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.
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
On the football recruiting point, one way to give better context and comparisons is to report on our top targets' reactions to visiting other schools. I'd love to hear what Hand says about VA Tech, for example, and what Peppers says about OSU and Stanford.
I've always thought that has been sorely missing from recruiting round ups. If every trip is positive then what's the point of saying it?? The important thing is comparing HOW positive Michigan is in comparison to the others. I think we could gauge who a player is favoring a lot better if we knew what positives they had to say about other schools as well as what they say about Michigan.
Please include this feature in a board or diary post, or in the Tuesday recruiting, or in a separate post altogether with a clever title.
...should see some PT on the D-end, so should Horford. McGary may be more of an option on offense, but I think the other two can help "bang and tire" Withey.
Trey pulls a Lewan after receiving a twosie as an anonymous gift.
THJ Sr. and GR Sr. admit to liking Maize and Blue clothing too much for their kids to go ride the pine in the NBA after this season.
McGary refuses to go pro until AKC recognizes him as a pure-breed: McGarius Infectious Rabidus.
Hand & Peppers: sounds like a pub I'd like to visit.
I went with a top 5 2014 prospect to both Ohio and Michigan for a visit. He hated Ohio because the players were indifferent to him being there, it was also the morning of the Game. They were unorganized and the coaches didn't have much time to give him. He actually slept during the 2nd half, and had such a forgettable time hanging with the players that "pulling an OSU" is now a thing. When he went to Michigan, Singletary met us at the door, walked with us everywhere, for the entire weekend. Coaches sat with him individually, he got to sit in on meetings, privte video sessions, 1 on 1 time and CONSTANT contact. He even knew a few of the current players from the camp circuit and Twitter and after practice they were chatting it up. He hung out with them that night and he was all smiles. Like Ace said...it's all about attention and friendships.
I am hoping that Morgan has regained his confidence, health, coaching support or whatever it is that has led him to the bench. As good as McGary has been the last two games it remains to be seen if that will translate against a team with a legit post game where he will need to both stay out of foul trouble and demonstrate some defensive discipline. I'd much rather see Morgan in earlier season form than Horford (who hasn't really shown anything consistently this year).
When all is said and done, I think McGary worked his way to the starting lineup through his offense. Michigan couldn't afford to have a guy on the floor who was no offensive threat and was bobbling the passes or not converting on the open looks he was getting. I will be looking for Mitch to go to that short jumper he's shown a few times this year. And ff he can get Withey out on the high post it will help clear the lane for him to drive and either convert or pass when he draws a help defender.
Cna any basketball people out there compare Withey to Zeller? The fact that we played with Indy in both games gives me confidence in this one... should it?
Obviously we should start McLimans and run the pick and pop to pull Withey away from the basket. Boom Pittsnogled!