MBB - three keys

Submitted by ijohnb on February 22nd, 2013 at 8:46 AM

Fresh off the most needed one week break in history, Michigan brings in Illinois on Sunday (before Staee travels to Columbus at 4:00 PM, that day has promise, beers will be consumed).  Illinois, coming in with a strangely unipressive winning streak considering one of the wins was Indiana, has brought themselves back to all square in conference play, and Brandon Paul can play some hoops.  Should be a good one.  Michigan, going from the team that makes Dick Vitale tell other teams to "get a TO" to that team that everybody seems to think somehow just became not good just cause, needs to get down to business and get back to form starting now.  College basketball is a game of peaks and valleys with teams, Michigan has peaked at the right time and the wrong time in the last couple of years, 2011 going head to head with Duke was not foreseeable in February, and last year a loss to Ohio (NTO) in the first round seemed inconceivable while delivering a solid beat down to Ohio (YTO) in February as well.  So, that epic drubbing to Lil in EL can actually mean very little if the swag returns for this home stretch.  I think there are three keys going forward to Michigan getting this show on the road.

1.  Jordan Morgan - I was appauled earlier this year at the suggestion that his absence was not significantly impactful.  When healthy, J Mo eats glass, runs the floor, and can deliver some highlight real finishes that gets the team fired up.  Morgan is an energy player that the rest of the team feeds off.  I hope that ankle got some TLC this week, because if I see a pattern in the last three years it is that this team goes when he goes, so, let's go.

2.  Run baby Run - The most impressive 10 minute stretch of Michigan's season in my opinion was when they went showtime against WV at Barclays in the first half.  Burke in the middle of the floor with options is as pretty as well struck seven iron on a UP course in early September.  Board, push, and dish, Stauskas will do the rest.

3.  Timmy - to the basket.  In another noticeable patters, once a year Hardaway will deliver a Jordan vs. the Blazers 3 point performance that convinces him and Wolverine nation that he is Larry Bird in the 3 point contest.  He is not.  TH3 is soooooo much more effective when his instinct pushes him to the basket.  Hardaway has the athleticism to shoot 10 free throws a game, his desire to settle for the long gun becomes tiresome. Take it the hoop, good things will happen.

Any others that I am missing?

March madness coming soon.  Great time of year, (not including the white out conditions outside right now).  Go blue.


Michigan Marshmallow

February 22nd, 2013 at 8:54 AM ^

GR3 needs to continue to play with intensity.

McGary needs to play more physically. Especially when the refs are not calling as much.

Oh right, and we need a better play when we hold the ball for the last shot. Come B1G Tourney time and NCAA Tourney time we will be in similar situations, and I don't want to see another 3-prayer lobbed up.


February 22nd, 2013 at 9:00 AM ^

feeling that JB does not trust the handles of our wings.  Michigan has been beaten on some prayers the last couple of years and I don't think Beilien wants the ball in the hands of the other team for the final possession.  He is playing not to turn the ball over.  It is safe, but not really effective.


February 22nd, 2013 at 9:23 AM ^

True, though we could try to invert the offense.

I'm not sure how comfortable THJ is on the block. Perhaps the fact that they don't try it is an indication that he is not that comfortable on the block.  However, THJ usually has a size advantage against his defender so this might be an option.

And JB has done it in the past, specifically with Darius Morris.  That they haven't tried it in a game may suggest that they are not comfortable with THJ's back to basket game.


February 22nd, 2013 at 9:36 AM ^

Inverting the guards into the post has been a staple of Bo Ryan's swing offense. I know we all hate him, but it's incredibly effective when the wing players practice playing in the post, because it puts their defenders in defensive situations they're not familiar with.

It's amazing how much post play has become a lost art. It took Lebron seven years to figure out he needed to develop one, and it's made him unstoppable. It's a key part of how Jordan and Kobe dominated in their late years. Obviously, those are three of the greatest players ever, but you figure if they found the post game a useful tool, other players would as well. 

I do think THJ would be really tough if he developed a post game, because he elevates so quickly and so high, he wouldn't have to worry about helping bigs blocking his shot. The same goes for GRIII. Those are things to be developed in the off season, though. I think Beilein's been flexible enough that if they worked on them and they proved effective that he'd incorporate them into his sets.


February 22nd, 2013 at 9:26 AM ^

Great point. Most of our sets don't even involve a post man, so asking to go inside is kind of calling for a different offense. 

I can see the argument for running one of our sets rather than standing at half court with the ball (I'm mostly talking end of the half) because something might pop open and if it does, just take the points and don't worry so much about last possession. Even if it doesn't, at least you're unsettling the defense a bit.


February 22nd, 2013 at 9:09 AM ^

Is key. Wish we would mix in some zone from time to time, must be a reason. We have not contained any dribble penetration for the past month, every dribbler goes past us. I think Jordan Morgan will certainly help, I think we just hit a part of our schedule that the competition stepped up dramatically, and while having a healthy Morgan could have helped, don't know other than Wisconsin that we win any of those games still. We need more movement on offense and get out in transition more. Big game Sunday, not going to be easy.


February 22nd, 2013 at 9:18 AM ^

I think they're not mixing in zone because we're pretty bad at it. umhoops ran the numbers, and here's what they came up with:


Defense %Poss Poss. Points PPP Percentile
Man 93.10% 1518 1205 0.794 72%
Zone 6.90% 113 102 0.903 47%


Now the zone obviously has a small sample size, and that's for the entire season, which may obscure our recent defensive issues, but I can think of several times (most notably in the IU game) where the zone burned us. Particularly against Illinois, where the whole defensive strategy has to be "try and keep Richardson and Paul from going off" inviting them to shoot 3's with a zone seems like a bad idea.

Here's the umhoops post, which is great:



February 22nd, 2013 at 9:10 AM ^

GRIII making more of his own plays and scoring opportunities, not just getting alley-oops all the time.

Stauskas returning to early season shooting form.

Morgan healthy.  If he's still hurting, I'd rather keep him resting until next weekend for Staee.


February 22nd, 2013 at 9:44 AM ^

Seconded on all counts.

The only thing I might add to your list (if we're allowed to have a fourth key) would be closing out on the wing shooters better.  The Illini LOVE to jack the 3 as soon as it touches their hands no matter where they are on the floor.  If our perimeter defense continues to rotate late and soft they will knock some down.  

I know Brian thinks 3 point shooting percentages are just random but I disagree.  Watch the last few games we've played again and you'll see guys wide, wide open with time to set and fire.  If we dont do a better job contesting those shots we could be in for a long day Sunday.


February 22nd, 2013 at 9:13 AM ^

I really want to see how they're playing pick and roll D. That killed us against PSU and is the source of a great many of our defensive problems. UMhoops had a good film breakdown where they pointed out a lot of the issues were coming from the low help not squeezing the lane enough to dissuade the ball handler from feeding the picker rolling to the basket while our big (mostly McGary) hedged.

I also noticed that McGary's pretty passive when he hedges. He moves his feet really well for a big, but he regularly keeps his arms down when he's attacking the ball handler, which means he doesn't obscure the vision or passing lanes of the ball handler, leading to reasonably easy feeds.

I largely agree with the philosophy of how we're defending the pick and roll. If you've got big men with active feet like McGary, Morgan and Horford, hard hedging is, I think, the best way to  stop a play that presents the defense with a lot of bad options. But the hedger really has to attack the ball handler and prevent him from making that feed to the hoop, which is relatively undefended in this strategy. 


February 22nd, 2013 at 9:44 AM ^

GRIII is as important as your three keys (those were good ones though). We will not make a tourney run (Big Ten or NCAA) unless he starts playing well. And no, I won't count the last outing against Penn State. He needs to show up against the big boys.

One other thing, Stauskas doesn't play defense real well. It's all effort IMO for him.


February 22nd, 2013 at 10:21 AM ^

Stauskas is in a tough position. He's quick to the hoop but not laterally quick. He's relatively tall, which helps him get his shot off, but he seems to have trouble bending his knees, ie a defensive position is more unnatural for him than most perimeter players. That particularly works against him when he's trying to check quicker, smaller players on the perimeter.

He can get better. He's got to stop allowing players to turn the corner so easily. He's got to fight through screens harder. But I think he's basically going to be someone who we need to hide defensively for most of his career. 


February 22nd, 2013 at 10:51 AM ^

I agree with you, Stauskas doesn't seem to be giving a lot of effort on defense. By sticking your hand up when someone shoots is not defense. If he is fighting hard through all the picks and denying the ball from the player he is guarding then they wouldn't be scoring as much as they have on him so far in the season. He is getting picked apart.


February 22nd, 2013 at 11:42 AM ^

I'm suggesting it's not all effort. He has some significant mechanical/physical issues in defending the perimeter that are always going to be there. It's his job (and the job of the staff) to recognize them and do what he needs to mitigate them as much as possible, ie, do a lot of drills designed to increase lateral quickness in off-season S&C work. He can also work to be a great help defender, a lot of which is more defensive understanding than pure defensive ability, but I doubt he's ever going to be anything more than an average on-ball defender. 

And that's ok. He brings so much offensively that if he can get to average, he'll be an even bigger plus than he is now.


February 22nd, 2013 at 10:51 AM ^

I agree with you, Stauskas doesn't seem to be giving a lot of effort on defense. By sticking your hand up when someone shoots is not defense. If he is fighting hard through all the picks and denying the ball from the player he is guarding then they wouldn't be scoring as much as they have on him so far in the season. He is getting picked apart.


February 22nd, 2013 at 10:49 AM ^

THJ has horrible handles to be driving it to the rim. He'll just end up turning the ball over and it seems like he is scared of contact. The team in general needs to be more aggresive when they are not making their shots so they can get to the free throw line for some free points.


February 22nd, 2013 at 11:48 AM ^

I would caution against analysis paralysis.

To use a street fighting analogy, most street fights are extremely short in duration. Therefore, the prudent martial artist trains for one swift, end of story move. The goal is to have no response from the opponent. So the best instructors arm their students with a variety of moves for different situations with the common denominator being, whichever move you choose to deploy, execute it swiftly and lethally. So, when the decision is made that a physical response cannot be avoided, choose a move and execute it. Analogous to BBall, you practice those bread and butter moves endlessly so that there is no thinking involved in the unfortunate moment you must act.

The next time an opponent tries to exploit Michigan physically, the response should be swift and lethal. Whether that be by upping the intensity and running them until they drop dead, or delivering a series of manball stops in the paint, etc. The key is the attitude. The attitude must be, 'You want a piece of me, well then, fine. Choke on it. Because I am going to give you more me than you can handle'. Blitzkrieg their asses.


February 22nd, 2013 at 12:42 PM ^

you did go a little too "Kill Bill" with your analysis, you actually do have a a point.  If there is one weakness that JB has as a basketball coach, it is that he is too much of a textbook teacher and not enough of a traditional motivator.  I do think that Michigan lacks, and has lacked a killer instinct under Bielien.  He is anagolous to Lloyd Carr. He is competitive, but he does not want to rip your heart out like Izzo, Coach K, Creen, Calipari, clearly do.  Izzo was figuratively bathing in Michigan's blood when State extended that thing to 30, it was not that they were winning but the extent that they were punishing that was getting him off.  There is not of that with Bielien.

If ever there were a coach that truly believe "it is not whether you win or lose........" it is JB.  With that I think comes a subtle but noticeable lack of aggression in terms of how this team plays.  Michigan does not have a mean streak.  At times I wish they did.  There are times that I wish Bielien would get a spectacular technical foul for arguing with the officials when we are getting hosed (which is like all the time.)


February 22nd, 2013 at 6:34 PM ^

Feeling the love. How such an artfully written piece nets a negative one, makes this one, wonder. The too "Kill Bill" machismo was purposely poignant and graphic in order to drive home the point.

I repeat, "Blitzkrieg their asses". Bring everything you have in such an awe-inspiring, massive, relentless assault, that they are overwhelmed.

This can be about fun, right?