Defensive Score Sheet: Michigan at Michigan State

Dylan Burkhardt

Let’s start with the obvious, Michigan’s defense wasn’t great in East Lansing. The Wolverines surrendered 1.20 points per possession and only escaped the Breslin Center with a victory thanks to a couple timely stops down the stretch.

The Wolverines haven’t held an opponent under a point per possession since Northwestern on January 5th, but are in the midst of an impressive winning streak featuring three consecutive top ten victories. Michigan will probably have to play better defense at some point, but right now it just keeps on scoring.

  • Caris LeVert really battled for Michigan. I know that his numbers aren’t that great, Gary Harris finished with 27 points, but Michigan literally had no one else that could chase Harris around. To play 39 minutes and still manage to add 17 points on offense is an impressive feat. Michigan’s defensive success or failure might lie in LeVert’s hands against teams with skilled wings. LeVert has shown flashes – at Wisconsin, at Michigan State stand out – but has yet to establish consistency on the defensive end. That will be key over the next two months for the Wolverines.

  • Jordan Morgan graded out much better than Jon Horford for the third game in a row. Michigan’s pick and roll defense just looks a lot more coherent when Morgan is on the floor and I thought he did a tremendous job hedging and recovering time and again – something that doesn’t even really show up in the defensive box.
  • Horford had the two critical blocks late, but he was also hit for five makes and four free throw attempts. His early shifts were the culprit, but when Michigan needed him most he settled in and helped get some critical stops late in the game. I think his lower scores in this metric backup his more gambling nature of defensive play – going for blocks which are sometimes at the expense of an extra rotation.
  • Nik Stauskas was Michigan’s star on offensive, but his defensive numbers are ugly. Alvin Ellis had a career game for Michigan State at the guard spot, and most of his production came at the expense of Stauskas. Ellis had only made two field goals in Big Ten games before Saturday, when he went 4-of-4 from the floor with two threes for 12 points.
  • Derrick Walton did a great job of negating Keith Appling in the half court and similar to LeVert on Harris, he was Michigan’s only player that had the athletic ability to keep up with Appling or other jet quick guards. Walton has obviously made strides offensively, but his defensive effort in East Lansing and Madison was impressive as well.
  • Glenn Robinson III grades out very well, which isn’t surprising considering that Kenny Kaminski, Russell Byrd and Denzel Valentine had poor offensive games (3-of-12 combined). Robinson got lucky a few times as all three players had at least a crack at some open threes, but they didn’t go down.
  • Zak Irvin needs to do a better job of contesting jump shots. He has good defensive tools, but his close outs just aren’t good enough to prevent a competent shooter from rising and firing at this level.
  • Max Bielfeldt deserves a lot of credit for stepping in and playing with physicality. He grabbed as many or more defensive rebounds than Horford and Morgan did for the entire game.

Previous Defensive Score Sheets:

Find the full calculations regarding the defensive score sheet here. The primary stats that may be unfamiliar are:

  • FM – Forced field goal miss (includes blocks)
  • FTO – Forced Turnover (steals, charges taken)
  • FFTA – Forced missed Free Throw Attempt
  • DFGM – Allowed Defensive Field Goal Made
  • DFTM – Allowed Free Throw Made

Defensive Rating (DRtg) is calculated based on the stops and scoring possessions assigned to the player, it’s an estimated measure of points per 100 possessions.

  • kam

    WOW.. i didn’t realize Ellis scored that much…i remember the one 3 late. I remember there were some people saying Nik may be our best defender.. He’s able to hide on the 3rd best wing. Thankfully he’s an offensive Pro! Really impressed with waltons Defense. He’s gonna be a GREAT defender next year, he has all the tools.

  • mazs

    I get that the these defensive stats, like all stats, are just a tool and are not definitive. For reasons similar to these stats often inadequately assessing Morgan’s defensive contribution–hedging, help defense etc–outliers can skew them as well. One could argue that 3 of Ellis’s 4 baskets weren’t really on Nik—one was a transition layup and two were 3s. While Nik certainly shouldn’t get a pass on the 3s, I doubt the game plan was to challenge Ellis on the perimeter.

    • I agree about Ellis hitting threes… probably not in the game plan.

  • jemblue

    Does “Team” here mean that there was a double/triple team, so one player couldn’t be credited? Does it also included uncontested fast break points?

    • Team is meant to be wide open layups, usually a fast break — I could probably be more generous at giving fast break layups to team. Essentially any play that more than 2 people, or no one in particular, would be credited.

      Double teams will be split generally. Half credit to both.

  • Also.. Chris Mackinder also tracks defensive scoresheets and has done some Michigan games. He hasn’t posted MSU, but check his site out.

    The numbers were fairly consistent compared to some of the ones I’ve posted over the last couple weeks (Iowa, Wisconsin).

  • Dana

    This stat will always be slanted against Irvin. He doesn’t allow blow byes so nobody shoots on the run against him. Shots against him come when a bigger guy gets him low or set shots as he closes out. These are high percentage shots. He’s a very fundamental defender that simply needs to recover a fraction sooner. Once he’s doing that he can start working on being more aggressive with his hands. The approach the team and Zak have taken to implementation of his game to the team should be in a manual. It’s going to be fun watching his role expand on both D and O.

    • g

      this is quite insightful… i wasnt paying that close attention but felt that irvin may be a star in a few years.