Comparing Michigan's Offenses Last 3 Years

Michigan has had pretty good offenses the last years (kenpom ranked 19, 1, 1), and a look at some numbers provides some interesting and perhaps surprising results:

TS% - 56%
% shots at rim - 24%
fg% at rim - 70%
% shots 2pt J - 32%
fg% 2 pt J - 41%
% shots 3pt J - 44%
fg% 3 pt J - 35%
FTA/FGA - 28%
FT% - 72%
ORB% - 28%
TO% - 18%

TS% - 57%
% shots at rim - 28%
fg% at rim - 72%
% shots 2pt J - 38%
fg% 2 pt J - 40%
% shots 3pt J - 34%
fg% 3 pt J - 39%
FTA/FGA - 28%
FT% - 70%
ORB% - 33%
TO% - 15%

TS% - 58%
% shots at rim - 24%
fg% at rim - 76%
% shots 2pt J - 37%
fg% 2 pt J - 38%
% shots 3pt J - 40%
fg% 3 pt J - 40%
FTA/FGA - 35%
FT% - 76%
ORB% - 29%
TO% - 15%

A few notes:
-We weren’t any better getting to the FT line in 2013 than in 2012, which surprised me, but we were better in 2014 and made more once we got there.
-We shot more 2 pt jumpers in 2013, the shot that is statistically the worst option, and at a worse %.
-We got to the rim more in 2013, but 2014 and 2012 were the same (although we shot better than in 2014)
-We rebounded better in 2013
-We turned the ball over significantly more in 2012

Takeaways for 2014-15:
-Don’t turn the ball over! Derrick Walton is going to be key in this regard. He had a significantly higher TO% than Nik or Caris (20% v. 14% + 15%) and is going to have the ball in his hands a lot more, and Caris will have to keep his % low with added playmaking responsibility, and the same will go for Zak and Chatman. Trey went from 19% to 13% (!) from freshman to sophmore year, which is the kind of trend I’m looking for from Walton. After looking at these numbers and thinking of our roster, I think the single biggest predictor of how good our offense will be is TO%.
-Shooting well is key for us. Even when we get to the rim, we don’t do it all that much.
-We need Walton and Caris to get to the FT line. Nik was much better than Trey or Tim at getting to the line, and Walton and Caris have shown some of that ability, especially Derrick, but both can step it up.
-A few extra rebounds a game would be a good, and perhaps attainable goal, unless we attribute 2013’s uptick solely to McGary and don’t think anyone on the current roster could reach that. But perhaps Doyle or Donnal could use those couple extra inches compared to Morgan to get there.

Great post.

In regards to rebounding I am hoping for big things from Doyle, improvement from Zak and hopefully 5 a game or so from Chatman. Think it can be a decent rebounding team.

Defense biggest worry in my opinion. Offense: don’t forsee any problems.

I agree that Doyle could make a difference, especially on the offensive rebounding end, with his size and length advantage over Morgan. And as we’ve seen, Walton and LeVert are good rebounders for their positions, and Chatman/Wilson could be better at the 4 than GRIII was. In my view, it might be feasible to go up a bit in OR%.

I don’t think there’s much chance we’re worse than last year on D – I think it was the worst defense JB has ever had in the Kenpom era – and we’ll probably be more solid on the perimeter. On the other hand, I doubt we’ll be great on that end. The 40-60 range in kenpom seems like a reasonable goal. I might try to look at some statsheet numbers on the defensive side.

I would be pleasantly surprised if we were in the 40-60 range on D. JB has never fielded a defense higher than #33 at the high major level. He actually fielded a team at WVU that was #112, which is worse than last year. All that to say I think you might be setting yourself up for disappointment if you’re expecting 40-60 with so much youth and inexperience in the front court. History has dictated that JB teams are simply not very good on that end of the court.

Here are the kenpom defense numbers for Michigan, starting last year and going backward: 109, 48, 61, 37, 58, 69, 100. So in the five years before last year (excluding JB’s first year, which I think is kind of an outlier), the range was 37-69 and the average was 55. Some of those teams were pretty young, too, and some much less athletic than this year’s will be. I also think last year we were hurt and JMo’s value went down by the charge/block thing, which I believe is reverting to the way it was before, and in any event we’ll have more time to adjust to if it’s not. I think 40-60 is a completely “reasonable goal” - and I stated it as a goal, not an expectation. I certainly won’t be shocked if the actual number is more in the 60-80 range. (Which was the #33 team, by the way?)

The West Virginia teams did have somewhat lower kenpom numbers, in the 70-100 range mostly, but they played a lot more 1-3-1 and traded more buckets for steals/TOs (their steal % was consistently a few points higher than UM’s has been), which I don’t think is reflected in the KP AdjD number.

My mistake on #33, 37 is correct. In any event I just don’t understand the inclination to exclude certain years (which just happen to be very bad) from the analysis because it’s an “outlier”. The fact that JB fielded a team with a #109 defense 7 years into the job would suggest that it isn’t, and even more so by the fact JB has fielded teams that are sub 100 in 4 of the last 11 seasons. When you field a horrible defense more than 1/3 of the time it’s not an outlier in my view, it’s simply what you are. We can attempt to rationalize all we want as to why, but the fact remains that the man simply doesn’t field good defensive teams, and for the most part JB teams range from below average - horrible on the defensive end. Certain people may not like it, but it is what it is.

  1. It’s not an “inclination to exclude certain years” - it’s a suggestion that excluding the first year might be reasonable in evaluating expectations for the future. We also won 10 games that year have have won less than 21 only once since then. I think it’s pretty safe to say JB’s first year here was an outlier. Tom Izzo went to the NIT the first two years and hasn’t since, and it would be reasonable for someone to suggest that saying those first two years were outliers as opposed to Izzo misses the tourney more than 10% of the time.

  2. That team that JB fielded 7 years into the job won the B1G by three games and went to the Eilte 8, so some of us are willing to try to avoid seeing everything in the worst possible light.

  3. In 5 of the last 6 years, JB has fielded a defense that is in the 80th percentile or better in kenpom’s adjusted defense rank. I don’t view him as fielding great defensive teams, but “for the most part JB teams range from below average - horrible on the defensive end” is not “what it is,” some unassailable fact, even if certain people might not like that. In my view, he is an outstanding offensive coach who fields pretty good to middling defenses, with occasional poorer years mixed in.

I don’t have any more time for now, though, so we’ll just have to disagree it seems. I’ll read any response but won’t reply, FWIW. I’ll try to have a post to analyze some of the trends in the last few years as to defense, so that’ll provide more opportunity to look at some numbers.

Interesting how this thread was about offensive prowess and now has become a debate over whether Beilein’s defenses are horrible.

UMHoopsFan, I’m going to play somewhat of a devil’s advocate here. I still hope that Beilein can improve defensively, but I don’t think 2014-2015 is the year it happens.

You cite Kenpom Adj. D efficiency. That’s fine, but do remember that many of those numbers are padded by the non-conference schedule (as are all general def. eff. numbers on kenpom).

If you look at just the B1G Def. Eff. numbers, here is how Beilein’s Michigan team stacks up from 2008 onward: 9, 7, 5, 7, 4, 6, 10.

Obviously the national numbers stack up relatively favorably against the 330+ D1 teams in kenpom to be average/above average. This will at some point come down to a distinction based on what pool of teams you are considering.

I would personally say that Beilein has never in my opinion fielded an “elite” defense. I also don’t personally believe Beilein needs to reach that level to continue the success he has shown at Michigan. I do think however, that one way Michigan’s success could continue is if we can pair Beilein’s consistently elite offense with at least an average B1G defense if not above average.

Edit: I will also say that I did like the initial post and enjoyed reading it, very solid Fan.

So if we’re going to use the percentile metric, last year’s D would’ve been roughly withint the top third in the country. Does anybody in their right mind actually believe that last year’s defense was that good? To call last year’s defense anything but horrible is misguided in my view.

We field “pretty good to middling defenses”…geez the standards are low these days.

That being said, JB has put out elite offense the last 2 years, and it is able to compensate for the bad D, but in order to get to a championship level we simply need to have an average defense.

With regards to the offense, I think the key is FTA/FG ratio…in other words the ability to manufacture easy points…I think this was instrumental in us being so efficient last year. I think we may be decent in that regard this year if Ricky is going up strong and MAAR proves he can translate his Italy tour to real competition. I expect Walton to be a FT machine this year.

I agree with DingoBlue and MattD in that we have to compare our defense to the defense of comparable teams, not all of Division I basketball with teams like Nicholls State, Coppin State, etc. With that said, even using that subset of teams, I disagree with MattD that we’ve been “below average - horrible”. I’d be happy to crunch some numbers…what should we use - top 1/3 (11 of 33) conferences?

It’s no secret that Beilein is a master of offense.

Of the Four Factors, per kempom, “eFG% is easily the most important factor, followed by TO%, OR%, and FTRate.” In general, on the defensive end, we’ve been great at opponents’ FTRate, decent at opponents’ OR%, and average to bad at opponents’ TO% and eFG%, the two most important of the four factors of winning. Generally, it’s opposite on the offensive end. So what we’re good at offensively, we’re bad at preventing defensively, and vice versa.

Well, just looking at how we stack up per Dingo’s reference to our standing in the B10, we’ve had years of 9, 7, 5, 7, 4, 6, 10 - essentially 2 horrible years, 2 below average years, 2 average years, and one slightly above average year with respect to our standing to the rest of the B10. Just off the sample size alone, it is more likely for us to field a below average - horrible defensive team than any other scenario. I’m sure it would be uglier if we started to account for the ACC/Big East, etc.

Just a quick note: I think the B1G numbers prove my point. Taking out JB’s 1st year, we’ve been in the top half of the B1G half the time, and worse than 7th only once. And every power conference team has the nonconference affecting their #s (which are weighted based on strength of competition, I think). The B1G has been the best conference in hoops the last few years and includes some coaches who hang their hat on D, like Matta, Izzo, and to some extent Ryan and Tubby before he left. Of course I’d like UM to be in the top 20 in defense in the country and top 3 in the conference every year, but being able to see nuance, something between horrible and great, allows accurate analysis. JB’s defenses teams have been average in the B1G, sometimes a little better, sometimes a little worse. That’s generally what I expect going forward, defenses in the 4-7 range in the B1G (or maybe 4-8 with the expansion), with occasional poorer years.

Overall, seeing the numbers in more contexts - in the B1G, in “power conferences,” with teams in the top 25 offenses, overall, etc. - is most useful, in my opinion.

As for the FT%, I think TO% is the key for a JB offense. We had the #1 offense a couple years ago without getting to the line much at all. But I do think that being better getting to the line or getting a few more offensive boards can really elevate the team or make up for a bit poorer shooting/shot creation.

Well, if we’re going to place subjective restrictions, I’ll take my crack at it. Taking out JB’s best year (4th in conference), UM was on the bottom half of the B10 4 out of 6 seasons, so that’s not average with an occasional year of below average. That is below average as the standard, and average as the exception, especially when you consider that JB’s really bad seasons are just that…really bad to the extent of 9th and 10th in the conference. The emperical data suggest that JB coached teams are much more likely to be really bad as opposed to slightly above average. The silver lining in this is that JB appears to be targeting a different type of player for future classes, which I think may help us out in that regard.

So here’s the question that I’ve been struggling with for years regarding Beilein’s teams on the defensive end…it’s obvious that his teams are at best average defensively. This is nothing new over the course of his very long career. Why hasn’t he taken steps to hire an assistant coach who is a defensive specialist? He’s reshuffled his staff in the past, but a defensive mind has never seemed like a priority for him. Thoughts?

MattD, you are of course welcome to be “subjective” and see everything in the worst possible light - for instance, arbitrarily taking out JB’s best year - but that’s not what I like to do. I suggested it can be wise to see if a coach’s first year is an outlier and gave an example of how that can be useful.

Even including JB’s first year, his average defensive standing in the B1G is 6.8 and the median is seven. He’s produced generally average defenses - technically, a smidge below average, if it makes you happy - sometimes a little worse, sometimes a little better. Again, if you choose to see this era of Michigan basketball as negatively as possible, that is your right, but it doesn’t seem fun to me. I’m really done though this time - I got sucked back in! - so have a good weekend.

eddieben - I think there are a couple factors. First, JB seems to place an emphasis on offensive ability in terms of recruiting and playing time, sometimes at the expense of defense. I do think part of the reason the defense has trended upward, last year notwithstanding, is that he’s been able to get players who meet his offensive criteria and are big and athletic. Aaron Craft and Amir Williams aren’t going to be priorities for JB even though they might be good defenders. You have to prioritize things. Second, part of it is strategy, he doesn’t like to foul, a strategy which hasn’t always served us well in the B1G where few fouls are called but probably has in the NCAA tourney. Third, we’ve been very young lately, which probably doesn’t help. I’m not sure that JB wants to change much of this.

I don’t see anything in the worst possible light, I just choose not to support hyperbole at every possible opportunity. I like brutal balance. Im of the view that a better analysis involves reporting the facts for what they are without limitations subject to editing based on one’s preference. How you interpret the data is always subjective, but when it gets to the point where we are literally discounting entire seasons to promote a particular viewpoint, we’ve left reality and entered fantasyland. You originally contended that JB teams field “pretty good to middling defenses” - if that is your interpretation then im good with that, but from a common understanding of the terms “pretty good” withinThe context of UMs standing within the B10, that simply isn’t true. 6.8/7 isn’t in the top half so it can’t be “pretty good” in a normal sense…middling maybe, depending upon how narrow/loose the interpretation of the word.

Just thought about this - the 6.8/7 is even worse considering the fact that NEB was recently added making the big ten a smaller conference the first 3-4 years

I don’t understand why we’re borderline bickering over the defense.

We’re a successful program under Beilein. And everyone knows it’s shouldered mostly on the offense and turnover margin.

Our team is morphing constantly. We’ve had walkons playing. We’ve had 6’3" PF’s. We’ve had lots of guys labeled as “shooters.” We’ve played the 1-3-1. We’ve played M2M. We’ve gotten guys like Stu, Spike, and a D-3 transfer. We’ve gotten guys like Chatmas, GRIII, and McGary.

But we’ve always been an “offensive/TO minded” team.

IMO we won’t be a top defensive team with the level of emphasis put on ball skills at the SG and PF positions. I also don’t care. Beilein can do whatever the heck he wants.

Beileins defenses to date haven’t been anything to write home about. That’s partly due to his offensive 4 out 1 in offensive scheme resulting in undersized 4’s, and part of that is their recruiting philosophy, players like Stauskus just aren’t gonna be good defensive players.

I do think there is some room for optimism going into the future. Firstly, Teske is going to be a dominant defensive center, I doubt we ever see a sub 100 level defense with him. Secondly, the recruits that meet the staffs offensive requirements, but are also athletic enough to be plus defenders, are generally the 5 star ranked kids. If Beilein and co. are able to start to land some of those 5 star talents they’re in on, they’ll start to field better defensive teams. You can also see Beilein realizing the need to improve his defense in recruiting.

I don’t necessarily think they’re gonna start fielding elite top 10 defenses, but with Teske already in the fold, if they’re able to starting bringing in some of these high ranked kids, like a Thornton, they could get to the point where they’re a top 20-40 defense, coupled with what should be a top 10 offense.