Two part preview of the 2011 roster, part one can be found here
Jordan Morgan RS Sophomore Center
The obvious choice for last seasons breakout player of the year, morgan was the benefit of a redshirt year, darius setting him up, and the addition of Bacari alexander as a position coach. After getting blasted by concordia early in the season jordan really made improvements on the defensive side, and on offense he added another dimension because of his ability to slip ball screens. Reports from coach beilein so far have indicated jordan spent most of the summer working on a jumpshot, which is great because I can't remember him scoring if it wasn't a layup or a morale crushing dunk. Foul trouble is an issue and I also expect offensive numbers to drop, that doesn't mean he will be less of a scoring threat just that he won't sustain the ridiculous FG%
Zack Novak SR Forward:
This will change. I do not expect novak to play the four spot when the season starts, but this is where he was last year so it's where he will be previewed. Most fans are anticipating a move back to the 2 spot because of the lack of depth and it should benefit him moving back to a natural position. Undersized against almost everyone he played novak became the poster child for Michigan basketball; gritty, hard working, and determined. Not to mention every clutch shot he made in the last three seasons. He steps up In the biggest games and always puts the team first, and for that reason zack novak will go down as one of the most beloved players in Michigan basketball history.
Evan Smotrycz SO Forward
Lanky perimter shooter for most of the season last year coming off the bench. Then we saw JB's basketball genius as he unleashed Smotrycz's inside game against michigan state to help sweep the series. This season he looks to take an expanded role and move into the starting four spot, and offseason reports say he gained a significant amount of weight. Last year when smotrycz had his shots contested it got ugly, he had a huge problem with shot selection and had way to many blocked. If he progresses with his inside game and defense he can be a major contributor, if not we could see novak playing this spot.
Jon Horford SO Center
Not a major contributor last season mostly because of his weight and inexperience, and was slowed by injury. This season he was picked by coach beilein to have a jordan morgan like breakout after he reportedly gained around twenty five pounds. Still at this point his season looks to be coming off the bench as morgans backup, but hopefully can be a reliable option if needed for long streches.
Blake McLimans JR Forward
Bench player who will not see extended playing time without an injury occuring. Started the year getting decent minutes off the bench but his awful three point shooting (1-19), bad rebounding and foul trouble led to the decline of his minutes.
Colton Christian SO Forward
Not a contributor, should remain the same for 2011.
Max Bielfeldt FR Forward
A late commitment to the class, the only other major offer max held was from illinois (which kind of means something but not as much as it used to) to go along with mid-major offers from WMU, UIC, and Ball State. I trust coach beilein when it comes to talent evaluation so I see no reason why max can not be effective coming off the bench for 10 minutes a game at the four spot.
The Horfords are all what I would call "relatively late bloomers." Father Tito took his lumps early, got kicked out of LSU, and was decent at Miami, but very unpolished due to a relative lack of experience (one year of US HS ball, IIRC).
Brother Al was a 4-star at Grand Blanc, and was OK his first year at UF, but really started to kick ass late in his sophomore year, and was borderline great as a junior; his stats are skewered because he subjgated his indivudual accomplishments for those of the team. He has two NCAA Championships to show for it.
I know his father and brother aren't a very large sample, but having watched both play quite a bit, I can say one thing with certainty: once a Horford fully grows into his body, it's lights out for the guy on the other side of the ball.
I was quite impressed at how he started to show signs of growth toward the end of last year. I said it when he was recruited and I'll say it again; Jon Horford could end up being the elite big man that will help make it cool for big, elite recruits to come to Michigan.
He lives next door to me, so I see him around most days, and he's definitely stronger this year. He still is pretty lanky though so I don't think he'll be as effective as Morgan against bigger opponents. Hardaway's still lanky but I think he did some work, but Smotryz is the biggest of those three.
My two cents: Novak will probably start at the 2 spot, but I expect Beilein to continue to also use him at the 4 for several minutes a game, backing up Smotrycz. I have serious doubts about Bielfeldt playing 10 minutes a game this year. It's also too early to be writing off Christian.
One other thing: You covered the backcourt preferred walk-ons, but left Sai Tummala off this frontcourt preview.
Max Bielfeldt is an interesting player to me. A wide body with some touch who played some of his best ball against good competition. One of the players, I forget who, said Bielfeldt had the biggest legs he's ever seen, so Max has that going for his self
Here is an obligatory Blake Griffin infamous dunk on our boy Zack
I agree that Bielfeldt has potential in the long run, but as Beilein pointed out in one of his Media Day interviews, he's still working with a very young team overall. I just can't see a freshman Bielfeldt taking minutes away from Novak, a senior captain. Novak averaged 35 minutes a game last year and will likely do so again, and I don't think all those minutes will be at the 2.
I don't think Max will take minutes from Novak either but in the case of foul trouble for Morgan or Horford, or if one of the bigs gets banged up Bielfeldt might get some minutes and he already has the size to handle the physicality of the BIG
Don't mean to be a grammar nazi, but it really annoys me when you don't capitalize someone's name (both the first name and last name). I'm sure you know that this is appropriate, but you're just sticking it to the man. Nonetheless, I get frustrated :-/
"It would be a travesty, it would be ridiculous to all of a sudden come back and get the feeling back, get the health back, feel good again and then all of a sudden go throw some other colors on my shirt and go coach."
Speaking of McLimans, one thing I noticed on this year's roster is that he's listed as "JR" but for Morgan it says "RS SO." On last year's roster, both were listed as RS FR." Also, McLimans's bio says nothing about him redshirting his freshman year, while Morgan's says "Opted to redshirt the season."
Probably shouldn't read too much into this, but I thought it was worth mentioning.
There's no doubt in my mind that Novak will still be playing a "big" (no pun intended) role. If we are to assume a starting lineup of Morgan-Metrics-Novak-THJ-Stu then I expect Novak to be playing a 3/4 hybrid.
Zack isn't really a two guard - he's a three that rebounds his ass off.
But all of this is moot. If there's one thing John Beilein has proven it's that he doesn't really stick to the traditional 2/3/4 positions. Offensively a guy can be more of a "2" while defensively he's asked to play a more traditional "4." It'll be all about the matchups.