Why no low post?

Submitted by CLord on March 22nd, 2013 at 9:26 AM

You guys will know better than me, so someone please explain to me why we have no low post game?  After watching what Bo Ryan did in the second half against us, just dumping the ball into the post, and if the double came or the angle wasn’t there for a shot, dumping it off for open threes, why isn’t Beilein taking advantage of this the first few games of this tourney where we have the marked size and athleticism advantage in the post?  McGary, Horford and Morgan were all far bigger and more athletic than the SDSU bigs, but there was almost no low post game to speak of last night when the game was tight and the perimeter cluttered.  Most of Big Puppy’s points were fast break and board put backs.  Instead even Bill Raftery was complaining about how Michigan wasn’t “feeding the big dogs” in the box, and we bore witness to a cluttered perimeter game where SDSU focused on lane denial, that played a big part in preventing Trey Burke from going off.

Michigan won thanks to torrid 3 point shooting and fast break points against an inferior foe, but VCU looks to bring far more pace and energy and defense.  We might not have the bigs to post effectively on Kansas/NC, but is Beilein missing out on a decided advantage here that may cost us vs. VCU?  McGary, Morgan and Horford have all shown semblances of post moves throughout the season, albeit sporadically.  I just don’t understand why Beilein doesn’t leverage the post to open space for his stars on the perimeter.

Someone educate a layman here.



March 22nd, 2013 at 1:22 PM ^

I think he's talking about the cross screens you see a lot of in flex or shuffle offenses. I think those could be incorporated rather easily. I'll bet we use them when we're running our offensive sets and not just playing two-man. I think we run them more in the high post. I'll have to watch for this against Kansas if we get past VCU (I anticipate that we're not going to see a bunch of the shuffle sets against VCU just because they put you in such scramble mode).

The Shredder

March 22nd, 2013 at 2:10 PM ^

ahhh no its not. A "pick" on the ball handlers defender then the pick man rolls is yes a pick and roll(or a pick and pop.. Or a slip pick.. I can go all day). A "pick" or "screen(we use the word screen for more off the ball stuff)" away from the ball is not a pick and roll. There is no "roll".  A guard coming off two down screens is not a pick and roll. 


March 22nd, 2013 at 10:45 AM ^

periods come and go. The problem is not with Beilein's conceptions of offense, but that we have sometimes had to go to very traditional OTHER kind of guard-dominated play at times. Funny that people are complaining today, though, when the offense displayed its considerable promise--despite the fact that we're the youngest team in the tourney--last night.


March 22nd, 2013 at 10:30 AM ^

You must be a nervous wreck. Michigan wins a game convincingly when their top player is ice cold and you are picking holes in their offense? All because of what VCU might do to them?

Seriously? One of the top offenses in the country and you are worried about it?

I guess Beilein could have told Burke to slow down the game and then feed the post. Then the points come that way instead of on the break and you'll feel better? Or maybe you want both? I guess Wisconsin's slow down and feed the post offense is the best in the country? Most schools look just like WI when they play...or not.

Wisconsin wins because of their style of defense and their pace, not because their offensive style is to be emulated by all.

Don't look for things to worry about.

The Shredder

March 22nd, 2013 at 10:39 AM ^

Its not about worrying. Its about getting easy buckets, FT attempts, open 3s, more rebounding when you play better teams or bigger teams. Just because the offense is pretty solid now doesn't mean it couldn't be better or more of a threat with an added post game. Michigan went 5 mins without a score last night. Run a freaking post play to try and get an easy bucket or foul. Jump shots won't always fall.... 


March 22nd, 2013 at 11:06 AM ^

You are nitpicking this offense? And using Wisconsin as your shining example. That is just wrong.

If Michigan loses in this tourney, it won't be because they lack a post presence. It will likely be the defense.

Having a stronger post presence in an already great offense isn't a legit concern. Stop worrying.


March 22nd, 2013 at 2:31 PM ^

It's stupid to argue over this point. Nobody said the offense was BAD. Some people are simply saying that the offense becomes one dimensional at times. Hey, maybe throwing down to the post to change up the look could help? Having multiple looks and threats is generally good, but hey you must know more than the rest of us.


March 22nd, 2013 at 10:35 AM ^

Modern college basketball is predominantly played outside-in, and not inside-out. Very few teams feature a post game as the foundation of their offense.

Basketball offenses are a lot more complex than people think. It takes many hours of practice and game experience to run precisely. Beilein isn't going to change how we play during the middle of the season and certainly not during the NCAA tournament. If we had a post game it should have been developed months ago. It's ridiculous to expect McGary (a very raw talent), Morgan (not capable of reliable 1-1 offense) or Horford (frequently injured and not that much experience) to have achieved this in the pre-season or mid-season.

Come next season, you can certainly imagine a guy like McGary having offense run through him in the post at times. Just don't expect an offensive overhaul during the tourney. That's just ridiculous.


March 22nd, 2013 at 10:40 AM ^

...Belein more than depends on a terrible LeVert for offensive production, there is no reason Horford should not be getting more minutes and/or going down low to him...he has a nice baby-hook and attacks the glass...which is far more than i can say for LeVert who gets more minutes (as of late) and cannot hit water if he fell out of a boat...granted he gives THJ a break, but you cannot justify sitting Morgan and Horford when LeVert and Bielfeltd get meaningful minutes


March 22nd, 2013 at 10:56 AM ^

....I am simply poitning out that Mich needs more bigs in the rotation with the facts I have stated above...I am well aware how effective Michigan's offense is, but it is coming at the cost of a defense that is getting destroyed down low...I know both can be achieved by the proper rotation of bigs in the mix with the guard play


March 22nd, 2013 at 11:10 AM ^

He plays a totally different position unless you want Horford or Morgan to play the 2-guard position.  And Bielfeldt rarely gets more than a couple minutes a game.

I think Morgan's play the past couple of weeks justifies his place on the bench for now.  He has nice moves around the basket and is a solid defender, but you don't have time to let them work out the kinks in win or go home game.


March 22nd, 2013 at 10:43 AM ^

Our offense is to spread the floor which leaves the middle open for cuts, screens, etc. if you feed the post, it clogs up the middle and it defeats the ENTIRE point of the offense. I really like the analogy of our offense to the football spread and Wisconsin to MANBALL.

The problem is our defense, not the offense. Poor rotation, people getting blown by too easily. Bigs hedging too far and not being able to recover, etc.


March 22nd, 2013 at 10:45 AM ^

I don't think we need a low post game against VCU in the sense that you are referring. We will need McGary/Morgan/Horford to convert bunnies, as it looks like we will get many of them. They will probably be very unusual shots for them--there were several times where the Akron center would catch the ball with his back to the basket on a long pass, have nobody behind him, but would see two people coming at him from the three point line and panic, rather than just turn and convert.

So I don't think we'll need a low-post game from our bigs, just a high-bunny conversion game, which, yeah, easier said than done.


March 22nd, 2013 at 10:51 AM ^

Michigan has the country's second most efficient offense. Wisconsin is 50th.

Why do they want to be more like Wisconsin, again?

The Shredder

March 22nd, 2013 at 11:10 AM ^

I'm not saying change our offense. Just throw in some post plays for easier baskets. When we go 5 mins without scoring. You go to that stuff when the offense isn't getting the shots to fall. Michigan has dug holes a lot this year with just letting it fly when defenses are good. 

I don't want to be Wisc or MSU. I like what we do a lot. BUT FOR ALL THAT IS HOLY RUN A POST PLAY FOR OUR 6'10 CENTER!!!  Who I think could be good around the basketball if given enough touches. Just once every 15-20 plays. Make the defense adjust a bit. I think people are saying I want to change who we are. No just add a layer. 


March 22nd, 2013 at 11:26 AM ^

It's not an easier basket if your bigs have no low post game. I would like to have some low post offense on our team too, but ours guys just aren't capable of that right now. I think that will change next year as McGary and Horford refine their skills more with an offseason of work (Horford has had a few seasons, but he hasn't been healthy much which has stunted his development IMO). 


March 22nd, 2013 at 11:31 AM ^

Totally agree—it's only an easier look if you have post players with a strong back-to-the-basket game. Right now:

  • Jordan Morgan can't hold onto the ball, let alone make a post move.
  • Mitch McGary is an energetic freshman with little in the way of a refined offensive game.
  • Jon Horford alternates awkward-looking post moves that surprisingly work and awkward-looking post moves that unsurprisingly don't come close.

This is a perimeter-oriented team. They're very good at that. Post scoring would be great and all, but it's not something you conjure out of a few new plays in March.


March 22nd, 2013 at 11:46 AM ^

....but, i will gladly take more minutes from Horford and McGary who can score, rebound and block shots vs. a rotation with LeVert or Vogrich who give you nothing except marginal perimiter defense when they are not getting burned (granted Vogrich has rode the pine most of the year)


March 22nd, 2013 at 11:54 AM ^

But Horford and McGary can't score unless someone else puts them in a position to i.e. pick and roll, fast break (which they would help themselves with in running the floor), or penetration causing the opposing big to help and leave our post player. 

Vogrich and Levert aren't getting minutes at the expense of McGary and Horford. People who want to play two bigs are forgetting something - the offense usually determines the matchups. There are few teams that play two traditional bigs (MSU, Minnesota are the only ones that really do so in our conference). You really want McGary guarding Deshaun Thomas, Christian Watford, Ryan Evans and the other fours in our conference? He would get burned on the drive which has been our biggest problem on D all year. When McGary adds an offensive game, we can dictate the match ups, forcing teams to play two bigs on us. But right now, most other teams are going to dictate the matchup because we have no post players with an offensive skill set. 


March 22nd, 2013 at 12:06 PM ^

I would have been ok with giving Horford a try against Evans in that stretch where he was killing everyone from the post. He seems better able to defend if Evans had taken him to the perimeter than any other big.

But you're right, two bigs would generally have at best a neutral effect on the defensive end, and McGary doesn't defend the perimeter well at all. The key play in that quarterfinal game against Wisconsin was McGary allowing Frank Grimes, I mean Frank Kaminsky, to drive past him for an elbow jumper as the clock ran down with about 2 minutes left.

The Shredder

March 22nd, 2013 at 12:06 PM ^

But Horford and McGary can't score unless someone else puts them in a position


That is what I am talking about. If you run a screen down or across for Mcgary then someone makes the good pass to him under the hoop he will have a high % of scoring. The People for it are not saying here Mitch get us a tough bucket and just throw it to him. There is some X and O to this. I know he isn't KG or whoever. I also am not saying during March to just change it up and try it in a tight game but something that should have been in the system by now imo. 


March 22nd, 2013 at 12:10 PM ^

This is not a McGary/Horford vs. LeVert/Vogrich proposition, though. Beilein's offense is designed to have four players who can shoot from the perimeter. Playing two bigs is something he's been more open to this year, but it still bogs down what he can do offensively. In a system designed around spacing and outside shooting, having two big guys who can't shoot isn't ideal.

Meanwhile, Michigan's guards need the occasional break, too, and LeVert is one of the team's best perimeter defenders. Vogrich really isn't part of the rotation, so I'm not even sure why he's being mentioned here—the guy has maybe played 10 meaningful minutes since conference play began.


March 22nd, 2013 at 11:46 AM ^

Yep. JB has made adjustments almost every year. But it's hard to install some new sets in a week with guys that are going to be hard pressed to do what you're asking them to. We'll see what happens next year because the offseason is where the real changes are made. 

Der Alte

March 22nd, 2013 at 11:12 AM ^

Three of the BIG teams that stand a good chance of going deep into this tournament have at least one effective low-post guy: Zeller (he's OK in the low post, I guess), Nix and Payne at MSU, and Berggren at Wisk. The Buckeyes I don't know --- others here will have a better understanding of the kind of offense Matta runs, but it doesn't seem very low-post to me.

Anyway, for the other three teams, the low-post is an intregal part of their offense. And yes, a low-post guy at M is the offense's missing link. I believe that if JB had someone like those named here, we'd see a lot more low-post scoring, more offensive rebound put-backs (I know M does pretty well in that category already) and kickouts to the three-point snipers.


March 22nd, 2013 at 11:17 AM ^

...a few of us go against the grain/coach on this article and the faithful get all pissed off!...None of us who are going against the grain are suggesting we run an offense like MSU or Wisco, we are simply stating that we have effective bigs that are under-utilized and it will most likely hurt us against superior athletic teams in the paint!!!...we have a valid point, we are not trolling, we want Mich to win badly like the rest of you...it is OK to disagree with Beilein every now and then


March 22nd, 2013 at 11:44 AM ^

They aren't really that effective though other than the fast break and pick and roll game. None of our bigs have much of an offensive skill set. Mitch had 13 points last night. I believe all of them were off the fast break, offensive rebounds or a drive and dish by a guard, none from a post move. Morgan is what he is. I think Horford and McGary have shown flashes here and there, but nothing to signify we should be running many plays through them. I think McGary should get the ball in the high post more because he is better facing up than with his back to the basket and he's a decent passer. But feeding the post is not really an effective or efficient option for us on offense. 

I'm all for being critical of coaches and tactics, I have many complaints about our staff/system. But I'm not going to criticize them for not doing something that doesn't make sense to do. 


March 22nd, 2013 at 12:32 PM ^

for the impression that people are pissed, I think we are just disagreeing on one important aspect here, and that is the effectiveness of our bigs at scoring with their back to the basket. I agree you have a valid point, and this is a healthy debate, we just disagree. Keep posting your thoughts, opinions etc...

Asking our bigs to all of a sudden play that sort of game, or, in other words diverting from Belieins offense, is probably not a good idea at this juncture. We are an effective offense, we have an identity, and I do not think we should try to play 2 bigs, or try to establish a low post game all of a sudden especially against VCU.


March 22nd, 2013 at 11:49 AM ^

Just because you're bigger and more athletic doesn't mean you all of a sudden will dominate offensively down low. What you just said is that we needed to feed the post every play. They would have loved that. Our strength is our perimeter players so shy would we throw the ball down low when our bigs aren't good enough to score consistently? Teams would absolutely love that!

In football you can pass to set up the run instead of the old thinking that you had to run to set up the past. In the past in basketball it was you throw the ball in the post and everything works off that. By true anymore at least not entirely, we work the ball outside to set up inside, we aren't really different than the Miami heat as far as where our talent is on the team and how we use it.


March 22nd, 2013 at 12:22 PM ^

Appreciate the feedback.  I’m no expert.  I love Beilein and he’s done a great job getting us back to prominence.  He’s our coach for life as far as I’m concerned, but that doesn’t mean he should be above criticism or questions, as he and we all strive for the same thing, and that is improvement.  Philosophically I question his lack of emphasis on bigs.  There’s a reason the most effective basketball players teams tend to have the bigger players.  Even the Miami Heat felt the need to show Bosh the money because they knew Lebron and Dwayne wouldn’t be enough.  Beilein’s plan may emphasize 3s, cuts and offensive efficiency, but you can’t expect a Trey Burke on your team every year, and this comes at the sacrifice of rebounds, defense, and a low post game that can open up lanes and spaces for the perimeter.

When you reach a certain level of excellence, the scrutiny will naturally increase in granularity.  Like not understanding why a certain Sports Illustrated swimsuit model made the cut because she’s not nearly as hot as the rest, but she’d still be the hottest girlfriend you’d ever have.  She’s being compared to her peers.

Beilein is pushing Michigan back to an elite peer level now, and thus it will be normal for his game plan to be scrutinized for its deficiencies, and to do so is no indictment of any Michigan fan’s desire to have him as the coach, we just always want to see improvement.