Number Crunching

Dylan Burkhardt

Most teams are just four games into the Big Ten season but here are some random statistics that stand out for Michigan early on. Almost all of the team stats referenced in this post refer to conference-only numbers — even if it is a bit early.

Rebounding:  Michigan is rebounding 74.3% of its opponents missed shots which is tied for second best in the Big Ten. On the other hand, the Wolverines are rebounding just 18.5% of their missed shots, worst in the Big Ten by a significant margin.

It’s a bit appalling just how bad Michigan is on the offensive glass but this is also by design. Like it or not, John Beilein’s teams are not going to crash the glass and this one is no different.

On the defensive end there’s a lot to be excited about and this doesn’t appear to be a four game anomaly as Michigan ranks second in defensive rebounding over the etnire season as well. I wrote before the season that defensive rebounding was one of the keys this year which makes these numbers even more encouraging..

Shooting: It’s been masked a bit by Michigan’s 1-3 Big Ten record but the Wolverines have an effective field goal percentage of 56% which is third best in the Big Ten. The gaudy shooting numbers stem from the perimeter as Michigan is shooting 41% from three point range in conference games.

The shooting numbers are somewhat encouraging on an individual basis as well, here are the three point shooting numbers for the whole season with past seasons listed for comparison.

2010-11 2009-10 2008-09
Novak 0.382 0.306 0.344
Douglass 0.386 0.329 0.335
Morris 0.279 0.179
Vogrich 0.35 0.393
Smotrycz 0.41
Hardaway 0.28
Horford 0.167
McLimans 0.07

Douglass has seen his percentage plummet of late but Novak’s is on the rise. If both players can hang around 38% for the remainder of hte season that would be a huge boost for Michigan.

Evan Smotrycz is the best perimeter shooter on the team with a three point percentage over 40%, not bad for a 6-foot-9 freshman. McLimans and Horford have marred Michigan’s season long numbers and are 2 of 20 combined.

D-Mo: Michigan has made 89 field goals in Big Ten play. Darius Morris has been responsible for 53% of those made shots. The sophomore point guard has made 20 field goals and assisted 27 others in Big Ten play.

When Michigan’s offense is being slowed down, there are often possessions that result in Darius running the pick and roll and having to make something happen. He’s hit rough patches but there’s no doubt that he’s been productive, essentially creating half of Michigan’s offense thus far.

Defense: Defense was a strength for Michigan in non-conference play but the Wolverines are struggling to slow down Big Ten offenses. The Michigan defense is surrendering 1.2 points per possession which is third worst in the Big Ten, ahead of only Iowa and Indiana.

Michigan opponents are getting to the line a lot (FTR 38.2, 9th) and shooting the lights out from three point range (46%, 9th) while rarely turning it over (14 % TO Rate, 9th). Michigan has played some of the leagues best offenses (Purdue, Ohio State, etc.) but the defense will have to improve for Michigan to win conference games consistently.

Tempo. Michigan is playing the second slowest basketball in the Big Ten at 58 possessions per game. This deliberate tempo is obviously by design for Michigan and it makes every possession in a game a little bit more important. The trouble with this is that Michigan isn’t taking care of the basketball as well as they have in previous years under John Beilein. Michigan is turning it over on almost 20% of its possessions in the conference play, a mark that isn’t terrible but not good enough when you are trying to play this style of basketball.

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  • Alex

    That free throw discrepancy between Mich and OSU was a little ridiculous. My biggest concern is that the team does not lose confidence. If they play like they did against Kansas and OSU they will win games.

  • Ferramamos

    The team has a nice free throw shooting percentage, then why not create some plays around the free throw line to complement the constant 3 point shooting attempts (this of course if the defensive set up allows it.) The thing is, I think we need to look for alternatives to the 3 point shot when we are struggling.

    I would also love to see someone assume the complete leadership of the team, it seems we are lacking in that category. Perhaps I would love to see someone call a huddle during foul breaks etc. That is something Merrit and Lee did a lot, huddle the team and go over a few things.

  • Kenny

    I do not doubt Dylan’s statistics on defense but I think that the defense was pretty good in last two games.

    • Dylan Burkhardt

      It was great versus Kansas but lacking versus Ohio State. Mostly talking numbers from conference play here so Kansas did not actually count toward the defensive efficiency numbers despite the odd timing of the game.

      Ohio State shredded us last night but it was masked a bit by the slow tempo (57 poss.).

      • eddie

        Ohio State may have shredded us by the numbers, but they didn’t score a field goal in the last 8+ minutes of the game. Granted they went to the line a ton during that period, but a lot of that was intentional. There’s got to be a way to see through OSUs strong eFG% while still tipping one’s hat to what UM was doing defensively to get back into the game.

        • Dylan Burkhardt

          Michigan did come up with some big stops when they needed them but giving up 1.2 points per possession or more is going to get you beat 90% of the time. The defensive effort was equal to Wisconsin and just slightly better than Purdue (1.26 ppp).

          Michigan had given up over 1.2 points per trip four times over the last two years: Marquette and Wisconsin last year. Oakland and Wisconsin two years ago.
          This year Purdue, Wisconsin, and Ohio State have all topped that mark.

          The only game that Michigan has won when they played that poorly on defense was versus Oakland.

  • Deacon Blues

    Good stuff. The Morris stat is fascinating. I’d be curious whether anyone in the B10 tops 53%.

    • Sam

      I know Lauderdale is well above that for a fact, and certainly many other big men are as well. The easier the shots you take, the higher the percentage is going to be. Very rare for a guard to have high shooting percentages.

  • AG2

    The important thing is we’re shooting better. Defending the perimeter and winning the turnover battle are things that can be improved with experience.

  • Brian W

    Darius has cooled off from 3-point range, compared to the pre-Big Ten portion of the schedule. He’s still making some nice plays closer to the rim.

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