[Patrick Barron]

Basketbullets: Iowa 2018-19 Comment Count

Brian February 4th, 2019 at 1:48 PM

2/1/2019 – Michigan 59, Iowa 74 – 20-2, 9-2 Big Ten

Some losses are hard to decipher. This was not one of them. Michigan played five different guys at center, one of them by choice, and there you go. Teske was +3 in 13 minutes; Michigan lost the other 27 by 18. Teske had 8 points and eight rebounds, four offensive, in his 13 minutes. Johns, Davis, Castleton, and Livers combined for three points and three rebounds.

Without the Big Sleep, Michigan had no one to attack the part of Iowa's defense that makes them real real bad: Garza. Non-Teske Cs attempted just two twos. Meanwhile Garza spent his time against Johns dunking after Johns tried to front him and found out that was a not good idea. Garza finished 7/9 from two.

Michigan has one bench guy, who is only a center in certain limited circumstances, and when foul trouble strikes Michigan can quickly morph from conqueror to baffled cheese merchant. We are back in the Oh No A Foul Zone of two years ago, when Moe Wagner was backed up by Mark Donnal. I loved last year, the year when Michigan's backup center was pretty kickass.

No more.

Let's talk about risk management. This whole thing started when Teske got a reach-in foul on a perimeter hedge 90 seconds into the game. Don't get me wrong: I love the perimeter hedge swipe. Teske's excellent at it, and this is maybe the third or fourth time this season he's fouled attempting it. But there is a time to avoid the risk, and that is 90 seconds into a game. Zero fouls with 15 minutes gone? Swipe away. Autobench beckoning? Just say no.

Let's talk about verticality. On the other hand, Teske's second was a massively wrong, incredibly consequential call where he did the exact thing you're supposed to: jump vertically to try to block the shot.

Tyler Cook barreled into him, the ball went wherever, and Michigan got hit with a horrible, game-deciding foul call. I've praised the NCAA's rule changes over the last few years, but you've got to actually adhere to them. Lewis Garrison did not.

In general this game was a terrible ref show with a zillion bad, game-changing calls in the first half and then inexplicably swallowed whistles in the second. I about lost my mind when Brazdeikis got hammered by Cook in transition in the second half and there was no call. After the ticky-tack first half that sent me down a Craig Ross spiral of conspiracy theories and recriminations.



Lewis Garrison and DJ Carstensen both did the game in the Trohl Center. IT'S REAL.

[After THE JUMP: discussions of things other than Teske fouls]

Autobench. Oblig: Teske fouled out in 13 minutes anyway. The autobench didn't get you anything. This isn't Rock N Jock where the 50-point baskets come down late. Buckets count the same in every minute of the game. I'd rather leave Teske in with his two fouls, in case you get more minutes from him overall. By the time he got back in the game it was a 13 point gap.



The pick of the randos. If I was Beilein I'd see if Castleton could provide some minutes backing up Teske. He's slight but very long and while he did give up a putback after trying to block a shot he was clearly more effective as a post defender than either Johns or Livers. He's got more upside than the other options.

Zoned. Welp: Michigan played a team that actually practices a long-ass 2-3 zone and the outcomes were un-good. Michigan's default approach there was to chunk it around the perimeter until someone got an open (or open-ish) look. This was often Poole from NBA range, and he did hit a couple and get fouled on another. 3/9 doesn't sound great but it's a point per possession in a game where Iowa won with 1.01 PPP.

The problem for Michigan is how much of the rest of the usage against zone came from Simpson. Matthews was 2/7 from three—again not great but one point short of a PPP. Simpson was 0/5. He's now 2/20 since his mind-melting outburst against Northwestern. His career three point shooting: 26%, 29%, 27%. I don't think we can expect that'll change, and his streakiness means that most games it's going to be worse than that.

I guess the good news is that with the nation's top D, if someone puts up a 2-3 zone and Michigan can clunk up a point per possession they're probably going to win. It doesn't seem like much more is in the offing:

“We have this habit of playing at the NBA 3-point line, playing really deep, and shooting NBA threes when we could possibly shoot college threes,” Beilein said. “If you guys have any secret on how to break it, I’d like your help. We can’t get guys to move against the zone.”



Unbreak my Matthews, say you'll hit a two again. Charles Matthews, 0/5 from two. A depressing running theme.

Matthews's offensive regression has been steep and inexplicable. I don't think it has much to do with changes in personnel from last year. Teske shoots enough that he can pull posts out with him, and Matthews's giant slump has occurred after Teske established that aspect of his game.

And it's not like he was benefiting from a bucket of assists:

  • 2017-18 Matthews: 37% of his shots at the rim (36% of those assisted); 37% of his shots other twos (27% assisted).
  • 2018-19 Matthews: 30% of his shots at the rim (33% assisted); 43% of his shots other twos (24% assisted).

Matthews's shooting is fairly opponent invariant since the vast majority of his midrange is and has been those fadeaway jumpers his absurd athleticism makes un-contestable. And the assist rates barely change. So there is no ready statistical explanation for why he's dropped from 39% on other twos to 27% (and much worse than that over the past couple months) at the same time more of his usage has settled there.

I dunno man. Reminds me of that year Tim Hardaway Jr forgot how to shoot threes. 



February 4th, 2019 at 2:32 PM ^

You're wrong on the autobench, Brian.

All points count the same, of course, but they're more consequential in the second half -- the leverage of each possession is higher.  If you make a bucket to tie the game with 2 minutes left, that was a more valuable bucket than the same shot made to tie the game at the half-time buzzer, simply because there are less possessions left for your opposition to react.

Also, Kriener came out and said after the game that their game plan was to jump into Teske and to get him in foul trouble.  (It was in an article in the Athletic).  If they'd put Teske back in with two fouls, he'd either have had to play the same olé defense that Johns did, or he'd have picked up his third within two possessions.

Note that Livers actually played some first-half minutes with two fouls.


February 4th, 2019 at 3:10 PM ^

J., while leverage is real, the problem with your argument is that the high leverage situation is a function of the earlier, lower-leverage situations. Yes, it's more valuable to hit shot in a game tying situation with two minutes than it is right at half-time, but it's not a given that you will be in a game tying situation with two minutes left. You might not be in a close game at all if you play your better player with two fouls in the first half: sure, if you'd benched him he might have been around to score eight points down the stretch to tie and then win the game; on the other hand, if you'd left him in in the first half, your team might have been up those eight points to begin with, and the high leverage situation would have simply failed to materialize in the first place.


February 4th, 2019 at 3:37 PM ^

I actually think that if Teske and fouls continue to be a lingering problem, the smartest thing that Beilein could do with our current personnel is to start both halves with either Johns or Davis and try to make it to the second TV timeout of each half before bringing Teske in. 

If you want Teske in for "money time," if that is theory behind auto-bench, than only play him during those times so that he will be aggressive when he is in the game.  My biggest complaint about auto-bench is not so much that it happens, but that it makes the player tentative when they are in the game because they are trying not to foul.  So, take it out of his hands.  If certain minutes are going to be deemed more important than others, than only play him the "important" ones and allow him to play with relatively little apprehension over his foul count.


February 4th, 2019 at 3:47 PM ^

I am sympathetic to this argument. In my opinion, the big problem with leaving guys out there with multiple fouls isn't that they will foul out, it is that they will change their play style and play worse in order not to foul out. If guys are going to play softer on defense when they've picked up early fouls, then autobench does make some sense, not because you're getting more minutes out of a player, but because you're trading some minutes of (possibly) compromised performance for minutes of fully engaged performance.

That said, I think actually prebenching a player (as suggested here) would only be worthwhile if you think a player actually is going to be in foul trouble a lot. Teske doesn't have that problem, in general, so I think you start him, maybe bench him for a few minutes if he picks up an early foul so he can collect himself, but don't automatically glue him to the bench for the entire first half.


February 5th, 2019 at 12:30 AM ^

He also says he doesn't have an auto bench policy.  Actions speak louder than words.  The worst defensive FTR (FTA/FGA) of any Beilein team in the KenPom era was last year's team at #90 nationally.  Here's the complete list:

  • At Richmond, starting in 2001: #4, #6
  • At WVU, starting in 2003: #40, #17, #77, #1, #33
  • At Michigan, starting in 2008: #21, #33, #7, #42, #43, #1, #2, #9, #17, #25, #90, #3

That is the profile of a coach who strongly believes that his players shouldn't commit fouls.


February 4th, 2019 at 3:51 PM ^

You're right, of course -- the auto bench theory assumes that you're able to hold your own, more or less, with the opponent during the stretch that the player is on the bench.  Clearly, that didn't happen: -6 with Teske out would have been manageable; -18 was a disaster.

That said, there may be times to criticize the auto bench -- Stauskas was a great example, because he was a guard who played off the ball and had a minuscule FC/40.  He wasn't liable to commit a charge, and you can scheme the defense to give him help if someone drives on him; he didn't have to contest it.

Teske was simply unplayable in that game when in foul trouble, because Iowa would have driven right at him, and the officials were clearly going to call nonsense fouls.  Michigan would have been playing 4-on-5 defense with a hole in the center of the paint.


February 4th, 2019 at 4:10 PM ^

Yeah, one way to think of it is that value of the shot at the second at the time it's made is "less" but it's value increases (or decreases) as the game goes on.  So if the game is blowout, then the value goes down, but if it's a close game, then the value goes up.  At the end of the game we know what kind of game we're in, of course, so then the value of a shots taken at that time won't fluctuate much.  But by the end of the game all the shots are still of the same value, and that's what matters.  We as observers feel that certain shots are more or less important depending on our knowledge of what's happened in the game.  So we know that a buzzer-beater will certainly win the game while we have no clue if the opening basket will be relevant to winning or losing.  But each basket is just as meaningful to winning or losing.  

Caveat:  This assumes that each basket is independent, so no "building momentum" or "hot hands" or teams that quit when down by a bunch (coughIndianacough).  It also assumes that the difficulty in scoring is independent of the clock, meaning if we can get 10 points outta the back-ups at 2 minutes into the game, then we can 10 points outta them with 2 minutes left.  If you think back-ups get late game nerves, then it makes sense to save starters for late game.

4th phase

February 4th, 2019 at 8:23 PM ^

Yeah I was thinking that since Teske fouled out in 13 min, the autobench was actually correct this time. Leaving him in means he would have fouled out sooner. Especially with the way the refs were calling the game and Iowa's clear plan to draw Teske fouls. This particular game isnt a good example of the auto bench being wrong.


February 5th, 2019 at 10:25 AM ^

The anti-Auto Bench crowd is no different than the "play the backup QB" crowd. It is an easy argument because seldom do you ever see the alternative when it matters.

There is also a strong likelihood that if Beilein had played Teske and he had picked up another foul early within the next two positions (which I would argue is highly likely due to opposing team strategy and recency bias of officials) then Brian and the auto-bench crowd would be harping on Beilein for leaving him in saying, but of course in this situation you should have benched him!!!



February 4th, 2019 at 2:33 PM ^

You mentioned Johns here and on the pod-cast for fronting the post.  I actually think what bothered me more about him and Livers in this game was the two times they tried to swipe a feed to the post, failed, and gave up a dunk.  Knowing that your team needs you on the floor, that swipe is a low-percentage reward versus the odds of getting called for a foul or getting dunked on.  Hold your ground, force them to make a tough two.  

Call me crazy, but I was surprised he didn't give Davis more time.  None of the back-up bigs gives you offense and I know Davis doesn't have the trust of his teammates in the ball screen game....but he knows his role on D.  Johns, Castleton, and DDJ aren't as good at rotations and switches.  Plus Davis is good for some physical post defense and to use his fouls.  Yet he only had one?  

My guess is that Beilein was so frustrated at the offense that he wanted one of the other bigs in the hope that they could shoot/score against a zone.  But they aren't ready for that.  

L'Carpetron Do…

February 4th, 2019 at 2:56 PM ^

Yeah I would send Davis in just to be borderline overly physical in the post, espcially against guys like Happ who are bad foul shooters (not Iowa's guys though, they seemed decent at the line). Davis is a foul magnet, no doubt and if he even breathes so much on a player he seems to get whistled, but he might as well challenge each shot and pick up some hard ones while he's in there. Michigan can trade the likely two for hopefully one or none. And there;s the chance the notoriously incomptetent B1G refs might not even call it. In any event, Michigan isn't worried about Davis' fouls - he's not going to foul out in the limited time he has and even if he does then they go to Johns or Livers. 

L'Carpetron Do…

February 4th, 2019 at 2:44 PM ^

In the preview I made a comment that Iowa was a motionless snake you came upon while hiking and you don't know if its dead, asleep, unconscious. Michigan could get bit, but there was also a way to get past it even if it wan't dead or unconscious. 

But, Iowa was the Live Snake. 

It sucks the refs were so bad but hopefully this is like the Northwestern and Nebraska games from last year - just a throw away game. It was awful, but learn from it, forget about it and get it out of your system. Get ready for the next one.

G Money

February 4th, 2019 at 8:39 PM ^

Great on defense. And very valuable on defense. Good rebounder...but....

Consistently bad on offense this year. When he has to shoot the ball (not dunk, not layup), he has been terrible. And he makes unforced TOs as much as anyone (Poole is close).

Anyone who said he'd need another year to improve his draft stock was wrong. He's worse on the offensive end. 


February 4th, 2019 at 4:22 PM ^

Idk, I think Matthews is definitely over thinking his offense. I think he may be putting pressure on himself to carry a bigger load when he just needs to make his game simpler and be more decisive, damn the consequences.


February 4th, 2019 at 4:57 PM ^

It seems like Carstensen refs a lot of our games...Garrison not so much (just the loses.)  I don't mind calling the game tight as long as its fair and consistent throughout the entire game.  Don't change it up as soon as the teams start to adjust.  A foul in the first half should be a foul in the second half...that's the unbelievably irritating part for me.


February 4th, 2019 at 6:08 PM ^

Those rebounding splits are incredible.  Teske with 8 in 13 min, the other guys fewer than half in twice as many minutes? Wow.

Part of Michigan's problem against zones, in my opinion, is they haven't loosened up their offensive rebounding policy (which is normally to not go for OREBs unless you're the C).  Your odds of getting OREBs against a zone are much higher so the calculus leans more towards going for them.  The benefits of crashing outweigh the costs against a zone.  Michigan needs to be sending Matthews and probably Iggy to the offensive glass against zones.

Low Key Recidivist

February 4th, 2019 at 6:25 PM ^

The refereeing put them behind the eight ball, but their lack of production on offense buried them.  And yes, the two are related as Teske in the high post could have made things happen and freed up some shooters.

G Money

February 4th, 2019 at 8:35 PM ^

Beilein hates fouling out more that Earthquakes and brain-eating zombies.

I'm cool with trying to get players thinking that fouling will put them on the bench during the regular season, but come tournament time, Teske better not sit in the same situation.

Also, as beautiful the UM offense is to see against man defense, they are painful to watch against a zone. Really painful. Like let's-get-some-information-out-of-that-terrorist-so-make-him-watch-the-UM-offense-against-a-zone-defense painful.

And, sorry, but it's been that way since JB has been here. He hasn't figured out a zone. Even the 3 point shots we took were long ones. The guy we have popping at the FT line has been one of the worst mid-range shooters (Matthews). If he isn't shooting a lay up or dunk this year, he has had one of the worst shooting years I can recall. I think he's learned to stop taking as many shots (or shoot when absolutely necessary; read end of the game). At least put Ziggy there.

G Money

February 5th, 2019 at 9:22 AM ^

Yes. When we had 5-6 NBA players, we beat zones. No shocker because that team will look good against any defense. 

Our offense against Iowa's zone was passing the ball around the perimeter until the shot clock wound down,  putting Matthews at the FT line and (only good part) not passing him the ball,  then finally having a guy make a desperate drive or take a long 3.

Iowa has a BAD defense.

We looked my elementary school team. 

And we actually have a few NBA prospects though Matthews has regressed. He should have taken his chances with the draft last year. I'm hoping he ascends to the mean and that he actually isn't a worse shooter. 


February 4th, 2019 at 10:26 PM ^

Teske fouling out doesn't support the argument against auto-benching: if a guy is gonna foul out anyway (and Teske/any 5 is generally more likely to than others), you do want to try to spread the minutes out into the second half. In this case, it makes sense to take your only capable center out for a while to calm down, hope to survive with the backups, and bring him back in for second half minutes. The problem isn't in taking him out, but perhaps he sat a bit too long and let Iowa build an insurmountable lead, where he could have been useful keeping it close. 

On the other hand, Beilein guards and wings have historically had miniscule foul rates, which makes the first half autobench nonsensical, since guys like Simpson, Poole and Matthews each commit fewer than 3 fouls/40 min, so even if they get 2 or even 3 first half fouls, they are still unlikely to hit 5 in regulation.

BG Wolverine

February 5th, 2019 at 8:18 AM ^

Driving to the rim and just running smack into a guy's chest, and getting the foul call is why the NBA sucks to watch.  it isn't a foul and should not be called, yet some refs still do.  If you get those calls, there is no way to play defense.


February 5th, 2019 at 1:19 PM ^

Charles is a good guy to have either in the middle of 1-3-1 offensive set or the baseline runner. 

He should not be on any wing or corner trying to make things happen. 

Beilein knows what he’s doing so I’m pretty sure they’ve discussed that and found options limited for Charles. Iso at FT line could be a win, ala Dirk w Mavs...without the money jump shot I suppose.