Will Michigan's "three point defense" improve?


Trimble and Cowan made pull-up 3s at pivotal points, after 28 seconds of good defense by us; you have to tip your cap, but it does seem like the opponent 3pt% is an anomaly. PSU and Maryland aren’t good shooting teams, regardless of the quality of looks, shooting 50-66% is generally reserved for ‘hot’ shooting nights.

Edit: still definitely think our D needs to improve. I wish we could harass the perimeter the way our opponents do to us. Or at least actually employ a semblance of a pack line D that helps prevent penetration

Fwiw the Nickens 3s sucked because it was clear JB wanted to match Duncan with Nickens, and Nickens just flat out-played him. The chess move made sense, but Duncan got out played on both ends


I think the Hibbits point is relevant in the frame of “are we holding everyone accountable”? If we aren’t then it makes slipping easier. In addition to what I said before.

I asked about a rift because you guys are more tuned in than I am. I’m confident Beilein isn’t happy with our defense. He wasn’t happy with last year’s defense. We have a guy on staff who in theory would help with that at the start of the year we heard he’d be really involved, and we got excited about our defense. Now our defense has obviously regressed and the d guru is quiet (the practice is a bigger issue than post game)? That is concerning and every coach I know is too proud to let something slip like that on their watch. I’m curious as to ‘why’ this is happening.


The effort Walton has been showing lately on both ends of the floor has been pathetic. He has the look of a guy tuning everyone out and just wants to be done.


I mean, come on. Trimble and Cowan both hit step back threes with a guy right on them, from about 2-3 feet behind the three point line. Those are not easy shots, and we saw what happened when we forced Trimble to drive - no one stepped up to help.


And the look of a guy who needs more rest. I’d like to see X play much more.


I think coaches have a tendency to double down on what they know. JB is an offensive guru - he probably believes (incorrectly, IMO) that at some point, we have to hit our stride offensively and when we do, we’ll be much better. People in general will use selective data points to reinforce their opinions. You do it and so do I. JB probably looks at the UCLA game and says, we are capable of being great on offense. Of course, doing so would fail to take into account that UCLA is a relatively poor defensive team.

Similarly, I’ve often noticed that when MSU loses games - and often when they play poorly on offense - Izzo doubles down on the “we have to play better defense” manta, even though the defense was often not the problem.

Clearly, it can be hard for a coach to change his ways. I give JB credit for evolving his approach on offense. But yeah, defensively, hire Donlon and then get out of his way. There’s no doubt that NEEDS to happen. I guess, possibly, JB felt the early emphasis on defense was taking away from our offense (South Carolina could be support for that - the defense was fine, the offense atrocious, same with the Texas game), but this team is never going to be great offensively, so I would like to see far more emphasis on defense.


It was, if we are referring to the same thing, an off-handed comment and it was said in a humorous way.


In Wagner’s post game comments he talks nothing but defense and how frustrated he is because of all the hard work that’s been invested.


Looking at the box score I see that Maryland’s starters are listed as three guards and 2 forwards. Their starting guards went 9-25, 5-10 on threes.


Walton is too often mentally checked out. Remember when Walton stripped the ball near the rim and Irvin grabbed the ball and pushed the ball down the court hard? Walton was walking and looking at his shoes, or the wood grain in the court, or something else, oblivious that Irvin was even pushing the ball hard until Irvin was 1/3rd of the way down the court.

Even the announcers seemed puzzled near the end of the game when, needing points,Walton was jogging past mid court with zero urgency. They said: “you need to hurry here don’t you?”

Perpetual delay-mode from Walton regardless of the situation…

The bummer of it is that we have two 6’11" guys outrunning the other team’s bigs at a very high rate…


Nice post. Good thoughts.


I saw the article on the front page and I’m gonna have to disagree with it. Pomeroy says it best in this article: http://kenpom.com/blog/3point-defense-should-not-be-defined-by-opponents-3p/

For non subscribers, here is the conclusion: “When someone discusses three-point defense in terms of three-point percentage, they might as well make the leap to discuss free-throw defense in similar terms. Teams have much more control over how many three’s their opponents shoot than how many they make.”

The difference between the top 20 and bottom 20 three point defenses from 2012 split at 12/4 over the rest of the year was 1.9%. I am a firm believer that we are simply unlucky.


Does anybody have any articles that counter Pomeroy’s claim? My intuition strongly tells me that Pomeroy is wrong on this one.

Pomeroy compares the percentage point difference between the teams with the worst and best opponent 3point percentages pre 12/4 . And he finds that comparing the same teams post 12/4 shows only a minor difference between those same teams in terms of their opposing player 3 point percentages. But, great and athletic teams are playing out of conference bad and unathletic teams pre 12/4. Conference play begins and things even out because conference games are generally evenly matched in terms of athleticism and opposing in-conference coaches know the in conference teams schemes–which are often schemes to get good looks from 3.

How about we put Pomeroy in the gym against a defending athletic and high energy guard and see if his 3 ball is falling as consistently as it does when he is at the YMCA?

I obviously need more to refute the claim…Anybody else unconvinced by Pomeroy’s claim?

I don’t have access to Pomeroy. Do powerhouse conference teams tend to be the teams with good opponent 3point percentages pre 12/4?


For me there’s always some degree of luck on a 3ball, as you’re talking about shooting a round object into a hoop from 20+ feet away.

That said, for me I draw some correlation from our 2 point defense to our 3 point defense…both are terrible.

Doc Rivers said it best 'there’s a difference between being next to a guy, and being into a guy"…well said indeed.

We don’t have a single player on this team capable of 'getting into a guy" and until that changes, particularly the mentality and culture, the results will remain the same regardless of the 2point and 3point shooting.

If Beilien is really serious about defense, its very simple, he needs to bench players AS SOON AS THEY HAVE A LAPSE IN EFFORT, PERIOD. And the benching needs to be for extended time in order to set a standard of accountability regardless of game results. He will lose the battle but win the war if that makes sense.


Yea, if you are bad at 3point defense it is somewhat more forgivable if you are very good at 2 point defense.

Additionally, a good 3 point defender is not necessarily forcing a 3 pointer shooter to not shoot. A good 3 point defender is rushing the point shooter’s shot enough that shooter is more likely to alter his shooting form.


Here’s perhaps the best article I found explaining how purely random it all is: https://www.google.com/amp/nyloncalculus.com/2015/12/21/measuring-skill-vs-luck-in-nba-defense/amp/

It includes the following statement. “We have written about this before, but it bears repeating this point until the myth finally dies: The influence a player has on opponent Three Point Percentage is so minuscule that it probably should never be mentioned. The proof is in NBA.com tracking data: read article for the table

Here’s what it was talking about when it says they’ve written on this before: https://www.google.com/amp/nyloncalculus.com/2015/02/06/defense-variance-luck/amp/

And here’s an article testing the kenpom thing on the NBA. Clearly you can’t make the non conference cupcake argument with that. It finds there’s a small correlation between two point and three point defense but other than that it mostly just regresses to the mean. The fact that we’re almost top 100 in two point percentage against just aids my point. Here is that article: https://thepowerrank.com/2013/10/29/3-point-defense-in-the-nba-skill-or-luck/

All of these practically prove that this is luck based. Pure luck. Saying our three point defense is bad because the percentage against is bad is, as Pomeroy said, like saying our free throw defense is bad because teams shoot a high percentage against us. We’re 22 in the nation in opponent 3PA/FGA. Clearly teams aren’t getting very many wide open looks if they’re shooting so few threes.


Thanks. I will try to read through and think about it.


He just wouldn’t take the contested 3pt shots.

Which is what his point boils down to.

If a team is playing good 3pt defense, teams aren’t going to take bad shots over the defenders. They will most likely try to pass or try to get a 2pt shot instead.

So 3pt defense has more to do with the VOLUME of 3pt FGs allowed than the PERCENTAGE of 3pt FGs that go in.


Team A: Allows 10 of 20 3pt FGs made over the entire game. 50%

Team B: Allows 19 of 41 FGs made over the entire game. 46%

Team C: Allows 2 of 3 3pt FGs made over the entire game. 67%

This is just a scenario that kind of puts some light to KenPom’s logic. Assume all three teams had equal 2pt FG defense. Team C has the worst percentage against, but best 3pt defense. Team B has the best percentage against, but worst 3pt defense.


I just don’t buy Pomeroy’s conclusion at all, because it defies common sense and it defies playing experiences…

Our common sense tells us that MSU is good at defending the 3 point shot. Does it align up with stats?

In the big ten, Last year, MSU ranked tied for 5th in the number of 3 point shots taken against them. The year before MSU ranked 12th for the number of shots taken against them. So, by Pomeroy’s logic they were just ok last year and really bad at 3 point defense the year before…

And yet MSU had the best big ten 3 point percentage defense both years…

MSU must have been very lucky last year and the year before when, with similar personnel, their opponents shot the lowest 3point percentage out of any other big ten team. If it were truly random the odds of MSU finishing1st in 3point percentage defensively, two years in a row, would be 1 in 196.

A larger sample reveals that MSU finished in the top half of 3 point percentage defensively 8 out of the last 12 years.

That last stat is much less impressive toward my point, but it still establishes a pattern. Of those 12 years MSU was first or second in 3 point percentage defensively 5 out 12 times. MSU was not once last or second to last in those twelve years. There is a reason for the pattern. Just because people are having difficulty quantifying the reason for the pattern does not mean that there is not a reason for the pattern.