here's one vote for "John Beilein's head in a Futurama jar"
So, we've had some great posts recapping a wonderful basketball season. I've heard a lot of talk about next year, unsurprisingly, and there's only been little spatterings of our incoming talent on the interwebs that I've seen. So, here's my attempt to give a deeper look into what this roster will look like next year. Feel free to criticize away!
Darius Morris - PG 6'3" 175 ****
Matt Vogrich - SG 6'4" 180 ***
Jordan Morgan - PF 6'8" 245 ***
Blake McLimas - C 6'9" 210
Eso Akunne (pref. walk on)
This year's walk-ons were Corey Person and Eric Puls. With four scholarship players coming in and preferred walk-on Eso Akunne entering the fold, I find it unlikely (without knowing exact roster limitations) that either will be back.
First, the addition of Darius Morris will be a huge step for this program - he's a legit college PG with size. Something we haven't had since, well since before I got to Michigan, that's for sure. Morris has an above average handle and a good head on him. He's a guy that you look at and say "he's the future." It'll be fun to see what he can do with JB teaching him.
Matt Vogrich put up sensational numbers throughout his senior year. He's a pure shooter and a great fit for the Beilein system. It was nothing out of the ordinary to see headlines of "Vogrich puts up 35" all winter. The kid is a scorer.
Morgan is an interesting case. Nothing has been overly impressive about his senior season. He has very good size for a PF and could potentially be something we're missing - a big body that can rebound - yet there's been a lot of talk about a red-shirt.
McLimas is certainly a project. He transferred to a top academy where he put up decent to meh numbers. I fully expect a redshirt.
Everyone likes to throw around projected starting lineups, myself included. But at this point - none of these guys have set foot on campus since their recruitment - that's kinda pointless. But looking at how the roster fills out is still interesting and provides some big questions:
Point Guard-y type players: Grady, LLP, Morris, Douglass
Guards: Harris, Douglass, Novak, Vogrich, LLP
Wings: Harris, Novak, Wright, Sims
Bigs: Sims, Gibson, Cronin, Morgan, McLimas
So, I went with PG-y type players because I feel the PG position is a real crap shoot as of now. I think one thing that can be universally agreed upon is that our best bet is for Kelvin Grady to pick it up defensively, work out his mental lapses on the offensive end, have a great off-season, and emphatically win the job. In a perfect world, we'd have that. Darius Morris would be able to learn his way through his freshmen season, gaining some valuable season from the bench while still having an experienced PG in control of the team. Now, if Kelvin can't make that leap, then we have issues. Does LLP split time with Grady and Morris early on? Does Douglass, who has improved tremendously and shown he's an extremely good passer, get called on to handle the responsibilities?
I'm personally ok with Douglass at point in certain instances. He's a very heady player, he's brought the ball up the court at several points in the season, he's an excellent passer, and he defends well. Obviously, he would be playing out of position though, and would be giving up foot speed to almost any B10 PG. Early in the season if there is flux and uncertainty at point, however, I can see JB looking to Douglass to handle the PG role on the offensive end with perhaps LLP also on the floor to handle the defensive side of the ball.
The other option is to throw the job at Morris, the heir apparent, and live with freshman mistakes. I'm not a huge fan. Maybe by B10 season he'll be ready to take the reins, but this is a complex system. I'd be much more in favor of the above Stu/LLP situation
Looking to the other end, it will be very interesting to see how far Cronin can come along. IMO, ideally, Cronin will have an excellent off-season and be able to find a role as a 10-minute guy off the bench. I think asking for anything more is pushing it. From all accounts he still plays soft and small. He's been away from basketball for several months now. It would take a very good off-season to get to the point where JB can use him as the first big off the bench. That said, I wouldn't be surprised if we see more of the small lineups that we had this year (at least to start the season). That means Novak will be our everything guy, yet again. Perhaps Ant can help fill in that role as well, but judging by this year, who knows.
Whether or not Jordan Morgan can come in and contribute as a big off the bench is a big question. If he and Cronin are able to step in and provide quality minutes, we could get the Sims/Gibson starting lineup that many of us crave. That's an ideal situation, however. I would expect us to still play small with either Cronin or Morgan providing spot minutes and at times allowing Sims and Gibson to play together when necessary (for those UConn, OU, Illinois type games).
What happens with the bigs will heavily affect how much playing time Matt Vogrich gets, IMO. With LLP, Douglass, and Novak providing the 2/3 outside shooter roles, and Manny being Manny, Vogrich is going to have a tough time finding PT. If we go small then I think it's likely that we see Vogrich get some time. However, if our bigs play out in an ideal fashion, Vogrich may be the odd man out. it's truly amazing the depth we have at 2/3. There's so many possible lineup combinations that it hurts to even consider it. But in the end, Vogrich is competing with Douglass, Novak, LLP, Manny, and Ant for PT. Despite the fact that the guy is supposed to be lights out from the arc, I find it hard to see where he'll find the floor with all these other guys already with 1 or 2 years of experience in Beilein's system.
So, all in all, alot depends on the off-season development of Kelvin Grady and Ben Cronin. Those are the two guys that, if they work extra hard in the off-season and make a deep commitment to truly getting better, they can really change the face of this team. Otherwise, we could be looking to freshmen (Morris at point, Morgan as reserve big) to be taking over important roles. The talent for this team is at a level that can be compared to the senior season of Dion Harris, Courtney Sims, et al. It'll be interesting to see if they can take advantage of that talent better than Amaker's final team could.