Not to jump the gun (but I am) - with Nik very likely to go NBA the wildcard for the 2014-2015 team is Mitch. If he does go - what would your expectation be of the squad next year?
General thoughts on conference
- Overall Big 10 will be down with only Wiscy being a "powerhouse".
- There is a vast opening by a number of teams for slot 2 thru 8 in the Big 10 - I'd place any group of these 7 teams in those slots in any order:
- UM - very thin up front, and very young overall but wing/guard talent. LeVert B10POY candidate
MSU - assumes Dawson comes back, still has core of SR Dawson, JR Valentine, SR Trice, JR Costello and sharpshooter
- Maryland - top 10 class joining a bunch of SRs and JRs but some transfers out to offset
- OSU - young team but talented freshman join some transfers in
- Nebraska - top 2 players back, no major losses. Petteway B10POY candidate
- Illinois - had a great record to begin last year, and gelled late with suffocating defense. Will be a bear to play at their home I believe - offense is their main limitation. Not sure if they get any talented freshman in.
- Iowa - big loss in Marble but a deep team with 9 guys who averaged 6 or more pts. Only lose 2 of them, msot of the others can go off on any night for 10-15. Surely coach's family issues were a distraction late in season
[I am not including Indiana despite Yogi in this tier, and Minnesota I don't see as good as the teams above]
General thoughts on team
- Great coaching but in this scenario our ENTIRE starting lineup in the NC game is gone in 12 months. That's difficult.
- 4 guard/wing offense is only option - not a biggie.
- Starters will be playing huge minutes as drop off is pretty severe after first 6.
- Defense last year was iffy and next year will most likely be worse as our best paint defender is gone and we are replacing with a trio of Doyle, Donnal, and Bielfeldt. That's scary.
- LeVert has shown enough to take next step and fill Nik role next year but will face every team's #1 defender and has to adjust to it.
- Irvin we assume can make the freshman to sophomore jump - he is a 5 star and will be playing 30+ minutes a game next year
- Walton Jr wont be playing quite as much as LeVert and Irvin due to Spike, but makes the 3rd of the Big 3 for next year. Needs to become more of a scoring threat; think he will.
- Chatman comes in and immediately needs to play 25+ minutes a game
- Donnal is now getting massive talk but he is still a RS FR next year - one who will get lost at times on defense and refs will be happy to call dumb fouls on... the kind that all college big men not named Randle get called for. Not worried much about his offense but his defense and ability to stay on floor will be issues. He will also be forced to be the "5" in a 4 guard/wing set.
- Depth after Donnal is essentially Doyle and Bielfeldt.
Playing time: 8 players
- LeVert - takes Nik's role at 35 minutes
- Irvin - takes GR3 role at 33 minutes, up from 15 this year
- Chatman - takes GR3 freshman role out of necessity, has to play 27-30ish minutes
- Walton Jr - 27 minutes this year, about the same next year unless Spike and Walton play at same time on court which will make us tiny.
- Spike - same role as last year around 13 min unless we go with a tiny 2 PG backcourt for 5 minutes a game
- Donnal - cannot be expected to play 30 minutes due to being a big man banging with JRs and SRs from other teams and picking up fouls as he learns the game. There are going to be games he gets sent to the bench with 8 left in the 1st half with his 2nd foul - it is just reality. Mitch averaged 20 as a freshman - if we get 22 out of Donnal have to be happy due to defensive stress he will face being only "big man" on court most of the time.
- Bielfeldt - have to ask him to take Horford role and go from 5 min per game to 12ish, at some 5 and 4.
- Doyle - assume he gets the redshirt taken off vs DJ Wilson due to body and position. Gets 8ish minutes a game at 5.
If Irvin and Walton make "the jump" and Chatman can be somewhere between GR3 and Irvin as a freshman and Donnal can stay on the court 20 minutes a game, it looks like a 4th to 6th place Big 10 team which is good enough to continue the NCAA streak. Depth in front court is frightening however - wings and guards should take care of themselves. Defense is going to be a major issue - we lose a 6'10 JR center and a 6'8 SR center and replace with a 6'9 RS FR and question marks in Bielfeldt and Doyle. Offense I am confident Beilein will do his magic.