Michigan has opened Big Ten play by scoring 189 points in just 136 possessions, which nets out to 1.39 points per trip. Object to that ridiculous figure if you wish on the grounds that the Wolverines have played “only” Northwestern and Iowa. Fair enough, but be sure to acknowledge two additional points in your objection. The Hawkeyes, for one, are the proud owners of a top-50 defense. And, anyway, John Beilein’s team has been doing this kind of thing more or less all season long.
Whether your preferred standards of sublime-efficiency comparison are Kentucky in 2012, North Carolina in 2009, or Illinois in 2005, Michigan’s offense has to date benefited from the same kind of network effects as all those other eminences. It works like this:
You have a first-team All-American. Let’s call him Treytythonyeron Burkebrowngilchristborough. He’s having a season for the ages. But he additionally finds himself in happy proximity with another guy or perhaps even other guys who will also play in the NBA at some point.
Opposing Division I defenses that don’t have Jeff Withey, even very good major-conference ones, are simply not equipped to cope with this kind of elite multiplicity over the long haul. Naturally there will be off games, even from these juggernauts. (Ask UK fans about the 2012 SEC tournament title game.) But a coach who recruits his way to this kind of embarrassment of offensive riches has the court tilted in his favor.
Michigan’s numbers will correct downward because they won’t continue to shoot 52 percent on their threes, as they’ve done over their first 80 minutes of conference play. But the Wolverines are hardly living and dying by the three. They’re making their twos, and their 80-minute turnover rate is microscopically and West Virginia-era-Beilein-low. About once every 20 minutes or so they actually miss a shot, and on those occasions they’ve exhibited a decent proclivity toward getting that rebound.
I don’t know if Trey Burke can continue to play at this level on offense all season long, but if he does he’ll be up there on the same bleachers as Ty Lawson in 2009. And, praise-wise, that’s it, that’s all I have for any point guard. If sports actually mattered, the 15-month transformation of Burke from high school who-dat into Oscar Robertson II would have long since resulted in recruiting analysts being subpoenaed to testify before Congress.