There is an elephant in the room. We dance around it and it's time to stop. We don't have the proper athletic talent at our 4 and 5 spots. We try and win with middling talent in the paint and stretch 4 and 5s!?!?! This is not going to work for this program in my opinion. The Center for SMU had 8 dunks tonight. 8! That's absolutely a result of inadequate recruiting and coaching in the paint. We have som great wing players but we sorely lack in the paint. We are one of the worst rebounding teams in the B1G year in and year out and have to shoot extremely well to win. Connecticut ..Xavier and SMU all featured athletic front lines and all 3 embarrassed us badly. Many will think we lost tonight because Caris shot miserably. We lost because we have guys playing in the paint that simply can't get it done. It's very similar to our line backing core down the stretch. The level of athleticism simply isn't there to compete on an elite level.
The Xavier game sticKS out most because that Center was from Detroit....and he manhandled us. We have 3 players at the 5 spot that are not physically able to compete on an elite level. Moritz may get there and has talent and youth on his side. He may turn out to be an exception and is very likeable. The other 2 just have not progressed and are assuredly great kids...but not effective simply put. Why does DJ Wilson not play? He's by far the best athlete and plays the least. It's a head scratcher for me because his ceiling suggests that he'd be worth the invested minutes. He gets scrap minutes...and is our best athlete in the paint. This wouldn't be as troubling if there wasn't more of the same coming down the pipe in recrutiing. We still don't have an athletic big coming in for the next 2 classes and Beilein seems to be willing to settle with this. This is simply upsettling. Webber...Howard....Baston....Taylor...Trayor......hell even Courtney Sims and J. Morgan! Where are our athletic bigs these days? It sure seems like everyone else has them. We used to have them and we've gotten completely away from it.
You do NOT win without athletes in the paint. Simple and plain. The notion that we can shoot our way around it or hit on one single big recruit (Mitch) in a 4 year span is absolute rubbish. Something needs to change. Michigan used have some of the most dynamic athletes in the country in the paint and until we get back to that it's just going to be hard to stomach. We need to recruit Detroit for starters and play our athletes. We can continue to avoid this elephant and make excuses as to why we are consistently losing to physical front lines...or we can adapt and change. We are not going to win without help in the middle. 8 damn dunks from one player.....that's not even pride. If Bacari is in charge of the bigs....then he needs to be held responsible because it's awful. Youth is something everyone plays with and isn't an excuse.
Recruit Detroit please...or at least fight like hell to do so. Tired of seeing homegrown talent go elsewhere and us running to the damn burbs to grab underrated kids who don't play with the same explosiveness and passion. Enough is enough. Your 5s don't need to be able to knock down 20 foot jumpers. That's horse crap. Get some dogs in the paint. We look straight up soft right now and thats the worst thing to look like.
Periodically on this site and others like it someone will post with an update about how former Michigan players are doing in the NFL – such as the weekly feature over at Maize n Brew (LINK). For the most part, that NFL coverage has centered around the two GOAT guys from the 1990’s and a bunch of other players who are having modest seasons at this point…..plus Thomas Rawls (still shaking my head on that one).
Now that the football season is complete for our Wolverines, I wanted to take a look at the former Michigan players who are playing professional basketball instead. I’ve seen a post or two about this on MGoBlog in the past, but I wanted to take it a step further. I wanted to highlight not just the guys playing in the NBA, but elsewhere as well.
Below is a breakdown of all the former Michigan players (even those who transferred) that are still making their living by playing basketball. For more details, hit this LINK. Where I had something interesting to say I put a few bullet points. I’d love to hear everyone’s thoughts and memories in the comments. (Stats shown for each player are PPG/RPG/APG.)
NBA – "The Beilein bunch plus one"
- Trey Burke (PG, 2011-2012) – Still playing as the backup PG for the Jazz, which seems to be a role he will continue throughout what should be a solid if unspectacular career. The predictions about his size and athleticism seem to have been accurate, which means he needs to excel in other areas. Unfortunately his outside shot wasn’t very good his first two years and that limited his effectiveness. Things are looking up this year in his bench role as he’s shooting better than ever before at 42% from downtown so far through 18 games. [10.8/2.2/2.6]
- Tim Hardaway Jr. (SG, 2010-2012) – The trade to Atlanta did not go well for him it seems. After being a significant contributor on some bad Knicks teams he’s buried on the bench in Atlanta, playing in just a handful of games this season. [2.5/1.3/0.5]
- Nik Stauskas (SG, 2012-2013) – Has the fate of playing on a horrific Sixers team, but is showing more upside this year than his limited time with the Kings. [8.4/2.4/1.9]
- Glenn Robinson III (SF, 2012-2013) – Has made a solid living with some guaranteed contracts despite very limited minutes played thus far in his career. He is with the Pacers now and seems to be earning about ten minutes per game as a back-up, which is a huge improvement for him. [5.0/1.5/0.3]
- Mitch McGary (C, 2012-2013) – Had hoped to parlay a strong summer season into more of a role this year, but continues to struggle with injuries and is buried in a deep front court. [1.5/1.5/0.3]
- Jamal Crawford (SG, 1999) – Often forgotten due to his short stint with Michigan, but has been the most successful NBA player to wear the Maize & Blue in decades outside of the Fab Five and the ’89 Champs. As his career is winding down he is still contributing as a sixth man for the Clippers. [13.3/1.9/2.3]
NBDL – "Waiting for their chance"
- Manny Harris (SG, 2007-2009) – Manny had a brief attempt at a European career but otherwise continues to give it a shot in the D-League with hopes of getting another chance to show he can be a Jamal Crawford type of spark off the bench. He can definitely fill a stat sheet. [23.4/6.8/4.1]
Foreign Leagues – "He’s still playing??"
- Graham Brown (C, 2002-2005) – Ricky Doyle’s doppelganger continues to play a meaningful role as an undersized center overseas. He’s currently playing in France and has put together a solid career. [4.5/3.5/0.6]
- Stu Douglas (SG, 2008-2011) – He has found his way to Israel and seems to be a regular contributor. [6.9/1.0/1.2]
- Jordan Morgan (PF, 2010-2013) – Morgan had enough valuable skills that he was going to make some money playing professionally if he was willing to travel. He’s having a solid season for a team in France’s B division. [8.0/6.1/1.1]
- Brent Petway (SF, 2003-2006) – Air Georgia never really translated his raw talent into success on the floor at Michigan, but he was always exciting. He seems to have grown as a player over the last decade as he’s currently playing in the Italian A-league…..and probably winning a dunk contest somewhere. [4.6/3.8/0.7]
- Courtney Sims (C, 2003-2006) – The frustrating but talented big man has taken his talents to Asia in the last few years and played well. He’s currently in Korea’s KBL. [15.3/10.0/0.6]
- Jevohn Shepherd (SF, 2005-2008) – He is without a doubt the most unlikely former player I found to have carved out a long pro career. He barely contributed while on some bad Michigan teams and yet here he is, all this time later, still playing professionally. He’s also in the A-league for Italy. This is a guy who averaged 2.5ppg in his four year Michigan career and attempted just 16 three point shots in that time. [5.0/2.7/1.1]
- Jordan Dumars (SF, 2009-2010) – The forgotten man when it comes to Michigan’s NBA offspring outreach program. Dumars was a walk-on briefly at UM before moving on elsewhere. He’s fmade a brief appearance in one professional game in Germany so far this season. [2.0/0.0/0.0]
Transfers – "We played there too!"
- Evan Smotrycz (PF, 2010-2011) – He spent two years at Michigan before leaving for Maryland. Things went south for him when he was forced to play out of position at center due to injuries. Things never worked out despite the fact that he seemed to be an ideal fit as a stretch4 for Beilein’s offense. He has played just one game overseas so far. [10/10/2]
- Ekpe Udoh (C, 2006-2007) – He lasted just one year after Beilein was hired before transferring to Baylor. I always wondered what the team would have been like had he stayed and provided a defensive presence in the middle. His stock took off while at Baylor, resulting in a solid draft pick. After a couple years in the league, he’s now in Turkey. [10.7/3.8/1.5]
Unknown - "Missing in Action?"
- Darius Morris (2009-2010) – He has played four years in the NBA but was cut during training camp this season and has yet to land somewhere that I could find. Other than his recent Twitter incident with Byron Scott there wasn’t much out there to be found. I suspect he’s waiting for a call from an NBA team for a 10-day contract to see if he can stick as a back-up PG.
- Deshawn Sims (2006-2009) – There was no information for him in the link at the top of this page, which implied that he wasn’t currently playing professionally. According to Wikipedia, however, he’s been playing in Lebanon on various teams for the past couple of years after a brief stint in the NBDL.
Is there anyone else you think I missed in my search? Let me know in the comments. If you would like to check out these players stats from their time at Michigan, use this LINK.
Finally, I would love for someone to do this for Hockey as well. That was beyond the scope of what I wanted to tackle here.
PS - Quick aside, I believe there are currently four former Michigan players in the MLB: Rich Hill (P), Ryan LaMarre (OF), Zach Putnam (P), and Clayton Richard (P).
Team avoided a letdown after the win at NC St. The offense played pretty decent with Walton sitting out. Duncan Robinson was shooting lights out and Mark Donnal was shooting. Enjoy GO BLUE!!