Let’s start with the obvious, Michigan’s defense wasn’t great in East Lansing. The Wolverines surrendered 1.20 points per possession and only escaped the Breslin Center with a victory thanks to a couple timely stops down the stretch.
The Wolverines haven’t held an opponent under a point per possession since Northwestern on January 5th, but are in the midst of an impressive winning streak featuring three consecutive top ten victories. Michigan will probably have to play better defense at some point, but right now it just keeps on scoring.
- Caris LeVert really battled for Michigan. I know that his numbers aren’t that great, Gary Harris finished with 27 points, but Michigan literally had no one else that could chase Harris around. To play 39 minutes and still manage to add 17 points on offense is an impressive feat. Michigan’s defensive success or failure might lie in LeVert’s hands against teams with skilled wings. LeVert has shown flashes – at Wisconsin, at Michigan State stand out – but has yet to establish consistency on the defensive end. That will be key over the next two months for the Wolverines.
- Jordan Morgan graded out much better than Jon Horford for the third game in a row. Michigan’s pick and roll defense just looks a lot more coherent when Morgan is on the floor and I thought he did a tremendous job hedging and recovering time and again – something that doesn’t even really show up in the defensive box.
- Horford had the two critical blocks late, but he was also hit for five makes and four free throw attempts. His early shifts were the culprit, but when Michigan needed him most he settled in and helped get some critical stops late in the game. I think his lower scores in this metric backup his more gambling nature of defensive play – going for blocks which are sometimes at the expense of an extra rotation.
- Nik Stauskas was Michigan’s star on offensive, but his defensive numbers are ugly. Alvin Ellis had a career game for Michigan State at the guard spot, and most of his production came at the expense of Stauskas. Ellis had only made two field goals in Big Ten games before Saturday, when he went 4-of-4 from the floor with two threes for 12 points.
- Derrick Walton did a great job of negating Keith Appling in the half court and similar to LeVert on Harris, he was Michigan’s only player that had the athletic ability to keep up with Appling or other jet quick guards. Walton has obviously made strides offensively, but his defensive effort in East Lansing and Madison was impressive as well.
- Glenn Robinson III grades out very well, which isn’t surprising considering that Kenny Kaminski, Russell Byrd and Denzel Valentine had poor offensive games (3-of-12 combined). Robinson got lucky a few times as all three players had at least a crack at some open threes, but they didn’t go down.
- Zak Irvin needs to do a better job of contesting jump shots. He has good defensive tools, but his close outs just aren’t good enough to prevent a competent shooter from rising and firing at this level.
- Max Bielfeldt deserves a lot of credit for stepping in and playing with physicality. He grabbed as many or more defensive rebounds than Horford and Morgan did for the entire game.
Previous Defensive Score Sheets:
- Defensive Score Sheet: Iowa at Michigan
- Defensive Score Sheet: Michigan at Wisconsin
- Defensive Score Sheet: Penn State at Michigan
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.