Questions & Answers: One Month Progress Report

Dylan Burkhardt

Michigan is sitting at 5-1 after a very successful November. Not many would have expected this team to beat UCLA and lose only one game (to Duke). I was convinced that Northeastern had at least a 50/50 shot to knock us off early in the season. However even with the surprising record there might be even more questions about this team now than before the season tipped off.

Should Anthony Wright be starting?

Using play by play data, I took a look at Anthony Wright’s numbers from tip off to the first media timeout. Besides the opening game against Michigan Tech the numbers weren’t encouraging.

Through 6 games Anthony’s stats in roughly the first four minutes are: 6 points, 2-12 shooting, 4 rebounds, 2 turnovers, 2 steals, and 1 assist. In fact if you take out the Michigan Tech game these numbers are even worse: 0-10 shooting and 0 points. Michigan has also been trailing by an average of 2.66 points at the first media timeout.

For comparison’s sake I wanted to look at DeShawn Sims’ numbers in the first four minutes he’s in the game. Substitution data is apparently very hard to come by in the college game so I could only look at the first four minutes after DeShawn registered a statistic. DeShawn’s totals from roughly his first four minutes: 6-12 shooting, 14 points, 9 rebounds, 2 turnovers, and 2 steals. (* Play-by-play data for UCLA and Duke games didn’t have anything besides rebounds and field goals)

While DeShawn’s numbers are clearly better than Ant’s, this could also just prove that DeShawn is a better spark off the bench. My biggest issue is that we are trailing by 2.66 points at the first timeout in games where we have won by an average margin of 11 points.

The concern I have with starting DeShawn is whether he really plays better coming off the bench, if he is more comfortable that way let it ride. There are plenty of other scenarios as well, DeShawn could start for Zack Gibson or Jevohn Shepherd could start for Anthony Wright.

The bottom line is that Michigan can’t afford to let a team like Maryland get off to a hot start on the road because they will never look back.

What effect has the three point line moving back had on shooting percentages?

The national average for three point shooting this year in the month of November is 33.7% compared to last year’s November average of 34.6%. However last years 34.6% was the highest November three point percentage in at least the last 10 years so this year’s number isn’t that unreasonable. Check StatSheet for every statistic imaginable about three point shooting.

Where has Michigan improved?

I posted a statistic earlier that Michigan’s three point percentage is much worse at this time than last year at this time 28.6% vs 36.3% last year. This number is also well below the national average of 33.7%.

Let’s take a look at the four factors:

08-09 07-08
eFG% 50.5 45.8
TO% 21.1 19.9
OR% 34.9 33.6
FT Rate 34.5 28.3

This is comparing this month’s numbers to last season’s numbers as a whole but still there is some remarkable improvement. Michigan’s eFG%, offensive rebounding percentage, and free throw rate have all shown improvement. The turnover percentage is probably influenced heavily by Michigan’s last game against Savannah State, before this game the turnover % was only 19.62.

The other improvement this year appears to be defense. Michigan is running the 1-3-1 zone a lot more successfully this year and it’s paying dividends.  Michigan’s opponents are shooting an eFG% of 43% compared to 51.4% last year.

Michigan has also improved in stealing the ball with a Steal% of 12.3 compared to 9.6 last year. Blocks are down from 9% to 7.3% which is understandable with the departure of Ekpe Udoh.

The Beilein recipe is to not turn the ball over, make three pointers, and create turnovers with the 1-3-1. Right now it appears that they are doing two of those things very well. This improvement along with Manny and DeShawn’s improvement inside the arc is carrying Michigan right now.

If you have questions on tempo free stats, start here.

Is Michigan a 2 man team?

The other issue is that right now Michigan goes as Manny Harris and DeShawn Sims go. Right now the duo combines for 54.48 % of Michigan’s points, 68.18% of free throws, 54.1% of offensive rebounds, 48.46% of defensive rebounds, 28% of assists, 33% of steals, 37.5% of blocks, 39.5% of turnovers.

Both Manny and DeShawn are playing better this year and also playing more consistently. DeShawn has increased his eFG% from 45.2% to 54.7 and is averaging 8 rebounds per game compared to 5.4 last year.  Manny has made even bigger improvements increasing his eFG5 from 43.1 to 58.3, his rebounds from 4.2/game to 8.0/game and assists from 2.7 to 4.2/game.

Right now these two kids are carrying the team and I guess you could say this is a bad thing but the improved efficiency is definitely encouraging.

What should Michigan fans expect this week?

Michigan has two very tough games this week with a road trip to Maryland and a home game against Duke. I think any Michigan fan’s should be pleased with a split.

This team hasn’t played a road game yet and Maryland will be a very good test. Vasquez is a streaky player and it will be important to slow him down early. Maryland looked solid in beating a Michigan State team that looked vastly overrated in Orlando. However they followed that game up with two sub-par performances against Gonzaga and Georgetown.

The Blue Devils are rolling and have a huge game at Purdue coming up Tuesday night. They handled Michigan with relative ease in their first matchup at the Garden and it would be hard not to predict another Duke win. Duke seemed to pick to the 1-3-1 zone apart for long stretches in that game. Michigan get’s another chance at home in front of a home crowd that will be out in full force.

  • blueinflorida

    Dylan quick question–

    I think it’s already been asked but I missed the answer. Do you know if addidas has done away with our all maize unis? I loved those and I hope we break them out soon seeing as we haven’t worn them yet. In fact, I think the only uniform we’ve worn all year is the all white. Thanks.

  • Dylan

    I can’t imagine them not having maize jerseys. I would expect to see them unveiled saturday. Someone posted a link to the maize shorts at moes as well.

  • Ryan

    Great stuff, Dylan. Curious — where do you get access to play-by-play data?

  • MooN

    Great breakdown Dylan. I think you will see Sims starting soon. WOTS is that he was waiting until LLP was available to make the move, but we can’t afford to fall behind to Maryland or Duke early.

    Dylan, did you happen to get my email the other week?

  • BJ

    I’d like to see Peedi launch a few more treys

  • BJ

    We’re ranked alot higher than Maryland, leads me to believe we’ll have a double digit victory. Perhaps a breakout game for Ben “the human animitron” Cronin?

  • @Ryan: Robbie does a great job and there are loads of every kind of stat that you could ever need. Check it out.

    @BJ: A road game in the ACC is no double digit victory BJ, if we win by double digits I’d be shocked. We’ll be in for a dog fight down there at the very least.

    @MooN: Yea, sorry I’m behind on e-mails I’ll get with you.

  • MooN

    Sounds good my man….

  • BJ

    Is this the year the Big11Ten finally knocks off the ACC?

    The matchups:

    Wisconsin at Virginia Tech
    Duke at Purdue
    Clemson at Illinois
    Ohio State at Miami
    Virginia at Minnesota
    Iowa at Boston College
    North Carolina vs. Michigan State
    Indiana at Wake Forest
    Michigan at Maryland
    Florida State at Northwestern
    Penn State at Georgia Tech

    My prediction: ACC goes 10-1

  • UMDC

    Nice breakdown, Dylan. This is another big week for us. I’ll be at the game Wednesday. Can’t wait to see our boys in action!

  • Wow… Anyone catch the Wisconsin game? That was a three point clinic by Va Tech to come back and then that shot by Trevon was money.

  • michmgoblue

    It reminded me of the SSU game. Crazy

    Trevon also got fouled pretty bad on that shot.

  • Merlin

    First Half Bowling Green 35 Savannah State 14

    Now with 4 minutes left BWG 52 SS 47.

    Its feast or fast for SS.

  • DC Dave

    Sims is clearly better than either of the players starting over him and this is reflected in the minutes he is playing (29.3 compared to 22.7 for Gibson and Wright). Sims may be more comfortable coming in off the bench or JB might just want the flexibility to use him more later in the game. As you point out, a majority of Michigan’s production comes from Harris and Sims. They need at least one of those two on the floor at all times. Sitting Sims for the first four minutes has to make it easier for JB to manage both of their minutes down the stretch so that he isn’t forced into a situation where both of them need to sit at the same time.

  • Giddings

    Predictions for the Big Ten/ACC Challenge: (home team in CAPS)

    Wisconsin over VIRGINIA TECH (ok, I cheated)
    Duke over PURDUE
    ILLINOIS over Clemson
    MIAMI over Ohio State
    MINNESOTA over Virginia
    BOSTON COLLEGE over Iowa
    North Carolina over MICHIGAN STATE
    WAKE FOREST over Indiana
    Michigan over MARYLAND
    Florida State over NORTHWESTERN
    Penn State over GEORGIA TECH (upset special)

    Unfortunately that would still be ACC 7, Big Ten 5.

  • Adam

    I think Purdue might be able to steal one from the Dukies. Other than that, I think this year’s challenge is going to be extremely competitive with a lot of games (8-ish) going down to the wire.

    Wisky over VT
    Purdue over Duke
    OSU over Miami
    Minnesota over VA
    BC over Iowa
    NC over MSU
    WF over Indiana
    Michigan over Maryland
    Northwestern over MSU
    GT over PSU

    6-4 Big Ten

  • Brian

    About the starting line-ups. I don’t think we should question Coach Beilien’s wisdom in making his line-ups. I have confidence he really has each player properly evaluated and really knows who plays well together and what combinations work and maybe more importantly, which combos don’t work. I think there is merit to having Peedy come off the bench to either create momentum where is doesn’t exist or provide some talent in relief of Manny or Ant (if he was playing better). I would be curious to see Shep start and have Ant come off the bench. It seems like Jevon might benefit from the confidence that comes with being named a starter and Ant might benefit from coming into an already established flow. But, what do I know?

    It is great to see both Stu and Zach contributing as freshman. I’m curious as to what Coach would have to say about Kelvin’s play and where he needs to improve.

    Overall, seems like the team needs to improve with finishing around the basket. They miss a lot of layup shots (and one dunk).

  • Blazerine

    I’ve doubted Anthony Wright’s game since he got a scholarship.

    He brings very little to the table other than his size IMO.
    He doesn’t rebound particularly well, he doesn’t block shots, he doesn’t get steals or play great defense, he has no handle, he struggles to be consistent, he hoists up some very bad bricks/airballs, he flat out doesn’t look too good out there. I’d rather Shepherd start because atleast he brings some athleticism and defensive skills.

    The only reason I can see Ant starting…is right now we just don’t have anyone else who can really handle the starting role…

  • Bluebufoon

    Dashonte Riley appears to be visiting for the Dike game on Saturday.
    I find it hard to believe with Michigan’s lack of bodies down low that if Riley wabts to come to U-M Coach Beilein won’t be able to find the kid a scholarship.

  • I think Michigan will leave their options open with DaShonte in case something happens down the road.

  • Riley would be huge, are you kidding me? This kid has more talent in his pinkie than Gibson has in his whole body. I cannot understand why UM fans are not totally stoked about the possibility of getting him. His stock has dropped because he seems to lose focus sometimes, well im sure JB could help with that. This kid has lottery pick potential.

  • He’s had potential for a long time. But he just hasn’t ever really realized it. We’ll see what happens, it’s most likely not a situation that would move quickly.

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  • A. KAY

    Coach Belien has an upcoming frosh center for 2009 Jordan Morgan
    is 6-9, 240 and a strong and athletic kid who can think on his feet.
    Coach told hime that his first 2 yrs coaching is team building and we are already seeing good results!

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