Game 9: Michigan at Northwestern Recap


I agree with your overall point. I do however, think those were both just great plays from Poole. Even if Law had no fouls he would not have been able to do much about either situation. Law was not going to be able to block Teske from behind although he might have been able to foul him, imo. Law was not going to be able to alter Poole’s shot (given he was so late to recognize the drive) but he might have been able to foul him, imo.

I do agree with your overall point though. I think JB is smart to have rigid rules about auto bench.

I also think Law is the type of player that would benefit from auto bench. He seems to commit silly fouls imo. Maybe if Law played under JB’s rule it would force him to play in a more disciplined way.


He was actually still more efficient against Providence, too. His effective FG% was 57.7 against Providence and 58.3% last night. Marginal, but still better!


Yeah I was looking at true-shooting, which brings in FT’s. So, we’re both right.


Well, in fairness, let me just say I’m not sure there is a backup point guard in the country who would NOT be considered a “liability” when compared with Zavier Simpson. There are probably very few, if any, point guards who are actually superior, or even the equal as a ball handler of the guy starting ahead of him.

Then, too, I do believe that the more Eli finds himself in “critical” situations the more comfortable he will get. As he gets more comfortable, he will gain confidence. I continue to believe that Eli is at least a competent, and really, a more than adequate backup point guard. But I know that’s not an opinion that is shared by everyone on here. Just my opinion, acknowledging that I am not in practice and seeing everything Coach B sees everyday.


How could the auto bench rules have benefited Northwestern? Does Law actually commit a lot of silly fouls or are you basing that strictly off of yesterday’s game? I have not seen NW play this year so I can’t say and I don’t have fouls/40 minute stats in front of me. If they had played by strict foul rules, Law would not have scored 19 points, more like 13, and NW would have lost easily because he and Pardon were the only guys to do anything on offense


I would guess that a lot of Simpson’s 3’s have been wide open catch and shoot. I think a sub 30% 3 point shooter is his true level until he proves otherwise.


Sorry, but I think it’s comical that we still argue the use of “auto benching” as folks on here love to call it by our exceptional basketball coach, a man who WILL be in the Hall of Fame, and one who I believe is one of the top five college basketball coaches in America today.

For those too young to know, the concept of “auto benching” was, frankly, essentially invented by the late, great Al McGuire, a Hall of Fame Coach himself and coach of the 1977 National Champions, Marquette University. But, hey, what’s not to criticize about Hall of Fame coaches?!? We all have our opinions, don’t we. :smiley:


BTN showed video of M running fundamental drills. On one they showed Brooks getting very low with the ball on his handle; more of this games please young Brooks. Hard for a big guard like Eastern to reach in and get the ball if it is low to the ground.


I haven’t watched the games to know if the fouls are silly, but Law has a 3.6 fouls/40 and has had 4 fouls in 4 of the last 6 games. The highest Michigan player other than Austin Davis is Livers at 3.2. Matthews is 1.9 and Simpson is 2.2.

It’s hard to know what would have happened had Law sat after getting two fouls or one foul, but he only scored two points in between getting his 2nd (at the 5 minute mark) and 3rd (at the 7 second mark) fouls – though he did then score 3 more on the last shot of the half. Unless you’re a general advocate of playing guys with three fouls in the 1st half then, arguably benching Law after two fouls would have cost Northwestern 2 points, and that’s not considering his replacement might’ve scored a bucket.

Teams are different and scenarios are different, and I’m not necessarily a hardcore autobench proponent, but I think autobench opponents tend to overlook the possible benefits and some potential costs that can be hard to quantify – like whether players alter defensive performance if they have four fouls late in a game.


I think it is a pretty fair thing to debate. Just because Beilein looks destined to end up in the hall of fame doesn’t mean that debating his decisions isn’t fair game.


Absolutely Dylan, I’d never argue with you. I just think it’s interesting. By the way, I have some skin in the game here, since I pretty much “auto benched” when I was coaching, but that was back in the days of Al McGuire. :smiley:


It took him 38 years to start valueing defense. He’s not infallible. The analytics show it’s self-punitive.


Of course he’s not infallible, no one is, but I’ll take his knowledge over the knowledge of a whole lot of other folks. I will say this, though, if John Beilein, in consultation with his assistants and others whose opinions he values, decides he wants to change his substitution pattern, then it will happen, and I’ll be on board with that, too. But until that happens I’ll just continue to enjoy watching college basketball the way J.B. coaches it.

I will acknowledge, however, that it IS a worthy debate on a message board, as long as others acknowledge that it really doesn’t make a difference what we think, other than to ourselves. Coach B will do what he does, and he won’t check this board for validation. If anyone wants to argue that he should, go for it. And I’m really not trying to be a jerk here. I’m really not. :slightly_smiling_face:


Nobody here (I hope) thinks we are changing John’s mind. Nor would the vast majority trade Beilein for another coach.

It’s interesting - the idea of benching a guy with too many fouls is that you’re going to save him to play in crunch-time at the end. But what if doing that increases the odds there IS “a crunch time” because you decided to play an inferior player prior to that?

In this game, Matthews was essentially replaced by Davis (Livers replaced him, but Livers’ unavailability to back up Teske brought in Davis) - who was one of the single largest reasons this game was close.



You make valid points, mgl. Frankly, the evidence seems to point to a flaw in the so called “auto bench” rule. I know Coach B hates fouls, and I know he has rules by which he and his team operate. Will he change in his approach? Perhaps he will. He does evolve after all. Should he change? Well, I’m sensing that the consensus on here is that he should. Again, I just trust that he will do the right thing as he sees the right. Will he evolve on this? Should he evolve on this? Good questions.

Now, as for me, when I was coaching I would always sub for a player who picked up his second foul in the first half. BUT, from there circumstances would dictate whether I put him back in in that first half, and, if so, when. Also, my knowledge of the player himself would help me make those decisions. There were some players I could trust more than others to still play hard but to be smart about fouling.

In the second half, if a player picked up his third foul I would sub for him. Again, circumstances in the game would dictate, to me, when I would put that player back in. I think there is kind of an art to this, but, yes, I did want my best players in the game down the stretch of a close game. I believed it was my responsibility to “protect” them to accomplish that purpose.

That’s just me, and what I believed and did, and it was similar to what Coach B does with substitutions. So, I trust our coach to make the decisions he thinks are best for our team. No one wants to win more than Coach B. I know he comes across as this nice, gentle, kind older gentleman who happens to be a great coach, but he is also a FIERCE competitor. Whatever he’s doing, “auto bench,” nuanced “auto bench,” substitution “rules,” or whatever, I’m all in. He’s earned the right to make those decisions.

I learned last night that Michigan is tied with UNC for the most wins in the NCAA Tournament over the last six years. Whatever Coach B is doing, I think it’s working just fine. I know…but…what if? Hmmm… Interesting discussion. Valid points each way.


Interesting. I don’t know the good professor, but he’s obviously brilliant. I wonder how many basketball games he’s won. I don’t know Presh Talwalker either, but from what I’ve read he, too, is a brilliant mathematician who is a renowned genius in statistics and probability, and also in game theory. But I’m not sure how many basketball games he’s won, either.

I know, I know, their coaching prowess or lack thereof doesn’t matter. They are discussing theory of statistics. They are presenting the theory of probability. They are “experts” at “game theory.” Coaches ought to be told this stuff!

Perhaps you should send this article to Coach B. Somehow, I think he knows who these gentlemen are and, perhaps, has even considered their work. He’s a genius, too, so they say. Maybe he’ll heed their advice. He’s a smart man.


I see both sides to it, but Matthews is the one player on the roster that I let play through early fouls. He’s always been streaky. I’d always err on the side of never getting him out of rhythm. Especially when it’s just one foul 45 seconds into the game! Let the man run!


Sorry to post another link, but took a detailed look at the final play from last night’s game!


I have read the game theory advising coaches it is better to not auto bench. I reject the theory.

I reject the hot hand fallacy theory too.