Why is Kelvin Grady on the Bench?

Dylan Burkhardt
Michigan St Michigan BasketballKelvin is on the bench because he isn’t playing good enough defense. I have mentioned this several times but I wanted to include some video to help demonstrate the point. Stu Douglass did a marvelous job on Craig Moore, one of the best shooters in the Big Ten, on Sunday. He fought over screens and didn’t let Moore get many good looks. When all was said and done Moore ended up 2 for 10 shooting with 6 points, zero assists, and three turnovers.

Here is a quick clip of Stu sticking to Moore, to get the full effect I suggest you go back and watch the entire game because this is what you will see for most of it. In this clip Stu fights over a couple screens and eventually Moore tries to penetrate but is met by Gibson’s help before throwing a wild pass that is intercepted by Harris.

Kelvin Grady on the other hand has struggled on the defensive end and hasn’t really been a factor on the offensive end either. Kelvin has scored in double digits once during the Big Ten season (11 points versus Northwestern) and is averaging 4.8 ppg, 2.2 apg, and 1.6 turnovers per game in conference play (I understand these numbers are knocked down a little bit by the last three conference games in which he didn’t really play. But the point remains and despite the concerns over Douglass’ ball handling, Grady actually has a higher turnover percentage in conference play (25% vs 20%).

Both times that Beilein has inserted Grady into the lineup late in the game to deal with pressure defense, Grady has immediately made a key mental error on the defensive end. I don’t have film of the Penn State game but I do have the clear example from the Northwestern game that almost cost Michigan the game.

Compare this video to Douglass and you can see the issue. Grady is trying to go under the screen which is a big mistake. I know for a fact that this is being repeated time and time again because I saw the reaction when he made the same mistake against Penn State. The whole coaching staff erupted and Grady was yanked.

Defense was a huge problem for this team early on in conference play and now it is the thing that is keeping them in games. It just so happens that the team has started playing dramatically better defense once CJ Lee was inserted into the lineup. If Kelvin Grady was a double digit scorer or a guy who averaged a ton of assists, I could see the argument here. But the fact is that he doesn’t give Michigan enough on offense to make up for his painful mistakes on the defensive end.


    Yep, KG just needs to mature a bit more from watching and learning what lee and douglass are doing to earn their minutes. I firmly believe that if or when KG does understand what is being asked of him, that he has more scoring ability than Lee, or Merritt and will pose much more of a
    threat on offense. It apparently isn’t happening at this juncture however. The only thing that is a bit dissapointing is it would be nice to get KG some minutes for he will most likely be the man going into next year. But if JB feels Lee and company give us a better chance to win than so be it. Im pumped to see what this team looks like next year with some added size and scoring ability. I cant wait.

  • Well we did beat UCLA by scoring 55 points and Manny and DeShawn combined for 45 points in the win over Duke (they had 33 of our 55 against UCLA while Grady had 22 minutes, 3 points (1-4), 0 assists.

    Kelvin played well against Duke, I’m not going to deny that. But acting like he is some kind of offensive force is going way too far.

  • I don’t know how the coaches wanted to play this possession and I haven’t followed Grady’s struggles with playing screens particularly closely, but let’s keep in mind the situation.

    You’re up three points with eleven seconds left. Why aren’t you just switching all the screens at the three point line? You need to worry about the three above all else here, and you’re not going to guard it as well fighting over screens as you would with a switch. Lee seems to realize this when [Random White Dude] pulls up for the three pointer and Lee tries to jump back in his face.

    If the game plan was to go over screens and Grady didn’t execute it, then this criticism is fair game. But I see no reason why you aren’t switching screens for perimeter players behind the arc at this point in the game. Switch on those screens and make the unathletic Northwestern players beat you with penetration for a two that wouldn’t even tie the game.

  • Adam

    Dylan you kind of made one of my points with the Duke and UCLA references. With Grady on the court, even if he does not put up big numbers, he frees up Manny and Deshawn to do more. You cannot double those 2 guys as often if you have a player like Grady on the court. With Lee and Merritt you are free to have more eyes on Manny and DeShawn

  • Tom_McC

    Adam, you are being too resolute about this and are nitpicking.

    What Grady did in December has nothing to do with what happened the 5 or 6 games prior to Grady’s benching. Coaches don’t determine PT based on what you did 2 months prior. They base it on what you do in the most recent practices and what you do in the most recent games.

    I don’t think the argument is that Grady is a bad player or that UM’s struggles are his fault or anything like that. The argument is, since Grady has been benched, UM has played better than it had when he was starting…especially on the defensive end and as long as UM continues to win(or play well) regardless of the competition, Grady will continue to sit.

    I’m not(and don’t think anyone else is either) advocating Grady should never get another opportunity…but the fact of tha matter is, Beilein likes the make-up of the team and how they are playing, so he is going to stick with it. And many here agree with his decision.

    And minimizing NW and PSU doesn’t help your argument…sounds like you are just trying to argue for the sake of arguing. PSU is ahead of UM in the BT standings and winning @ NW is something Minnesota and Wisconsin could not do and it was a task Purdue and Illinois were one possession from not doing.

  • Adam

    Also you keep bringing up statistics. My point I was making is Grady’s impact on the offensive end goes well beyond statistics. There is something to be said for the points that I made earlier. I know you are an avid basketball mind like myself so you should know this.

  • Adam

    I’m going to go through your game by game breakdown of Grady starting with Maryland:

    Maryland: Kelvin Grady: A very solid game from Kelvin tonight, he was 3-4 on three pointers but he only had 1 assist. Kelvin also had a much better time breaking the press but man Kelvin needs to work on those layups.

    Duke: Kelvin Grady – 28 minutes, 9 points, 4 assists, no turnovers. Kelvin played a complete floor game today. He handled Duke’s pressure and didn’t have any “Grady moments”. Grady’s speed was a game changer all night and he was blowing by Nolan Smith and Greg Paulus. Now if he can just learn to finish those layups he’ll be a very complete player.

    EMU: Kelvin Grady: Yet another guard who had a huge first half. Kelvin was letting them rain from long range with 3 three pointers in the first half. Kelvin added a layup in the second and finished with 11 points on 4-5 (3-4) shooting and had 3 assists and no turnovers. He looks far more comfortable and confident on the court and that’s going to pay dividends down the road.

    Oakland: Kelvin Grady: Grady posted another solid effort. He is great at pushing the ball and can stick the open three. He had one questionable shot but hit two three pointers and also pulled down 6 boards.

    Wisconsin: Kelvin Grady: Grady didn’t get a lot of minutes and I’m not sure why. The game certainly wasn’t uptempo which hurts Kelvin and Wisconsin just had so much size with all the switching on defense.

    Illinois: Kelvin Grady: Kelvin had 9 points on 3-6 shooting including the huge layup late in the game. Both Kelvin and LLP are starting to get in the lane more and it adds a new dimension to Michigan’s game.

    Indiana: Kelvin Grady: Stepping out of bounds at the end really killed me but overall it was an ok game for Kelvin. Kelvin hit 2 threes and had 4 assists and 1 turnover as well as 5 rebounds.

    Iowa: Kelvin Grady: Grady continued his solid play today: 8 points on 3-6 (2-4 3pt) shooting with 4 assists, 1 steal, and 0 turnovers. Kelvin can push the tempo while managing not to turn it over and if he continues to do that he’s going to keep seeing his minutes increase.

    Illinois: Kelvin Grady: This is the case with most everyone besides Manny Harris, a great first half (5 points) and nothing in the second.

    OSU: Kelvin Grady: Kelvin didn’t have his best game, he hit a couple big threes but not much more. He also had one huge turnover late in the game on a pass attempt to Stu Douglass that had no chance.

    PSU: Everyone else: Bad.

    Northwestern: Kelvin Grady: I thought Kelvin played well but I don’t know if Kelvin has ever had a game without an assist: 11 points on 3 of 8 shooting and 4 rebounds in 26 minutes.

    OSU: Kelvin Grady: Not impressed with Kelvin on defense, Jeremie Simmons is not an impact player and he routinely took Kelvin off the dribble. Offensive Kelvin was solid but unspectacular with one made three pointer, 3 assists, and no turnovers.

    Purdue: Kelvin Grady: Kelvin only played 17 minutes and had 2 points, 4 assists, 3 turnovers, and two boards. Kelvin tried to force things a bit by penetrating after Manny was booted and that resulted in a few turnovers.

    Annnnnd after that he stopped playing…

    According to you he only had 3 or 4 not so good games, and out of those 3 or 4 you pretty much ripped into the majority of the team. Therefore I’m not sure where this Kelvin Grady is a detriment to the team and should get 0 minutes talk is coming from.

  • Some numbers to think about..

    RE: Kelvin and penetration, he has taken 70% of his shots from three point range so lets not act like he is a guy that can get to the hoop.

    This is an extreme but other PGs who are considered penetrators:
    Ty Lawson: 32.9% 3ptA/FGA
    Kalin Lucas: 24%
    Even Talor Battle a guy known for the three point shot, only takes 55% of his shots from long range.

    Kelvin can give this team a few points when he is hitting his three point shot but I don’t think he brings the offense much in a half court set.

    You can throw out numbers but almost all of his numbers are down from last year (http://statsheet.com/mcb/players/player/michigan/kelvin-grady). In conference play he has made 5 2-point baskets and is shooting only 30.8% from long range.

  • Adam

    Again, you aren’t understanding my “it’s not all about his scoring and assists” argument. He takes pressure off of Manny and DeShawn which is quite possibly his biggest attribute. He also gets the offense started faster because it doesn’t take 10 seconds to break the pressure. I’m not saying he is this outstanding scorer off the dribble. He wasn’t in high school and hasn’t been in college. He brings something to the table with the other aspects of offense. Go back and re-read my previous comments…..

    [Grady does not necessarily always get the assist or the basket, however he does penetrate which forces the defense to shift and switch off on their man. When players need to switch at any point in time it can leave a defense scrambling and someone eventually getting open. Grady won’t receive an assist for that but he started the offense.

    In addition, Grady does not receive stats for simply beating the pressure. The difference between starting your possession with 30 seconds left on the shot clock and everyone in their places vs. starting your possession with 25 seconds on the clock and everyone scrambling to try to get the ball out of pressure. This aspect of the game is highly underrated as well.

    You need stability on offense too, not just defense. Defenses in the Big Ten just don’t even guard CJ Lee and David Merritt because they are not a threat to score unless they are wide open. This allows them to help on Manny and Deshawn. This is another underrated thing that having Grady on the court provides. It does not show up in the stat book if Manny and Deshawn have some pressure taken off them with Grady on the court. So just like on defense a lot of value goes unnoticed in stats, it is similar on offense.]

  • Adam

    and FYI, UNC and MSU’s offenses aren’t based around the 3 point line like Michigan’s is so that is not a fair argument. I’d venture to bet the majority of our players take a higher percentage of 3s than a player of the same position at the other schools.

  • I’m gonna let someone else pick up the steam on this one but this most was more or less an explanation for why Grady isn’t playing. If you get benched for playing bad defense and are told to do something a certain way and then you don’t do it, it’s going to be hard to get on the court.

    I’m not saying Grady sucks, I’m not saying he should transfer, and I’m not saying he shouldn’t play at all. I’m just trying to explain the issue, and what I think Beilein is thinking.

  • Tom_McC

    Adam…the “non-statisitcal” stuff is a strawman.

    If you are going to a player who is a good “non-statistical” player as you suggest, the team better be winning when you are being “non-statistically” productive.

    You analyze Grady’s game…but you overlook the most important stat…Wins and Losses. We can spin stats to so whatever we want…but the bottom line is, UM wasn’t winning and they were struggling so Beilein changed it up.

    I’m just not sure what your point is. Quite frankly, I think you severely overrate his impact offensively. And I honesty don’t see the offense running better with him in the game…it just doesn’t track. The numbers don’t support it…his minutes as they correlate to the teams point production per game don’t support it.

    It boils down to more than just stats…it boils down to what Beilein see’s in practice and what he is comfortable with, RIGHT NOW. The past is the past…if Grady isn’t fulfilling his responsibilities in practice and in games, who are we to argue. It’s about trust. And right now, the current line-up is who Beilein trusts will give this team the best chance to reach its goals.


    I definitely hear you out Adam. I myself like what KG brings to the table. For all we know there could be a number of issues swirrling around as to why he hasnt been playing as much. I think a lot of it is just KG’s lack of consistency at both ends. As far as the way he is scoring, via mostly threes, I think a lot of that is just coaching and how JB constructs this team. I beleive that if they worked with KG on finishing at the rim he would be better at it, much like he has gotten better from deep. So much of our offense is predicated on outside shooting that I think it causes a few of our guys to settle for deep semi contested shots. Manny goes to the rim so much just because he can and he’s so good at it. A lot of our dependency from deep has a lot to do with lack of size. I hope moving forward JB rounds out KG’s game and let’s dmorris drive and do what he does best. KG will slow down and mature much more and be ready to take the reins next year. We Grady.


    Mysoulforpizzahouse makes a very good point. Just switch at the top. Late in the game you know thats what they are going for is a three, let the unathletic Moore try to drive.

  • Brick

    Why is it that whenever someone’s minutes go down there is an automatic assumption that they are going to transfer? Most programs fluctuate minutes and many kids don’t see major minutes until their junior year. CJ and Merritt are both gone next year and Kelvin will get plenty of minutes. Why would anyone assume that a player doesn’t want to learn from his mistakes and work his way out of a coaches doghouse? Stu was in this position earlier this year and he worked his way out, why would Kelvin be any different?

  • Wow

    I guess I must’ve have been watching a different NW game at the end then most of these posters. Lee had two huge turnovers in the last minute. He almost blew the game by himself. The only reason that I can think Lee and Merrit are playing is because they play hard and practice hard. Belein must want to prove to the team that you must practice had to earn playing time. Their skill level isn’t in the same ballpark as Grady. Grady by far has the best handles on the team bar none. If we are going to do anything this year we need someone else besides Manny to put pressure on the defense. Merrit and Lee scare nobody! I would love to play against them. They take up space on the floor and make perimeter passes and when they do drive half the time it ends in a turnover.

  • Jon

    I couldn’t disagree more with this post. I was at the game and watched Stu Douglas more than anyone. On defense he cannot shift his feet–hence all the hand checking fouls (put some clips from the MSU game up–How many fouls he have??)On offense he panics and picks up his dribble too soon. Grady brings a new dimension to the offense–penetration. Again, rewatch the tape. So many posessions that no guards penetrate.

    I find Douglas to be a liability on both offense and defense.


    wow, you make a good point. I recorded the game on DVR and you are right, I remember also screaming at the tv “lee what are you doing!?” so yes, at least in the NW game, late in the game at least, Lee lost a bit of his composure and turned it over a couple times when we could have just held on to it and went to the line. I think the bottom line is that right now we don’t have many good options, or consistency at PG right now. None of our options at PG are a threat on offense, not yet anyway. I think KG will be that by next year however. Help is on the way as well with Morris coming in. I would say JB has done a marvelous job with having little to no scoring from PG, and very little size, and or skilled frontliners.

  • bentley

    quick off topic question – why is our kenpom rating so low? And better yet, who the hell follows this? I have been following it for weeks now, and a Northwestern team that Michigan beat twice is still ahead of Michigan. How does this make sense?

  • I don’t know about the rating exactly but it is based more off of statistical aspects than win loss I believe. If you compare the score predictions to spreads and over/unders in Vegas they are remarkably similar.

    It is not like the RPI or Sagarin though so I wouldn’t really look at it for ratings. It’s a great place for tempo free stats though.

    That is just my 2 cents.

  • Giddings

    Also off topic, Penn State and Illinois sure aren’t helping the notion that Big Ten games are low-scoring and boring. 17-15 at halftime?? Seriously?

  • I don’t care if Illinois wins 18-17. Just win baby.

  • Avery Queen

    Merritt’s performance on Sunday was his conference best performance: 3pts, 1 asst. In other words, if I’m guarding Merritt I get to play way off making it very easy to hedge and cut off Manny’s driving lanes or hedge and allow my teammate to recover on a screen for Stu. Or maybe coach wants me to press him and get in his face to force the turnover. Grady is hands down better in every facet on offense and he doesn’t need to be a “force” to achieve that.

    As far as defense goes, sure Merritt hustles, but hustling doesn’t equal good defense. Dylan could just as easily post a video of Merritt getting burned on the back door on Sunday. It’s easy to point out a couple dumb plays by Grady but maybe if he was actually given more than a possession to prove himself he would.

  • Bill

    What I saw in the Northwestern was way too much of the Tommy weave and not enough inside out game. I know a lot of people are in love with the coach and he can do no wrong. But when your team you hope will be a great 3 point shooting team isn’t I think you need to review the video with the expensive equipment purchased. I don’t have any wonderful stats but I’ll bet they shoot a much higher pct off dribble penetration then weaving and running down the clock. If he can’t take advantage of a guy as fast and quick as Grady to help get better shots when teams play them against the 3 maybe he isn’t the great coach and developer we are led to believe. When stu and cj struggled against the press he was able to dribble right through. And for defense, just look at the breakdowns Manny has. He blows assignments all the time. With the video you are showing it looks like they should have switched. Did the other guy say anything? It’s a team game you know and the players were just talking about needing more talking during the game. As far a scoring the main job of a point guard should be getting the ball where it needs to go not putting it in the hole. Problem is the coach doesn’t seem to like having a point guard he even mentioned int he past his offense won’t have one, but seems to me that’s exactly what the do need especially on who can penetrate but if you tell guys to focus on the outside shot they won’t take it to the basket like a team that isn’t shooting well really needs. Manny seems to be the only player who will do this more than once or twice a game. Just look at the MSU game, they did not score much until the second half when they made a run by attacking the basket which opened things up. They need guys attacking the hoop to keep defenses honest which has been a big problem from my point of view. If the coach can’t find good use for a guy with Gradys ability he deserves some blame. All of the guys on this team have strengths and weaknesses and I don’t see any of the guards being better than the others they all have ability which can be used to help the team win.

  • Dave

    this is why i have been preaching ……….please recruit versatile players who can do more than shoot 3s………we will always be a team that may or may not make the tourney and will always have its inconsistency if we rely on the 3 like we have this year…….it is year 2 so things will hopefully progress next year, but if you cant get people to do things besides shoot 3s then we are in for a very long but short john beilein era at michigan……..

    p.s. it should never take 3 years for a system to take effect, 1 is more than enough…..you are just wasting 3 more years of michigan basketball and probably the time of many players……people wanna play and i dont think its faiir to have to wait 3 years in order to grasp a system…..does this mean that every 3 years we will have a good team……how does it work

  • Avery Queen

    whoa whoa.

    how can anyone be upset with our progress right now? we really don’t have much talent and have beat elite programs and still have a shot at the tourney when going into this season I don’t think anyone really expected us to perform this well.

    beilein’s offense has looked greatly improved this season and it’s hard to not be dependent on the outside shot when you are as small as we are. our defense has also definitely improved more recently despite our small size.

    and as far as beilein not looking for versatility… that is precisely what he looks for (e.g. pittsnogle). you certainly can’t judge his recruiting ability based on our 2008 class. however he has managed to take two nobody freshmen and turn them into starters. this shows both his lack of talent to work with and his ability to get everything out of it.


    Beilein has done probably as good as anyone could have done with the players we have. I cannot totally gauge JB’s coaching ability until he has all of his type of players in each position. If our offensive stategy and output next year looks close to this year than I will probably be a tad frustrated, unless we have like 20 wins or something. An ultimate line up to me would be 3 to 4 of your 5 have the ability to play 2 dimensenial, they can shoot out to 3 with consistency, and also take they’re challenger to the rim with some effectivness. Then your frontliners should have the ability to bang and score in the paint, and on the defensive side be able to protect the rim. All of these attributes I think will start to take form by next year. We all have to realize that sims and novak have been matched up with guys 5 to 8 inches taller than them all year. Fastforward and put a healthy Cronin, Jordan Morgan, Blake mclimans, to go along with sims and Gibson, we would probably already have 20 w’s by now. We need size desperatley guys. Next year we should all see a little different style, one where our reliance on perimeter shots will be scaled back.


    I do however think that a bit of pressure is on JB’s shoulders when it comes to his ability to replace Manny and or Peedi. It will be crunch time here in a year or so when we are looking at zak novak and corey person as the guys to step in for Manny. We will find out how good of a recruiter he is by who he is able to bring in here. I’d love to think we could be a dangerous team with a bunch of shooters from Indiana, but the truth of the matter is you need a handfull of top level athletes in the mixing bowl as well. Wether it will be Zeigler or Prather or Morgan Moses we will soon find out. Whoever it is they need to be versatile and have some athletic ability, much like Manny’s skill set.

  • Josh B

    Solid game from Grady tonight. Nice job breaking the Minnesota pressure and knocking down open shots. A couple mental errors (1 bad pass, 1 lazy defensive close-out), but nothing critical.

    I know this has been said over and over, but I can’t justify playing Merritt ahead of Grady. If Manny continues to find himself in foul trouble, Grady’s ability to create and hit open 3’s will be valuable.

    Keep the headband off and play within yourself KG!

  • Is this serious?!?! 1st off STU is a two guard and his playing time is not what is in question??????? Its Merritts minutes that are the issue! 2nd off nice, fair use of the video clips. Im sure we could go back and find 1 or 2 bad plays to make anyone look bad or make someone look good if we chose to do so. Not really the way to earn trust and respect of your readers. Dylan you obviously have not looked at this objectively. Merritt brings next to nothing, which is why you avoided his name and the 15 minutes a game hes playing.

  • Pingback: Don’t Question Me, Man()