Nothing But ‘Net – Week #06 – 12/03/2012 – Still Perfect

7-0. Still perfect. Seven wins and no losses. It’s a good start.

The (#3) University of Michigan men’s basketball team played two games this week, and they won both of them. On Tuesday (11/27/2012), UM beat (#18) North Carolina State 79-72 in Crisler Arena as part of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge, then on Saturday (12/01/2012), they beat Bradley 74-66 in Peoria, IL. The two wins raise UM’s record to 7-0. Oh yeah, the Big Ten and the ACC tied 6-6 in the Challenge, so the Big Ten keeps the trophy since they’re the defending champs.

Both games last week were tough, and that made sense for the NC State game, but not for the Bradley game. NC State is a good team, a Top 25 team, a team from the ACC. Bradley is not. They were lousy last season, and they’re a little better this season, but they still should have been cannon fodder for Michigan. Instead, UM let a 16-point lead almost disappear in the last 3:34 of the game. They let Bradley go on an 11-0 run in 3 minutes, but managed to stop the bleeding just long enough to run the clock out. It was scary. Sure, this was Michigan’s first true road game (the 2 games in NYC were neutral site games), and the Bradley crowd was pretty big (over 11,000) and loud, and UM played pretty well overall, but they seemed to lack the killer instinct against an overmatched opponent.

On the other hand, the win over NC State was pretty impressive. Michigan controlled the game, and once they got a decent lead, they never let NC State back into it. They did let the lead slip a little near the end, just like the Bradley game, but it’s much more understandable against a Top 25 team.

Time for some stats. First, the NC State game. Overall, Michigan shot pretty well (27-for-54 = 50.0%), but not as well as usual from 3-point range (9-for-24 = 37.5%). They got to the free-throw line a lot, and shot a good percentage: 16-for-20 = 80.0%. That was the difference in the game, since NCSU was only 6-for-9 (66.7%) from the line. Those extra 10 points made the difference. For the first time this season, UM was out-rebounded (25-31), but UM did a great job of protecting the ball, with only 6 turnovers.

The stats from the Bradley game are about the same. Michigan shot pretty well overall (26-for-53 = 49.1%), but much better from 3-point range (7-for-15 = 46.7%). Once again, they made more free throws than Bradley attempted. UM was 15-for-21 (71.4%) from the line, while Bradley was only 8-for-12 (66.7%). Those extra 7 points sure helped in an 8-point victory. Michigan won the rebounding battle this time (32-24), but had too many turnovers (13).

After 6 games of the “Matt Vogrich Experiment”, Coach Beilein finally replaced Vogrich in the starting lineup with Nik Stauskas for the Bradley game. Stauskas has played very well in every game this season coming off the bench, and Vogrich hasn’t really done much, so the change makes sense.

Looking at the individual stats, three players hit double figures in both games:

  • Trey Burke (18 vs. NCSU and 16 vs. Bradley). Trey also had a career-high 11 assists in the NC State game, for his first career double-double.
  • Glenn Robinson III (11 and 13).
  • Nik Stauskas (20 and 22). Nik was the leading scorer in both games. Each game represented a new career high. He was 4-for-7 and 4-for-5 shooting 3-pointers. He was awesome.

Two other players came close to double figures in both games:

  • Tim Hardaway Jr. (16 and 9). Tim continued to have trouble shooting from 3-point range: 1-for-9 and 1-for-2.
  • Jordan Morgan (6 and 10). Jordan did have 10 rebounds in the Bradley game, for his second career double-double.

The other (semi)starter didn’t do much:

  • Matt Vogrich (0 and 0). Matt is going to have to fight his way off the bench.

Besides Stauskas, some of the other bench players chipped in some points:

  • Mitch McGary (8 and 2). Mitch also had 5 rebounds in each game.
  • Max Bielfeldt (DNP and 2). Max didn’t play vs. NC State, but he played for 9 minutes in his hometown (Peoria) vs. Bradley. He did fine.

A few other bench players played in at least one game last week, but didn’t score:

  • Spike Albrecht – Spike did OK running the point in relief of Trey.
  • Eso Akunne – Eso didn’t play in the Bradley game.
  • Jon Horford – Jon didn’t play in the Bradley game.
  • Caris LeVert – Caris didn’t play in the NCSU game. In fact, it looked as if he was going to be redshirted this season, but I guess that’s not the case any more.

Blake McLimans and Corey Person didn’t play in either game. Josh Bartelstein is out for the next 6 weeks after surgery on his ankle, which was injured in the regular season opener vs. Slippery Rock.

This Week

Michigan has two games this week, both at home. On Tuesday (12/04/2012, 8:30 p.m., BTN), Michigan plays Western Michigan, then on Saturday (12/08/2012, 12:00 p.m., CBS), they play Arkansas.

WMU is pretty good this year. They’re 6-1, and they’ve beaten a couple pretty good teams: South Florida (on the road) and Oakland. Their only loss was in their opener at Cornell. Arkansas is 3-3, and they’re down a little from last season, but they still managed to beat Michigan at their place last season, so this is a revenge game on national TV. I expect both games to be exciting and hard-fought, but I expect Michigan to win both of these games.

Check back next week to see what happened, and why.

Go Blue!

Nothing But ‘Net – Week #05 – 11/26/2012 – NIT Season Tip-Off Champions!

Happy Thanksgiving! I hope you all had a great Thanksgiving. The basketball team sure did.

The (#4) University of Michigan men’s basketball team played two games this week in the NIT Season Tip-Off tournament, both in Madison Square Garden in New York City, and they won both of them. On Wednesday (11/21/2012), UM beat Pittsburgh 67-62, then on Friday (11/23/2012), they beat Kansas State 71-57. The two wins raise UM’s record to 5-0, but more importantly, they give Michigan the NIT Season Tip-Off championship. This is the first preseason tournament that Michigan has won since 1997.

After playing “cupcakes” in their first 3 games, UM played 2 tough, aggressive, talented teams in NYC. The first 3 games didn’t tell us much about this season’s team, but these 2 games sure did. First of all, they told us that Michigan has a scrappy team that doesn’t give up. They also told us that Michigan has a lot of weapons, and that Coach Beilein isn’t afraid to use them. But most importantly, these 2 games showed us that UM can “win ugly”. In the first 3 games, the 3-pointers fell like rain, and Michigan looked great. In the 2 games in NYC, the 3-pointers did not fall, and Michigan looked vulnerable. However, once it became apparent that the 3-pointers weren’t going to fall, Michigan switched to an inside game, and that worked just fine. It’s nice to have so many options.

We didn’t learn too much from the stats from the first 3 games, but we can learn a lot from the stats from these games. First, let’s look at the stats for the Pittsburgh game. Michigan shot pretty well overall (23-for-50 = 46.0%), but they were terrible from 3-point range (3-for-17 = 17.6%). They did fine from the line (18-for-22 = 81.8%), and they out-rebounded Pitt (37-26) and had few turnovers (9). They won the game at the free-throw line, where they scored 18 points to Pitt’s 6.

The stats from the KSU game are a little different. UM shot better overall (29-for-56 = 51.8%), and they shot a little better from 3-point range (4-for-12 = 33.3%), but they didn’t shoot as well from the free-throw line (9-for-13 = 69.2%). They still won the rebounding battle (42-30), and they still had low turnovers (9). In this game, they won with rebounding and defense, holding KSU to 36.7% (22-for-60) overall shooting.

Looking at the individual stats, three players hit double figures in both games:

  • Trey Burke (17 vs. Pitt and 10 vs. KSU). Trey made the All-Tournament team.
  • Tim Hardaway Jr. (16 and 23). Tim was the tournament MVP, despite shooting a combined 2-for-10 from 3-point range.
  • Nik Stauskas (15 and 10). Why isn’t Nik starting?

One player came close to double figures in both games:

  • Glenn Robinson III (13 and 9). GRIII had 12 rebounds vs. KSU, but also shot poorly from 3-point range (1-for-5 combined).

The other 2 starters didn’t do much:

  • Jordan Morgan (4 and 0). Jordan did have 8 rebounds in the Pitt game.
  • Matt Vogrich (0 and 2). Why is Matt still starting? He’s a great kid, a nice guy, a good leader, but he’s just not doing much when he’s on the floor.

Besides Stauskas, some of the other bench players chipped in some points:

  • Mitch McGary (2 and 6). Mitch provided some much-needed heft underneath in both games.
  • Spike Albrecht (0 and 3). Spike did OK running the point in relief of Trey.
  • Eso Akunne (0 and 2). Eso showed some flashes of brilliance out there, but most of the time he just ran up and down the floor.
  • Jon Horford (0 and 6). Jon looked a little lost out there.

 

Max Bielfeldt didn’t play in the Pitt game, and played but didn’t score in the KSU game. Blake McLimans and Corey Person didn’t play in either game, and neither did Josh Bartelstein, but Josh didn’t play due to an ankle injury he suffered in the regular season opener vs. Slippery Rock.

This Week

Michigan has two games this week, one at home and one on the road. On Tuesday (11/27/2012, 7:30 p.m., ESPN), Michigan plays (#16) North Carolina State in Crisler Arena, as part of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge, then on Saturday (12/01/2012, 4:00 p.m. EST, No TV), they play at Bradley, in beautiful Peoria, IL.

NC State (3-1) is a very good team, and this will be a great test for Michigan. On the other hand, Bradley isn’t very good, but it’s tough to win on the road against anyone. Still, I expect Michigan to win both of these games.

Check back next week to see what happened, and why.

Go Blue!

Nothing But ‘Net – Week #04 – 11/19/2012 – NIT Season Tip-Off Regional Action

The (#5) University of Michigan men’s basketball team played two games this week in the NIT Season Tip-Off tournament, both in Crisler Arena, and they won both of them easily. On Monday (11/12/2012), UM beat IUPUI 91-54, then on Tuesday (11/13/2012), they beat Cleveland State 77-47. The two wins raise UM’s record to 3-0, but more importantly, they send Michigan to Madison Square Garden in New York City next week for the championship round of the NIT Season Tip-Off.

Michigan had an easy time in both games, and Coach Beilein got to play lots of players and try lots of combinations. One thing is becoming clear: Michigan has a lot of weapons this season. When one player is having an “off” night or getting in foul trouble, there are a couple good subs available on the bench. This is a big improvement on past seasons. The first challenge, of course, is figuring out if a given player is just having a momentary problem, or if he should be replaced. The next challenge is figuring out who should replace him, if there are several choices. The final challenge is figuring out which combinations of players work the best together.

Since both games were blowouts, I’m not going to dive very deeply into the team stats. If you want to check them out, they’re here: IUPUI and CSU. Let’s just say that UM shot well overall (around 60%) in both games, shot very well from 3-point range in the IUPUI game (61.9%) and OK in the CSU game (37.5%), owned the boards (42 and 45 rebounds), and kept their turnovers down to a reasonable level (13 and 10).

The interesting stats are the individual stats. Several players had good games scoring, and not just the starters. Three players hit double figures in both games:

Two players came close to double figures in both games:

The lone starter who didn’t have a good week scoring was Matt Vogrich, with 0 and 2. At this rate, Stauskas could soon replace Vogrich in the starting lineup.

Besides Stauskas, the other bench players all chipped in some points (28 and 29 points total):

Only Josh Bartelstein (0 and DNP) was shut out.

The last few seasons, Michigan has often been out-rebounded, but not this season. No one player had more than 7 rebounds last week, but many players had more than one in each game:

  • Robinson (6 and 7)
  • Morgan (5 and 2)
  • Burke (3 and 3)
  • Hardaway (7 and 6)
  • Vogrich (2 and 3)
  • McGary (5 and 9)
  • Stauskas (2 and 6)
  • Bielfeldt (6 and 5)

Pay attention to that last name: Bielfeldt had 6 rebounds in 4 minutes in the IUPUI game, and 5 rebounds in 7 minutes in the CSU game. That’s impressive.

This Week

Michigan has two games this week, both part of the NIT Season Tip-Off in Madison Square Garden (NYC). On Wednesday (11/21/2012, 9:30 p.m., ESPN2), Michigan plays one of the semifinal games vs. Pittsburgh, then on Friday (11/23/2012, TBD, ESPN), they play either the consolation game (2:30 p.m.) or the championship game (4:30 p.m.) vs. the winner/loser of the other semifinal game between Kansas State and Delaware. Michigan, Pittsburgh, and Kansas State all hosted “regionals”, and they were expected to get to the championship round in NYC, but the 4th regional host (Virginia) lost to Delaware!

Michigan is the only ranked team in the tournament, and they’re the #1 seed, so they are expected to win both games and the championship. The way UM has been playing so far, they should be able to handle Pittsburgh and Kansas State/Delaware.

Check back next week to see what happened, and why.

Go Blue!

Nothing But ‘Net – Week #03 – 11/12/2012 – A Couple Of Cupcakes

The (#5) University of Michigan men’s basketball team played two games this week. They played their second (of two) exhibition games, then they played their first “real” game. On Monday (11/05/2012) evening, UM beat Saginaw Valley State 76-48 in an exhibition game, then on Friday (11/09/2012), they beat Slippery Rock 100-62. Both games were in Crisler Arena. The win in their first regular season game gives UM a record of 1-0.

Both games were against “cupcakes”, and Michigan took care of business and beat two teams that they should beat easily. SVSU was only a little bit better than Northern Michigan, with some good 3-point shooters, but they were no match for Michigan. Even though Slippery Rock is a Division II school, they were pretty talented and dangerous. They played UM even for the first 9 minutes, trailing by only 3 points (20-17), before UM started pulling away. Once Michigan opened a decent lead, they never looked back, extending the lead to as many as 42 points.

So, what can we learn from 2 blowouts against overmatched opponents? We can see which combinations of players seem to play the best together, we can look for individual improvements from last season, and we can get a good first look at the freshmen. So far, everything looks good, but we’ll learn a lot more when the level of competition gets cranked up.

You want stats? I’ve got stats. As a team, Michigan shot very well overall in both games, especially from 3-point range. In the SVSU game, UM shot 56.9% (29-for-51) overall, and 40.7% (11-for-27) from distance. They did even better in the Slippery Rock game: 57.6% (38-for-66) overall, and 63.2% (12-for-19) from 3-point range. 63.2% is the highest percentage I can ever remember seeing by either Michigan or an opponent. Let’s just ignore free-throw shooting, OK? It was miserable: 50.0% (7-for-14) vs. SVSU, and 63.2% (12-for-19) vs. Slippery Rock. Yeah, UM hit the same percentage from 3-point range as they did from the free-throw line. Ugh.

Individually, only 2 players hit double figures in both games: Trey Burke (16 and 21 points) and Glenn Robinson III (17 and 10). Tim Hardaway Jr. had a monster game (25 points and 10 rebounds, for a double-double) vs. Slippery Rock, but he only had 5 points in the SVSU game. The other 2 starters (Jordan Morgan and Matt Vogrich) chipped in some points: Morgan had 7 and 4, and Vogrich had 8 in both games.

Since both games were blowouts, Coach Beilein got to clear his bench, and everyone got to play. Actually, 2 players only played in one of the games each. After missing both exhibition games with a minor knee injury, Jon Horford saw his first action of the season in the Slippery Rock game, and he looked good. He had 4 points in only 8 minutes of action, but he also had an assist, a blocked shot, and a rebound. The other player who only played in one game was Caris LeVert. He played 12 minutes in the SVSU game, but didn’t score. He didn’t play in the Slippery Rock game, because he is probably going to be redshirted this season. Given the depth on this season’s team, he probably wouldn’t have gotten to play very much, so a redshirt season is a good idea.

Even though Coach Beilein got to play everyone, it is pretty obvious which bench players are going to be part of the regular rotation, and which ones are only going to play in “garbage time”. The first 2 players off the bench in all 3 games have been Nik Stauskas and Mitch McGary, with Spike Albrecht spelling Trey Burke. It also looks like Jon Horford and Blake McLimans will be part of the regular mix. That’s 10 deep, which is a little more bench support than Beilein is used to using. That leaves 4 “garbage time” players: Max Bielfeldt, Josh Bartelstein, Eso Akunne, and Corey Person. So, how did these guys do this week? Not bad, overall. For the “mainstream” subs, Stauskas had 8 and 7 points, McGary had 6 and 9, Albrecht had 2 and 2, Horford had 4 points (he didn’t play in the SVSU game), and McLimans had 3 and 3. For the “garbage time” subs, Bielfeldt had 0 and 2 (but his tip-in got UM to 100), Bartelstein had 0 and 0, Akunne had 2 and 5, and Person had 2 and 0. In total, UM got 23 bench points vs. SVSU and 32 bench points vs. Slippery Rock, which is very encouraging.

This Week

Michigan has two games this week, both at home. On Monday (11/12/2012, 9:00 p.m., ESPNU), Michigan plays their first round game in the NIT Season Tip-Off tournament, against IUPUI (Indiana University – Purdue University – Indianapolis), then on Tuesday (11/13/2012, 8:00 p.m., ESPN2), they play the second round game, against either the winner or the loser of the game (in Crisler) on Monday night between Cleveland State and Bowling Green. As I mentioned in my Season Preview, the NIT Season Tip-Off is different from most (all?) other preseason “destination” tournaments since the “host” teams aren’t guaranteed a spot in the championship game. The winner of each of the 4 “regionals” goes on to New York City during Thanksgiving week. So, UM needs to win both games this week to advance.

Come on down to the newly renovated Crisler Arena to check out this season’s edition of Michigan Basketball, and stop by sections 209/210 to say hi to the friendly usher.

Go Blue!