Form Tracker: February 26th, 2014

Michigan vs Purdue_26
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)

Caris LeVert9 (Last week: 7)

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If someone only watched Michigan’s past two games completely outside of the context of the season, they would likely think it was Caris LeVert, not Nik Stauskas, who was Michigan’s number one scoring threat. LeVert was unstoppable in Michigan’s games against Wisconsin and Michigan State, scoring a career-high 25 points against the Badgers in a losing effort and pouring in 23 points against the Spartans while carrying the Wolverines in the first half. We have analyzed, thoroughly, LeVert’s relentless production this season, but maybe the most important aspect to his high scoring numbers over the past two games is his long-range shooting. Against Michigan State and Wisconsin, LeVert combined to hit eight of 11 3-point attempts.

Nik Stauskas: 7.5 (Last week: 6)

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Nik Stauskas had a rough game against Wisconsin. The sophomore was guarded well by the Badgers on ball screens and Wisconsin’s defenders did an excellent job recovering quickly and not allowing Stauskas the sort of open looks he was getting in Michigan’s previous game against them. The result was 11 points on 4-of-11 shooting and three turnovers, as well as a loss for Michigan. However, Stauskas turned it around in a big way against Michigan State, catching fire in the second half and hitting shots from wherever he felt like it. The young Canadian abused Keith Appling in the latter frame, going 7-for-10 from the field including three triples for a total of 24 points, five assists and three rebounds in a vintage Stauskas performance.

Glenn Robinson III6 (Last week: 5)

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While it would be nice if Glenn Robinson III achieved a higher score, but you get the sense that a variation of this top three is how Michigan’s players ought to be ranked if things are going well for the team. Robinson wasn’t horrible in Michigan’s matchup Wisconsin, just not terribly productive: 10 points and three rebounds just isn’t going to cut it against a team as good as the Badgers. Robinson played much better against Michigan State, scoring 15 points on nine two-point attempts. While he missed all three of his long-range attempts, Robinson was active cutting hard and flying around the basket (he had five rebounds). This week drove home the truth about Robinson: when the offense is gelling, he has a big hand in it; when it’s not, he’s not the one to get it going.

Jordan Morgan6 (Last week: 6)

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Michigan’s redshirt senior center had a solid outing against Wisconsin, scoring 5 points on 2-for-3 shooting and corralling five rebounds while logging 29 tough minutes. Many pointed out the ease with which Frank Kaminsky seemed to score in the post, and it’s true that Morgan just didn’t have the foot speed to keep up with the big man a few times. But let’s also keep in mind that Kaminsky is proving to be a very, very good post player. This is a guy who scored 43 points in a game earlier this season and followed up his 25-point, 11-rebound performance against Michigan with a 21-point, seven-rebound game against Iowa. The 7-footer can just play. Against Michigan State, Morgan did an admirable job containing Adreian Payne, helping to hold the big man to 12 points on 4-of-9 shooting.

Spike Albrecht5 (Last week: 4)

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Spike Albrecht didn’t play much against Wisconsin, logging only eight minutes and recording two points on two free throws. The backup point guard played a significant role in Michigan’s win over Michigan State, however. Albrecht had a major hand in a first-half run that turned the tide against the Spartans: first, he knocked down a three off a nice look from Caris LeVert; one possession later, the sophomore returned the favor by dishing a pass to LeVert for another 3-pointer. Albrecht only ended up with three points and two assists on the night, but they were big.

Jon Horford5 (Last week: 6.5)

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Jon Horford grabbed six rebounds and scored three points in only nine minutes against Wisconsin and, like Jordan Morgan, struggled against Frank Kaminsky in the post. He played more against Michigan State but managed only three rebounds and two points in 16 minutes.

Derrick Walton4.5 (Last week: 7.5)

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Michigan’s freshman point guard appears to be hitting a little bit of a freshman “wall” after a couple weeks of great games. Derrick Walton had a very rough game against Wisconsin, scoring zero points and throwing the ball away twice in 33 minutes. Walton played better against Michigan State but was spelled effectively by Spike Albrecht and shot only 1-for-5 from the field, missing a few open 3-point looks. He did manage to dish out three assists in Michigan’s win.

Zak Irvin: 3.5 (Last week: 7)

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Zak Irvin has had an uneventful couple of games. Better days are ahead for this freshman but he simply didn’t have it against Wisconsin, hitting only one of his five 3-point attempts in the loss. Against Michigan State, Irvin played only seven minutes and missed both his 3-point attempts.

  • UMHoopsFan

    If you watched the last two games carefully, you would know that Nik was the primary scoring threat. I’ll give you an example. When we get that LeVert dunk to go up 64-52 against MSU, GRIII kicks a nice pass in transition to LeVert in the corner, Nik stops on the wing, and Harris from MSU stays with Nik even though there is nobody else within 10 feet of Caris. Why? Because directive #1 for teams is don’t leave Nik ever. I am a huge Caris fan, but part of the reason he is doing so well is because teams pay so much attention to Nik. Caris also had 0 assists against Wiscy and 3 assists vs MSU (compared with 2 and 5 for Nik). There’s a reason why the stop Nik and you stop UM is somewhat true. Again, Caris is great, but the identity of our most important offensive player is pretty obvious.

    • guestavo

      I thought Caris’ offensive explosion had more to do with mismatches and the ability to get by his man off a ball screen consistently unlike Nik. MSU switched Gary Harris onto Caris in the second half. Give credit when due.

      • UMHoopsFan

        I am doing exactly that, giving credit where it’s due. Caris is playing great. But think for a second about what you wrote. Other teams put their best perimeter defender on Nik, pretty much always. Why? And Harris guarded Nik much of the second half. And when he didn’t, Nik completely dominated. So even though the best defensive player guarded Nik more of the game, he went 9-13 (vs 7-15 from Caris) with more assists. Nik has a higher ORtg and TS% despite a higher usage rate and being the #1 target of opposing defenses. He has higher ppp in ball-screen action because he can shoot and pass better than Caris out of those right now. Caris is only going to get better, and he’s already pretty darn good. But on offense, the primariy scoring threat for UM is clear.

        • guestavo

          Harris guarded Nik much of the second half? Funny because I saw Appling on Stauskas. Izzo even made mention that he put Harris on Levert.

          Who cares who the primary scoring option is? This is an article about this week. It just sounds like a way to discredit Caris and prop up Nik. Luckily, these form trackers don’t consider defense or rebounding or Nik would be bumped down a notch pretty much every week.

          • UMHoopsFan

            Go back and rewatch the 2nd half and see how much time Harris is guarding Nik. That’s the point – they tried something else briefly and realized that it was untenable.
            If you don’t care about something, feel free not to argue about it. I didn’t say Caris was over-ranked or Nik should be ranked higher or anything negative. You take pot shots at Nik (and the coaches and GRIII) all the time. Not my style. But Nik’s the primary offensive option for this team, and everything else feeds off that. Doesn’t take anything away from Caris, just gives Nik his due.

          • Guest

            .

          • UMHoopsFan

            I’m not mad. Joe, who authored the post, made a somewhat classic mistake of praising one player through exaggeration and taking away from others. In the long run, I don’t think it’ll help Joe, the site, or fans getting a better understanding of Michigan hoops. I was simply pointing that out. I’m done arguing with you.

          • guestavo

            So you were mad at his opinion and felt the need to correct him with your opinion. Great.

          • guestavo

            So you’re mad because you think Nik is ranked too low. Dylan included a poll for that reason. I don’t know your style other than delusional observations that are skewed from whatever biases you have.. Nik is a great shooter and PnR passer and the bigs feed off him but he is not Lebron James. Caris had a better week and February. Period.

          • Adam

            Why do you always need to trash Nik in order to prop up Caris? It’s getting to be really obnoxious with the way you rag on him. I’m not sure what point you are trying to prove but what’s wrong with having two really good players instead of your idea that Caris is the best player in the nation and Nik is just mediocre?

          • guestavo

            Where did I say Nik wasn’t our primary option? Did I make the initial post that basically said Caris only does well because of Nik? Nik is a great player but he is heavily flawed, just like Caris. Take away PnR and he is essentially useless outside of shooting jumpshots. The game is more than just that. Of course, you couldn’t tell based on some people’s skewed perception.

    • Mattski

      Maybe. But also watch Caris give the tiniest fake that roots the defender to his spot, and gives him all the time in the world to reach the rim.

      • UMHoopsFan

        You mean a fake that roots Harris to Nik? Maybe. You think Harris stays with Nik to box him out? Perhaps. I think Harris stays with Nik because that’s his directive. Nik has just torched MSU and Harris is back on Nik with instructions to stay with him at all costs.
        Caris is great at using fakes, generally, and he’s getting much better at using fakes and not getting stuck if the fake doesn’t work. He’s excellent with hesitation moves too. His passing out to the 3 point line is also improving Becoming very well-rounded, with a couple things left to do to be truly special on O.

  • Dr_ZC

    Makes no sense to argue here on who is the best player or not. Everybody is entitled to their opinion. We are all Michigan fans and we have nothing to split. If we do not agree, so be it. My take is that we do not need flames arguments and counter arguments for our opinions to prevail. For instance, I am not going to complain on why Nik was picked as the B10 player of the week. As long as it is an M player, I am happy.

  • http://www.umhoops.com/ Dylan Burkhardt

    I don’t think the line in Caris’ write up was supposed to be a negative about Nik… Nik was absolutely fabulous in the second half of the MSU game. He carried Michigan to that win.

    But he struggled a bit against Wisconsin, whereas Caris played two strong games.

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