After a dismal offensive performance at Cameron Indoor Stadium on Tuesday, the last few days have been filled with questions about Michigan’s offense. Who can score the ball if Nik Stauskas struggles? What’s wrong with Mitch McGary and Glenn Robinson III? Can Derrick Walton lead the offense?
Those questions aren’t going to be answered in one game, especially against Houston Baptist, but the Wolverines showed they are more than capable of scoring on Saturday afternoon. John Beilein’s group tallied 107 points in 66 offensive possessions, setting a Michigan record offensive efficiency in the Ken Pomeroy era (2003-13) at 1.62 points per trip.
Five Wolverines reached double figures, led by Nik Stauskas with 25 and Glenn Robinson III with 17, and 12 different Michigan players scored at least one point. Michigan moved the ball well, tallying 26 assists to just seven turnovers on 36 made field goals, and played nearly flawless offensive basketball.
Michigan’s offense was prolific in the first half, scoring a ridiculous 1.93 points per trip, and slowed down a bit in the second half but still finished with its best offensive mark of the KenPom era. Michigan also shot the ball extremely well, tying a program record for made threes in a game at 16. The Wolverines shot 67% on twos and 62% on threes for a 79% effective field goal percentage – another KenPom era record. Michigan’s offense appeared a bit disjointed in the second half but that was probably due to the high number of free throws, the Wolverines attempted 20 free throws to 22 FGAs, and a few more turnovers (U-M had 18 turnovers to 1 assist in the first and 8 assists to 6 turnovers in the second) but was still very efficient at 1.35 points per trip.
Houston Baptist mustered a heroic shooting performance during the first few moments of the first half, somehow keeping pace with the Wolverines early on despite Michigan’s offensive perfection. The Huskies made their first seven shots from the field, including three triples, but eventually the hot shooting dried up. From that point on, Houston Baptist shot just 16-of-52 (1-of-14 3-point) from the field for a 32% effective field goal percentage. The Huskies were never able to get to the line and turned the ball over often, especially in the second half, allowing Michigan to score 28 points off of 16 turnovers.
The major takeaway defensively was that Michigan’s ball screen defense still needs work. Houston Baptist’s smaller, quicker guards were able to split the hard hedge to get in the lane often. The hard hedge works defensively but the entire point of hedging is to eliminate that penetration. Splitting the hedge is a problem with execution rather than strategy and is a problem that would be fatal against better opponents.
It’s always better to play a great game against sub-standard competition than a mediocre one but attempting to extrapolate much from a 54 point drubbing, other than a nice confidence boost, is a bit foolish heading into next week’s tilt with Arizona. The Wildcats are likely to travel to Ann Arbor as the No. 1 team in the nation and have the most imposing frontcourt that Michigan will face this season.
- Mitch McGary: McGary was dominant with 12 points, eight rebounds, six assists, four steals, a block and two turnovers in 23 minutes. He was knocking down mid-range jumpers early but most impressive was his ability to push the tempo off of steals and defensive rebounds. That’s when McGary is at his best and he’s really only looked comfortable doing it against Florida State this year. This was Mitch’s most complete performance of the season which is encouraging with arguably his most difficult test yet coming next week against Arizona.
- Glenn Robinson III: Robinson rarely shows emotion but he cracked as big of a smile as I can remember this season late in the first half after a big alley-oop. That was great to see because he finally looked comfortable on the floor, getting involved in the spots where he’s most effective: in transition, from the corner and along the baseline. Robinson finished with 17 points on 6-of-9 (2-4 3pt) shooting with four assists, four rebounds (two offensive) in 25 minutes. A solid step in the right direction.
- Nik Stauskas: Stauskas was glad to see open three-point looks again and knocked down 6-of-9 long range efforts en route to 25 points. Stauskas loves playing against the 2-3 zone and it showed. He’s great at making the right pass, flashing in the middle and taking the open three-point shots. He finished with four assists on the day and played smart with just one turnover.
- Derrick Walton: Walton shot the ball very well (3-of-3 all from long range) and got to the free throw line when he attacked the basket. His three-point attempts were good ones: they weren’t too deep and they were open off of the catch and shoot or when his defender went under the ball screen. He seemed to let the game come to him and played well overall. One of his two turnovers was an ugly one (a baseline inbound pass off the backboard) and the other came in transition but he had a solid performance overall.
- Zak Irvin: Irvin just knows how to score the ball. The start to his career was a bit rocky but since he bottomed out against Charlotte, he’s settled into a groove. Irvin was 5-of-7 from the floor (3-5 3pt) and finished with 14 points in 20 minutes. He looks more comfortable each time he steps on the floor and his jumper is gaining some consistency, going 16 of his last 25 from the floor with 10 threes (84 eFG%).
- Spike Albrecht: Albrecht’s patented over-penetrate and dish along the baseline maneuver works well against over-matched competition and he tallied six assists (and 0 turnovers) in 18 minutes against HBU. He knocked down his only three of the game after the defender went under a high ball screen for a solid night of work.
- Caris LeVert: LeVert was the only bright spot against Duke but he was missing in action today. His one field goal was a great scoop layup off the pick and roll but he was just 1-of-4 from the floor with two steals , a block, an assist and a turnover. Michigan had so many other options working that it didn’t matter but LeVert is slumping with his three-point shot. He’s made just 3 of his last 18 attempts (17%) after opening the season 12-of-22 (55%). He had a rough turnover in transition and despite a few steals and blocks, he didn’t look very comfortable defensively either.
- Jon Horford: Horford had some great plays on the low block including a turnaround jumper off glass, a left handed hook shot and a reverse layup along the baseline. He missed a couple of bunnies as well but finished but 6 points on 3-of-6 shooting and six rebounds in 11 minutes,
- Jordan Morgan: Morgan had sequence of plays that only he could manage, throwing an outlet pass off of Caris LeVert’s back before recovering to draw a charge on the ensuing fastbreak. He missed a pair of free throws but rebounded with a couple of nice finishes off of good ball screen passes.