Random B-Ball Observation thread

Submitted by ijohnb on December 2nd, 2012 at 11:08 AM

There are lots of thoughts and interesting notes about the hoops team, none of which deserve its own thread but all of which are worthing noting.  The Lions suck and it is otherwise a rainy Sunday, slow sports day, so fire away about the state of Michigan basketball:

1)  This team does not pressure the ball well.  They have a ton of upside in all aspects of the game, but opposing teams are getting into their sets way to easily.  Although it has been effective in spurts, it is mildly discouraging to see M forced into the zone for long stretches leading to some problems on the offensive glass.  I think that three quarter or half quart trapping before falling back to man to man is in order against good teams.

2) Stauskus is unreal.  I never thought he had the size and sneaky athleticism that he does.  He is truly automatic from three when open and has shown an impressive ability to shoot consistently even when contested.  He has good rise on his jumper and is also very active without the ball in the half court set.  It may not play out this way, but he looks like an all-big ten player like right now, and he was an afterthought to me in this years class.

3) Hardaway has played well, but "Hardaway isos oh no" is a very problematic set in the half court.  He is real good coming off a screen with a one dribble and to the basket moves, but him isolated with the ball on the wing or at the top of the key seems to be a guaranteed strip and easy hoops for the opposition.  Hardaway is best in constant motion, but he often gets stagnant and it can lead to sloppy possession if he is asked to make something out of nothing late.  I like Burke with high screens best as our late offense set, with Hardaway on a wing looking for a kickout.

And thoughts will do, just passing time here.



December 2nd, 2012 at 11:22 AM ^

Not just a 4 star (which there are upwards of 200 when you add all sites together) he was a consensus top 100 (I think avg. 70 something).  Every site knew he was a really good player.

While Stauskas is off to an incredibly hard start, there is no way he can maintain 62% from the floor.  I think he could finish above 50% on the year (which would be absolutely incredible) but it is extremely hard to maintain that high a %


December 2nd, 2012 at 11:56 AM ^

Stauskas is a ligitimate triple threat. He reminds me a lot of Chris Mullen. He can shoot from outside, drive and pass.  Teams will need to put one of their better defenders on him.  This will open up the floor for others -- so, although he may not be able to maintain his shooting percentage, he'll improve others' shooting percentages. Michigan is a much better offensive team with Nik on the floor.


December 2nd, 2012 at 11:56 AM ^

It doesn't mean that people didn't think he was good; in many prior classes, he would have been the crown jewel. But in this class, Stauskas was definitely seen as the third tenor; with GRIII and McGary being Pavoratti and Domingo. 

Besides, he's playing like a lottery pick, so being a Top 100 pick doesn't mean he wasn't underrated.


December 2nd, 2012 at 11:13 AM ^

Well, initially I was shocked at LeVert burning his redshirt, but you can't deny that he's probably a better player in most areas than Vogrich or Akunne.  So why not play him?  You can't plan for what will happen in the next four years, so play your best players when you need them.  With his length I think he'll help the zone defenses a lot and we don't need him to score. 

I also like that Bielfeldt has worked his way into the rotation because I think he is the one post player who can share the court with the other bigs without the offense and defense taking a big step back.  I wish Horford would be more consistent because I think he has a lot of upside, but it is nice to see Beilein play the guys who earn it in practice. 

The fact that the only debates we're really having about this team is the 9-11 spots on the bench is amazing. 


December 2nd, 2012 at 11:23 AM ^

I remember the board blowing up when Spike was offered. Many people wanted that guard from Las Vegas because he was rated higher. From watching Spike play so far, he  seems like he has a good head on his shoulders. He's not fancy, but he can be real solid.


December 2nd, 2012 at 2:11 PM ^

Amadeo was higher rated cause he got visibility playing with one of the top "hs" programs in the country, quoted because its really a mill for churning out college level talent. Watching some of this games on tv, I was not impressed with Amadeo, and he did not have point guard skills like Spike. Amadeo is a 3 pt shooter. OSU website shows Amadeo averaging 6 min in 3 appearances. Will be interesting to see when we play them. Spike was a bigger need for our team, and better get in my opinion.


December 2nd, 2012 at 2:36 PM ^

Totally agree. I watched Amadeo play a couple times and was not impressed at all. Played VERY weak. It was easy to see he was not used to the speed of the game and athleticism of the players in the U.S. Not to say he can't turn in to a decent player but Spike is the exact type of back up point that we will be very thankful to have for 4 years.


December 2nd, 2012 at 11:25 AM ^

It seems like the issues that this team have are all correctable.  They played their first true road game and, frankly, played like a team with little veteran leadership, which they are.  They still led wire to wire and the game never really felt in danger.  Tim had a terrible game.  However, the difference this year is that if that happens, we have other scoring options now.

I also liked how Hardaway did not seem to get discouraged when his shot wasnt dropping.  He just found other ways to contribute and fought through it. He has matured greatly.

Our depth up front is going to wear people down.  Bradley has no answer for our size, which still feels weird for a Michigan team.  They need to get better at closing out games and play more consistent defense but realistically there will probably be only 3-4 games all year that Michigan isnt favored in. 


December 2nd, 2012 at 11:27 AM ^

what was up with the plungers in the student section at Bradley?   I hated having my 11-yr-old son ask me "dad, what's up with the plungers" and have absolutely no wisdom for him.


December 2nd, 2012 at 12:07 PM ^

Maybe they are still pissed that their program got stuck in the crapper when Hersey Hawkins ran out of eligibility, and have finally decided to take action and dislodge it.


December 2nd, 2012 at 11:37 AM ^

All I have to contribute is that we have 4 guys who can offensively take over a game. Mix that in with McGary who singlehandedly can infect the players and the fans with emotion and energy, and you've got a scary team that was built for a deep run in the tourney, regardless of how they fare in B1G play.


December 2nd, 2012 at 1:29 PM ^

Luck does play a really huge role, yes. But having 4 guys who can put up 20 at a moment's notice makes it extremely hard for coaches unfamiliar with us to devise a solid game plan on only a couple days notice. Add this with amazing 3 point shooting, big men in the paint and a guy who can motivate the team when their bodies are tiring is a recipe for tourney success. Any bracketologist would at least agree with that.


December 2nd, 2012 at 11:40 AM ^

I was thinking about this after yesterday's game.

One thing that has come with the size up front and what seems like more aggressiveness and post presence (which, of course, ties back to size) is a noted uptick in rebounding, particularly offensive rebounds, some of which have been key in keeping multi-possession leads. I haven't done the most current math, but I think right now, we're averaging about 2-3 more per game this year, which doesn't seem like much, but Pittsburgh , NC State and Bradley have ended up being closer games where being opportunistic has been key, and we've made the most of those opportunities so far. 


December 2nd, 2012 at 11:48 AM ^

I think just the opposite on pressure. Some teams are forced into a different defensive front but I see the 1-3-1 and 2-3 Beilein employs as change ups. Coming out of two timeouts yesterday was 2 different looks.

Granted, the Pitt game move to 1-3-1 was needed, but the zone can be effective as this team has length and athleticism. Syracuse has great man defenders, but employ almost exclusively the 2-3 extended.

A team can't play good zone w/ out being good man defenders, or at the very least having solid man principles.

Good thoughts, OP


December 2nd, 2012 at 12:29 PM ^

just think that there are too many instances of teams really getting the ball right where they want it and scoring rather easily in the half court.  This was especially true against NC State and I just see a trend in which M is alright with simply outscoring people instead of being a complete team on the defensive side.  Perhaps this is just post Douglas hangover because although he was a limited player Stu hawked the ball with the best of them.


December 2nd, 2012 at 11:54 AM ^

I would like to see Stauskus come in off the bench as the first sub in.  He is instant offense which makes for a great sixth man, and it would also allow GRIII and Hardaway to get into the flow of the game.  I won't claim to be an X's and O's expert when it comes to Bball, it just seems like the second rotation is thin on scorers and more defensive minded subs.  


December 2nd, 2012 at 12:11 PM ^

I'm betting this is the role that Levert fills now.  Stauskas is probably firmly intrenched as the starter and Levert will come off the bench for scoring.  The concerns about him were always about his defense.  By all accounts the kid can score.  We didnt see much yesterday because it was basically his first game.  I think as he gets more up to speed he will be able to help.  He's 6'5 with length and was a good scorer in highschool.

Blue boy johnson

December 2nd, 2012 at 1:25 PM ^

I heard Beilein's presser as well. Levert does have really quick feet, especially in comparison to Vogrich and Akunne, he reminds me of a skinny Gary Grant out there.

Levert's other major assett is his handle. Caris handles the ball as well as anybody on the team not named Burke. Levert can score as well, but his opportunities will be limited. Because of his handle, I was surprised Levert was ever going to RS. M is a much more athletic team with Nik starting and Caris coming off the bench, relegating Vogrich and Akunne to bench duty.

I think Beilein's biggest dilema is what to do with 4 Bigs who deserve minutes. It is a shame Bielfeldt can't get minutes because M is so deep, not only upfront, but overall. Don't ever remember a M team this deep. Hope Beilein can keep them happy.

Beilein also appears right on the mark in saying. "Bielfeldt plays big", and "McGary is learning to play big".

Must be nice to have 2 NCAA worthy teams practicing against each other everyday.


December 2nd, 2012 at 12:25 PM ^

Stauskas already has 18 made 3 pointers, on pace for top 5 single season for Michigan basketball history. Pretty impressive for third rated freshman in class.


December 2nd, 2012 at 12:27 PM ^

from establishing a dominating inside presence in the halfcourt. I see that as a key to how far we might go in the tournament. We're not bullying anyone yet, even if we're getting rebounds.

Hardaway's handles remain an issue, but he has stayed composed through scoreless stretches, continuing to contribute. They have done it relatively quickly considering all the talent, but establishing a secure rotation and developing still more cohesion on offense, beginning to knuckle down on D, is going to decide whether we're a good team or a great one by year's end. 

Burke with the ball as time runs out against a half-decent D remains. . . iffy. Given that four-five players are threats at all points of the court at any time, that doesn't have to be the case. 

Blue boy johnson

December 2nd, 2012 at 1:42 PM ^

While it would be a luxury to have a dominating inside presence in the halfcourt, it is not a necessity, and we aren't going to have one this year.

More important is the need to score inside and out, and this we can do. Burke can score from any where, as can Hardaway, and to a lesser extent Stauskas and GRIII. With the way the shooters extend the defense, and the ability of M's scorers to score of the bounce, this is as tough a team to defend as you are going to find.


December 2nd, 2012 at 3:44 PM ^

There are four ways to score in basketball:

Post-up, slashing, mid-range, and the 3. We have the three latter types down pretty well on our 1-4 positions, and Morgan's spacing really helps there as well. I'm not worried about scoring with this team -- we have 4 guys who have gone for 20+ in a game in their career. 

Regarding the post-up game, I think you guys are forgetting McGary. No, he has not scored much recently, but that's due to mitigating factors. To wit:

1.) He hasn'logged enough minutes to a.) figure out opposing defenses, b.) learn how to play within the offense, and c.) gain the confidence of his teammates when he goes to the block. The lack of minutes LEADS to (not "STEMS from") his foul trouble. I firmly believe that once he learns how to not foul in the college game, we'll go back to a tighter rotation. Yes, it's great that Horford and Beilfeldt can sub in if needed, but they won't play much once we're in tight games and McGary learns how to stay out of foul trouble.

2.) He's still getting back from injury. He was injured for most of the pre-season and is still getting back into game shape. Does no one remember him asking for a breather after like 4 minutes of playing time about two weeks ago? He's clearly lacking a step from where he was at, and once he's back in shape that step will add a new threat.

3.) He hasn't been needed yet. We haven't thrown it down to him on the block and let him go to work, contributing to his lower numbers. When he is healthy and has a little mre experience, he'll get the ball down low against good competition. Remember how he fell in the recruiting rankings because he wasn't getting the ball as much after AAU season ended and he went back to being one of many super-stars on his HS team? The same issue applies here: he CAN score, but defers to others. If/when we need him to be an offensive presence, he will be able to do so.

2 cents.


December 2nd, 2012 at 12:33 PM ^

Stauskas seems like an unbelievable shooter and I love McGary's passion when he's out there.  It'll be exciting to see how this team continues to gel and figure out how to play together.  I am a little concerned about their ability to close out games though.  Over the last couple, it feels like when they get ahead and start to slow down the game to control the clock, they end up giving back a lot of their lead.  It's kind of like a prevent defense almost.  College basketball is a game of runs, but I'd rather just see them play the last five like they play the first 35.  Hopefully this is something they can work on, so it doesn't cost them down the stretch.


December 2nd, 2012 at 1:08 PM ^

the major issues with this team (closing out games, using clock, lock down defense, etc.) are largely due to youth and lack of experience/limited time playing together and should improve as the season moves on?


December 2nd, 2012 at 1:38 PM ^

Minor Observations:

Mcgary falls down alot, Stauskas leaves his feet to pass too much, Levert gets lost playing Zone-D and Robinson should be a little more aggressive, but overall they have been great.


December 2nd, 2012 at 1:40 PM ^

The biggest concern right now is half-court defense. Stauskus, who has been awesome on the offensive end, is getting subbed out late in games for defensive series for Matt Vogrich, if that's not a sign of his defensive liability, I don't know what is. Opponent's FG%:

The Rock: 36.95%

IUPUI: 34.9%

Cleveland St.: 30.4%

*Pittsburgh: 45.3%

Kansas St.: 36.7%

*NC State: 57.1%

*Bradley: 52.0%

*Stauskus played 30+ min

In the three games that Stauskus played 30+ minutes, we had our 3 worst defensive outings. A correlation, but still. Hopefully, as the season goes on, this improves, but we won't win many B10 games if we are allowing teams to shoot above 50%. Also, can Stauskus' offensive production withstand the increase in defensive pressure when we hit B10 play?  Perhaps LeVert is the guy that can start for defensive purposes and allow Stauskus to fill the bucket off the bench against other teams' benches? Maybe we see more 1-3-1? All questions to be answered.


December 3rd, 2012 at 9:04 AM ^

Anyone else feel like GRIII is the quietest player ever? Obviously he makes some good plays, has had a couple alley-oops, and all that, but I feel like I don't notice him that much and then check the stats and am really surprised. It could be that he doesn't get talked about as much as Burke, Hardaway, McGary, or Stauskas by the announcers. I didn't get to see the first 9 minutes or so of the Bradley game when I think he already had 5 points or so. However, I felt like this even before that game.