Mailbag: Big Man Rotation, Dealing With Withey, NBA Departure Odds, Big Puppy's Breed, Unhappy Visitors
I received a recruiting mailbag question via email and, in the process of requesting more questions on Twitter, this mostly turned into a basketball mailbag. So, here's a hoops mailbag with a couple of bonus football recruiting questions, I guess.
Starter of the future, also starter of the present (Photo: Bryan Fuller)
Do you think that Morgan getting rest against VCU could help him have a serviceable/good game against Kansas? — @carlseikoll
This is the first of two questions about the big men, so let's focus on Jordan Morgan's situation for now. He got a lot of rest against VCU—the whole game, in fact—on the heels of playing just one minute against South Dakota State and 18 combined minutes in the Big Ten Tournament.
It'd be nice to pin the blame for Morgan's reduced role on his midseason ankle injury, but I think we're beyond that point—he played over 22 minutes in each of the four games leading up to the BTT. It's entirely possible that coming back from the injury too soon sapped his confidence, especially in his ability to get lift off the floor and go up strong when finishing with the basketball. Or a bad stretch of games and subsequent benching may just be getting in his head.
Whatever the reason, it seems unlikely that John Beilein would keep Morgan nailed to the bench in the VCU blowout—not giving him the chance to regain some confidence in a low-risk situation—only to have a big role in store for him against one of the nation's best teams (and best big men). Which leads to the next question...
What is the hierarchy of McGary, Horford, Morgan, and what they can do to stop Withey? — @stephenjnesbitt
Mitch McGary is the starter at this point, a point I doubt anyone will dispute. He's emerged as both the team's most consistent and productive center, and as long as he stays out of foul trouble he should play the majority of the team's minutes from here on out.
Given the above, Jon Horford is the next man on the floor, and Morgan should be used either sparingly or only in case of emergency. While this rotation worked out great in the first two tournament games, however, there's reason to worry heading into the Kansas game.
The reason, of course, is Jeff Withey—a real, functional, productive big man, something Michigan didn't really see in the first two NCAA games. I don't think there's a huge gap between Michigan's three big men offensively, aside from McGary's stellar offensive rebounding; all three aren't players Beilein is going to post up often, especially against one of the country's best shot blockers. Against Kansas, whoever's playing center won't do much more than set picks and fight for putback opportunities.
The difference will come at the defensive end. Morgan has certainly struggled in the last couple weeks, to the point that I don't think Michigan can confidently throw him into the fray on Friday; that's a problem, because he's still by far their best on-ball post defender, and Withey is a skilled post player with a high usage. McGary, meanwhile, has done everything well recently except defend on the ball—overlooked in his performance against VCU was the Rams' lone big man, Juvonte Reddic, scoring 16 points on 7/11 shooting in 24 minutes, with only one of those baskets coming off an offensive rebound. McGary is also foul-prone, though not as much as Horford, who commits a sky-high 6.4 fouls per 40 minutes.
I still don't think Morgan will play much, if at all. If he does, it will be because Withey is terrorizing the defense in the post. The best thing Michigan can do against Withey on Friday is to try to lure him away from the basket as a shot-blocker—expect a lot of pick-and-roll action—and look to deny him post touches defensively. This is one of the worst games for the Wolverines to be without a full-strength (mentally and physically) Jordan Morgan, but that's the way the ball bounces.
[Hit THE JUMP for the odds of Michigan's underclassmen jumping to the NBA, searching for Big Puppy's breed, and a couple of recruiting questions.]
Can you give your opinions in percentages on the odds of Burke, Hardaway Jr, Robinson III and McGary heading to the NBA after this season? — @Max_Power78
Burke told Dan Patrick today that his decision to go pro would be made easier by a national title, which... yeah, of course it would. Whether Michigan wins or not, though, I wouldn't put the odds on his return any higher than 5%. His draft stock, given his size, won't ever be any higher, and unless he's hell-bent on a national title (and Michigan fails to win this year) there's not much else he can accomplish at the college level.
Hardaway and Robinson are each interesting cases for entirely different reasons. Hardaway, as a junior, probably isn't going to raise or lower his draft stock very much by coming back for his senior season; barring a breakout year, he might actually drop if he's a year older when he enters the league. Aside from today's NBADraftNet update (where he's projected 19th(!)), however, he's not projected to go in the first round by many outlets. I think Burke leaving may actually help the chances that Hardaway returns—that gives him the chance to be the alpha dog on next year's team. If I had to throw out a percentage, I'd go 55% on him returning, since I don't think he's a guy who would readily accept a second-round grade.
Robinson, of course, is the complete opposite case. Based on raw potential, he's projected on the fringe of the lottery, but another year in college could see him vault into the top five. Robinson has largely dodged questions about his draft intentions, understandably focusing on the task at hand, so it's tough to get a read on how he's thinking. Honestly, I have no idea, so I'm punting and putting the chances at 50/50.
The good news here is that McGary doesn't appear to be a flight risk. He hasn't been mentioned in mock drafts, hasn't faced questions about the NBA, and seems to love college (though he seems to love everything). I'd be pretty shocked if he left early.
Does the American Kennel Club recognize Mitch McGary as his own pure breed, or is he a sub-breed of some other type? — @cdbarker
Rather distressingly, the "McGary Retriever" is not listed on the AKC's website. He is clearly a breed of his own and needs to be recognized as such.
I read your Tuesday Recruitin' posts fairly regularly and am usually pretty interested specifically in recruit's reactions to their trips, which, from what I understand, most seem to love. Indeed, many of the posts you publish feature rave reviews from athletes regarding the great time they had on their trip, which makes sense - Michigan is awesome.
My question is: Do you ever get negative feedback regarding recruits' visits to Michigan? Not looking for names of specific players, but how often do you hear of stories about players who legitimately did not enjoy their trip? What examples of negativity do those players point to? I'm sure the recruiting experience is very much case-by-case for each recruit, but as a lay-person, it seems logical that identifying those areas of displeasure would go a long way towards helping secure future commitments.
With visits, recruits are almost always going to react quite positively. If you visited colleges before applying as a high schooler, you probably know why—at that age, with the right presentation, just about every big-time school is going to seem incredible. Michigan—with their academics, tradition, enthusiastic coaching staff, and state of the art facilities—is rarely going to host a prospect and have that kid go home unhappy with his trip. This, of course, is also true about most of Michigan's primary competition.
As a result, judging Michigan's impact on a visit mostly comes down to seeing whether a prospect is over the moon about the trip (the proverbial "ten out of ten") or merely impressed. Of course, what constitutes a great reaction varies wildly from player-to-player, and sometimes from interview-to-interview. As a result, I try not to put too much stock in a visit reaction unless a player is talking about a potential commitment, comparing the visit favorably to his other trips, or—on the flip side—talking up other schools or not placing the school he visited among his leaders.
As for the primary complaint when visits don't go well, in my experience it's usually that the coaches didn't pay enough attention (or any at all) to a certain recruit. This is usually a major issue for the recruit and not so much for the hosting school, since they're making it clear that the prospect isn't a priority. Still, recruits talk to other recruits, so coaches do their best to make sure players don't feel ignored, even the ones that aren't at the top of the program's board—I haven't seen this complaint about Michigan very often, if at all, under Brady Hoke.
Rivals is quoting a "national observer" of recruiting predicting Hand and Peppers to M. Describe your celebration if happened — @LordSupremo
I love all 4 of these guys but seriously doubt any of them would be a top 5 pick in next years draft unless they have an INSANE year. Next year's draft is going to be one of the strongest in a long time so they would be better off (professionally) going to the league as soon as they can. Either go this year or stay another 2, if you want to be a lottery pick.
I always read that guy's name as Whitey.
don't ever trust whithey, and see a doctor and get rid of it. . . (who doesn't love The Jerk?)
high schoolers not named Tom do not like to be called Tom on recruiting visits. guys named Tom are usually ok with it.
I'm sad I was too late to give this an upvote. So an imaginary +1 to you.
"I don't think there's a huge gap between Michigan's three big men offensively, aside from McGary's stellar offensive rebounding;"
McGary brings a lot to the table: a free-throw line jumper (that goes in more than his free throws seem to); the ability to put in on the floor - anyone remember Mitch taking it almost from the 3pt line in for a layup against SDSU?; faking the hand-off and going strong to the hoop; making steals up high and going for the transition dunk; making great back door passes; and finishing off passes or putbacks with better efficiency.
Horford has some decent post moves, but not the overall game McGary has. I'm not saying McGary is going to take it to Withey, but the post-men are decidedly not the same offensively.
he's a great outlet passer, which neither Horford or Morgan are
...those passes are very important in getting our running game going.
One minor thought about McGary/Horford/Morgan offensively; McGary brings more of a threat with his 12-14 foot jumper and comfort playing FT extended. He can also dunk a lot of plays that Morgan cannot and Horford lays up for some reason. Against Withey those are advantages.
my daughter to come and yank me.
... is so wrong.
There's got to be a better way to say that.
I gave you a point simply due to my Jemaine Clement mancrush.
"Get your hand off my pepper!"
YOU FORGOT TO TYPE AWAY!!!! AHHHH
is about the only dance move I know.
Robinson leaving would signify everything that's wrong with the NBA. A guy with raw potential like Robinson needs to stay in college to develop that potential. He isn't going to do that in the NBA. If more players would stay in college and develop into better players the NBA wouldn't be so crappy. There are occasional guys like Lebron, but not everyone is like that. NBA rosters nowadays are so lame compared to back in the day.
I've always been conflicted about the early pro issue because of this question: Why can't a player like GRIII develop that raw potential while focusing completely on basketball in the NBA? I used to think college develops players who need the seasoning well, but now I think preparing full time in the NBA is a more effective means of preparation and development. Of course a player can be put to the fire too early, but that may be a more effective way to improve and develop your game.
For the same reason a ten-year-old player can't get better playing against high-schoolers, unless he's a prodigy. The degree of the effect is greater but the concept is the same. When you're not ready you're not ready, especially if you're not ready physically. (That's not an opinion on GRIII, just in general.)
Besides, I don't agree 100% with the idea (as also mentioned below) that the NBA provides the environment to improve. That's a business and their focus is winning. The only time they can spare for player development is if it's going to help them right now or in the very near future. A lottery pick who they've invested the money in - sure. Not a fringe guy. In college your attention might sometimes be elsewhere but the program's attention is always on you. In the pros the program has other fish to fry.
is the amount of time a player can practice or workout in any given day. In college, you're hamstrung by the NCAA's rules on practice time limit as well as classes that you have to take in order to be eligible. In the NBA, you have all the time in the world to practice and develop by NBA coaches especially the assistant coaches. You don't have to worry about going to classes and worry about homework/exams. Plus you get paid to play basketball. That is a huge, huge factor. If you're a lottery pick or 1st round pick, you bet your ass the NBA franchise wants the coaches to invest on them to fulfill their potential.
Look at Andre Drummond, he is raw but very talented, athletic big man who is only 19 years old. He play sparingly at the beginning but as the season goes on, he saw more playing time and got better and better with experience. Now, he is one of the best young C in the league and arguably would be the #1 overall pick if there's a re-draft but luckily for the Pistons, he fell to them at #8 overall. Would he have gotten better at UConn? Hard to tell with the time limit and classes.
You can work out all you like in college. You can go the gym and work on your shot, play pickup, etc. You're not hamstrung by the NCAA's rules, the coaches are. In the NBA, there are no such rules, true, but the truth is, are you really going to get the coaches out there day and night to work you out? Nope.
And the point about Andre Drummond basically ignores what I said. I already admitted that the NBA will put in the work for you if they've invested the money in you. Does a second-round pick get that kind of up close and personal attention? No.
you're having to deal with classes, tutoring and exams whereas in the NBA, you don't deal with any of it plus you get coaching as well. You get better development from NBA than in college for this reason. That is not mentioning that you get paid to play basketball.
The program attention are not always on you because of NCAA rules, but the NBA team are always on you.
And all that time not spent on classes and tutoring and studying is all spent working on basketball?
Hardly. There are plenty of other distractions, and plenty of NBAers who fall victim to them. Instead of two games a week, there are four, and most rookies spend them plastered to the bench. Practices are walkthroughs and drills, not tutoring sessions, and the fact is that there probably isn't significantly more formal practice in the NBA than in the NCAA, just because of all the games. Shootarounds don't count, either; that's not development.
You have it backwards. A player's college program is on him all the time. The NBA team doesn't care what you do when you leave the gym as long as it doesn't end in handcuffs. There are egos to be appeased, and the guy who left college too early is way low on the pecking order.
NBA practices are basically walkthroughs. They don't have the intensity nor emphasize the fundamentals like college practices do.
It's really not a good environment for a raw player to be in. Players are better off going to the NBDL and getting meaningful gametime. But the quality of coaching is much poorer in these leagues than you would get from a guy like Beilein.
It would be better for GR3 as a basketball player and financially for him to come back. If he can couple his measurables with even decent production he can be a top 10 pick.
I actually met a former NBA player from working in college athletics. He told me the biggest difference between NBA and NCAA is NBA actually devotes more basketball development than NCAA and he doesn't get that in college because of NCAA rules. The only time the school is on you is academics and practices/games. Outside of it, they can't do much. In NBA, they are on you more. He said going to NBA early is the best thing for him development wise because he has more time to focus on basketball as opposed to all of the academics.
While this is an advantage of the NBA (not so much through proactice, but rather individual workouts), I think it's missing a key point. Players need competitive action to get better. Working on skills, etc. all goes a long ways, but you need to be able to work on those skills in game settings for them to really matter. If a guy isn't going to be in a position to play or if his role is so limited as to not really use the skills he's building, then he's not really going to improve. College guys, especially college guys who might have a few resources to get some off campus coaching, have a better chance to build their skills, despite the NCAA restrictions on coaching.
In short, if a guy is going to get 20 minutes a game in the NBA, he'll almost certainly improve more there. If a guy isn't going to get off the bench, I think he'll be a better player with another year of college play.
but your own opinion? I mean, I love the old days, too. But why is it you think that spending all day every day playing with professional caliber players and trainers, etc. instead of going to class somehow would be the inferior route? I'm not even adding getting paid.
I'm not necessarily even saying you're wrong--maybe you know more than me. But I've seen other people here assert it and on the face of it it doesn't make sense.
Also--a more general question--why is leaving school and going off and making a million dollars, as Darius did, any different than finishing school and going and being an architect or laywer or anything else? Why is it assumed that a player has to become an NBA star to have succeeded? It's a curious litmus that a lot of people seem to apply, one that we don't really apply to ourselves, especially when coming back and finishing later is totally an option whereas the NBA is NOT an option if you have a career-ending injury.
Sorry to load all these somewhat rhetorical questions on you but they've been building up in my mind. Everyone second-guesses these guys, and so critically; it sort of baffles me.
It's mainly my own opinion. I never have really been a huge NBA fan, but just look at the rosters back in the day. Take the Celtics, Lakers, and Pistons. Those teams were absolutely stacked with talent, even on the bench. Nowadaws the good teams have 1 or 2 big stars.
if GRIII just wants to make some money, then by all means go to the NBA. I personally think that is a little short sighted. When I apply for a job I try to make sure I am prepared for it so I can keep it for a long time. Sure, Darius has made some cash, but how long will he be in the league?
Lastly, not to take anything away from NBA choaches, but I think college coaches are much better teachers. Especially in the Big Ten we are blessed with great coaches. I think with Beilein GRIII can become a great player instead of just another player.
But like you said, that is up to the player. If GRIII just wants to be on an NBA roster then so be it.
Evidence seems to agree with you and not him.
"In the second part of their study, Groothuis et al examine player performance for firstround picks between the 1987 and 2002 seasons to see the effects of on-the-job training.
They find that high school and college freshman entrants tended to play fewer minutes and exhibit a lower performance level than players who stayed for more years in college during the first two years in the league. However, during the third year, performance and minutes reached a similar level, and by the fourth year into the NBA players who entered early significantly outperformed college juniors and graduates."
referencing Peter A. Groothuis, James Richard Hill, and Timothy J. Perri, “Early Entry in the NBA Draft: The Influence of Unraveling, Human Capital, and Option Value,” Journal of Sports Economics, 2007, Vol. 8
"Players who entered the draft straight out of high school from 1995-2007:
• 34% went on to become All-Star players
• 60% became solid starters
• 86% became solid NBA contributors
Players who entered the draft after their freshman year from 1995-2007:
• 28% went on to become All-Star players
• 62% became solid starters
• 87% became solid NBA contributors
Players who played 2+ years of college basketball, and were ranked in the top 22-27 of their class their senior year of high school, and played at least 1 NBA game from 1995-2007:
• 12% went on to become All-Star players
• 35% became solid starters
• 65% became solid NBA contributors"
You didn't provide a link, so its hard to evaluate the source. But, wouldn't the longer your stay in college also generally indicate a lower level of natural talent, especially toward the later end of that time frame? Would LeBron or Dwight Howard really have not become All-Stars had they spent two seasons in college?
I don't think those stats in a vacuum really prove anything.
You're right that I didn't provide a link.
I provided an actual cite to a published journal. The way it's supposed to be done.
Peter A. Groothuis, James Richard Hill, and Timothy J. Perri, “Early Entry in the NBA Draft: The Influence of Unraveling, Human Capital, and Option Value,” Journal of Sports Economics, 2007, Vol. 8
That being said -
It's really bizarre to see Michigan have 3 players in the first round like we're stinkin Kentucky. I always think when I say GRIII about to convert another alleyoop that we should really savor this time because there will probably be days in Michigan's basketball future where we'll long for the days of GRIII dunk-fests and Mitch McGary Big Puppyisms
When Coach B decides to hang up the sneakers, a NBA team should give him one of those cushy scout jobs.
I agree with that. I could see Morgan playing a role like Eric Riley did against Oklahoma State. Come of the bench because Webber/McGary is in foul trouble, and do a nice job against Big Country Bryant Reeves/Jeff Withey
...I wonder what Big Country Reeves is up to these days. Time for the google machine.
I'm taking a slightly different perspective on the Morgan situation. While I do think he's been benched because of his recent issues (be they mental, physical, or both) I think not playing against VCU allowed the coaches to play the injury card and give him time off.
I also disagree that he won't play much against Kansas, not because I disagree with Brian's take - but because of their PF. They basically have two post guys on the floor and I don't think GR3 is going to be able to exploit his match-up like he did in the first two games. I think Michigan is going to need to play more post players to handle both of the Kansas bigs, so you'll probably see Morgan and maybe even Bielfeldt get some minutes.
As for the NBA draft, which I hate for the insane amount of emphasis on "potential" and that they haven't adopted the NHL or MLB policy yet, here are my probabilities:
- Burke - 5% to stay for all the reasons Brian mentioned
- THJ - 40% to stay since he's proven all he can, done the NBA summer camp circuit, and is having a good run in the tourney. The NBA hates seniors and I think THJ is ready to leave.
- GR3 - 70% to stay since I'm hoping the humbling film sessions from most of the conference season will convince him that he's not ready and he could be a star next year.
- McGary - 99% to stay since he's "just a guy" to the NBA right now and seems to love college.
- Stauskas - 99.5% to stay. I add him to the list because he's clearly pretty confident in himself and has NBA potential. I suspect he thinks about it more in his spare time than even McGary does. But he'll probably stay for three years unless he blows up next year when Burke is gone.
It is at this point that I'm thrilled we have the best player in Michigan and Indiana headed our way and that they play the positions of the guys we might lose early.
with you Re:Morgan to some extent. I think the problems are mostly mental. He has the yips. If you are a golfer and have ever been literally incapable of making a putting stroke you know the feeling. I may disagree that he will see substantial playing time against Kansas. I think he will get spot duty, a little more so if there if foul trouble. For the most part though I think you have seen the last of Morgan in a meaningful capacity this year. I think he will be back to being the same player that he was next year, but I don't see JB rolling the dice with him that much in this tournament. Horford will be the key v. Kansas.
How are we dismissing a 3 year starter as essentially a non-factor? McGary has had a great 2 games, but that doesn't indicate that he has "arrived". Currently, the outlook of McGary to the people of this board (and the national media in general) seem eeriy similar to how we approached our first real road game in Columbus-- overconfident in data that doesn't really apply to next situation. McGary killed it in the two games where we played against guard oriented teams. Let's see if our rabid freshman can match up against a 7'0" talented senior. If his conditioning has improved as much as it has been advertised in articles following the VCU game, I think he can be pivotal to our victory in the pick and roll game through drawing Withey from the basket, opening up the lane, and occasionally hitting the 12-15 footer. I still think we will see Morgan at the 4 for a little bit, and even more so at the 5 if McGary gets in foul trouble. Friday sure is going to be fun.
Stauskas has to be 7' to be able to get to the NBA early? Huh? He's going to have to put on some muscle, but 6'6" is plenty tall enough to be a shooter off someone's bench.
Let me introduce you to mr Taylor Lewan.
I mostly agree, but I think Stauskas does make an NBA team as a role player ala Steve Kerr after he plays at UM for 3-4 years. Interestingly, both players spent their childhoods outside of the US, both were/are very accurate shooters and both are around the same size (Stauskas is actually a couple of inches taller).
6'6" is fine for a 2 gaurd in the NBA, and even fine for a 3(not that it matters because he will play the 2 in the NBA). That is actually a relatively tall 2 gaurd. If he grew 6 inches he would be the size of a damn center....
If Nik grew six more inches he'd be the #1 pick in the draft. A seven foot shooting guard with decent handles, driving ability and a solid three point shot? He'd be the Canadian Kevin Durant.