Five Year Trends - Michigan

Our stroll down Trend Lane takes us next to Ann Arbor, home of the Michigan Wolverines. In these charts, much like Iowa's, we'll see the immediate impact of a coaching change, from "NIT Turtleneck" Tommy Amaker to "Bombing" John Beilein. Let's get right to it!

Amaker actually had a couple pretty good teams during his tenure, despite never reaching the NCAA Tournament. His best was the 2006 NIT Runner-Up squad, although the 2004 Wolverines actually won the NIT despite a slightly lower Pomeroy ranking. It seems Amaker just couldn't quite get them over the hump into at-large status. Beilein deserves a pass for his first season (in which Amaker's Harvard squad bested him), and I'd be surprised if that trendline doesn't spike sharply downward this season.

Over the past five years, Michigan has had both a top-40 offense (2006) and a top-30 defense (2004 and 2007), but never in the same season. It's interesting that Michigan had no overarching consistency on either end of the floor under Amaker - this type of chart indicates a coach without a strong style, searching for something that works. We'll see if the other charts agree with that assessment.

Michigan has been a mediocre shooting team for awhile now, with the resounding exception of 2006. Daniel Horton, Dion Harris, and Courtney Sims made Michigan the 16th best shooting team in the nation and gave Amaker his best offense of this timeframe. Beilein's first season saw Michigan become one of the worst shooting teams in the country, ahead of only St. John's, Rutgers, and Oregon State among BCS teams. Again, I anticipate a leap forward for the Wolverines this season, led by the improvement of Manny Harris.

Here's the real Beilein Effect - a plummeting turnover rate. Turnovers were consistently a problem under Amaker, which may be a big reason why AD Bill Martin chose the TO-averse Beilein to fill the position. Make no mistake - that drop in TO Rate is sure nice, but Michigan still has plenty of room for improvement after finishing 94th in the nation. Beilein's last two West Virginia teams were both in the top 10 nationally in this category, so look for further improvement as the Wolverines get comfortable with his system.

Michigan's defense never forced many turnovers under Amaker - one of his few consistencies - and Beilein's first team made no big changes in that area. Beilein's 1-3-1 zone forced a good number of turnovers at West Virginia, so improvement can be expected here as well.

Michigan has generally been a good defensive rebounding team (pink line), with the exception of 2005 and 2008. Offensive rebounding has mostly been an afterthought in Ann Arbor, although Amaker's final team did pretty well (33rd in the nation). Looks for offensive rebounds to become even rarer for the Wolverines as Beilein installs his system.

This is one of the negatives of a perimeter-oriented team (POT). All those threes don't usually lead to a lot of free throw attempts, but that's a tradeoff Beilein has been willing to make. Defensively, Michigan has consistently been solid at keeping opponents off the line, and Beilein's teams have a history of not fouling (lowest opponent FTR in the nation in 2006). That pink line may drop further this season.

Michigan has been mediocre-to-good at the foul line, and you can see how this blue line correlates somewhat to eFG% (above).

Holy inconsistency, Batman! This is a big stat for Michigan going forward, as they figure to continue chucking lots of threes under Beilein. Interestingly, though, Beilein's West Virginia teams weren't especially accurate from downtown - they finished 104th, 169th, and 62nd in his last three seasons. Still, those teams all shot around 35% or higher, which gives you a nice head start on an eFG% of at least 52%. Indeed, those three West Virginia teams all had a good eFG% of at least 53%. The surprising thing to me is how well those Mountaineers shot from inside the arc - they were consistently top-30 in 2-point FG%. I guess all that focus on the perimeter leads to backcuts and layups when they actually do look inside the arc.

Two-point shooting fell off a cliff for Michigan last season. Beilein's track record suggests this will improve, possibly in a huge way. Look for backcuts and layups to become a bigger part of the Michigan offense this season.

Michigan has been consistently solid at blocking shots, even finishing 9th in the nation in 2007. That team had Ekpe Udoh, Courtney Sims, and Brent Petway all swatting away shots. With Udoh's transfer to Baylor, I expect Michigan to drop down to mediocrity in this area.

Steals weren't a big part of the Michigan defense under Amaker, and little changed in Beilein's first year. Again, Beilein's teams have consistently been pretty good at getting steals, so this should improve.

Beilein in da house! Despite a pretty awful percentage from downtown, the Wolverines chucked away last season. The bad thing (other than all the missed threes) is that Michigan didn't see the benefit to their 2-point FG% that Beilein's teams normally get from forcing opponents to defend the perimeter. Once Michigan can start hitting at a decent percentage from distance, Beilein's system will start to work.

It's a bit surprising to see Michigan's assist rate drop like this - Beilein's teams were consistently among the nation's best teams at sharing the sugar. A big increase in the assist rate might be another indicator that Beilein's system is starting to work in Ann Arbor.

All in all, I see an awful lot of categories where we can expect Michigan to improve this season. A 20-point victory over a solid Northeastern squad - complete with 36% shooting on threes, 61% shooting on twos, and an assist rate of 65 - is certainly a promising start.