Game 25: Michigan at Penn State Recap

Poole has been disappointing in Big 10 play. Down to 32% on 3’s in conference games and it’s 28% since Jan. Conference play started. He also has a negative assist to TO ratio in league play.

I think a lot of people were hoping he would have a huge Stauskas or LeVert like jump as a sophomore but he’s been a downgrade from Rahkman from last year. Rank was much steadier and more reliable and his assist to TO ratio blows Poole’s out of the water.

I think I have given up on us becoming a decent transition team. We just don’t execute the fast break well at all and don’t capitalize on what should be scoring opportunities.

Stevens had a nice game, but still MISSED 14 FGs and 5 FTs. Dread was the X factor tonight. He stepped up big time.

Amazing that this was M worst defensive performance ( 1.13 ) ppp, and PSU still MISSED 13 FTs.

Transition offense is just in a funk right now and puts extreme pressure on a team that is vulnerable to good half court defensive opponent efforts.

Teske and Simpson both were off tonight and it’s hard to win like that. Need to regroup and get Maryland.

Anyone else think our ball movement just isn’t great on offense?

I can’t count the number of times we have a guy completely open for a 3 and whoever has the ball just either ignores it or is too focused on sizing up their defender to notice it. I think Livers has been the biggest victim of this. Feels like he’s open so much on the perimeter and his teammates never find him the ball.

Same goes for guys driving in the lane. There were a couple of times yesterday that Simpson got into the lane and missed swooping layups instead of kicking it out to an open Poole for a spot up 3.

I don’t know if this is a legitimate observation or just frustration with our offense and me finding something to complain about.


There is really only one player who sees the floor well (Simpson) and teams can defend him in ways that takes away some of his passing lanes, etc. because of his lack of shooting.

Just venting here…we sucked last night. X played badly, can’t shoot, and is having turnover issues, Poole is being defended well and it affects his shot, our bench is really just Livers, Iggy isn’t that athletic, and PSU’s press hurt us - why didn’t we attack it. JB’s tech didn’t cost us the game but the 3 points PSU got from the tech hurt later in the game when we were down 4-5pt. We need to play better on the road.

OK - I feel better, we’ll get back on track on Saturday.

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Ditto. All of it. I still believe.

X had a really rough first half. Not just the shooting (and a couple of those seemed agonizingly close to going down), but the TOs - including two that turned transition opportunities for us into the same for PSU.

Matthews looked great, maybe he’s turned a corner.

I actually thought Poole played pretty well except for his shooting, going 6-8 on 2s, 4 assists to 2 TOs. You could see his playmaking ability, getting into the lane and feeding Matthews for an open 3, for instance. The poor shooting though really hurt. Most seemed like decent looks to me, though I’d have to go back and look.

The other big key was giving up offensive boards, which also led to scramble situations and a few of their 3s, I have to say I was yelling for a couple over the backs and then X got whistled for boxing out.

Speaking of the refs (hopefully not too much), it sure seem like JB wasn’t quite over it at the end of the game - must’ve mentioned planning to talk to the league office three or four times in his press conference.

But PSU played well, Michigan didn’t in the first half, PSU made some shots for once, Michigan didn’t again. That’s the story of the game. PSU is a solid team (same kenpom basically as Minny, 15 spots ahead of Illinois, 30 spots ahead of times like ND, UCLA, Zona).

Maybe PSU will sign Chambers to an extension now!


I agree that the ball movement is sometimes lacking, and I’ll add that player movement is sometimes lacking. It isn’t that players aren’t making proper reads, cuts, and drives; it’s speed and force that are often missing in the reads, cuts, and drives. I thought that was especially evident in the 1st half, where weak screening and cutting made it look like the offence was just going through the motions.

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“and then switched every ball screen while sagging off of Simpson.“

Switching ball screens is not something new. Why are we always surprised when teams do this and why did it take us until the second half to make an adjustment?

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Because it isn’t really how teams have been guarding Michigan of late (and isn’t how Penn State generally guards ball screens). Say there are 31 possessions in a first half, you get four media timeouts to make some small tweaks. A couple of those early possessions you get caught out trying to adjust on the fly, then you make a few adjustments but miss an open look, then you score a few. At the half, you can go into things and really put together a plan that is a little more coherent.

And what switching emphasizes is one-on-one play, so you have to go out and make a play. PSU made better 1v1 plays on both ends of the court.


Even though Stevens missed a lot of shots, that was one one of the best (maybe the best) games I’ve seen him play. He often seems to get swallowed up when trying to attack around the basket, and that didn’t happen last night. He also made some defensive plays that he often won’t make. Really strong game from him.

The only real concern I have right now is Iggy. Over the last few games, he seems a step slow, physically and mentally. In other words, he looks like a typical freshman. Livers could take some of his minutes and do well, like he did last night, but I think the team needs a strong 6 man rotation to make any kind of run in March.

The parallels to 2013 are getting kind of crazy. Unfortunately, I don’t think that this team is nearly as talented as the 2013 team.

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Based on how both players are playing of late, Livers should be the starter. He is better defensively and could probably give as much offensively as we are getting from Iggy. The problem is that Livers is too valuable coming off the bench and backing up the 3, 4 and 5.


See how they do on five days’ rest at home against MD. There’s no way you can tell me that PSU’s five days and home cooking against our two and travel–c/w the press–didn’t influence last night’s outcome. Beilein doesn’t complain because this is how things shake out and other teams face the same, but. . . gotta be a factor. Not–of course–denying that we are not a great-shooting team.

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So, the book on Michigan is to switch screens to start the game and you get a free half to dominate because they won’t know how to respond until they talk it over at half time.

Or, if you are a team that they expect to switch screens, then do the opposite until Michigan adjusts at halftime.

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I would say the book on Michigan is you have to try something different to slow down Zavier Simpson’s ability to pick apart a team out of the ball screen.

The ball screen offense is basically a constant adjustment so yes there’s always going to be some kind of read and react adjustment period.

Generally speaking, bad teams are more likely to try something outlandish in my opinion. Or deviate from their “base”. You will rarely see a team like Michigan, Wisconsin or Michigan State dramatically change it’s ball screen defense.

Wait, what now?

Only 3 days off prior to the MD game.

Don’t let facts get in the way of a good narrative!

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Actually, it looks like it’s four. I think the point stands, though. Rest is a meaningful factor, not immediately susceptible to statistical analysis, but real, especially this time of the season with a short bench, etc.