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Scouting Report: Michigan Wolverines

On3.com
On3.com
 2022-12-04
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Photo by Aaron J. Thornton | Getty Images

The Kentucky Wildcats are across the pond and set to take on the Michigan Wolverines on Sunday afternoon. London’s O2 Arena will be the sight for the Basketball Hall of Fame London Showcase. Maine versus Marist will serve as the undercard prior to the #19 Wildcats taking on the Wolverines. It will be the first meeting between these two programs since Aaron Harrison sent the ‘Cats to the Final Four with a win over Michigan in the 2014 Elite Eight in Indianapolis.

Led by Fab Five member Coach Juwan Howard, the Wolverines come to London sporting a 5-2 record. They laid an egg offensively in a 25-point blowout loss to Arizona State in Brooklyn and just lost 80-78 on Tuesday night to Virginia in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. All-American big man Hunter Dickinson is the name everyone knows, but freshman Jett Howard has come in and made an instant impact in Ann Arbor. Their size will challenge the Wildcats and Oscar Tshiebwe will need to stay out of foul trouble guarding Dickinson.

As always, we’ve got an in-depth scouting report to prepare for Sunday afternoon’s matchup in London. We will take a look at the Wolverines personnel, breakdown their offensive and defensive scheme, and go over the keys to the game. Let’s dive on in and get to know more about the Michigan Wolverines.

Michigan Wolverines Personnel

Starters

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#3 Jaelin Llewellyn: 6’2″ 190 lbs, Graduate Student Point Guard

7.4 ppg, 3.1 rpg, 2.6 apg

Point Guard. Will be the primary ball handler when he is in there. Very willing shooter, but just 5-25 from 3. Made 62 3’s last season, but isn’t a good shooter over the course of his career. Start the game by going under the ballscreens and handoffs. Help off of him on #13 Howard and #1 Dickinson. Closeout to stay between him and the basket. No right hand drives! Give any jump shots or catch-and-shoot 3’s a contest. We will adjust if he makes a couple. Wants to finish going to his right. Looking to get all the way to the rim. Stay between him and the basket and make him score over you. Be an active helper off of him when the ball goes in the post. Get the ball stopped in transition. No right hand drives. No layups.

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#2 Kobe Bufkin: 6’4″ 195 lbs, Sophomore Guard

9.4 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 2.9 apg

Lefty. Willing shooter. 5-27 from 3 this season. 13-63 for his career. Start the game by going under the ballscreens and handoffs. You can go up through the downscreens and under the flares. Help off of him on #13 Howard and #1 Dickinson. Closeout to stay between him and the basket. No LEFT HAND drives!!! Need to cut him off going left. He is really looking to attack closeouts going to his left. Stay between him and the basket and make him score over you. We will adjust how we close out if he makes a couple. Be an active helper off of him when the ball goes in the post. Get all the way back in transition. They will throw it ahead to him for him to drive it left. No left hand drives. No layups.

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#13 Jett Howard: 6’8″ 215 lbs, Freshman Guard

15.1 ppg, 2.1 rpg, 2.4 apg

Dynamic scorer. Versatile offense threat. SHOOTER!!! NO 3’s!!! 48 of 71 shots have been 3’s. 43.8% from 3. Need to be tight to him at all times to take away the 3’s. Will squeeze them off if you aren’t close enough. Get over the ballscreens and handoffs. Be very willing to switch to keep a guy on a guy. Switch OUT to take away the 3. Chase him off downscreens and get over flares. Have to provide help at the point of the screen so he can’t come off so cleanly. Be very willing to switch if there is too much space. Tighten up as the ball comes towards you. Get into his space on the perimeter and make him bounce it. Looking to drive it right. No right hand drives! Bring help when he drives it to make him give it up. Contest everything! No 3’s!

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#5 Terrance Williams II: 6’7″ 225 lbs, Junior Forward

8.4 ppg, 6.9 rpg, 1.0 apg

Strong, physical face-up 4-man. Willing shooter. 8-27 from 3. We would rather him shoot it from 3 than attack our closeouts going right. No right hand drives! Be there to give a good contest on the catch-and-shoot 3’s. We will adjust if he makes a couple. Very physical around the basket. Be ready for him to initiate contact around the basket. Need to be physical with him. Stay down on the fakes. Likes to use the shot fake both on the perimeter and inside. Right hand, left shoulder in the post. Stay between him and the basket and make him score over you. Excellent offensive rebounder. Box out!

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#1 Hunter Dickinson: 7’1″ 260 lbs, Junior Center

19.1 ppg, 9.1 rpg, 1.3 apg

Lefty. Skilled 5-man. Focal point of their offense. Loves to operate from the mid-post area. Will face-up on a lot of catches. Have to get all the way up into his space to take away the little face-up J. No uncontested face-up J’s! Will put it on the floor and drive it left. No left hand drives! Be ready to guard without fouling. Be physical with your chest and force him back into the help. Left hand, right shoulder in the post. Be an active helper off anyone besides #13 Howard or #15 Baker. Do not want him to be comfortable. Can’t let him dribble it more than twice. Always looking to duck you in for a deep catch. Feel it coming and work around to deter the pass. Have to take away the easy face-up J’s and the left hand, right shoulder baskets. Excellent offensive rebounder. Box out!

Bench

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#15 Joey Baker: 6’7″ 205 lbs, Graduate Student Guard

5.0 ppg, 2.4 rpg, 0.6 apg

SHOOTER!!! NO 3’s!!! 20 of 25 shots have been 3’s. Shooting 50% from beyond the arc. Significantly better from 3 than he is from 2. Have to chase him off of downscreens and get over the flares. Have to provide help at the point of the screen so he can’t come off so cleanly. Be very willing to switch if there is too much space. Tighten up as the ball comes towards you. Only thinking about 3’s and jump shots when he is in the game. Absolutely no help off of him. Find him in transition. No 3’s!!!

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#0 Dug McDaniel: 5’11” 160 lbs, Freshman Point Guard

4.0 ppg, 2.3 rpg, 2.3 apg

Backup point guard. Aggressive when he comes in. Better as a driver than as a shooter. 2-10 from 3. No right hand drives! Want to stay between him and the basket. You will take away his playmaking ability if you just stay in front. Do not over help when he drives it. Better passer than finisher at this point. Get your hands up and make him finish over you. You can go underneath the ballscreens and handoffs. We will adjust if he makes a couple. Get the ball stopped in transition. Stay between him and the basket. No right hand drives. No layups.

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#32 Tarris Reed Jr.: 6’10” 260 lbs, Freshman Forward

2.6 ppg, 2.3 rpg, 0.3 apg

Backup big man. Very athletic. Will ballscreen and roll to the basket. They will lob it up to him on the roll. Mostly just looking for it on the roll or when you help up around the basket. Do not help up off of him. Give ground on the roll to stay between him and the basket. Right hand, left shoulder in the post. Be physical and make him catch it off the block. Make him score over you. Will crash the offensive glass hard. Box him out!

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#25 Jace Howard: 6’7″ 225 lbs, Junior Forward

2.2 ppg, 1.3 rpg, 0.3 apg

Shooter! No 3’s! Not super aggressive, but you need to be there to take away the catch-and-shoot 3’s. Tighten up as the ball is driven towards you. Get all the way out to him and take away his attempts. Much better from 3 than he is from 2. Make him put it on the floor and drive it. No 3’s!

Michigan Wolverines Offense

The Michigan Wolverines are a free-flowing offensive team that really focuses on getting the ball into the post. Coach Howard creates good movement on the perimeter to make up for average-at-best shooting to create space for #1 Dickinson to play inside. Essentially all nine guys in their primary rotation, including Dickinson down low, are capable passers and are willing to move the ball which forces the defense into closeout situations. Michigan also is dangerous in transition though they don’t play at a frenetic pace by any means. Their downfall has been lack of movement once the ball does go inside. They can get stagnant as everyone watches #1 Dickinson go to work. Forcing him to give it up and play back out to the perimeter could lead to getting stops.

The Wolverines aren’t necessarily looking to push it hard in transition, but they are opportunistic. When they push the ball ahead you have to make good decisions in transition defense. Again, the mantra is protect the basket, stop the ball, matchup with the next most dangerous guy. #13 Jett Howard is ALWAYS the next most dangerous guy. You do not have a matchup in transition. The Virginia defender in this clip should have been running to #13 Howard in the corner and just stunted at #2 Bufkin. Instead, he matched up with #2 Bufkin (5-27 from 3) and left #13 Howard (21-48 from 3) wide open in the corner.

Obviously a lot of what the Michigan Wolverines do offensively is centered around getting #1 Dickinson the ball down low. Coach Howard does a good job of manufacturing space for him to play in and mixing up different ways to get him the ball on the block. This high-low set is a good example. They just clear out his side, flash to the high post, and then let Dickinson whip around for the pass over the top. You can’t let yourself get ridden this high when guarding him. Working three-quarters of the way around the front is good, but when he gets that far off the block you have to slide back behind so they can’t go over the top. Hard to guard when he is 7’1″.

Here is another look at a set play the Michigan Wolverines will run to free up #1 Dickinson. This is an old-fashion screen-the-screener action that you should be able to see coming. Anytime that he gets a catch all the way out on the perimeter you should expect a back screen coming. When Dickinson gets his catch you have to force him back to your help. Letting him drive it to his strong hand along the baseline is no good. He loves to face up but is significantly better going left. Get over and cut him off and let the help come.

Coach Howard has a few set plays that he will run out of a Horns alignment. Michigan does a good job of creating some pre-movement to shift the defense and disguising their sets before getting into the primary action. Hard to guard when #13 Howard can come off that handoff with so much of a running start. Good decision by Virginia’s defense to step over and make him give it up though. We will live with that 10-12 jumper over letting Howard get all the way to the rim going to his right hand.

This is essentially the same simple downscreeen action that Joey Hauser and Michigan State hurt us with so much in Indianapolis. We have to be better providing help at the point of the screen AND ride #13 Howard OVER the screen chasing him to hopefully push the catch out further. We can’t let him come directly off into a shot like Hauser did so often. The breakdown here is helping off #15 Baker instead of #25 Howard. You CANNOT help off of #15 Baker. That is going to lead to an automatic three points.

Michigan Wolverines Defense

Coach Howard is still trying to find his team’s identity on the defensive end of the floor. His teams in Ann Arbor have never been one to force turnovers, but they typically are elite at taking the opponent away from three-point range. That hasn’t necessarily been true this season. The Michigan Wolverines philosophy has always been to allow contest two-point jumpers while taking away the three-pointers and being great at protecting the rim. However, this season, aside from still being excellent at the rim the Wolverines have struggled on the defensive end. Playing very soft drop coverage with Hunter Dickinson in the pick-and-roll hasn’t gone well. Opponents have found success hitting the roll man against Dickinson who doesn’t move all that well. They will try to keep everything in front of them defensively, but simply don’t have the individual defenders that they’ve had in the past.

Keys to the Game

  • Contain #1 Dickinson and #13 Howard. Michigan goes as those two go. Have to make them work for everything they get. No easy face-up J’s or right shoulder baskets for #1 Dickinson. No 3’s for #13 Howard.
  • Dominate the glass. Despite the Wolverines size with #1 Dickinson down low, they are not a very good rebounding team. We have to have the advantage on the boards. Create second chances and defensive rebound at a 77% rate.
  • Win the turnover battle. Michigan is one of the best in the country at not turning the ball over, but one of the worst in the country at forcing turnovers defensively. We have to take care of the ball as they are not even looking to turn us over. Force 14+ while committing 11 or fewer.
  • Dictate the tempo. Our best advantage is going to be speed and athleticism. Get stops, rebound the ball, and then push it hard looking for early scoring opportunities. Rim-runs, drag ballscreens, or early 3’s will all be there.

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