In the coming days (or hopefully weeks) we will wrap up the basketball season and there will be countless posts written about "what if...." or "looking toward next year" or any number of optimistic stories about the growth for next season. As a prelude to those pieces, I will throw out this question.
Can you name these three current or former John Beilein players based on their freshmen stats?
I'll post the answer in the comments, so don't look ahead if you want to guess. I obviously cherry-picked a few stats to tell a story and could have picked some other players as well. The message, however, is that there have been many examples of a "sophomore leap" under John Beilein and if we consider the huge number of freshmen on this year's team we should have reason to believe in next year.
(Mods - Sorry if this posbang thread is gratuitious, but on this day of all days, why the hell not?)
So, yeah - Everything came up Harbaugh today!
First, IT HAPPENED
Then, in a hopeful preview of this Thursday and the last Saturday of this and all future Novembers to come, An Ohio State University lost
And THEN, Aubrey Dawkins Stauskas'd Illinois
This day, like Parker Lewis, literally cannot lose. For those of you who are in Ann Arbor, go to Spike Albrecht's apartment, ask him for Kate Upton's number and text her to see if you can come over, because on this day, she'll probably say yes.
Highlights courtesy of UMHoops
Michigan once again cruised to an easy victory in their third game in Italy, defeating Petrarca Padova 116-52 while limiting their opponents to just 16 second-half points. For the third time in three games, Zak Irvin led the team in scoring, netting 22 points while hitting 7/10 shots from inside the arc (he finally cooled a bit from outside, going 2/6 from three). Mark Donnal bounced back from a lackluster performance in the second game with a 20-point, 11-rebound double-double, while Caris LeVert posted an impressive 17-8-4 stat line.
Full box score (click to embiggen):
Postgame quotes courtesy of the athletic department:
Michigan Head Coach John Beilein
On how the team may be exceeding expectations thus far ... "Our defense exceeded what I thought we could do today. We started slow, but as the game went on they were very good at their dribble-drive attack. We made it difficult for them to get the ball in the paint and then they had to rely on three-point shooting and we guarded that as well. The defense then became our offense."
On Mark Donnal's development since coming overseas ... "We continue to show Mark and Ricky (Doyle) film so that they can get better. I really don't care what each one does; I care what they do collectively. Tonight was 29 points and almost 20 rebounds between the two of them. It would be too much to think about getting 20 and 20 from them, but if we needed to get double-figures, that's a heck of a big man."
On the value of experienced guards like Spike Albrecht and Derrick Walton Jr. ... "I'm glad Spike was out there (with them), but to be honest I don't pay attention to what year the players are. I just try to get everyone equal minutes and have everybody learn a little bit of rhythm. In games like this, we just want to get video on it so we can teach players why things work and why things don't work. That's what's real for us. We practice against ourselves and while we get better doing that, when you practice against others and you don't know their schemes and you have to guard their themes, that's very helpful to our progress."
On the team's experience at the U.S. Military base today ... "These young men have seen some special things on this trip, and they all really enjoyed today. To be with the troops, feed them and sit with them and then go see some of their weapons and trucks, tanks and humvees; the team loved that. We were on our feet a lot today. It has been about six straight days spent on our feet and they responded, so I'm happy about their whole attitude. They're enjoying it and embracing the culture that we're exposing them to. At the same time, they're coming to play."
U-M Sophomore Zak Irvin
On his mindset for today's game ... "My teammates told me, if my shot wasn't falling, to get to the basket and that's one thing I didn't do a lot last year. It's one of the big things I wanted to work on for this year."
On the effectiveness of the zone offense ... "We thought we were going to see some zone (defense) when we came over here to Italy. We didn't see it in the first two games but we did see it tonight so it took us a little bit of time to get adjusted, but we made our adjustments and we were able to counter what they were doing and make it productive."
On general feelings about the first three games from a team perspective ... "We've had three great games. Each game we're getting better. You can see it when we watch film, defensively we're getting better. Our goal was to hold teams under 60 points and we were able to do that again tonight; then scoring 100 points is something special."
On the team's experience with the U.S. Military today ... "To be honest, it was breathtaking seeing all those men and women fighting for us even though they're overseas. You have to give them all the credit in the world and be grateful for everything we have."
U-M Redshirt Freshman Mark Donnal
On his double-double performance today ... "It was definitely a good game for me coming off of yesterday's game. Yesterday I was in foul trouble, so this got my confidence up a little bit and I was pretty happy with my performance. My teammates found me open and I got some easy buckets."
On the biggest difference in his game from yesterday to today ... "Just getting past the defense in offensive transition. Spike and Doc (Andrew Dakich) were able to find me."
On his impressions of the team's adjustments so far ... "Especially with a growing team like us, it's important for us to see both zone and get some different looks on defense and I thought we executed pretty well today."
U-M Freshman Aubrey Dawkins
On his success in today's contest ... "I think I have been getting a little more comfortable every game, and a little more of my natural game came out today. I played within the offense, so things came to me and I capitalized."
On the importance of rebounding in today's offense ... "People have told me in the past that crashing the boards and getting involved in the game helps you stay in the game and not be passive on the court and zone out. It keeps you focused on doing something to help the team. That's what really got me going."
On making so many adjustments, such as the shot clock difference and learning the new offense ... "I think it's coming along nicely; that showed up in the game today. It's becoming more fluid and natural."
On staying in the game mentally despite a lopsided score ... "You never want to get lazy on the court, because that's practicing bad habits. You want to keep playing the way you should play, no matter what the score is. Whether it's high or low, keep playing the same game so when there are close games there's no difference and you're always ready to go."
Aubrey Dawkins has committed to Michigan.
6-4 New Hampton wing Aubrey Dawkins has committed to Michigan, he confirmed to @FlyerHoops. Picked the Wolverines over the Flyers— Matthew Schwade (@FlyerHoops) April 28, 2014
***NOTE: Sam Webb recently said Dawkins is closer to 6-6.
EDIT: Sam has a story out with some post-commit quotes from Dawkins:
“It was a tough decision, but a degree from Michigan carries more weight than one from Dayton,” Dawkins said. Not necessarily because it’s better academically, but because it’s Michigan.”
. . .
“They [the Michigan coaching staff] see me as a guy that is similar to Glenn Robinson… athletic, lean… just along those lines. They want me to play the wing spot.”
A few notes on basketball recruiting, based in part on today's recruiting roundup on WTKA:
Aubrey Dawkins: Had a great (and extended) visit to Dayton, according to Sam Webb, who also reported that Dawkins is not taking any more visits and will choose between Michigan and Dayton. The announcement could come any day and will happen within the week. In Sam's opinion, Michigan has the upper hand based on the criteria that Dawkins related to Sam. If Dawkins adheres to his stated criteria, Sam thinks Michigan will be the choice. I don't have a Scout subscription, so I don't know what's in the premium article on this posted there, but from what was said on the free Scout board, it appears that one criterion is academics.
Cole Huff: There's been no announcement of a visit date to Michigan for Huff. But his former AAU coach, Clint Parks, tweeted yesterday that Huff was off to Creighton for "his 1st of 4 visits." Visits to Iowa (May 2) and Dayton (May 9) are already known, and presumably Michigan will be the fourth. As a pure FYI that I mention only because of previous discussions about Huff: UCLA just lost Jordan Adams to a late NBA entry decision.
Igor Ibaka: Sam thinks this is another case—similar to Byron Wesley—of a player expressing interest in Michigan, not the other way around. With Ibaka, it "certainly hasn't been Michigan pursuing him." Sam noted the rarity of juco transfers to Michigan in basketball. In the end, in his opinion, this is likely "much ado about nothing."
Also, for anyone looking for a good overview of where Michigan basketball recruiting stands, Sam has just updated his recruiting primer.
EDIT2: Updated title so people know there's good info in the thread from Don on football recruiting.
Sam Webb offered a couple of interesting insights into the basketball recruiting situation on today's recruiting roundup (podcast). Contrary to the notion of Muhammad Ali Abdur-Rahkman and Aubrey Dawkins being an "either-or" scenario, he believes the two players would fill different roles at Michigan, and so taking both of them would make sense.
Abdur-Rahkman: He can immediately serve as an effective backup to Caris LeVert, and longer term—although his ceiling isn't as high as Levert's—he looks like a four-year contributor who may eventually be a starter. He's just a "decent" shooter, but John Beilein has said he can take an average shooter and turn him into a good one. Abdur-Rahkman also has an effective midrange game and can get to the rim. His quickness isn't exceptional, but in Michigan's ball-screen-heavy offense, he'll be able to get open for shots and drives. Abdur-Rahkman also needs to get stronger but has Camp Sanderson in his future to take care of that.
Dawkins: Although reports have him at 6-4 or 6-5, Sam says it sounds like he's actually closer to 6-6+. Dawkins, who possesses more athleticism than Adbur-Rahkman, is more in the mold of Glenn Robinson III and would play the 3 and even some at the 4 at Michigan. He's not as athletic as Robinson but could fill the void in the transition game that exists with Robinson's departure. Following his visit and the Michigan offer, Sam says Dawkins is "extremely high" on the Wolverines. He still plans to visit Dayton this week (and I think it's worth keeping in mind that Dayton has been recruiting him much longer).