Michigan Basketball: Wolverines' 5 Most Impressive Stats in 2013-14
With a five-game stretch of winnable contests on the horizon, the Michigan basketball team should be able to bounce back from a rocky start to the 2013-14 season. The Wolverines picked up a much-needed quality victory over Stanford on Saturday and have one tune-up remaining before the start of Big Ten Conference action.
Things will only get tougher from here, but there are five statistics that indicate Michigan's potential to be a contender for a second league title in three seasons.
The final two may come as a surprise, especially considering the Wolverines are doing something much better than they were a season ago.
Nik Stauskas' Scoring Average
With the departures of Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr. over the offseason, Michigan entered the 2013-14 campaign in search of a go-to scorer. Nik Stauskas emerged right away and has been a force to be reckoned with all year.
The 6'6", 205-pounder has scored at least 20 points in six of the 10 games he has played in. Only two opponents, UMass Lowell and Duke, have held the sophomore shooting guard under 14 points.
Overall, Stauskas is averaging 18.4 points per game.
He has been quite efficient as well. Stauskas is shooting 48.1 percent from the field and 45.8 percent on three-pointers.
An increase in free-throw attempts has led to the rise in his scoring average. As a freshman, Stauskas only got to the charity stripe 2.2 times per game. Now, he takes 7.1 freebies per contest and knocks down 80.3 percent of those shots.
The rest of the Wolverines are still coming into their own offensively, but Stauskas has been impressive all year long.
Defensive Rebounding Percentage
Rebounding against bigger teams has proven to be a bit of an issue for Michigan. This is to be expected considering the fact the Wolverines utilize a starting lineup with just one player taller than 6'6". However, the Maize and Blue rank No. 32 nationally in defensive rebounding percentage, according to Teamrankings.
Michigan grabs 74.9 percent of its opponents' misses, which is fantastic given its lack of size. By comparison, Michigan State hauls in defensive rebounds at a 75.1 percent rate, and it routinely starts a pair of bigs over 6'9".
Despite being hampered with back problems all season long, Mitch McGary leads the Wolverines with 8.3 rebounds per contest. Glenn Robinson III nabs 5.0 rebounds per game, and Jon Horford has averaged 4.6 boards.
Fifth-year senior Jordan Morgan appears to be coming on as well. He finished with five rebounds in Michigan's victory over Stanford, which featured one of the biggest starting rotations it will face all year.
As long as the Wolverines can continue to be effective on the defensive glass, they will have a shot to contend for a Big Ten Conference title.
Caris LeVert's Entire Stat Line
As predicted, Caris LeVert has been the breakout player this season. Although he struggled in losses to Iowa State and Charlotte, more often than not, the Ohioan has looked like a budding star.
Last season, LeVert averaged just 2.3 points, 1.1 rebounds and 0.8 assists per game. This year, those numbers are significantly better. He has scored 12.8 points, grabbed 3.8 boards and dished out 2.6 assists per night, which are all fourth or better among all Wolverines.
All that being said, there is still plenty of room for improvement. At times, LeVert is a bit out of control and becomes inefficient as a result.
Look no further than Michigan's victory over Stanford on Saturday. The sophomore small forward went 0-of-7 from the field and scored just one point in 30 minutes of action.
As long as the Wolverines get efficient performances out of LeVert in their biggest Big Ten games, they can be one of the top teams in the conference.
Some members of the Maize and Blue faithful may be surprised, but head coach John Beilein's club is No. 8 in the country with an assist-to-turnover ratio of 1.670. This is actually better than it was a year ago (1.521) with Trey Burke at the helm.
This is a bit shocking since point guards Derrick Walton Jr. and Spike Albrecht have combined for 5.4 assists per game.
Instead, Nik Stasukas has been the Wolverines' top distributor this season. The Canadian product has averaged 3.2 assists through 10 games and is creating opportunities for his teammates by driving the lane and attacking the rim.
Michigan is taking care of the rock as well. It averages a mere 9.4 turnovers per game and ranks No. 6 nationally in that category.
There is no doubt the Wolverines need to get more production from their point guards. To say Walton and Albrecht have been ineffective, though, is a bit unfair considering the team's assist-to-turnover ratio.
Zak Irvin's 3-Point Percentage
This statistic did not seem possible throughout the early goings of the 2013-14 season. Freshman shooting guard Zak Irvin has drained 40.8 percent of his field-goal attempts from beyond the arc and has become Michigan's X-factor as of late.
Through the first six games of the season, Irvin only went 6-of-22 on three-pointers. Over the past five contests, the 6'6", 200-pounder is 14-of-27 (52 percent) from distance, including a 4-of-8 performance against Stanford.
Nik Stauskas and Caris LeVert are no longer X-factors. Michigan is going to lean on those two heavily throughout the year. If Irvin can stay hot from three-point range, though, he could be the difference between the Wolverines being a pretender or a contender in the Big Ten.
Pay close attention to Irvin's stat line for the remainder of the campaign.