Form Tracker: February 13th, 2014

Michigan vs Iowa_9

Our weekly feature tracking the performance of Michigan players performance over two game segments of the season. Form Tracker is now interactive. Readers can vote on each player’s rating by hitting ‘Too low,’ ‘Too high’ or ‘Agree.’ Photo: Scott Mapes

Derrick Walton7.5 (Last week: 7)

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 Derrick Walton is a player on the rise. It seems as though Michigan’s freshman point guard is growing in confidence each game, and he played one of his best games of the season against Ohio State. He didn’t score quite as much as he did at Michigan State, but he put the team on his back in the second half — all of Walton’s points came in the latter frame and he also pulled down 10 rebounds and handed out six assists. Walton wasn’t great against Iowa — almost no one was — but he was solid. He only scored five points on a 3-pointer and a couple of free throws, but he dished out six assists to only one turnover. Michigan fans figured Walton would be the point guard to carry Michigan in the future, but more and more he’s looking like the point guard of the present.

Caris LeVert7 (Last week: 8.5)

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 Caris LeVert has sat on the bench for a grand total of five combined minutes during Michigan’s past two games, underscoring how important the coaching staff believes it is to have LeVert on the floor. Looking at his production, it’s tough the argue with them. LeVert, along with Zak Irvin, was the only Michigan player to get anything going against Iowa, scoring 22 points and grabbing five rebounds in the blowout loss. While his defense on Roy Devyn Marble wasn’t great, a lot of Marble’s points were the result of bad team defense by the Wolverines. With a few made threes LeVert would have had a similar stat line against Ohio State, but the sophomore only hit one of his six attempts for nine points, five rebounds and two assists in the big road win.

Zak Irvin: 7 (Last week: 8)

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 It was the Zak and Caris show against the Hawkeyes with little supporting cast involvement offensively. Zak Irvin hit three twos and four threes on his way to 19 points against Iowa, and then followed that up with a solid performance in Columbus. The freshman scored 10 points, but more important than the quantity was the timing of his scores — Irvin’s two 3-pointers (the only two he took in the game) arrived just in time to key Michigan’s offense in both halves of the game. Irvin has solidified himself as Michigan’s go-to scoring option off the bench, and he is steadily eating away at the minutes of Glenn Robinson III: Robinson logged 25 minutes in each of the past two games, while Irvin played 22 and 20 minutes, respectively.

Jon Horford: 6.5 (Last week: 5)

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 Michigan’s big man coming off the bench didn’t score much against Iowa but was otherwise solid with seven rebounds (three offensive), two assists and a block against the Hawkeyes. Jon Horford was more of an offensive force against Ohio State, where he hit four of his five shot attempts for eight points to go along with four rebounds. It seemed as though, late in the game, that Derrick Walton and Horford were able to develop a rapport with Walton driving the lane and Horford scoring off some nice dump-offs from the freshman. The pair combined for some big buckets in the second half against the Buckeyes.

Nik Stauskas6 (Last week: 6)

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 After a tough go at Iowa, it appears Nik Stauskas may be back on track. Against the Hawkeyes the sophomore was mostly neutralized, taking only six shots and scoring 10 ineffective points. The statistical dropoff for Stauskas after the Indiana game is evident in the scoring column, but it’s also important to note the assist column: From Stanford through Michigan State, Stauskas had four or more assists in every game. Since his game against Purdue, Stauskas has reached four assists in only Michigan’s blowout win over Nebraska and he didn’t have one in either of Michigan’s past two games. The Canuck was more productive against Ohio State with an efficient 15 points, but teams are turning him into a catch-and-shoot player — which is bad news for Michigan given that Stauskas is one of its best facilitators.

Jordan Morgan6 (Last week: 5)

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 Michigan’s starting center had a rough go against Iowa, playing only 15 minutes and scoring no points in the blowout loss. He was also the casualty of an Adam Woodbury basket in which the sophomore simply beat him down the floor for a fast-break dunk — and extremely out-of-character mistake from Morgan. However, Morgan was quite good in Michigan’s win at Ohio State: in 19 minutes the redshirt senior scored six points on four shots and pulled down six offensive rebounds (eight total) in a huge win for the Wolverines. He may have bobbled a bunny or two, but he had some timely putbacks and worked his butt off against Amir Williams.

Glenn Robinson III: 5 (Last week: 7)

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 Glenn Robinson III is still experiencing some difficulty finding an offensive groove. The sophomore’s minutes are trending downward, and it’s easy to see why: he just hasn’t been able to put the ball in the basket consistently. Robinson scored 23 points against Nebraska in a blowout win, but against Iowa and Ohio State he combined for 11 points on 3-of-13 shooting from two and 1-of-4 shooting from three. It’s worth noting that Robinson hit a huge 3-pointer in the corner in Columbus to seal the game for Michigan, which perhaps can give the sophomore some confidence heading into this final stretch of Big Ten games.

Spike Albrecht4 (Last week: 4)

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 Michigan’s backup point guard did what he could in 20 minutes against Iowa. His shot wasn’t falling, but he pulled down three rebounds and dished out two assists in the loss. Albrecht didn’t play much against Ohio State as Derrick Walton dominated the second half, totalling only four minutes.

  • toblav

    The Stauskas adjustment to the way they are guarding him progressed well vs. Ohio State, but I expect that it isn’t complete. He will, quite possibly, be returning to normal numbers vs. the over play with the point guard on him as the adjustments are complete. In Beilein I have confidence.

  • frgglrck

    Three Things:

    First, I love the form tracker posts. It must be the engineer in me.

    Second, its pretty interesting to compare this year to last year this time: http://www.umhoops.com/2013/02/19/form-tracker-february-19th-2013/

    We had a better record 21-4 overall, but worse B1G at 8-4. That was a hugely brought on by the B1G coaches figuring out how to manage Stauskas earlier in the season. The other interesting thing to see is how much more spread out the talent is this year. Last year you had Burke at astronaut levels with Hardaway and Robinson yo-yoing performance and a steady OK Stauskas, (4 guys who can contribute + McGary showing signs). This year you have no one that is consistent (unless you count the bigs as Morford), but 7 guys who can rise up at any given week.

    Third, our losses in the B1G last year were when teams shut out Staukas, which was early in the season. This year is the same, it just took longer for them since he was really “not just a shooter”.

    Conclusion, B1G coaches focus a ton on defense, but Beilein with a more diverse team is able to outwit the schemes better than with one superstar. The last two years we’ve seen teams try two strategies against Beilein, 1) take away the #1 option (failed against Burke and had recent success against Stauskas) or 2) take away the other four guys and let the #1 try to do it all (worked against an overall weaker supporting cast last year, did not work at all the first half of B1G this year). My conclusion is not news, B’s entire career has been beating better teams by having so many ways to score, but this team is a good example of that.

  • Mattski

    If Walton can create, bring the ball down, threaten from the top of the key and on the drive, the pressure on Stauskas is reduced enormously. Now we’ve got three creators (with Caris), and may emerge from this daunting stretch–in which it looked as though M’s offensive goose might be cooked for the season–in better shape than ever. Jon’s continued emergence, Irvins’s. . . things look pretty rosy, just days after it looked like we were headed off a cliff. Beilein & co. have to receive a lot of the credit. (All this takes some of the immediate pressure off of GRIII too, no?)

    Came to post this earlier. . . Walton is the first M freshman to go 10-5-5 since Chris Webber, according to the Freep. While we were all deliberating whether he was a disappointment, he turned into a star.

    • guestavo

      He isn’t a star yet.

      • Mattski

        I’m going ahead and declaring it, getting that out of the way. :) He certainly has been the difference in several recent games.

        • guestavo

          He has a high ceiling but he isn’t even a top 3 player on our team, let alone a star.

          • Mattski

            Starred last night, probably going to be Freshman all-conference. Probably the difference against OSU and Nebraska. Not the preeminent guy on our squad, for sure. Beyond that. . . “star” becomes a little nebulous? At any rate, the exaggerated discontent about his playing can subside.

          • guestavo

            I can agree to that.

    • maquih

      I think Walton’s relationship to Stauskas is doubly important ever since opponents have started defending Nik with their point guards. That leave Walton with a mismatch to exploit. It seems that Walton is the key to neutralizing what was a devastating defensive strategy aimed at neutralizing Stauskas.

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