Game 9: Houston Baptist at Michigan Preview

Dylan Burkhardt
Who: Houston Baptist (3-5) at No. 21 Michigan (5-3) HBUhuskieType [Converted]
Where: Crisler Center (Ann Arbor, MI)
When: 12:00 p.m., Saturday, December 7th, 2013
Radio: MGoBlue, 950 AM, 1050 AM, Sirius 135

Michigan has played some very difficult games this season but it has also faced a number of woefully over-matched opponents. The Wolverines’ five victories are over teams with a combined 6-28 record against Division I opponents this season and Florida State accounts for five of those six victories. Michigan has feasted on cupcakes in early season play and will face one more on Saturday afternoon at the Crisler Center.

Houston Baptist has two wins over D-I opponents, winning its last two games at Army and against Rice, but is yet another low-major opponent on the Wolverine schedule. The Huskies are ranked 305th nationally by Ken Pomeroy and have never finished better than 317th in their five previous seasons in Division I.

The good news is that Houston Baptist is the last sub-200 ranked team the Wolverines face this season as the schedule heats up. Michigan has just two games (Holy Cross 109, Northwestern 144) against teams ranked worse than 100th by Ken Pomeroy’s rankings.

The Huskies

Houston Baptist is coming off its best offensive performance of the season, 1.05 points per game, at Rice. On the season, the Huskies have scored just 524 points on 553 offensive possessions: .95 points per trip. The 327th ranked Husky offense has been plagued by poor interior shooting, turnovers and lackluster offensive rebounding.

Houston Baptist abhors the three-point shot and its offense appears to revolve around isolation drives to the basket. Just 22% (345th) of the Huskies’ field goal attempts come from behind the arc and only 41% (321st) of their field goal makes are assisted. There isn’t a single player on the HBU roster with a higher assist rate than turnover rate. The Huskies give the ball away on 22.6% of their offensive possessions (329th) but attempt 46 free throws per 100 field goal attempts (98th) due to their aggressive nature of offense. Houston Baptist’s 35% three-point shooting isn’t bad but potentially skewed due to the low number of attempts. Interior shooting has been a struggle, HBU shoots just  44% inside the arc.

Defensively, Houston Baptist is slightly more formidable. The Huskies are ranked 238th in adjusted defensive efficiency and have a decent field goal defense. HBU opponents are shooting 47% (103rd) on twos and 34% (167th) on threes for a 48% effective field goal percentage (130th). However, the Huskies force turnovers on just 15% of their opponents possessions (328th) and allow them to rebound a third of their missed shots (236th). HBU is also coming off of its best defensive performances of the season but hasn’t played against a top-100 offense this season.


Tyler Russell leads the Huskies in scoring and playing time but the 6-foot junior has fairly pedestrian statistics across the board . He’s not a great shooter, but he doesn’t have many glaring weaknesses either. Caleb Crayton, 6-foot-3, and Marcel Smith, 5-foot-6, start alongside Russell in the backcourt. Crayton is a sophomore that has struggled to find his shot this year, 44% on twos and 2-of-10 on threes, while Smith is a diminutive low-usage guard with a decent three-point shot.

Cody Joyce stands 6-foot-8, 220 pounds and is great at getting to the free throw line where he struggles to finish, just 16-of-32 for the year, but he’s reached double figures in six of HBU’s last eight games.

Ricmonds Vilde has legitimate interior size at 6-foot-11, 255 pounds and the SMU transfer moved into the starting lineup recently. He’s an elite defensive rebounder, grabbing 25% of opponent misses while he’s on the floor, and an above average offensive rebounder. He’s

Rob Lewis is HBU’s highest usage player and leading scorer at 13.4 points per game but he comes off the bench. The 6-foot guard shoots 46% inside the arc and 32% outside the arc and he’s HBU’s best setup man for good measure.

Dauson Womack is another option that opened the season in the starting lineup. The 6-foot-6, 205 pound forward is a good offensive rebounder but shoots just 37.5% inside the arc. Big man Alex Fountain didn’t play in the last game but the 6-foot-7 freshman opened the year in the starting lineup as well, he was named Mr. Basketball in Tennessee last season.


There will be little to take away from this game long-term but it’s a chance for Michigan to get back on the right page before a week of preparation for Arizona. Ken Pomeroy projects a 77-55 Michigan victory in a 65 possession game, giving the Wolverines a 98% chance of moving to 6-3 on the season.

Houston Baptist’s tendency to turn the ball over should play into Michigan’s hands, creating a number of transition opportunities for the Wolverines and that should open things up offensively. Transition threes, easy layups and shots that just weren’t there against Duke should be plentiful against the Huskies. If Michigan is able to get out in transition, the game could get out of hand quickly. If not, the Wolverines might be in for a stronger test with their half-court offense.

The players I’ll be watching closely are Glenn Robinson III, Derrick Walton and Zak Irvin. Robinson’s struggles have been well documented, and he needs to find a groove. It’s no secret that Michigan needs Robinson to play much better if the Wolverines are going anything this season. This is also the last chance for Michigan’s freshmen to experiment against a lower-DI foe. Zak Irvin has shown signs of finding a comfort zone while Walton has had some great games and some forgettable ones. Both freshmen are critical to Michigan’s success.


  • KAM

    Glenn needs to have a 40 15 and 15 type game or else ill be extremely upset. anything less is UNACCEPTABLE! Those numbers shouldn’t be that hard. GO BLUE

  • KAM

    Oh and Dylan.. Do you think we try some Caris at the 1 again this game?

    • I would like to see it. Wouldn’t surprise me at all.

      • KAM

        One last thing if you can answer.. If we put caris at the 1 would you want Nik at the 2 irvin at the 3 glenn 4 and mitch 5, or a different lineup?

        • Chris De Sana

          I would prefer to see a 2 big line up with Horford in the line up as a Dennis Rodman type of player. High energy at both ends on the glass.

          • “Horford as a Dennis Rodman type of player” … Are you just going to turn Jon into a different person?

          • Chris De Sana

            Not thinking he will ever be that kind of on ball defender but I do think he has more rebounding potential than most anyone on the roster

          • Mattski

            I had a good chuckle at this. He’s possibly a better shooter than Rodman already. But it is interesting to contemplate whether he’d play with more abandon if told to just go hunt rebounds. He does show flashes of great ability in doing so. . .

          • mikey_mac

            You sure see something in Horford that I don’t.

          • Chris De Sana

            Just asking, who do you think has more “potential” to be affective on the glass? Other than of course Mitch.

          • mikey_mac

            Horford is probably the second-best defensive rebounder on the team, but that’s generally because he’s the tallest player on the court. I would never think of him as either a Rodman type or high energy. I don’t see anything like a bounce in his step.

        • guestavo


  • Chris De Sana

    Just wondering if any of the beat guys ask coach about Caris moving to the point? Is the Donnal redshirt thing a done deal? Any word how he is doing in practice?

    • KAM

      Im wondering about the donnal thing.. he has to be more valuable offensively than Morgan and jon.. Even if he struggles on D a little his offense could help.

      • Donnal is on the Caris plan. They plan to redshirt him unless he impresses too much to keep him on the bench anymore.

        • Chris De Sana

          Any word how he is doing in practice?

  • rlcBlue

    Sounds like a great opportunity to work on defensive fundamentals – stopping the ball, help rotations, defensive rebounding. Would also love to see some progress in running the offense – executing the pick & roll, screening and cutting, reading the defense. However, the sheer talent difference is going to mask a lot of failures…

    • Yep. That’s generally the problem with games like this. You can usually see major problems because if they stand out they are probably an issue. But some things will be overshadowed.

  • Chezaroo

    This game will quell a lot of fan unrest as everyone will be excited about getting back into the winning column regardless of the competition. If it turns into a fire drill with lots of lay ups and dunks, it’s counterproductive in my opinion. Two things I’m looking for; Caris spending some time at PG, and a desire to shut down an inferior opponent by playing TEAM defense. Go Blue!

  • Always Blue

    I would really like to see the Wolverines focus on getting Mitch and Robinson into some kind of offensive rhythm that they can build on. I don’t think Nik has the game to consistently score in big numbers against better competition. Ultimately he’s going to be more effective when he’s part of a balanced attack that prevents what Duke did to him this week.