By the numbers: What's wrong with Michigan's offense?

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I wonder if this team should put more emphasis on offensive rebounding-something Beilein has not done in the past but this team is quite abit different.

Teske will crash and does a good job of tap outs. It would be interesting to see if they start trying to crash from other positions.

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Respectfully, I think we need a bigger sample size to judge the offense in context. While I agree that we’re not going to be a great offense–we weren’t last year, and the personnel is less suited to that this year–I think analyzing numbers from two games is skewed. As just one example of this, our returning wings, Matthews, Poole and Livers, shot 33.3% from 3 last year on a large sample size of 357 such shots, and 62.7% from the line on 220 such shots–in the first two games, that trio is shooting 16.7% from 3 and 55% from the line. With nothing changed other than a reversion to last year’s numbers for those three guys (no improvement), that’s almost 14 points combined in the first two games–still not good numbers, but way less ominous than we have now (over a point per possession each game).

I’d love to revisit this after South Carolina. By then, we’ll have 10 games in, 6 against power conference schools, and many more reps against the types of defenses we’ll see in the Big Ten, and we’ll see where we are. In that regard, it’s also worth noting that last year’s team, in its first 5 games against DI opponents (3 of which (North Florida, Central Michigan and Southern Mississippi) were bad, 1 of which (VCU) was mediocre, and 1 of which (LSU) was decent but bad defensively), we were shooting under 30% from 3 (38-135–28.1%) before going 36.2% against a much tougher schedule thereafter.


No data to back this up, but feel like most Beilein teams succeed with two primary offensive options and then a third “residual” option. Difficult to have 3 alphas in low possession games. Conventional wisdom would say matthews/poole as the first two options with Iggy best suited in that GR3 type roll. For whatever reason, Poole struggling to fit into the flow. Has to figure out how to mesh and assert himself and get up more than 5 shots a game. Irvin drove me crazy with his inefficient 4-14 games, but I’d take that in a heart beat for Poole over 5 attempts. I’ll probably be screaming at him later in the year when he’s 4-14 and say they need to get Iggy the ball more.

I by no means intended to imply that Michigan will shoot this poorly and only score .9 PPP all season. I still think the fact that the struggled this much against poor teams is worth discussing.

I agree that we’ll be following this trend throughout the year, but when you run a site that only talks about Michigan hoops you gotta stick to what’s in front of you.

I think as Michigan’s offense will improve, a few of those items at the end of the piece will happen. Especially in regards to Poole and Iggy’s development and integration in the offense.


I think with Poole it has more to do with the new position more than anything. He’s also just sort of drifted out of games for whatever reason. It is a big transition from playing an 8 minute shift off the bench to playing 30 minutes per night.

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Don’t get me wrong, Dylan–I love this site and the content you provide. My post was more intended to apply to those (not you) who might see the first few games as cause for panic rather than concern. We might get there, but that’s off in the future.

This was just a great article Dylan. Well researched and full of relevant content.

To me the lack of transition threes is something we don’t have the manpower to replicate from last year.

It’s always difficult to score in the half court offense, and this is just exacerbated by the loss of Moe and Simpson’s off the dribble ineptitude.

situation doesn’t seem that bad to me. the big thing that jumps out is that there is a true freshman who can score 15 points in the key 5 minutes of the second game of his career. He’s not going to be the #3 option, he’s going to be the #1 option. Matthews is a solid #2. They just need to find one guy each game who is making threes. Given that Iggy will encounter more resistance in the paint in the big 10, offensive rebounding is going to be an opportunity for success.

I don’t think Iggy can be a #1 option, at least not yet. Once teams scout him better and have more video, they are going to load up on his drives, as he is primarily looking create for himself at this point in his development. Not saying he won’t improve to some extent later on this season, and certainly not w/r/t future years, but he is kind of just a bucket-getter right now; not a true playmaker where he can create for himself AND others.

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Maybe some stats guy can look up previous hot starts by UM freshmen? There are a lot of super good players who haven’t been this ready on Day 1.

Hey @umhoops, curious about the Synergy play types, especially given the following statistic from your piece: " Michigan guards and wings have scored 0 points on 8 plays ended by the ball screen handler and 0 points on 5 isolation plays." In this highlight video from the HC game it would seem to me that the baskets at the 1:57, 3:01, 4:24, and 4:34 marks were all a form of isolation, especially the one at 4:24 by Iggy. I realize the scoring player had a head start in the first, second, and fourth clips, but is it possible that the Synergy play types aren’t as defined as one would expect? I assume the 1st, 2nd, and 4th clips are classified as “assisted baskets,” but a layman’s person wouldn’t really consider those as such. The third I am interested in especially; I assume this is a transition basket, but it was created by isolation by almost any definition.

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Synergy numbers definitely aren’t always perfect, but they can give a good big picture view. I used those along with the crazy high rate of assisted field goals to try to illustrate how little of Michigan’s offense has been sort of individual creation.

I didn’t watch that whole highlight, but what you are getting at is probably the difference between a spot up possession and an isolation possession.

Here are Synergy’s definitions of some of the main play types:

Spot Up
When the possession ending event is a catch and shoot or catch and drive play. Spot-up players typically have a defender closing out on them during a defensive rotation and the spot-up player has the option of shooting the ball before the defender gets to them, letting the defender fly by and then shooting or driving, or they can use the defender’s forward motion against them and drive to the basket. This situation also occurs during an off screen play. Therefore, if there was no screen, we then log the play as a spot-up. Other times spot-up players seem to simply get open, perhaps because their defender sagged towards the basket or simply went to sleep. In this case, the offensive player still has the option to shoot or drive.

When the possession ending event is created during a “one on one” matchup. The defender needs to be set and have all of his defensive options at the initiation of the play. If the defender is closing out on an offensive player such as in a spot up situation or an off screen situation and cannot get “whole” (on balance and set to defend), then it is not an Isolation play.

Pick and Roll Ball Handler
A screen is set on the ball handler’s defender out on the perimeter. The offensive player can use the screen or go away from it and as long as the play yields a possession ending event, it is tagged as a pick and roll. It is important to note that pick and rolls frequently cause the defense to rotate resulting in ball movement with spot-ups, cuts or pick and pop/pick and rolls. These situations are defined in the Synergy system according to the ultimate play types that occur, but are also credited back to the ball handler as long as the defense never gets “whole” (in position to defend all 5 players). The ball handler is credited using our “defense commits” categories and displays such as “derived offense.” Pick and rolls also cause switches which can result in mismatches in the post or out on the perimeter (isolations). These plays are not credited back to the ball handler and are handled by the post-up and isolation play type categories only.

When the possession ending event comes before the defense sets following a possession change and a transition from one end of the court to the other. Unlike some other fastbreak definitions, Synergy’s definition allows for a considerable period of time to pass before the possession ends – for example the center can trail down the floor after all the other transition options have been explored and if his defender is back guarding the paint and so is open to shoot a perimeter shot, then it is still logged as a transition. It can also include press breaks as the ball is quickly moved from the back court to the front court.

If you want to give me the game time stamps from each play I can go back in and look at how they were categorized.

Given those definitions, I am almost positive the 1st, 2nd, and 4th clips I highlighted were categorized as “spot-ups.” The 3rd was probably transition. I, myself, would just consider that one an isolation because Iggy was the only one to handle the ball, had a defender guarding him one-on-one, who he then beat to the basket for a layup. Thanks for offering to look those up – I actually have access to a Synergy subscription, too. I guess I just hadn’t really read the definition for “spot-ups.” Also, don’t want to be checking Synergy at work :slight_smile: .

The key with spot ups is to go one level deeper to the breakdown of dribble jumper, no dribble jumper, drives to basket, etc.

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Iggy’s averaging 25.8 points per game per 40 minutes. I’ll wager that his 24 minutes per game creeps above 30 and maybe even closer to 33-34 a game very quickly.

Maybe. But man, does his one on one defense look lacking to me. He got roasted multiple times by Holy Cross, and each time was pulled at the next break.

Damn this place has some good discussion.

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Is there any chance that the low shooting percentage is related to the team’s weight lifting program? I thought that I once heard coach Beilein say that team hits the weight room particularly hard during the early part of the season. The payoff for this comes later in the season when the team is battling BIG10 opponents.