Defensive Score Sheet: Wisconsin at Michigan

Dylan Burkhardt

Michigan’s loss to Sunday was easily pinned on another disappointing defensive performance. The Wolverines surrendered 75 points in 60 possessions, their second worst defensive showing of the season.

Wisconsin big man Frank Kaminsky (25 points) went wild on the inside and his teammates managed to hit just enough threes to buoy the Badgers when Kaminsky didn’t have the ball. Michigan failed to force turnovers (just two) against Wisconsin’s disciplined offense and struggled on the defensive end for most of the game, except for a stretch midway through the second half.

There are very few, if any, individual positives to take from this defensive score card. Every Michigan player that logged at least 10 minutes was very bad defensively. This wasn’t the case of one player asleep at the wheel, Michigan’s entire defense was asleep at the wheel.  

  • Caris LeVert did a decent job sticking with Traevon Jackson (1-of-6 shooting), but Jackson’s penetration led to some prime opportunities for other Wisconsin players (six assists). LeVert’s nasty habit of ball watching when shots go up to the rim cost Michigan time and again in the first half. He’s been a great rebounder in recent games, but that was an ugly habit to reappear.
  • Glenn Robinson III forced a team-high eight field goal misses, but he also gave up a team-high 6.5 field goals. Robinson did draw a charge against Dekker, one of Wisconsin’s two turnovers of the game.
  • All six of Jordan Morgan’s field goals allowed were to Frank Kaminsky (five twos and a three). Morgan played a wonderful defensive game a month ago in Madison, so it was disappointing to see such a lackluster performance in the rematch. This is the second straight game that Morgan has struggled on the defensive end.
  • Derrick Walton is another player who graded out very well in the first meeting, but struggled in round two. He got bullied a bit more by Wisconsin’s physicality, but while Albrecht graded out better that seems like it was due to limited playing time.
  • Nik Stauskas had a lower usage rate than many of his teammates but gave up two costly threes in the first four minutes of the game. While those set the tone, he wasn’t credited with any other allowed field goals.
  • Jon Horford graded out as Michigan’s best defender by a wide margin, but he picked up four fouls in nine minutes — hence the four made free throws allowed. Fouls have always been Horford’s Achilles’ heel and he struggled to keep his arms up straight against Kaminsky.
  • The 10 made free throws were assigned to ‘Team’ due to Michigan’s late game fouling.


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

    How would u have graded Nik?

    • geoffclarke

      I’d give him a 125.6.

      • Mattski

        Sounds a bit low.

  • Mattski

    Ouch. When the NCAA tourney seeding comes out, we’re all going to be looking for teams with really talented talls in our path as roadblocks. Dunno if it’s ungentlemanly, but with ten fouls to give, I would wonder about playing some strongly disruptive D on a guy like Kaminsky from the outset. Once a guy like that gets in rhythm. . . Wonder what you basketball heads would think.

    • Most of Michigan’s defensive struggles this year have been against really talented guards. When Michigan rebounds well, bigs haven’t been a huge concern.

      You could say, ‘well why don’t you double Kaminsky?’ but with Wisconsin’s three-point shooting, and given the first meeting in Madison, you can see why U-M would be hesitant.

      • guestavo

        Defensive rebounding doesn’t count? Indiana, Wisconsin, Iowa, FSU, etc all gave us troubles because they get 2nd, 3rd and sometimes 4th attempts to score in any one possession consistently

        edit: I see “when we rebound well” which is a pretty big qualifier

        • Defensive rebounding certainly counts, but is a different issue than what we saw against Kaminsky.

          I was saying the 1v1 post iso defense hasn’t been a big issue for Michigan.

          Defensive rebounding issues can’t just be pinned on one person, matchup or position. The defensive rebounding in the first half was bad against Wisco, but by the end of the game it wasn’t the biggest issue (nothing like Charlotte, IU, Iowa or Arizona).

          • Chezaroo

            Agreed. Wisconsin got two more offensive rebounds this game then they did in the last contest. Until Mitch’s emergence last year, JB was resolute in downplaying rebounding differential. I don’t subscribe to that belief, but his teams have historically been outbounded consistently over the years. More revealing is a first half that saw us score 19 points, have 7 turns, and 0 assists. Horrible execution and production.

          • Rebounding margin is a worthless stat.

            You have to look at offensive and defensive rebounding separately with offensive and defensive rebounding percentages.

            I can guarantee you that Beilein doesn’t downplay defensive rebounding — although at times Michigan doesn’t crash the offensive glass too hard.

          • Chezaroo


      • Mattski

        I was thinking of Arizona’s Ashley, and–upcoming–MSU. But maybe putting bodies on people in the lane is part of the same issue; I know that Brian at mgoblog thinks we should foul more. (A layman like me just looks and thinks we need to be tougher, especially as Kaminsky blows by Morgan for the umpteenth time.) True that it’s opposing guards who have mostly hurt us; we have some glaring vulnerabilities. Maybe this also goes back to the root question about Beilein’s style and the B1G. . . I love our style when it’s working.

        • Big fours have caused some hurt. I’ll give you that.

          What else was Michigan going to do? Horford was whistled for four fouls in 9 minutes.

          As Beilein said, Michigan’s defense worked perfectly agianst Kaminsky in the first meeting. The guy played one of his best games.

      • rlcBlue

        It’s easier said than done, but I think we needed to put more pressure on Kaminsky when he was driving from the three point line. Wisconsin’s spacing was very good, so it would have been a long haul and a shooter would have been left open; but Kaminsky had proven he could score, so it was time to make him prove he could hold on to the ball and make a pass in traffic.

  • JGiebz

    I didn’t analyze this game play by play, but it seemed that Kaminsky was being guarded by GRIII on multiple possessions and it wasn’t a result of switches. Did anyone else see that and if so what was the logic behind that game plan?? I know Morgan wasn’t doing anything to stop him, but he easily backed down and then shot over Glen.

    • That was generally when Hayes and Kaminsky were both on the floor. Tough matchups for Michigan… In hindsight, maybe should have played it differently. Kaminsky is more of a pick-and-pop guy (he also obviously had the quickness to beat Morgan off the bounce) while Hayes is even bigger. I don’t think Glenn could have really guarded either of them.

  • Dr_ZC

    This is the difference with Mitch playing defense. He anticipates well, and can intercept passes coming down low. Having said that, I noticed that we do not close the passing lanes the way we used to. Glenn had a few opportunities to go for the steal on a few passes and drive unmolested for the jam, but he defended conservatively, or did not react on time. It seems that the no foul mantra is hurting our defense, when we should be more aggressive in our home court.