John Beilein

Fascinating look at Michigan’s increased use of the pick-and-roll


Here’s a trivia question for you, one that I’m not sure that I could have answered until just a few minutes ago: Which team has posted the best single-season offense during the KenPom era (2002-2014)?

Give up?

It was Michigan this past season, as their adjusted offensive efficiency was 124.1, meaning, essentially, that on an average offensive possession, the Wolverines scored 1.241 points. That number barely beat out Chris Paul’s 2005 Wake Forest team and the 2012 Missouri team that won 30 games while playing with four sharp-shooting guards.

Crazy, right?

Perhaps what’s even more impressive is that the Wolverines were actually better offensively than they were when they had National Player of the Year Trey Burke, first round draft pick Tim Hardaway Jr. and a healthy Mitch McGary during the 2013 season, when they “only” led the nation in offensive efficiency.

That’s not necessarily a huge surprise. Head coach John Beilein has been known as an offensive mastermind for a long time, and the last two years he’s coached two lottery picks — one of whom was National Player of the Year — two more first round picks and a trio of guards coming back this season that will have a shot at getting drafted in 2015. Give a brilliant x’s-and-o’s tactician NBA-level talent and the result is almost always going to be positive.

But what has made this offensive explosion so impressive is that Beilein has completely revamped the way that he coaches offensively. Back in his West Virginia days and his early seasons with the Wolverines, Beilein ran an offense that featured a two-guard front, plenty of movement and a number of different offensive sets. His first season at Michigan, the Wolverines used ball-screens just 4.6% of the time offensively.

And now, as beautifully lays out, the Wolverines are running ball-screens on nearly 30% of their possessions. It’s why they are winning, and it’s a huge reason why his players are getting drafted as high as they are.

In 2013, everything that Michigan did ran through Trey Burke. It was his ability in the pick-and-roll, and the fact that the Wolverines spaced the floor with a myriad of sharp-shooters, that allowed them to make a run to the national title game. His ability in ball-screen actions is what made him appealing to NBA team.

The same can be said for Stauskas. If he couldn’t operate in the pick-and-roll as well as he did last season, he wouldn’t have been the No. 8 pick in the draft. He might not have been a first rounder.

And all this came from a change in coaching philosophy more than three decades into Beilein’s career.


Stanford loses key veteran guard to stress fracture

Marcus Allen
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Stanford guard Marcus Allen will be out indefinitely after suffering a stress fracture in his right foot, the school announced on Monday evening.

“We want to make sure Marcus is fully healthy before returning to the court,” Stanford coach Johnny Dawkins said in a statement. “Marcus played at a high level during our summer exhibition competition in Italy, where he was one of our leading scorers. We will certainly miss him as we continue to prepare for the season, but we are fortunate that this happened now and he will be back before he knows it.”

The loss of Allen is a potentially brutal blow in an already-thin back court. The 6-foot-3 Allen started 23 games as a sophomore last season, averaging 6.4 points and 3.5 boards. But he averaged 11.4 points and 5.4 boards as the Cardinal made a run to the NIT championship and looked poised to be able to replace the departed Chasson Randle’s production this year.

What’s worse is that without Allen, Stanford does not return a single player in their back court that averaged more than 11.5 minutes. Sophomore Robert Cartwright looks poised to step into the starting point guard role, but neither Dorian Pickens nor Christian Sanders looked like they were ready for that kind of role in the Pac-12 last season. Dawkins does return Malcolm Allen, Marcus’ twin brother, who sat out last season with a broken wrist.

The good news is that Stanford’s front court is strong enough to carry the Cardinal until Marcus is healthy. Rosco Allen, Reid Travis and Michael Humphrey will be able to hold their own against any front line in the Pac-12, while Grant Verhoeven and freshman Josh Sharma will provide adequate depth.

Utah lands top-75 center Jayce Johnson

Larry Krystkowiak
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Utah picked up its center of the future on Monday as four-star center Jayce Johnson pledged to the Runnin’ Utes, a source confirmed to The 7-foot Johnson recently cut his list to Cal, Colorado and Utah with the possibility of reclassifying to the Class of 2015.

Regarded as the No. 67 overall prospect in the Class of 2016, Johnson will look to attend Utah in December as a walk-on who will redshirt. While Johnson likely won’t play this season, he does give head coach Larry Krystkowiak another big man to use in practice to go against sophomore center Jakob Poeltl. A solid long-term prospect, Johnson has a good frame to add weight and he’s also skilled finishing with both hands. Utah now has its replacement for Poeltl if he opts to leave for the NBA after the season and he gets an extra semester to work with the program.

Johnson is coming off of his official visit to Utah this weekend as he joins junior college guard Jojo Zamora in the Class of 2016.