I think maybe Iggy moving Livers to 6th man role has been a catalyst for Livers more assertive play. Similar to last season DRIII going to the bench was an awakening of sorts.
I think Iggy’s confidence in general has been an eye opener for his teammates.
I think part of Michigan’s early success is the result of the overseas trip and the extra early practices. We are further ahead on the learning curve and coming together as a team. Combine this with the defensive clamp that we slap on teams and it disrupts their already struggling offense. I would expect the gap between Michigan and much of the rest of the field to narrow in the coming weeks as opponents start to figure out who they are.
Having said that, I expect Michigan to continue to improve at both ends of the court.
I’m interested to see how they do against North Carolina next week. The Villanova win looked great at the time, but their loss to Furman has me (and many others, I imagine) wondering just how good that team will be this year. Providence is solid, but Kenpom still gave Michigan a 70-something percent chance of winning in that one as well. I’m still not entirely sold that this is a top-10 team, but another great performance against a legit UNC squad (one that looked sloppy last night, but still) would make me feel a lot better about this Michigan team.
I think something that is very important is that between South Carolina and the Penn State game on January 3rd there is a 19 day stretch of all guarantee games. With an extended preseason I think that will be a huge stretch for everyone to get their legs back and be 100% going into the conference schedule.
Villanova’s slide is too bad, but I would guess they’re going to be/look much better come February, which is what will matter on Selection Sunday.
FYI, I think you meant in #4 to say that X is ranked second* in assist rate in the conference, behind Happ, but ahead of Cassius.
As usual, it is way too early to rank teams. It happens every year. Good November teams often don’t look that good in January and the reverse is true of bad or average looking November teams.
I also hope that is a prime opportunity for guys like Johns and maybe the other freshman to really get their bearings. That could be HUGE as they transition into the B10 season
Not just a stretch of three straight guarantee games, also more consistent practice time on the Sat/Sat schedule.
Among Coach Beilein’s many strengths, keeping the team fresh at the end of the season seems to be a good one. They tend to finish strong. This season will be a test with the trip to Spain factored in.
IMO, I think the strong start has to do with the personnel and returning pieces more than the Spain trip.
Michigan’s recent weak starts have generally come just because they just weren’t that good initially because the players returning weren’t good the prior year or dealt with injuries early on. The late improvements have been more anomalous (2014 team dealing with lots of early injuries, 2017 team having D Walt become a NPOY out of nowhere, 2018 team relying on a lot of new pieces and basically playing defense for the first time).
This year we have a lot of good defenders and bring back strong leaders in Charles and Xavier who were always gonna guarantee an elite defense. After that, the offense is basically playing at the reasonable Beilein floor right now. He creates top 40 offenses in his sleep and basicaly requires a disaster to not reach that (like that 2015 team).
Walton did not come out of nowhere. Early in the year he destroyed teams, such as SMU and Marquette. More than a couple opposing coaches talked about Walton being the best player on the court. More importantly Coach Beilein new Walton was the key to the season and basically begged Walton to takeover the team and look for his shot. Really demonstrated the true genius of Beilein. Once Walton accepted the responsibility, he had the coach capable of putting all the pieces together. One of the best coaching jobs I’ve seen.
He had 0 points versus Marquette.
Nobody likes saying it but the quiet key for the 2017 team was Irvin shooting his way out of alpha dog status.
I new I’d get bit by adding them since I didn’t know his stats, I only remember the blowout.
Still M had an all American caliber pg on premise and the coach to draw it out of him. Brilliant by both Coach Beilein and Walton and fascinating to watch unfold.
Here is SMU Coach talking about Walton starting around 4:45 mark
Central Arkansas coach at 2:10 mark. He knew Walton was the straw that stirred the drink
Which was also brilliant by Coach Beilein. Not Irvin’s shooting woes but the way Beilein stood beside Irvin and never wavered. I was thoroughly impressed.
I don’t disagree, but I’m not sure there was an option. Irvin has spent two and a half seasons being our highest usage player, and struggling mightily with efficiency the whole time. It took him completely hitting the skids to take the reins away, and placed in Walton’s hands (if you recall, the start of our run came with Walton posting some big numbers in rather uninspiring wins).
Irvin finally found some efficiency in a lower usage role, but I think it’s hard to categorize him being our main engine in the first place as anything other than a mistake.
Sorry - I never was a big fan of his game.
That’s not fair to Irvin or consistent with the numbers. He was not our highest usage guy as a soph until Caris and Walton went down at which point there wasn’t anyone else who could possibly be given the reins. Despite having essentially no help for the last 40% or so to the season, he was not an inefficient player by the numbers in '14-'15 (101.6 OR per Bart Torvik). Irvin was not our highest usage player as a junior until Caris went down again, and and even then, he basically split high usage with Walton (with similar efficiency), despite spending the year revoking from back surgery, which caused him to miss summer and pre-season workouts. As a senior, he started out to be our highest usage guy, but his usage numbers dipped dramatically BEFORE he hit the skids in early February (look at his usage numbers in the Indiana win right before the slump, a game where he had an efficiency rating of 160.6 and an effective field goal percentage of 63). The fact is that Walton was playing great, took over, and Irvin deferred, The ball was always in Walton’s hands unless/until he decided to get it to Irvin–the decision to make Walton the alpha was less coaching than Walton stepping up and doing what he had been urged to do for months (see Beilein’s comments from early in the year), namely, carry the team.
Walton was weird. Take away his always A+ rebounding and A+ shooting from outside and I would give him C- (or worse) in every other category necessary to be a good point guard for the first 3.5 years.
For me he went from extremely frustrating to a joy to watch. I have never seen a Senior turn it around like Walton did midway through the year. One of the things that was frustrating,of course, was believing he was very talented in high school.