MBB: Desired Improvements and Predictions/Expectations

Submitted by Generic MGoBlogger on February 6th, 2013 at 10:05 PM

Please don't hammer me too hard on this, for this is my first thread post, but I really wanted to get everybody elses' opinion on where this season is going for the Men's basketball team.  Lately I've been looking into the analysts' predictions and trying to get a general feel for where this team is headed, whether it be a Big Ten championship or a Final Four run.  Maybe I'm looking into this way too early, but I feel that if the pieces are in the right spot, this team has the potential to do seroius damage in March, if that wasn't already given. We certainly need everybody healthy on the roster to do this, but I would like to hear from you guys, what are things we have done extremely well up to this point, things we really need to improve on in order to do damage in March, and personal expectations/predictions for this team.  Thanks everyone, and GO BLUE!



February 7th, 2013 at 12:20 AM ^

I agree. He was the beneficiary of other people creating early in the year and flowing to the right spot at the right time. I still think he has a ton of potential but too often he seems to allow himself to be removed from the offensive gameplan.

Defensively I think he is just about as good as anyone on the team. He was matched up against Thomas all last night and hounded him very well.

Hardware Sushi

February 7th, 2013 at 11:01 AM ^

I agree with both of you, the only problem being that we have up to 3 guys already trying to create on the floor at a time (Burke, Hardaway, Stauskas), that I would imagine it's a tough balance to both fit in the offense AND be your own shot creator.

Would love to see GRIII try a few of his own game blouses drives.


February 7th, 2013 at 12:20 AM ^

I don't think he was "owned" at all.  In my opinion, those stats are quite misleading, and I have a hard time believing that anyone who watched the OSU game would think otherwise.  The high PPP is largely a reflection of our nearly 60% three point shooting, which we will not get most games.  Our offense looked very disfunctional at times against OSU, especially finishing near the basket and getting good seperation on high ball screens.  Our offense has been far from elite against teams with good on-ball defense.  


February 7th, 2013 at 12:25 AM ^

But we did. And over the course of the season we have consistently been very effecient. Ohio State matches up extremely well with us devensively. Name another guard that can impact Burke the way the Craft seems to be able to.

I think where a lot of the perception that our O needs to improve comes from the fact that we have seen them be extremely explosive. We know that they have a ton of weapons and get frustrated when we feel those weapons aren't being utilized. But that arguement disregards the strength of the competition. OSU and IU are both good defensive units.


February 7th, 2013 at 1:22 AM ^

Ok, but elite offenses should perform great against good defensive units.  We've faced two teams with legitimately very good defenses, and our offense has been very suspect in both.  I think we are a very good offense.  I wouldn't use the word elite, at least not yet.


February 7th, 2013 at 12:29 AM ^

The PPP is misleading in this case. The offense certainly scored a lot of points but we got to that 1.19 number by shooting 14 of 24 from 3. Shooting 58% from 3 is not sustainable and not going to happen again against a good team. We've got good shooters but we are hitting 40.2% on the season from 3. So that 1.19 is inflated by a lucky shooting night. If we shoot our season average of 40% instead of 58% that is about 10 of 24 on 3s and 12 fewer points, maybe a little less due to OREBs and that game turns into something along the lines of a 10 point loss.

At this point it looks like Burke is having trouble creating penetration against more athletic and physical teams. Better competition, sure. Tired legs? Maybe. Just not able to do it? Dunno. In any event, that reduces the open shots for everyone and leads to a lot more perimeter shots that are often contested. It's not a strategy for beating the very best teams. We need someone else, and it doesn't necessarily have to be Burke, to force the defense to rotate off the dribble and then pass to the open baseline guys or cutters or just score. It hasn't happened against the good teams yet.  

Having said that, we don't need to score 1.19 PPP (or hit 58% from 3) if we can do a better job defensively. And we'll pretty much have to if we want to win the B1G, B1G tourney or the tournament. OSU hit some shoots too that they don't normally hit. But that was not a good defensive performance by us.


February 7th, 2013 at 4:30 AM ^

 I'd like to see us finish stronger inside. Just using the OSU game as an example , but there was a lot of missed lay ups that could have easily been dunks.

 In both the Ohio and indiana game they gave up way too many second chance points. They need to harder after defensive boards and stop letting guys get easy tap in and highlight dunks.

 I'm also not a fan of the flow of the defense. 2-3 guys flowing to the ball and abanding their man or their zones and leaving half the other team wide open.


February 6th, 2013 at 10:11 PM ^

I think if stauskas could just become more than a standalone shooter this team could maybe find themselves in the round of 32... If not then good luck in the first game.


February 6th, 2013 at 10:57 PM ^

No.  Pretty sure Stauskas is just a shooter.  I've watched games - I know things.

Somebody let me know if you hear about him doing something other than being a shooter cause if he did then I'm sure the TV dudes would point it out for us.  And they don't.  Game after game all I hear them say is "Stauskas - he's just a shooter."


February 6th, 2013 at 10:20 PM ^

They need to box out and rebound better. Or maybe play 2 of our bigs on the floor at the same time more often. 

Tired of seeing teams getting offensive rebounds/putback jams on this team.


February 6th, 2013 at 11:02 PM ^

I really do wonder what employing two big men would do to Michigan's offensive sets and spacing. One big man allows our athletes to run around, achieve space and do some serious scoring damage. The floor is more open. I might be more inclined toward two big men if any of them had a jumpshot, which would help keep the defense out of the lane, but none of the big men can really shoot, and are basically pick and roll recipients and rim rattlers on offense. The rebounds might not be worth it. Two big men down low with no threat of a mid-range shot mean more defenders in the lane, which mean more contested shots when Burke and company take it to rack.


February 6th, 2013 at 11:05 PM ^

Exactly. Another big man will marginally help on rebounding, but will clog up our spacing and introduce another help defender.  There are times we will need to do it, particularly against MSU who can throw two pretty good post players in, but too much of it threatens to harm our offensive efficiency more than it improves our rebounding and defense.


February 7th, 2013 at 12:12 AM ^

It would have been nice to keep Smotrycz, if only for this exact situation/reason.  Assuming his extra height (with an extra dose of experience and strength) would help in rebounding, he would have been able to play the four while still giving us an outside threat.

A shame on both ends that he left, because he would have been a much better fit on this year's team (no need to play the 5 like last year and sacrifice his game in exchange for getting pushed around in the paint) and probably could have helped an elite team instead of sitting out for the whole season waiting to play for Maryland.


SC Wolverine

February 7th, 2013 at 12:19 PM ^

I agree completely.  The answer is not a second big man on the floor but more aggressive blocking out on the back side of the defense.  Once the big man had to slide over to cut off the penetrator, there were nothing but red jerseys behind him near the rim.  Better defensive execution in our current configuration is the solution.  Otherwise the offense suffers too greatly.


February 6th, 2013 at 10:27 PM ^

I'd love to see two bigs on the floor for defensive and rebounding purposes.

Also would like to see the screens by McGary/Horford actually completed. Morgan seems to be the only one who actually screens the ball handlers man instead of barely touching him. 

And if a game is down to the wire again, no more iso's for Trey and a step back three please.

But we have the potential to win a national championship, just need to put all the pieces together.


February 6th, 2013 at 10:31 PM ^

The post game is a concern, but it's probably just not having Morgan for the past week.  Morgan was able to hold his own against Sullinger and other big men last year.  I'm not too concerned.  Burke needs to drive more in big games.  He gets too reliant on threes and step back twos.


February 6th, 2013 at 10:38 PM ^

JMO is key-- horford and mcgary bring other things to game but not enough.

robinson needs to become an aggressive offensive threat --it will help open up for everyone else.

defensive intensity needs to be more consistent.


February 6th, 2013 at 10:39 PM ^

Burke- he needs to manage the offense and be a main scorer, but not play Burke on 5

Hardaway - he needs to continue to keep his confidence and make big shots. He has stepped up in many games, most importantly @Minnesota and Ohio at home.

GRIII - Continue to get the quiet positive stats. The team plays much better when he is aggressive on the boards, so he may need to pick it up after the last 2 games.

Stauskas - He is a shooter, so always be ready to take the shot. Of course, he is not just a shooter, but Michigan needs to include him on more plays that set him up for open shots. I mean he is 3rd in the country on 3pt %.

McGary- Keep being the energizer bunny. He has proven that he can work on the court at a high energy and produce a positive impact.

Morgan - his minutes are going to continue to be declined because of McGary, but he is still an excellent rebounder and defender. Make the most of you opportunities when you are in the game.

Albrecht, Horford, LeVert - similar to Morgan regarding the limited minutes, but all are still critical to our success.

This team is good! Real good!! I am a little concerned about the defense (wide open shots) and rebounding (offensive) in both the Indiana and Ohio games. If we can get those corrected and all the above pans out, I see a ceiling as obviously MBB Champs or bottom of at least Sweet 16. It is all about match ups in March Madness so who knows.


February 6th, 2013 at 10:43 PM ^

I would say sweet 16 is a forgone conclussion... after that it depends on our shooting.  Honestly I don't think this team plays good enough defense to win four straight against very good competition.  one night of bad shooting and our season is over...

I think elite eight is about most likely though we could win it all... I mean we are good, but not infallible...



February 7th, 2013 at 2:31 AM ^

The thing is, usually you don't end up playing what we right now at least, would consider very good competition in four consecutive games. There's always a few under the radar teams that make their way to the later rounds. 


February 6th, 2013 at 10:47 PM ^

I don't know, I see 1 more loss guaranteed, and I predict it comes against MSU at the Breslin Center.

  • @ WISC - W
  • @ MSU - L
  • vs PSU - W
  • vs ILL - W
  • @ PSU - W
  • vs MSU - W
  • @ PUR - W
  • vs IND - W

This is sort of my best-case scenario, I just really don't see us winning out.  We've got two games against MSU (who are proving to be among the best in the conference), Indiana, and Wisconsin.

At worst, I see us picking up 3 more losses, so I expect us to finish between 28-3 (15-3) and 25-6 (13-5)

  • GRIII needs to get and stay involved, rather silent through Indiana and Ohio State
  • Stauskas needs to be Not Just a Shooter while still knocking down some 3s
  • Burke needs to not force things
  • We need different end of half/end of game plays than "Trey Burke iso" where he dribbles until the clock runs out then jacks up a contested 3.  It only worked at Indiana, once
  • McGary needs to continue contributing like he is with the second chance points, blocks, steals, and rebounds.  He's been doing it all, wouldn't mind to see him rewarded with increasing PT
  • THJ to be THJ he was last night, improved ball control and draining some 3's
  • REBOUND -- Frequently don't box out (see Zeller's 8 points off of dunks from his teammates' misses) and struggle rebounding when we've got a man or two advantage under the hoop
  • Free throws.  It's just embarrassing to watch.  We shoot 70% good for 5th in the conference, but they're going to screw us over in a close game (a la OSU), especially missing all the front ends of the 1-and-1s
  • Improved defense -- not sure what to say here, our defense is just average, frequently giving the other team open looks

Overall, we play a bit too timid for the Big Ten IMO.  We don't go up strong and drive to the hoop as much as we need to, we pick and roll to try and make a jumpshot.  It functions because we've got good shooters, but it's often a difficult shot.  I'd like to see fewer of the "Let's pass around the perimeter until the shot clock runs out and throw up a bad 3" plays


February 6th, 2013 at 10:46 PM ^

I'm looking for an improvement on defense.  There have been nagging doubts all season, and I think that some of it can be attributed to having freshman on the floor.  The more game experience they get, especially against top competition, the more they will progress.

I'd like to see an improvement in the inside game, instead of relying too much on the three ball.  Hopefully a healthy Morgan helps with this.

This team is capable of beating anyone.  With a little improvement between now and March, we can be deadly.  Looking forward to it.


February 6th, 2013 at 10:48 PM ^

I would love to see us play some on ball defense that is above average, get much more physical while boxing out, and closing out under control more often.

Bonus: A guy who shows a promising jump hook. Shooters following their shots when it is advantageous.


February 6th, 2013 at 10:55 PM ^

The biggest issue on defense last night was UM hedging screens and forcing Craft out and helping hard on Thomas. It looked like they were going to make the other Buckeyes win the game. If osu's other players would have played how they normally do and not extremely well, I think UM would have won by ten.

That was the only gripe on defense for me last night. Maybe a little too much help.

Boxing out needs to get better. I don't ever want to see another Zeller tip slam

Oh, and more threes please.