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Sunday, April 21, 2013


We certainly welcome reader comments on any articles posted on this web site, including remarks from fans of the University of Michigan. We enjoy hearing from those folks, and getting a chance to show their perspective on subjects of mutual interest.

Some of the comments we've received recently have been amusing, to say the least. They have included personal name-calling and derogatory allegations, which are different than the way we often use amusing verbal labels that are intended to collectively describe a large segment of the UM fan base. Those comments have been answered, and the exchanges can be viewed by looking at the reply-threads at the bottom of each article.

In this article, we'll address one key statement made by a Wolverine fan very early this morning. The anonymous comment under review was purportedly made to refute my analysis that the Michigan Men's Basketball team is due for a backslide, effective immediately. There is one central thesis suggested by the reader, and we repeat it here verbatim:

This comment suggests that McGary (MM) and Robinson (GR3) are better players than any players on the MSU roster. So let's examine that claim by comparing the two UM players with several MSU players. This review will not include Derrick Nix, as he is graduating next month and will not play for the Spartans next year. It will also set aside any comparison to Adreian Payne, as his future remains technically uncertain.

  • Points:  GR3's average of 11.0ppg would place him third on the MSU roster, behind Keith Appling and Gary Harris. MM's average of 7.5ppg would land him on fourth-place, behind the aforementioned as well as Branden Dawson.
  • Assists: GR3's assist average of 1.1apg would rank in sixth-place, after five current Spartan players, as well as Brandan Kearney. MM would be in seventh-place, just above Russell Byrd and Bella Sibedwo.
  • Steals:  The two UM players would rank fourth and fifth on the composite list.
  • Blocks:  MM would be second to Dawson, while GR3 would be tied for fifth with Denzel Valentine.
  • Free-Throw %:  GR3 would be fifth on the list, while MM is one of the worst free-throw shooters in the league, and would rank 11th on the MSU team, above only walk-ons.
  • Three-Point %:  GR3 would be the third-best long-distance shooter for MSU, behind Harris and Trice. But MM would be last on the team, well behind Byrd and Kearney.
Not very impressive numbers by comparison to the returning Spartans in the six categories listed above. That leaves rebounding and field-goal percentage, the two best categories for the UM players. They would rank first and second in FG%, and first and third in rebounding.

Using these eight statistical measurements, and not including Derrick Nix and Adreian Payne, we can see that Glenn Robinson has a composite comparative ranking of between 3rd and 4th best on the MSU roster, and that Mitch McGary would rank between 5th and 6th best. Statistically speaking, both players would compete for a starting position, with Robinson a probable starter and McGary probably one of the first players to come off the bench. (Not counting Nix and Payne.)

Let's expand our review beyond a team-vs-team player comparison and take a look at these two players against the rest of the league.

The Big Ten Network tracks 12 player performance categories on its website, ranking the top ten players in each category. McGary appears on one list (rebounding) and Robinson is absent from all 12. Three MSU players appear on these lists, Appling, Harris, and Dawson. (Nix and Payne are also on these lists.) The Michigan players who are on many of these lists are Burke and Hardaway, not McGary and Robinson.

Finally, let's take a look at how the league coaches and the reporters who cover the league rank these two players. Both groups rank the best players with First Team / Second Team / Third Team selections, as well as Honorable Mention, All-Freshman Team, and individual awards. McGary and Robinson were not named by the coaches in the top 24 players in the league, but the coaches picked Appling and Harris as Second Team awardees. Robinson made the all-fresman team along with Harris, but Harris was named Freshman of the Year. The media picks were similar, though Robinson was Honorable Mention (since they don't pick an all-freshman team). Gary Harris was also picked by the media as Freshman of the Year. (Payne and Nix were also picked by both the coaches and the media in their lists.)

To summarize our analysis of the claim that Mitch McGary and Glenn Robinson are "better than any and all players on MSU":

  1. A statistical performance review shows that McGary and Robinson would compete for playing time and a starting position on the MSU team without Nix and Payne in the picture.
  2. McGary and Robinson are largely absent from the B1G conference stat-leaders, while Appling, Harris and Dawson are ranked in multiple top ten lists.
  3. The coaches in the league and the reporters who cover the league view McGary and Robinson as distinctly inferior players to three returning Spartans (along with Nix and Payne).

So it goes with the loose lips of Wolverine followers and fans who shoot their mouths off in any way they feel like doing, generally disparaging MSU players for no legitimate reasons. Spartan fans should not listen to such bunk without refuting the nonsense, and it is for that reason that we have presented this information here for you today.

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  1. After listening to all of the debate on those returning to the chUMps basketball team I must agree with Anonymous. The bracketology guru, Joe Linardi has moved them from a #4 seed this year to a #2 seed in next year's tournament. Case settled. Even though they are replacing the national player of the year and the second best player on the team with sophomores from the bench or freshman with no college experience. Makes total sense to me.

    By the way, Uncle Joe is employed by ESPN who's favorite colors continue to be maize and blue.

  2. Who was in the finals with those chumps? Last I check MM didn't start until the tourney. I believe the numbers would be a lot different if Robinson played the Small and MM started so this is a Chump article

  3. I'm actually pretty sure he had a few starts there prior to the tournament. Also, him not starting doesn't support the thesis that he would have done better, because clearly even his coach thought somebody else was better suited to be a starter. Also, I'm positive if you averaged out his stats by the minute, you wouldn't see anything that impressive. I cant even believe there was talk of him going in the first round considering that all I can see is that he had 6 good games all year. I would also say that in general that the big ten numbers specifically would be a better basis to compare the players on. This is because their in conference strength of schedule was pretty similar. From what I saw both Robinson and McGary were pretty terrible during the regular season. Based on their performance through most of the year and against their toughest opponents, I really don't see either of them getting inside of the first round had they made themselves eligible for the draft. It definitely remains to be seen as to whether those two will even have a decent season next year. I actually have a lot more hope for Robinson in this respect than McGary. McGary has some pretty glaring downsides way beyond simple under-performance. I mean the free throw issues and foul trouble are huge. I also don't see him as being a particularly great defender, and without having Hardaway Jr. or Burke to draw defenders, I predict he will have a serious sophomore slump. On the other hand I see Robinson having a decent year, but both really have to show consistency. The original poster called out Appling - well Appling showed this year he is consistent. I'd rather have consistently good than terrible all but the final games of the season.

    1. Nice coverage of the whole picture regarding Robinson and McGary, good reply to the comment above.

      McGary started 8 games all year, therefore he started twice before the Big Dance. Correct on the point that it was Beilein's decision to not start him, and that must mean something more than an accident.

      McGary did not rank in the Top 30 Scorers in the conference last season. Robinson ranked 27th. They ranked 17th and 18th in rebounding. McGary was not in the Top 15 in conference field-goal percentage.

      How do these numbers translate into a one-and-done jump to the NBA? Oh wait, I think I know, it's those yellow-shoes they wore during games, that's it!

      Robinson ranked second in league FG%, but people have to interpret the Beilein system, and how it creates wide-open threes on a regular basis, leading to a lot of three-point shots. That's been true for the last six years. What was different the last two years was the presence of the Player of the Year on the perimeter, indeed, drawing defenders and double-teams on ball-screens, etc.

      Anybody remember Pittsnogle at West Virginia, hitting all those fadeaway threes as the shot clock expired, to advance Beilein to his previous high-water mark, the "Elite Eight"? And what became of Pittsnogle? Is he headed to the NBA Hall of Fame, or was he a role player in an unusual system run by Beilein in the past?

      Trey Burke used Beilein's system to make those guys look good on highlight reels, but the pros were never going to be fooled.

      Ditto above on the forecast of a tough second year for both players without Burke stirring the drink. And that, my friend, is exactly the reason why both guys thought about leaving; they know how tough it will be without Burke. Just that the NBA didn't buy the pitcher of Blue Kool-Aid.

    2. I am not a guy to defend the Big Blue and I completely disagree with the premise that McGary and/or Robinson would be the best players on MSU's squad. But to infer that that either is not an impact player that needs to be taken note of is near laughable.

      I would like to preface these comments that I am very interested to see how U of M is going to look next year sans Burke. IMO he is the straw that stirs the drink and there are going to be certain players that will have to step up in a big way or they (those individual players) will see a big drop off.

      Spartan fans got all excited about the spark that Costello brought to the floor. The hustle plays, the flashes of potential, and the development were all things we were fans of. McGary took that and went ten fold on it. There is no denying that 14 PPG and 11 RPG in the Tourney is a solid 6 games. I think the "go pro now" noise for McGary was more to do with media hype then actual draft hype. Very raw talent still, he is closer in age to a junior (so you are not going to get as much of the "potential" factor of an 18 year old) but he can still play ball. Hustle plays will always be available. He does need to step his own game up (and the extra minutes and full offseason should aid that effort) because Burke won't be there to create for him.

      Robinson is player to be reckoned with. 11 PPG isn't overwhelming but remember he only took the same number of shots as Dawson, Nix and Payne (none that crossed the 11 PPG number and 2 are big men). U of M just had 26 more opportunities to shoot per game open up with Burke and Hardaway leaving.

      Also, Robinson did play out of position a bit and wasn't awesome from range (only .324 for 3). With the exit of Hardaway, Robinson can move to a more natural 3 and an offseason to work on his jumper can't hurt his game. In the end, not shocked if he ends up being a guy that puts up 15+ PPG and 6+ RPG and I don't think any Spartan fan would turn down those numbers from any of our guys.

      Beilein has a system and his players might benefit offensively from that. Izzo has a system too and it doesn't emphasize offense so its tough to cross compare how a guy would fit and what he would do on the other squad. I do know from my stand point what there pro prospects looked like doesn't affect the impact they can have next year. I mean Pittsnogle did average like 19 PPG after that Elite 8 run.

      Here is my bottom line... U of M can put all the NBA players out that they want. And those players can have the greatest NBA careers ever. I am a Spartan fan and I care about MSU winning championships. McGary and Robinson are players that can impact that. No getting around that as much as I distaste the thought.

    3. Hey, that's a very nicely written commentary! Thanks for chipping in, you make some very real points from an authentic perspective. Nothing there to disagree with.

      I still think that whole UM team will have trouble without Burke (and Junior), and I look forward to it. I did want to under-cut the propaganda machine for churning out so much hype on these two guys, neither of whom I ever thought could possibly be stupid enough to drop out into oblivion.

      An echo to one of your points: I think the best of Costello is yet to come. He was the Mister Basketball (though I would have voted for Valentine) but he was slowed by the early season injury and the limited playing time with Nix/Payne/Dawson crowding him out of the front line. I'm guessing he comes back with a great sophomore season, and after doing so, nobody will project him as an early-entrant into the NBA draft.

      Hope to hear from you again!


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