Form Tracker: December 18th, 2013


Michigan 70, Arizona 72-19Our weekly feature tracking the performance of Michigan players performance over two game segments of the season. (Photo: Dustin Johnston)

Glenn Robinson III9 (Last week: 4.5)

It’s tough to play better, or more efficiently, than Glenn Robinson III played over the past two games. Against Houston Baptist and Arizona, Robinson missed a combined four field goal attempts — he was 6-of-9 against the Huskies and a crazy 8-of-9 against the Wildcats. We have already analyzed Robinson’s scoring against Arizona quite a bit, but it’s sake to say it was the sort of breakout game Michigan fans have been waiting all season for. There is some consternation about his “disappearance” in the second half, but it’s worth noting Caris LeVert, Nik Stauskas and Mitch McGary combined for 24 points in the second stanza and Michigan’s offense didn’t suffer horribly — the Wolverines scored 1.19 PPP in the first half compared to 1.12 in the second. Not every player can score all the time, and different players are featured at different times in an offense that strives to be as balanced as Michigan’s.

Spike Albrecht7 (Last week: 3.5)

[myo_poll poll=54772 type =”bar” perc=”yes”]
Michigan backup point guard had a great week for someone used on just 15.5 percent of Michigan’s possessions. Spike Albrecht was effective in 18 minutes against Houston Baptist, scoring three points on his only field goal attempt and handing out six assists without turning the ball over. He was also very good on Saturday against Arizona when playing significantly more minutes. Albrecht played 25 minutes and scored 10 points on 3-of-4 shooting from the 3-point line. He also dished out four assists, finding Glenn Robinson III a few times for easy baskets. here is no denying the sophomore has a significantly better handle on the offense, and a more reliable jumpshot, than his freshman counterpart, Derrick Walton. It will be interesting to see how John Beilein handles their minutes going forward.

Nik Stauskas: 6.5 (Last week: 1.5)

Michigan’s go-to wing scorer was good but not great this week after recovering from his ankle injury, which kept him out of one game and probably limited him somewhat against Duke. Nik Stauskas’ stat line was good against Houston Baptist but looked like one from last year: nine 3-point attempts compared to just two from inside the arc. Against Arizona, Stauskas was quiet in the first half but a bit louder in the second, scoring 14 points somewhat inefficiently: the sophomore was 3-for-7 on twos, 1-for-4 on threes.

Jon Horford5.5 (Last week: 3)

Jon Horford scored six points against Houston Baptist in limited minutes and pulled down six rebounds. On Saturday, his effectiveness against Arizona was double-sided. He played more (17 minutes) and registered four blocks, which was great. That said, he also had only four rebounds, which is not as great. His blocks often came at the expense — or as a result — of failing to box out and not get defensive rebounds. In a game where Michigan desperately needed better rebounding from its bigs, it’s tough to see Horford’s blocks as a net positive.

Mitch McGary: 5 (Last week: 7)

Michigan’s All-American big man hasn’t really been playing like one. That may seem a bit harsh, but the Wolverines simply need more from McGary than what he’s providing, and they especially needed it on Saturday. McGary had one defensive rebound against Arizona in 23 minutes. To be fair, he scored eight points and made all of his free throws, and he also managed three offensive boards. But it’s that lone defensive rebound, when that was Michigan’s greatest weakness in that game, that stands out.

Caris LeVert: 4.5 (Last week: 9)

The main reason for LeVert’s low score this week is because he was nearly invisible against Houston Baptist — 1-for-4 for four points, two steals, an assist and a turnover. He was more active against Arizona, but mostly in the second half. LeVert scored 10 of his 15 points in the latter frame and he wasn’t terribly efficient doing it — the sophomore was 6-for-15 from the field for the game.

Derrick Walton: 4 (Last week: 5)

Michigan’s freshman point guard actually had a very good game against Houston Baptist: he made all three of his 3-pointers and all but one of his free throws to notch 14 points. But Walton just had a really tough night against Arizona. The Detroit native was clearly, and understandably, overwhelmed by the Wildcats’ experience and talent. Michigan coaches kept him on the bench for most of the game — he played only 14 minutes, his lowest total of the season.

Zak Irvin4 (Last week: 7)

Saturday’s matchup against Arizona was tough on both of Michigan’s freshmen, but you could argue Irvin got the worst of it. The freshman played only five minutes and was brought in mostly as a defensive replacement, especially late in the game. While he had 14 points in 20 minutes against Houston Baptist, his benching against the Wildcats overshadowed that performance.

Jordan Morgan2.5 (Last week: 5)

After playing a mere nine minutes against Houston Baptist and scoring four points, Jordan Morgan was kept on the bench for most of Michigan’s game against Arizona. The redshirt senior played only three minutes and the only statistic he recorded was a foul.

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  • Dr_ZC

    As much as I was pleased to see GR3 having an exceptional first half against Az, I was puzzled to see him inactive in the second. So, for this reason alone, I would give him at most an 8. On the other hand, I would think that Levert deserves better than a 4.5 despite failing to box out on the most critical play against Az.

    • Kam

      I agree. i think he overrated Glenn a bit and underrated caris.. Id have glenn as an 8 and caris maybe a 6

    • 9 may be a bit high for Glenn… Maybe an overreaction as he’s been struggling so much early on (you can see the trend in his spark line), but he was productive and had his two most efficient games of the season.

  • Fab 5 Legends

    Tough to see Morgan on the bench, I always thought he was effective down-low player for Michigan…it seems like he got worse? or less effective as his time in Michigan continues, from great freshmen year & sophomore year, to downgraded junior & senior year….

    • Kam

      He cant make lay ups and has stone hands.. Its hard for him to see the floor when he’s such a liability offensively

      • guestavo

        If only Morgan and Horford could merge into one player lol.

  • guestavo

    Surprised Levert is so low given strength of competition and context of him scoring against Arizona (crucial buckets) versus efficiency (which is an overrated by stat aficionados). I really hope Irvin isn’t tied to the bench for the whole year.

    • I gave him a lower score because of his defense. It was disappointing against AZ.

      • Dr_ZC

        My favorite teacher used to say every time he’d give us a quiz: “God gets a 10, I get a 9, and the rest of you follow”. Having said that, there is only a 0.5 points separation between Levert and Walton/Irvin. Levert did better than both (indicated by the minutes played), so I would think that he would deserve a 6. Now, GR3 seems to have gotten gods grade :), which I think it does not leave much for improvement, and for sure, he has ways to go.
        JB has a strategy to yank players out, after committing a turnover or a foul. I think he HAS to change his philosophy. He needs to pull players out, if they do not box out, and give offensive rebounds. GR3, Levert and our bigs are guilty of this sin.

        • Caris also did relatively nothing against Houston Baptist, FWIW. Remember these are based on two game intervals.

          • Dr_ZC

            Granted. Not to argue, but with the HB game out of reach (doubled), one can say that Caris as a starter took the back seat to others on the team. In my mind the HB game was never in doubt and frankly I cannot remember today who excelled as an individual, other than that the team played very well. That is to say, It is hard to find/rate the individual(s) who made the difference in a cup cake game, especially when everybody expected Michigan to win.

          • Champswest

            As I understand it, unless you impact the stat sheet, you must not have payed very well, therefore you get low grades.

          • Caris had two of his four least efficient offensive performances of the season in the last week. He struggled defensively (something that doesn’t show up in the stat sheet) against Arizona, including on a critical play that arguably cost Michigan the game.

          • Dr_ZC

            That was a nice article indeed. The key here is that when a shot goes up, our guys have the tendency to spectate, rather than take action and box out. The author of this article quoted JB’s film session following the Az game. However, he (or JB) forgot to mention that this is a chronic ailment, and it cost us the game against Charlotte, when we failed to box-out and get the rebound on their last shot. JB NEEDS not only to drill this in our player’s brains, but he has to start yanking players out of the game, when they fail to box-out.

          • AlwaysBlue

            And that article says three guys watched the ball so blaming Caris for the loss seems rather harsh. There were plenty of mistakes in that game, including by the refs on the phantom call on Mitch and Stauskas’ idea of a clean look.

          • Not blaming Caris for the loss… Just explaining a few reasons we graded him lower this week.

          • AlwaysBlue

            Got it, I just read arguably cost and it seemed harsh.

    • Chezaroo

      To me Zak’s ongoing development is the key to our season. There has to be some room to get him on the floor with Caris running the point. Possessions are going to be reduced once league play opens, and we are going to need shot makers that don’t require high volume attempts to score. Not sure he’s there yet, but four minutes a game reveals nothing.

  • Mattski

    In the absence of a clear-cut rationale, I always find these rankings a bit maddening. Beyond that, I am mystified by Jordan Morgan’s continuing disappearance–two years ago he was all BIG Second Team defense and one of the two highest FG%s in the league, right? He was an incredibly hard-working blue-collar player. Is it all absence of confidence or what?

    • Chezaroo

      Very sad to see Jordan at this stage. Was guts and glue to our team for 20 some games last year, doing all the tough jobs. Used to be a solid finisher and a diligent defender. Unfortunately he will relegated to 8-10 minutes a game this year barring foul troubles or injuries. Tough to make an impact in those minutes, when you used to play 20 plus every outing. Hopefully he can cash in on the sporadic opportunities he’ll get during conference season. He has been given little chance since ankle injury and McGary’s emergence in the tourney. Got to trust coaches, they see him every day.

  • Dr_ZC

    For those of us who think the Stanford game is an easy win, think again. Stanford dealt UConn (ranked 10th) their first loss of the year away from home. What is worse, is that they have two double-double players in points and rebounds (their 3 and 4 players). It looks like GR3 and Mitch will have their hands full. Stanford is a tall team and this will be a good chance for JB to start with two bigs to counter.

    • Chezaroo

      Totally agree. Stanford has already played in the Barclay Center twice this year ( we have experience there as well, last year ) and Dawkins is pretty much coaching for his job this year. If you read any of their local stuff, he has to make the NCAAs or else. They want this game BAD and it won’t be easy. Hopefully the extended time away from home may cause a little fatigue for them.

      • Dr_ZC

        They start two 6-10 players at the 4 and 5, and a 6-7 at the 3. They bring another big body off the bench at 6-10. All of them are very active rebounders. Their guards are 6-6 and 6-2. Their bench is not too deep, but my concern is our inability to rebound/box-out which can add to their rebounding strength.
        I think it is time for JB to match up with their size by starting Caris, Nik, GR3, Mitch and Hortford. Like you said, they just got a flagship win, and they are on a mission to make the NCAA’s and save JD’s job.

        • Chezaroo

          Going to be a lesson in patience and poise for us. In all likely hood this will be a limited possession game, and we can not take bad shots or force attempts. Hard to believe UCONN only scored 13 2nd half points. Very doubtful if JB starts with two bigs, but it’s inevitable that he will go to it at some point. Perhaps JMo can be resurrected here.

  • Adam

    Spikes rating is definitely overinflated. It’s clear he gets bonus points as a result of the fact he is not expected to do as much. While he had a couple nice games, he was not better than Caris and especially not Nik. Obviously expectations seem to play into the ratings so if a player like Spike isn’t expected to do much and then has a couple ok games he seems to be rated higher than a guy like Nik who is expected to do a lot, puts up much better stats and has a much larger impact on the game but maybe doesn’t reach his potential

    • Champswest

      Nailed it!

      I think the board would benefit from a more detailed explanation of Form Tracker than just “We each rate each payer and then take the average score.” At least it might reduce the disagreement over the ratings if we had a better understanding of the thinking behind the math (assuming there is a specific thought process).