Franalysis: Tyler Cook's Offense Not Enough to Overcome Iowa's Defense

By Matthew Lundeen on January 3, 2018 at 5:37 pm
Tyler Cook's offense wasn't enough to overcome early defensive struggles for Iowa.
Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports
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Tyler Cook's offense wasn't enough to overcome early defensive struggles for Iowa.

points

Four Factors in Review

  Iowa 1st Half UM 1st Half Iowa 2nd Half UM 2nd Half Iowa Game UM Game
Points Per Possession 1.01 1.34 1.06 0.90 1.03 1.14
Possession 36 30 66

Shooting

shots

(Shot chart courtesy of ESPN. Makes are filled in.)

Iowa 2PT Near Rim 2PT Jumper 3PT FG FT
Attempts 40.4% 30.8% 28.8% N/A
FG% 71.4% 25.0% 40.0% 70.6%
Michigan 2PT Near Rim 2PT Jumper 3PT FG FT
Attempts 36.8% 19.3% 43.9% N/A
FG% 66.7% 27.3% 44.0% 80.0%

Despite their offense looking like a disorganized one-man show last night, Iowa didn't shoot too poorly in either half of this one. Their first half eFG% of 50% wasn't bad, and their second half 58% was even better. Unfortunately, their defense was absolute garbage in the first half and they got buried in a matter of moments when Michigan started the game 8-11 from three-point range. All of the sudden, a game that was once 12-10 Michigan became 29-14 Michigan in a matter of four minutes. 

Aside from leaving shooters wide open in the corner, Iowa also left the lane wide open a number of times, allowing Michigan some easy finishes at the rim. As a result, the Wolverines finished the first half with a 76% eFG% and 1.34 points per possession (PPP).

The second half was more of a struggle for Michigan, as they managed to put up a meager 41% eFG% and 0.90 PPP after halftime. Despite that poor offensive performance, however, Iowa was never able to get a defensive stop when they absolutely needed one and, ultimately, it meant that they could never overcome the early hole they had dug themselves. 

Advantage: Michigan

Turnovers

Team Turnovers Turnover% Steals % of Turnovers Forced by Steals Points Off Turnovers Pts Off Turnovers Per Turnover Forced
Iowa 13 19.7% 4 40.0% 9 1.20
Michigan 10 15.2% 8 61.5% 18 1.38

I'm conflicted about last night's turnovers. On one hand, Iowa's 19.7% turnover rate is right around the national average, and came against a Michigan team that is 55th in the country in forcing them. So, compared to the 24% rate that Iowa is averaging through three Big Ten games, it certainly seems like a little improvement. On the other hand, Iowa, yet again, got killed in the points off turnovers category. And on top of that, they continued to let their opponents rack up steals against them. 

The turnover issue stems from the overall chaos that the offense always seems to be playing under against actual competition. Outside of Tyler Cook, the rest of this team appears to be unsure of what they should be doing on offense half the time. And when Cook is forced to be the one man show, he starts to force the issue and turn the ball over more than he otherwise would. And until Jordan Bohannon, Isaiah Moss, or someone else figures out a more consistent role on offense, this problem probably isn't going away anytime soon. 

Advantage: Michigan

Offensive Rebounding

Team Off. Rebounds Available Off. Rebounds Off. Rebound% 2nd Chance Points 2nd Chance Pts/Off. Rebound
Iowa 7 31 22.6% 2 0.29
Michigan 6 30 20.0% 7 1.17

Offensive rebounding is generally a strength for this rather large Iowa team, but last night it provided almost nothing for the Hawks. Michigan is a legitimately good defensive rebounding team, so it's not necessarily surprising that Iowa grabbed fewer of their misses than they normally do. But it is a bit surprising that they could only muster two second chance points off of seven offensive rebounds. After all, Michigan only came away with six offensive boards, but they still managed seven second chance points.

And since Iowa lost the shooting and turnover categories, only coming away with two second chance points made this game even more difficult to win. 

Advantage: Michigan

Free Throws

Team FT Made FT Attempted FT% FT Rate (FTA/FGA)
Iowa 12 17 70.6% 32.7%
Michigan 8 10 80.0% 17.5%

Iowa's advantage here was all Tyler Cook. He was the only one on offense frequently attacking the basket and forcing Michigan to foul him on a regular basis. He finished the game 8-11 from the line, while the rest of the team was responsible for four makes on six attempts. 

For Michigan, free throws are never a big part of a John Beilein offense. He certainly wants his team to make the ones they take, but getting to the line a ton isn't included in his overall offensive game plan. Thus, Iowa was bound to win this category almost by default. Unfortunately, the margin of victory wasn't enough to make a huge impact in the outcome of the game, since Iowa lost the other three factors.

Advantage: Iowa (Tyler Cook)

Overall: Iowa Won 1 of 4 Factors

Players

Obviously, Tyler Cook was the best player on the court in this one. Not only did he score a game-high (and career-high) 28 points, but he did so on an efficient 21 scoring attempts (FGA+0.475*FTA). He also had three rim-shattering dunks, putting him at 32 for the season.

Tyler Cook Dunk-o-meter Games Dunks Dunks Per Game Made field goals Dunk Rate Estimated Season Total
Sophomore Year Tyler Cook 16 32 2.0 84 38.1% 62 (31 Games)
Sophomore Year Aaron White 38 56 1.5 140 40.0% 56
Tyler Cook Career 43 80 1.9 212 37.7% N/A
Aaron White Career 140 201 1.4 590 34.1% N/A

Moreover, Tyler Cook continued to be Iowa's lone-provider of offense anytime this team faces an actual team with a pulse. Through three Big Ten games this year, only Cook, Jack Nunge, and Brady Ellingson have offensive ratings over 100 against conference competition. And out of those three, Cook is the only one with a usage rate that means much.

Moreover, there is a huge disparity between how well this team plays offensively against bad teams and how well they play against good ones.

Player Season Offensive Rating Tier A+B Offensive Rating Difference
Garza 117.3 75.4 -41.9
Dailey 119.6 92.0 -27.6
Moss 106.1 79.0 -27.1
Ellingson 112.0 86.5 -25.5
Kriener 103.5 80.5 -23.0
Bohannon 117.1 101.7 -15.4
Baer 90.2 77.6 -12.6
Cook 113.7 101.7 -12.0
Nunge 117.9 109.4 -8.5
Pemsl 110.4 108.5 -1.9
Wagner 95.5 95.4 -0.1

The above table shows the offensive rating for each of Iowa's main guys on the roster this year, broken down into their overall season performance and their performances against Kenpom Tier A and B teams (i.e. teams with an actual pulse). It's not surprising that the offensive performance tends to be worse against more difficult competition, but most of these performances are insanely bad.

Cook, Bohannon, and Pemsl are the main big play guys who are above 100 both on the season and against good competition. (Jack Nunge has also been good, but he isn't involved in the offense enough to make a huge splash consistently.) Really, though, this table highlights the disappointing play of Isaiah Moss and Nicholas Baer so far this season. Much of Baer's play can be chalked up to injury, of course, but we are only getting further and further away from said injury. And Moss just simply hasn't taken that next step against quality competition yet. He can absolutely go off against bad to even average competition, but he is really inconsistent against opponents ranked inside the Kenpom Top 100. 

Lastly, Dailey and Garza should also be highlighted here. They played great during Iowa's five-game winning streak against meh competition. But last night, and in other games against good teams this year, they have played quite the opposite. Garza's rebounding numbers are still good against these tougher teams and his turnovers aren't bad, but his eFG% absolutely plummets to 41% against Tier A and B teams. I think that stems from him taking a ton of jumpers against tougher competition, while feasting at the rim against lesser teams. Last night for instance, five of his eight field goal attempts were two-point jumpers. He made two of them, which is good, but that's still not a great way to make a living for the big man.

As for Dailey, his eFG% drops from 57% on the season to 42% against good teams, while his turnover rate jumps from 15% to 24% against Tier A and B teams. Dailey has surprised me at times this year, but he is still at least a year away from being a reliable every game contributor. Until then, Iowa can't rely on him to fix their back court problems. 

And that brings us back to Jordan Bohannon, Isaiah Moss, and Nicholas Baer. Tyler Cook can only take this team so far by himself on offense, which leaves the aforementioned trio as the guys Iowa needs production from most badly. Dailey and Nunge can help give Iowa production from the back court from time-to-time, but Bohannon, Moss, and Baer need to consistlently provide for Iowa on the perimeter. 

The defense also needs to get better, but I'm not sure there is a quick fix for that other than another year of development and playing together. The offense, though, I'm hopeful can improve because we have seen these guys play better than this in the past. Offensively, this team can certainly benefit from a year of development and playing together too, but I'm more confident that guys like Bohannon, Moss, and Baer can turn things around on offense before the season runs out. Because if they don't, this is going to be an absolute season to forget. 

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