Defensive Score Sheet: Minnesota at Michigan

Dylan Burkhardt

The Wolverines played one of their best defensive games of the 2013-14 conference season on Saturday, holding the Gophers to 56 points in 59 possessions.

Michigan dominated the defensive glass, thanks mostly to Jordan Morgan, and played surprisingly strong transition defense in the first half. Glenn Robinson III was able to use his athletic ability to break up a number of fast break. The Wolverines were also able to cause a number of turnovers against a sloppy Minnesota team.

  • Caris LeVert tallied team highs in forced misses and forced turnovers. As the season wears on, he’s doing a much better job of utilizing his length to disrupt opposing offenses. He had a number of other deflections that didn’t end up as turnovers, but still rattled the Gopher offense. LeVert has had the toughest defensive assignments all season and I think it’s fair to say that he’s improved over the last month.

  • Jordan Morgan played a whale of a defensive game and the numbers back him up. Morgan was responsible for 30% of Michigan’s defensive possessions, mostly because he grabbed so many defensive rebounds. Morgan also forced three turnovers and caused havoc drawing offensive fouls while bothering Minnesota’s big men.
  • Nik Stauskas struggled on the defensive end, surrendering a team high 6.5 made field goals and 2.5 free throw attempts. Stauskas has struggled defensively of late, and both Andre and Austin Hollins combined for six of his 6.5 made field goals allowed.
  • Derrick Walton and Spike Albrecht both graded out at roughly the same level. Walton has the better natural defensive abilities, but Albrecht is the more experienced option. John Beilein has managed to platoon both players effectively this season and both guards have made critical last offensive and defensive plays in Big Ten wins.
  • Jon Horford gets a boost from grabbing two boards in 8 minutes, and while I criticized him a bit in the game recap he didn’t grade out too poorly.
  • Zak Irvin always gets hurt a bit in these rankings because he doesn’t play too many minutes and doesn’t grab too many rebounds. Irvin did get beat on a three for Charles Buggs, but otherwise had an uneventful defensive game.


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.

  • Ben

    hopefully nebraska gets that 4 seed bye. You have to like our chances of reaching the finals playing nebraska on a neutral court or Iowa/osu with on their 3rd game in three days.

    • rlcBlue

      My goodness, what a clusterfark in the rear-view mirror. It’s not hard at all to imagine Northpennduenois finishing in a four way tie for last at 6-12. I refuse to speculate on how that would be seeded. Indiana could finish anywhere between fourth and ninth inclusive. Iowa and Nebraska? Second? Sixth? Yikes.

  • guestavo

    Who is the best two-way player in the John Beilein era?

    • kam


    • eddieben


    • rlcBlue

      Will I really be the first to suggest Burke? Trey was not a lock-down defender by any means, but he had his moments.

      • jakerblue

        He could definitely steal the ball, the one against Appling to win the MSU game last year comes to mind.

      • kam

        He was really good at stealing the ball but he wasn’t a great overall defender

        • jemblue

          I thought he was pretty solid. His long wingspan served him well – he got a ton of blocks for a small guard.

        • rlcBlue

          Right, but it depends on how you want to answer Guestavo’s question. Given that Burke is hands-down the best offensive player in the Beilein era, how good a defender does he need to be in order to win the all-around title?

          A different question would be: Who is the best defender of the Beilein era? Answering that would depend on how you want to weight different skills against each other – how much better are steals than defensive rebounds? Given how much of defense doesn’t show up in the boxscore, it’s difficult to quantify.

          If I had to rate defenders based on skills, I might guess:

          Best on-ball defender – Senior Stu Douglass
          Best perimeter thief – Junior Manny Harris
          Best post thief – Freshman Mitch McGary
          Best post position defender – Senior Jordan Morgan
          Best shot blocker – Ekpe Udoh
          Best defensive rebounder – Freshman Mitch McGary
          Best transition defender – ? Douglass?

    • gobluemd16

      Hopefully in a year or two we are talking about Caris!

  • mazs

    Horford’s rating reinforces that statistics are only a tool. He was consistently out of position and late hedging and recovering—his worst game in a while. Its why Beilein only played him 8 minutes.

    • guestavo

      Or maybe his mistakes didn’t result in a score.

    • I tend to agree. I think it’s more just a sample size issue.

  • Wayman Britt

    Nik is a great player, no doubt there, but if he could pick up his defense in March – watch out!

    • guestavo

      I just don’t think he has the foot-speed. Watching him try to keep up with Hollins around screens wasn’t a pleasant site..

  • UMHoopsFan

    It would be interesting to see how transition and secondary break baskets are scored on this. For instance, if Nik misses a layup or causes a TO, the ball goes the other way on a 2 on 1, and Hollins ends up scoring over Walton — is that an FA on Walton? This is the general problem I have with these stats. If there’s a break down on the D, rotations ensue, and someone hits a 3 over a player closing out, is that an FA on that closing-out player? It’s not unlike how screens never show up on the offensive score sheet, of course, but it seems to me an FM/FA on defense is not as good a measurement as FG/FGA. Of course, you do what you can to try to put some stats up there, and I’m sure my questions aren’t original.

    • A lot of things will be split. Player A gets beat off the dribble and player B is late helping — that will be a half made field goal for each.

      Transition will often times be attributed to team if it’s just a fast break layup.

      But I agree for the most part.. I’m not sure this is the best method by any means, but I do think the data is somewhat useful as long as it’s taken with context.

      • UMHoopsFan

        Thanks for the explanations, they were helpful. I certainly do appreciate the effort making these and didn’t want to dismiss them as an interesting tool and data point.