Something special is materializing out in Ann Arbor. Head coach John Beilein and the Wolverines continued upon their torrid start to the season (15-0 start is best since 1985-86) with two more impressive conference wins last week versus Northwestern and Iowa. Even more notable than the wins themselves (and they were notable, as the Wolverines dropped 94 (vs. NW) and 95 (vs. Iowa) respectively), is the way in which the Wolverines offense has evolved this season. A once predictable offense in years past has now transformed into the most explosive attack in the nation. Granted, Beilein has assembled by far his most talented team to date with freshman sensations Nik Stauskas, Glenn Robinson III, and Mitch McGary. Still, the Wolverines offensive production is still staggering considering their conventional output since Beilein arrived on campus.
From 2007 to last year, Beilein’s offenses averaged 65.3 points per game while shooting an average of 42.7% from the floor. During that timeframe, the offenses were always structured and had their limitations. That’s not to say they weren’t efficient, as they were (the team’s tournament win vs. Tennessee two years ago is proof of that). Still, they weren’t nearly as explosive as what we are witnessing this season. Through 15 games, the Wolverines are averaging 82.0 points per game (7th nationally), all while shooting an outlandish 52.2% from the field (2nd nationally). Throw in the fact that the Wolverines are limiting their opponents to just 40.5% shooting, and it’s not hard to see why they are boat-racing their opponents on a regular basis (boat-racing=22.5 point average margin of victory).
I think much of the Wolverines success stems around Trey Burke’s ability to dictate tempo. Beilein obviously has the utmost trust in his sophomore point guard’s decision making, and for good reason. For a player who has the ball in his hands the majority of possessions, Burke has played nearly mistake free basketball. His 113 assists to just 28 turnovers is a testament to the type of floor general he has developed into within the Wolverines offense. In years past (even last year during Burke’s freshman campaign), the Wolverines played cautiously on offense, almost trying to feel out how the opposing team wanted to play from a tempo standpoint. Those days are long gone. The Wolverines look to attack you from the opening tip, and Burke makes sure to let the other team know what pace the Wolverines are looking to play at. Northwestern experienced that first hand during their game with Michigan last Thursday, as Burke scored 13 points in the game’s first five minutes; basically putting the game away early.
There is still a lot of season ahead of us as most teams start their conference slate of games. Michigan is the one team in the nation that has a totally different feel to it from years past. With such a young group of players, it is scary to imagine what this team will be like come March.
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