IMO, this team has no shot at a Final Four. The perimeter play simply isn’t there. A sweet 16 would be a big win for the season. Need to develop a Morris/Burke/Stauskas/Walton in the offseason to really reach that level next year.
4 games in 9 days; first against our biggest rival (in hoops) and the last 3 against teams that had a better schedule for rest. Team showed a lot to come out of that stretch 3-1, in my opinion.
A lot of “coachable moments” for the staff to show the players today, but found a way to win. Even so, with fresher legs I think Matthews finishes better today and MAAR probably is more productive as well — and that’s likely the difference between a meh 15 point win & a wow 25 point blowout win.
The only persons on the team with that skill at this moment is Matthews and Poole. Matthews has to get better with his handle and finishing and Poole I think he will progress nicely. Hopefully Livers will progress also to be able to create for self and others. The 2018 clan is the group where we need to look for the next big stars to develop.
I had a whole post ready to go right at the final buzzer about things I was disappointed in, from Charles’ deteriorating shot to Moe turning into a turnover machine in the block, to wondering when Simmons will ever make another damn 3 pointer. But then I remembered, with the exception of Jaaron, who plays such limited minutes, that this really was just the end of brutal scheduling. Willing to keep an open mind that this was just the last of 4 games scheduled way too close to each other, especially considering travel.
Weren’t Duncan’s makes still all of the catch and shoot variety? That concerns me about judging the slump or no slump dynamic. In years past, I feel like he could at least make a shot fake and then take 3, as well as at least a single dribble 3, and definitely had more success with coming off of screen 3’s. The 4 he made, iirc, were all off passes where his feet were already set as he received the pass? They were still all hugely important, of course, I just feel like we’re going to need him to make a few of the not as pure catch and shoot type 3’s down the road at some point.
Hell, I like that Duncan was canning his open shots. I’m not going to discount them because Rutgers didn’t close out on him or helped off of him.
Would I like more from Duncan? Sure, but give me Throwback Duncan hitting the open three any day of the week, especially on this year’s team. There’s been too many games this year where the team hasn’t even had that.
I still feel like we know he’s capable of more, though…
Although he did really fight hard on defense against Rutgers - really good effort on that end.
Contemplating a final four for a team that’s probably an 8-seed right now is obviously hopeful, and perimeter offense does seem to be a limiting factor for this team. But a few mitigating things are noteworthy.
Barttovik still rates the team the fifth best offense in conference play. Our best offensive performances of the year in terms of adjusted efficiency were MSU and PU, pretty recently, while MD and Rutgers were below, but not by much, our season average. Nebraska was the clunker. Fatigue could be a factor in the last 3 games. There are still 4 Big Ten teams that have played only 7 conference games, and Wiscy doesn’t play its 8th until Tuesday. Combine that with the team having to adjust to teams switching every screen, and a slight dip is not surprising.
Another factor is that Simpson and Matthews are both playing big minutes and as key offensive creators. Matthews in particular has been a high usage guy but really struggling with his shot - 1 for his last 9 from 3 and under 50% on 2s in three of his last four games. But he’s shown flashes of being pretty special this year.
In sum, there are reasons to hope that the offense isn’t as bad as it’s seemed the last couple games and could still improve. But the longer it doesn’t happen, the less likely it seems that it will happen. It’ll be interesting to see what we can do offensively in the next 3 games.
Wagner has 4 TOs in his last 5 games, which is quite good for a big man who handles the ball as much as he does.
Is it THAT hopeful given what we’ve seen from Beilein teams in the past? (I know your post is arguing in favor of that optimism though!)
If we think about it, at this point in the season, this is the safest a Michigan team has been in the tournament since 2013-14. Even that team wasn’t safely in the field until right around this week in 2014. Some will argue a 7 or 8 seed isn’t safe, which is correct. However, it’ll most likely take an injury or major collapse to miss out.
That’s my reason for optimism. We have a Beilein team that already showed us they can beat a top team. We have players who have shown glimpses. I don’t even think this team needs all 5 starters to play to their potential to make a run. Just needs 2-3.
My biggest concern with Duncan–aside from missing a bunch of shots that used to be a guarantee for him–is that he isnt getting any separation off of screens. Most every action we run to get him a catch-and-shoot off screening results in him catching, pumping, then passing. I still like the “Duncan shoots any open 3 he finds” but he doesn’t seem to be generating much space for himself.
Agree with your observation, the opposing teams can’t take the chance to leave him open. They’re taking away his space which in turn is opening the lane for others. I think he’s really improved his defense though and is trusted by coach…hoping he has one more uptick to ride out his career. If we had a better scoring point guard this team would be a top ten. Hoping Simmons can get it going…love what Z brings but he’s limited as a scoring threat in the PNR. This team has really done a great job…time for the Freshman to bring it.
It’s such a fraction-of-a-second thing, so psychological. Beilein says he’s lighting it up in practice; I have to believe that an uptick is possible. Also, if everyone else’s spacing and movement improve, his opportunities expand. Once I realized they have five-plus weeks ahead to improve I began to feel pretty optimistic for them. OTOH, there were at least three guys who were a threat, and from all sides of the floor, toward the end of last year. Moe has always been streaky from outside; dunno if we quite get to that level. . . but maybe great D and an improved inside game also carry us.
Interesting, I hadn’t focused on that/thought of that.
I think I have to be thinking of at least a few football “fumble, same team recovers” situations, then.
Question: do you say/think outcomes have been positive or not positive when Mo gets the ball in the post one on one?
My recollection is that it hasn’t been going well. I think he was better at it last year, but I may not be remembering things correctly. He seems to be struggling, too, with his post moves/working off the pivot, and I think we need him to at least be functional down there. This may be foot and ankle related, though.
Could be. He also did have a couple terrible ones, like a complete throw away at Nebraska that really sticks out in my mind, so maybe also their egregiousness made it seem like more.
I was pretty impressed with his footwork in the post early in the year, but lately it seems he’s been less effective. Maybe it’s the injury or people are a little more onto him – he kind of depends on wheeling back and forth a bunch, and people are learning to stay at home on him. (This is the case for MAAR, I believe.) Wagner’s 2pt FG% in conference play is 56%, so good but not great. So maybe positive but could be significantly more positive?
I’d also say that getting him the ball in the post on switches has been as big a problem if not more than anything he actually does in there. Partly that’s on the guards/wings, partly on Mo.
Pretty easy adjustment if they want Moe in the post on the switch - give him the ball up top and clear out. Let him dribble into the post.
Happ does it best and is great at it, but no reason Moe can’t do that given his ball skills.
I mean, the one downside to that is obviously that he can’t start a move using a fresh pivot, but that scenario has seemed to be a struggle, anyway. Interesting point about Happ, although that guy had the whole bag of tricks down low the first day they put him on the court.
I should know this by now, but I believe Happ was a guard growing up and later hit a growth spurt, which led to his excellent ball skills at center.
Very true on losing his pivot but hopefully he can bully his way down low and easily finish over a guard. Someone like Watson at Nebraska has no chance and he got that switch a few times.
Worst case, you can always bring a shooter over to help re-post if he needs it.