction is great. 

It also means that even if the team performs absurdly well, there are going to be a couple of losses that will expose weaknesses in the team. Maybe the defense has an off-night against a great player or particular system, or the offense goes totally cold against a zone that has a player or two that's a bad matchup. There will be hand-wringing.

There will also be changes. Basketball teams change over the course of the season as players develop and opponents figure out weaknesses. I would expect Iggy to hit a wall during the Big Ten season as teams zero in on things that he is not as good at, for example. We could prove vulnerable to hack-a-Z strategies late in tight games, too. That sort of thing.

I also have hopes that guys will develop or emerge. In Beilein's two most successful seasons, the team has undergone real changes from start to finish. The 12-13 team started hot, but scuffled a bit in B1G play; the tournament was where McGary emerged into a monster, a different look on the floor than most of the season. Last year the team started with good defense and couldn't figure out the PG situation; by the end of the year it was Zavier's team, and Duncan Robinson had somehow transmogrified into a great defender. 

So things will change here, too. Hopefully for the good--a freshman that can contribute five minutes and be a real threat to shoot threes, or the light going on for Z's foul shooting, something like that. 

Man, do I want them to make it to Minneapolis in April.


December 4th, 2018 at 11:47 AM ^

To me depth is the biggest concern. Going 7 deep is plausible because of the versatility as mentioned, also the slow tempo we play probably keeps legs fresher, but that's a lot of minutes for 7 guys to play. Davis didn't have the best matchup these past 3 games as mentioned, but even so he would come in and struggle (1 foul and 1 TO in minute vs Purdue) and get pulled. Against a lot of B1G teams he'll be fine to play (MSU, OSU, Wisconsin, Maryland all play traditional bigs that Davis can play against) but against teams like Nebraska with stretch bigs we it'd be nice to have another guy besides Livers to play the 5.

I don't think Castleton will be the guy. To my count he's only played in 5 games to this point, and he was the only freshman not to be put on the court in garbage time against Purdue (2 walk-ons were instead). According to NCAA rules he can play in 6 games this year and still be eligible for a medical redshirt, so I wouldn't be surprised if the coaches are keeping that option alive. Obviously he if he develops enough over the course of the year you start playing him late like Moe his freshman year, but otherwise they may be trying to keep a redshirt.

Johns is probably the guy there. He has always been the first non-Iggy freshman on the court and it Beilein mentioned after the Purdue game that he wants to get Johns into the rotation and thinks he's close to being ready for B1G play.

The other concern for me is Brooks as a backup PG. He doesn't seem to have the handle or ball distribution ability to be a PG. He's good as a 2, he's a natural scorer and shooter, and Brooks has even said he feels more comfortable scoring than play making.

DeJulius is the option there. He hasn't played much, just garbage time, but once again Beilein mentioned him with Johns as guys who are developing in practice before B1G play. If he can Johns can develop and we can get this rotation to 7/8 core players with another 2/3 getting 5-10 minutes a game, that really bodes well for this year and next.


December 4th, 2018 at 12:49 PM ^

Agree on Castleton. I was suprised he was mentioned as a possible backup contributor; I don't see that at all. Way too skinny and not skilled enough yet.

Dejulius is also likely not to contribute until *maybe* late in the year. It's just the nature of the Beilein offense. He has looked real unsteady out there so far (jacking up bricks), which is typical. I agree Brooks is more a combo guard, but he dribbles fine and more importantly, has show he can shoot the 3. I've been real pleased with his development. 


December 4th, 2018 at 1:39 PM ^

I agree that Brooks has been a nice development and a net positive, I just don't like him at the point. The few minutes he plays without Z every game he's prone to at least one TO where he gets stripped or trapped midcourt and can't get out of it. He has the highest TO rate on the team at 19%. It's not crippling or anything, but not ideal for a Beilein PG. Either a new PG needs to develop or that TO rate needs to go down.

I also think the Beilein freshman PG narrative has been misconstrued. It started as "expect a big jump from freshman to sophomore year PGs" and has developed into "freshmen PGs can't play under Beilein but they'll be really good their sophomore years and beyond." The latter has been true a few times, but the former is the real truth.

I'm not expecting DDJ to be Burke/Walton level PGs as a freshman, they are the exceptions and not the rule. But Brooks played 18% of minutes last year and played early in the season. Z played 22% the year before that. Walton played 65% of minutes as a freshman (once again, the exception). Spike played 20%. Burke is the true exception at 91%. But even Darius Morris played 60% as a freshman. DDJ is currently at 8%. I'm not saying he needs to be great, or play 60% of minutes, but there's no reason he can't get his numbers up into that 15-20% range, especially since Beilein has mentioned him as a guy who is showing things in practice and developing for B1G play.


December 4th, 2018 at 2:26 PM ^

A difference I see is that last year, Beilein didn't know whether Z or Brooks would be the guy at PG -- it took 10 or so games to figure that out, as Z started out struggling (e.g., hardly ever shot at all until the OSU game in December). Once he figured out Z could play top defense and was decent enough on offense (e.g., slippery cuts to the basket; good ball handler), Brooks barely saw the floor once the B1G season started.

Contrast that with this year: Brooks has started out the gate doing a pretty good job -- shooting 40% from three, 47% overall, with a 2-to-1 ASST/TO ratio (which is OK, but could be better). That's reasonable for a backup, and obviously Z is the 32-min per game starter. DDJ just has a higher hill to climb to get to that 20% of time than Brooks did.

Not sure the other years are comparable (e.g., Morris played as a freshman b/c he was top recruit and what were the other options? Laval Lucas-Perry? Matt Vogrich?)

And I am cautious on Beilein and practice assessments. He obviously knows at ton more than me, but he has gone on about people as practice superstars (e.g., Donnal, Austin Davis) and that hasn't necessarily translated to game time.

But we'll see. It's nothing against DDJ, it's just a different roster situation than the past.


December 4th, 2018 at 3:40 PM ^

Brooks played in 11 B1G games last year once conference play restarted back up and averaged over 5 minutes a game in those games. That's around what I want/would expect from DDJ (15% of minutes played is still only 6 minutes). That also doesn't account for the fact that we also had Jaaron Simmons who played in 10 B1G games after the restart and averaged a similar amount of minutes. Now obviously Simmons was a little different because he was a grad transfer, but he still was a first year PG in Beilein's system.

Brooks and Simmons somewhere around 8-10 minutes a game in B1G play last year. You can find 6 or so minutes a game for DeJulius this year, still give Brooks 3/4 at the point if you want, and Z still plays 30. I don't think that's much to ask or too much of an uphill battle at all. Especially because Brooks just isn't a PG. He has a 2-1 AST/TO ratio like you said which isn't great, and his TO% is equal to his Assist%. That's not good for a PG. The shooting numbers I agree are good, which is why he would be better suited as a 2 guard playing off the ball and his minutes should be focused there. So the hill for DDJ to get backup PG minutes isn't that large because we don't have a good backup PG, we have a good bench 2 guard playing PG.

Not all the years are comparable, agreed. The main point including Morris was as a data point to show freshmen PG have played under Beilein. But we've already discussed Brooks. Simpson 2 years ago is comparable. Spike his freshman year is comparable. And they played 20% of minutes.

I think pointing out 2 potential examples of guys who Beilein praised but didn't pan out (and Davis is only at the beginning of his RS So year so that's premature) is anecdotal. How many times has Beilein praised a player and they've delivered? Especially since this isn't some over arching praise, just that DDJ may play this year.

I just disagree with you I guess. I don't think this is a different situation at all. I think this is us needing a backup PG, not having a real one currently playing, and us having a freshman who wasn't ready initially but is developing into that role and into a guy who can hold his own as a B1G PG. We've seen freshmen come on midseason before, I think this is another one of those scenarios.


December 4th, 2018 at 11:51 AM ^

David Dejulius is really small, and probably needs a year in Camp Sanderson. Not only is he noticeably shorter than Simpson but he also looks 30 pounds lighter when I see him on the court. 


December 4th, 2018 at 12:31 PM ^

"I’d listen to a 45-minute pod of them discussing Antietam or some such shit."

Guffaw. Kudos, Alex. Those are the kinds of hidden gems that make this blog so..damn..good. Fantastic TWO, gents. Terrific stuff. Hard not to be absolutely stoked about this team's potential. I don't see a loss potential 'til .. (I will shut up now).


December 4th, 2018 at 1:28 PM ^

What makes Teske special IMO are his hands and his basketball IQ.  Watch his timing on his blocks.  He waits on people, long past the point that most defenders have gone to block the ball.  He understands how to use his height/length.  He lets them by him, waits on them to put the ball up and then just flyswatters it away after they have shot it.  He doesn't try to stuff it out of their hands, which is where people usually get fouls.  Because he's so tall/long, he doesn't have to do that ****.  The offensive player is SURE they are clear and then the ball is just gone.

With Yaklish, the guy is super smart.  I would think that if he stuck around for a few years he could pick up Beilein's offensive stuff.  And he's got to be a better coaching candidate than most other people for us already.  The coaching world is hard--if Michigan made him a promise to be the successor to Beilein and paid him decently in the interim, I could see him sticking around for a while a waiting.


December 4th, 2018 at 1:35 PM ^

I think the biggest thing that surprised me in this chat was Ace still holding out hope for the most raw freshmen (Nunez & Castleton) to contribute by the end of the year.  I know it is early and I know it is garbage time, but they look so lost out there.  DDJ and especially Johns look almost plausible and they are the guys you're hearing Beilein talk up.  

I think DDJ has a path because he's really talented and Brooks is getting those minutes by "not sucking" more than doing anything special.  He's a great swing guard to have, but he isn't doing anything special so DDJ being able to get experience in the next few games is key.

I think Johns gives you a Livers 2.0 option and some insurance in case of injury to anyone in the front court.  


December 4th, 2018 at 1:43 PM ^

Things that have exceeded my expectations so far:

  • Teske on offense and minutes played
  • Livers being assertive and multi-positional....also hitting 3s

I expected Iggy to contribute and I expected Matthews and Poole to improve some.  The room left for this team to grow would be...

  1. Matthews, Poole, and Teske continuing to stabilize on their 3pt trajectory from the last few games.  If they end the season hitting 35/40/30 from those three guys on 3pt shots, watch out.  
  2. Developing a little more depth from DDJ, Davis, and Johns.  I don't think there are a ton of minutes to go around, but a 7-man rotation is tough for 35+ games. 
  3. Free throws.  It hasn't burned us yet....but in a close game it might.  One oddity is that I was going to talk about how many more points we would have scored if Matthews, Z, and Teske would hit their FTs.  But really it is about 10 points on the season - give or take a couple.  


December 4th, 2018 at 3:00 PM ^

Agreed. The only thing I would add is Z hasn't (yet!) improved his 3-pt or his FT shooting, which was an off-season hope.

It's still early, but he's at 29% (same as last year) from three and I know I hoped he would reach the mid-30s at least; and no PG should ever be anywhere close to 40% from FT (on only 15 attempts, but still -- that's Ben Wallace territory)

I can see some team playing zone or a type of man and daring Z to beat them from the outside. That will be interesting.


December 4th, 2018 at 2:00 PM ^

Good point ACE makes that gives me confidence playing a zone defense (which has had me slightly worried):

That all important FT line offensive position is a perfect fit for Matthews, and I could see Iggy and Livers excel there as well. Put a solid passer there, someone who also would love to take one dribble and shoot, or even better two dribbles and a layup, someone who is tall enough and physically strong enough to not get bullied in that spot. 

We got that position covered.


December 4th, 2018 at 2:21 PM ^

Please. For the love of god, give us a once/week 30 minute history podcast with Yak and Beilein. I would sincerely love that. Not even a joke. I wonder what topics they would choose to cover....


December 4th, 2018 at 2:38 PM ^

″(Assistant coach) Luke Yaklich says, ‘We’re going to contest shots with every fiber of our being,’” Beilein said. “He actually says that, and we do.”



December 4th, 2018 at 2:44 PM ^

This was a really good one, gents.  Talking about dominant sports teams is fun!

Pure gold: "But I trust any basketball coach who looks like he cuts his own hair on the way to the arena to watch film."

Couldn't agree more with Ace and Brian about Simpson as well.  This is his team, he is the heart and soul of it.  Yaklich admitted last year in all the fluff pieces in the tourney that Z deserves a huge amount of credit for leading this team on the floor, keeping the intensity up, holding guys accountable, etc.

It is no coincidence that the team took off last year when he asserted himself as the starting PG and he's a huge reason the team is better this year than last year and will be elite again next year (unless Teske and Poole follow Iggy and Matthews to the NBA such that the team might fall back to "very good" please don't, please come back).

Also, basically every guy except Poole has played as well as any reasonable person could have hoped, with Iggy probably exceeding a hypothetical ceiling.

And Poole mostly isn't meeting lofty expectations (yet) because 1) he just started cold and 2) he's not needed to be the ball-dominant alpha we thought he would have to be with the existence of Iggy (and that's fine!).  He's now settled into a comfortable groove as the outside assassin that benefits from all the creators on the team and is stepping into the creator role nicely when Iggy and/or Matthews are off the floor.  I still think the team would benefit from him cutting into Matthews usage and I expect that to organically happen.


December 5th, 2018 at 3:49 PM ^

What is this "patented late-season freshman emergence" Ace is speaking of?  The only ones I can think of are '13 Caris and '15 Dawkins/MAAR.  '15 was due to injury.  

In general, it seems like Beilein ends up limiting his rotation down the stretch as opposed to expanding it. 


December 5th, 2018 at 6:45 PM ^

If any non-Iggy freshman makes any sort of contribution at all that isn't spurred by an injury I will be shocked. They all look at least a year away, they look worse than first year DJ Wilson and nothing like first year Mo and McGary, both of which actually got some minutes and showed stuff by now, unlike these guys.