Vitale had an article on the five players in college basketball that need to step up this year, and our own Jordan Morgan was on the list.
When people look at Michigan, Trey Burke is the first name they think of. I feel Jordan Morgan, the big man up front, has to raise his level of play. He was the top performer on the glass for the Maize and Blue, but he has to provide an inside scoring presence after averaging just over seven PPG.
It will be interesting to see what his role is this year, considering we actually have depth at PF/C. If he doesn't improve offensively, both McGary and Horford could pass him on the depth chart.
Here is my projected starting line-up:
PG : Burke
SG : Hardaway
SF : Robinson
PF : McGary
C : Morgan
As far as basketball goes, this upcoming season brings a lot of excitement and, let's be honest, raised expectations stemming from a co-big ten championship team in 2011-12.
I'm pretty sure the Badgers and Ohio [edit: I should not have forgotten to include Indiana here] will be there in the end, but I'm more certain our team will have to go through Sparty (perhaps more than once) to reach its goals.
Since it's summer and I'm bored, I did some research to try and determine how the teams match up for the upcoming season. I tried to state (within the parentheticals following a player's name) the position/s each player plays, with the earlier-stated position being the preference based on the player's history. For example "TREY BURKE (1 or 2)" means that he is ideally playing at the point guard 1 position, but he could play the shooting guard 2 position if needed; small forward is position 3, power forward is position 4, and center is position 5.
In general, I tried to group the guards into category A, the forwards into category B, and the "centers" (although bear in mind that there are few true centers playing in Big 10 basketball) into category C. The true freshmen have traditional lettering, while returning players have names in CAPS LOCK lettering. The bold lettering is for players expected to contribute meaningful minutes.
The matchups are below:
KEITH APPLING (1 or 2) and Garry Harris (2 or 1) and Denzel Valentine (1 or 2) and TRAVIS TRICE(1) (with DAN CHAPMAN (2) and KEENAN WETZEL (2) and JOE SWEENEY (1) in relief role)
TIM HARDAWAY JR (2 or 1) and TREY BURKE (1 or 2) and Nick Stauskus (2 or 1) (with COREY PERSON (2 or 1) and JOSH BARTELSTEIN (1) and [edit: Carl LeVert (2 or 1) and]Spike Albrecht (1 or 2) and ESO AKUNNE (2 or 1) in relief roles)
BRANDEN DAWSON (recovering from knee injury) (3 or 4) and DERRICK NIX (4 or 5) and BRANDAN KEARNEY(2 or 3) (with RUSSELL BYRD (4 or 3) and COLBY WOLLENMAN (3) in relief role)
Glenn Robinson III (3 or 4 or 2) and JORDAN MORGAN (4 or 5) and MATT VOGRICH (3) (with MAX BIELFELDT (4 or 3 or 5) in relief role)
ADREIAN PAYNE (5 or 4) and Matt Costello (5 or 4) and Kenny Kaminski(4 or 5) (with ALEX GAUNA (4) in relief role)
Mitch McGary (4 or 5) and JON HORFORD (healed from injury) (4 or 5) (with BLAKE MCLIMANS (5 or 4) in relief role)
What I notice is Beilein has only 3-6 players that can demand or expect major playing time (at least 20 minutes per game) based on previous production and/or recruiting hype. For Izzo, I think it's more like 7-9 players that could or will expect or demand that type of PT.
I think because of this distinction, Beiliein will have more freedom to operate Xs and Os with regard to changing lineups throughout the season. There's less pressure for him to spread a limited resource (minutes playing time) around. For example, he only has to give Stauskus and Spike minutes if they earn them. In contrast, the guards coming in for MSU are highly touted (by Izzo himself) and are competing against two proven guards in Appling and Trice. That group will test Burke and THJ for sure, but I prefer our team's tandem (with our freshman and uppperclassmen supporting them).
Group B is a little more difficult for me to analyze, however with Dawson still recovering, I have to give the edge to Michigan.
Our Group C is unproven and Sparty has talent and experience there. I have to give MSU the edge here. Hopefully we can close the gap with regard to rebounding and defensive shot blocking with our infusion of talent. [edit: McLimans, fwiw, is a player with length and experience.]
Both teams have 10 players that (most likely) will be able to give productive minutes. How many minutes does each player get? That's up to the coaches obviously, but there are only 200 minutes to give out in each regulation game.
Anyway, it looks like there will be some great games to anticipate. I wouldn't trade our group A and group B players for Sparty's or any other teams'. I think our group C has the most to prove though; I'll obviously be rooting for them.
I most look forward to seeing how Stauskus adjusts to the college game, and how well Horford bounces back after much time away. I have to believe by now, Horford can provide rebounding and defense, and maybe even put-backs and shot blocking.
Anyway, as I stated earlier, I'm bored, so I welcome any and all feedback on this topic. Thanks, all.
Can also make an argument now that Michigan has the best class in the Big 10. Robinson is the highest Big 10 commit (Yogi Farrell and Gary Harris are both also 5 stars), and McGary is ahead of both Perea and Hollowell.
Gary Harris is down at 25, which surprises me a lot.
Just ran across an new article on Mitch and expectations for him next year as well as 6 other freshman. Not a whole lot there, just a couple sentences, but good to see the love.
UPDATE - Since the team got a huge makeover within hours of me posting it, I thought I'd make some update in the wake of the three transfers. I've updated the table with thoughts on the transfers and what it means for the other players. At the very end I have some thoughts on recruiting needs. As for Burke, if he leaves for the NBA (an unwise decision in my mind) then you can burn this piece and ask Illinois fans how it feels to miss the NIT because that's where we'd be headed without a single ball-handler.
Brian stole a lot of my thunder with his comprehensive game recap before I could get this posted, but I think there’s enough to discuss here that the post is still worth doing.
I considered breaking this long post up into in a series of smaller posts, but I suspect that there will soon be a flood of “looking toward next year” content in the Michigan blogsphere so I might as well get it all in now to launch that discussion.
I think there are three parts to any premature basketball preview and I’ll cover two of them here – player summaries and biggest off-season questions. The third, conference outlook, has to wait until the dust settles on the NCAA Tournament and the NBA draft deadline passes. Without further ado, let’s get started - which means….
Oh boy – not another alter ego voice.
Yep, that’s right – much like Temptation without War Chant you can’t have a long diary on MGoBlog without an alter ego chiming in.
Does that also mean we need a…..
…..Chart? Yes, yes we do. Below is a chart full of player summaries that touches on two critical aspects of the 2012-2013 season: what should the player be working on over the summer and what is a realistic outlook for their role next year?
|Player||He should spend all summer.....||Next year he will.....|
|Trey Burke||Breaking a hard hedge. Ask students on campus to run a hard hedge against him while he's walking to class. Learn how other teams defeat it while it cripples Michigan at times.||
Play 90% of the time and be a contender for conference player of the year.
UPDATE - ....realize what a great decision it was to stay at Michigan.
|Tim Hardaway||Dribbling!! His shooting should stabilize and he played well down the stretch. More rebounding would be nice, but he needs to be a reliable ball handler next year to take pressure off Burke and reach his star potential.||
Be the team's leading scorer and show more consistency with his outside shot, but will still have a couple plays per game that drive fans and coaches nuts.
UPDATE: ....searching for a mid-major out east where he'll be happy. Apparently he was unhappy and struggled with the rigors of a big time program and academic institution....though this is a big loss for Michigan and a shocking one to me. He would have been the starting PF and the third best player on the team.
UPDATE: ...take a redshirt season and wonder if he made the right choice leaving an offense that was perfect for him and a team poised to make another title run.
|Jordan Morgan||Doing layups and having Mike Barwis teach him to jump from flat footed.||Get the chance to be the starter but will get a quick hook if he's struggling with McGary and Horford breathing down his neck.|
|Matt Vogrich||Dribbling with Hardaway. Someone has to be an alternate ball handler and Vogrich has one last chance to be more than a role player if he can show the ability to handle the ball.||
Reprise his role as jump shooter off the bench. He may get a chance to start early in the year but is best suited to his 7th man role where he can park in the corner and hit 3s.
UPDATE: Needs to play more with Hardaway since GR3 will spend more time at the PF spot.
|Jon Horford||Rehabbing his foot and practicing a mid-range jumper. Of the three centers in the rotation he's the most likely to have the skills to play PF in this offense.||Compete with McGary to be the back-up center, sometimes getting 20 minutes per game and sometimes playing the McLimans 5-10 minutes for rebounding and shot blocking.|
|Mitch McGary||Learning the nuances of the offense from Jordan Morgan. McGary will step on campus with significantly more skill and talent than Morgan but needs to match his ability with the pick-and-roll in order to earn significant minutes.||
Start the season as energy off the bench and will have the opportunity to get significant minutes. Some fans will be disappointed at a pedestrian freshman season, but the outlook will be bright.
UPDATE: I still see him purely as a center, but maybe JB will break out a twin towers offense without Smotrycz.
|Glenn Robinson III||Learning from Zach Novak how to be Zach Novak. GR3 has a chance to be the spark off the bench at either forward spot and will have far more athleticism than Novak, but he could use a lesson in grit to help fill the void left by the captain.||
Be a significant factor in how far the team goes. Needs to spell Smotrycz at the 4 or play the 3 at times,
UPDATE: He's now slated to start at PF unless Jon Horford has a huge off-season or Bielfeldt surprises.
|Nik Stauskas||Learning from Stu Douglas how to play the second guard spot in this offense. Much like the other freshmen, Nik will be more talented than Stu, but has to fill his role to be truly effective early in his career.||The favorite to start at the SG spot and be the second ball-handler the team needs. Could play more minutes than anyone other than Burke and Hardaway if he shows he's ready for that role….and Michigan probably needs him to be.|
UPDATE: Follow McCallum around the Detroit campus instead? The skepticism about his role in this offense was apparently warranted - hopefully he can find a better fit.
UPDATE: Enjoy his redshirt season at a smaller school.
Shooting mid-range jumpers. There's an opportunity for minutes at the PF spot for someone who can hit a midrange jumper and mix it up inside a little.
UPDATE: Needs to enter the season trying to prove he could be the starter at PF.
UPDATE: Best case he will have a Morgan-like leap as a RS-Freshman and grab the starting spot. Worst case he needs to be good enough to play 10-12 minutes per game competently.
|Blake McLimans||Learn to run the pick-and-roll. He played some critical minutes with Horford out but the offense bogged down with him on the floor. His best chance at staying relevant would be to play PF and show he can run the offense.||
Learn to enjoy the view from the bench because unless Ted Valentine and Ed Hightower ref the same game it is unlikely that we'll need a 4th string center next year.
UPDATE: May see a few minutes per game at PFsince he can shoot and knows the offense.
Learning how to swing a rally towel or working with the genetics department to reconfigure himself into a back-up point guard.
UPDATE: I guess we didn't need the genetics department to turn him into a PG, his transfer should allow us to sign one to take his spot.
UPDATE: Enjoy Division-2 basketball?
Wow – that was a lot of reading and a lot to digest. Let’s break it down into some critical team areas now.
What is the biggest reason for optimism heading into the off-season?
Simply put – Trey Burke. He will be a contender for conference player of the year and would likely be on his way to the NBA lottery if he were a measly 3 inches taller. He should fill the leadership role vacated by Douglas and Novak well and gives us a chance to win every game we play.
UPDATE: Try not to think about him leaving....it will just make you cry.
Having depth and recruiting talent will make the season interesting, but Burke will ultimately determine how far this team goes. He had an amazing freshman year, but there is still a lot of room for growth on both ends of the court. Solving the various high-screen defenses he saw will allow him to be more dominant and open up more opportunities for his teammates.
What is the biggest reason for concern?
This is a more complex thing to address, but allow me to answer in the form of a question – who is the second ball handler on the team next year?
Wait – I ask get to answer a question for a change? Okay – I’ll say…..uh….hmm….that freshman with the funny name?
Nik Stauskas is the one you’re thinking of, and he’s a popular choice. But he’s a freshman and is also 6’6” tall. When was the last time you saw a good ball handler taller than 6’4” at Michigan? Jalen Rose 20 years ago?
In my opinion, finding someone to handle the ball besides Burke is the biggest concern going into next year. Douglas (and to a much lesser extent Novak) filled that role perfectly and Michigan doesn’t have a back-up point guard stashed on its bench. Maybe Stauskas will be the answer we’re all hoping for, or maybe Hardaway and Vogrich will improve their handles well enough to fill this role, or maybe Brundidge makes a huge leap forward – hopefully someone does. Otherwise opponents will just press full court and double Burke until someone else shows they can handle the ball.
UPDATE: Did I mention that thinking about Burke leaving would make you cry?
Who is the most important player next year (besides Burke)?
Obviously Burke comes first because we’ve established that there is no other option to run the offense and he’s so sensational. It may also be obvious now that Stauskas, despite being the lowest rated incoming recruit, may be the next most important player on the team. He needs to fill the 2-guard role on both ends of the floor well enough to play major minutes given the other options. If Stauskas struggles to earn minutes, there will be a large void at the guard spot – a big problem in a guard oriented offense.
Hardaway is critical for the team to succeed, but there are other players to help when he goes into his funks. Smotrycz needs to show that he can be a consistent threat playing his natural position and be the third scoring option for the team, but he’s already shown that to some extent and there are other options if he struggles. McGary isn’t as important given the depth and experience at center. Stauskas is the one player who fits nicely into the offense as the second guard and has the biggest shoes to fill.
How excited should we be for McGary? Is this going to be like the Fisher era with Vaught, Mills, Webber, Howard, Taylor, and Traylor? (on the court, not off)
Well, I’ve personally lowered my expectations for him and I think most fans would be wise to do the same. From the videos I’ve seen he’ll be a great addition to the team with his size, athleticism, rebounding, and hustle…..but not an all-conference contender anytime soon. He looks like a bigger, better version of Jordan Morgan – which is great, but not the next Webber. I suspect he’ll be a solid contributor and play a lot of minutes but won’t stuff the stat sheet until his sophomore year.
Wait a minute – he’s Michigan’s best recruit in a really long time and you’re bashing him?
No, I think he’ll turn out to be a great college player if he stays for2-3 years but will not make the immediate impact some are expecting. There are several reasons:
- Big men take longer to adjust to the college game, even though he’s old for his class.
- He doesn’t yet have a jump shot that will make him versatile, making him purely a center in Beilein’s offense and not a power forward. But Michigan’s offense doesn’t feed the post players like MSU or an NBA team would. He’ll have to get his points like Morgan does – which is fine but limits his upside.
- He’s stepping into a crowded center competition with two guys that know the system and have contributed in the past.
I actually think McGary may have the smallest impact on next year’s of all the recruits given that both Stauskas and GR3 are better fits at replacing the void left by the seniors. McGary will contribute and be fun to watch, but lower your expectations to fully enjoy it rather than wondering why he isn’t dominant.
Speaking of McGary, how is the center depth chart going to play out?
This is going to be fascinating since Beilein only historically plays one true post player and now has three players worthy of ample playing time. Even Tom Izzo with his deep bench only plays two true centers. I think Morgan will remain the starter for a lot of next year but I like Brian’s 15-15-10 prediction for minutes with McGary splitting equal time. Let’s sit back and enjoy the ride – we’ll never have to worry about foul trouble, teams with a lot of height, or seeing McLimans or Smotrycz play critical minutes at center.
What do you think the rotation will be?
I thought about predicting minutes per game, but Brian did an admirable job of that already. Instead I’ll talk in generalities. Here’s the rotation as I see it:
- Morgan (on a short leash)
GR3 (energy off the bench at the 3 or 4, replacing Stauskas or Smotrycz)
- McGary (essentially getting starters minutes)
- Vogrich (basically the same as this year, maybe a few more minutes at best)
- Horford (the 3rdstring center still averaged 8 minutes per game this year)
Brundidge (a few minutes spelling Burke)
Christian(suddenly one of these two needs to play a fair amount of minutes at PF)
Wow – that rotation sounds like something to be excited about!
That’s a true 9-man rotation, dwarfing the deepest rotation Beilein has ever had at Michigan, and a few spare parts that are still viable options.
UPDATE: Until another recruit joins the incoming class (more below) that's still possibly a 9-man rotation if Bielfeldt steps up or McLimans plays more at PF.
Next year is going to be a unique experience for this program with the depth, talent, leadership turnover, height, and relative youth. The B1G will be as tough as always, but Michigan should be a contender once again, even if there are some growing pains early in the season.
UPDATE: So we suddenly have scholarships to offer...what should we do with them?
Obviously we should take one or maybe two guards and whoever the coaches feel is deserving of a scholarship. There has been plenty of speculation at MGoBlog or UMHoops about players who may be available, so I won't spend too much time on specific names since no one really knows and no one has an official offer.
What I will say is this - I want a true point guard in this class....and I don't care what their star rating is, how big they are, whether they have pro potential, or any of that stuff. I think every team needs a back-up PG who can play 10-15 minutes per game where he runs the offense, doesn't turn the ball over, plays good defense, and hits the occassional open shot. The kind of guy who will play four years, possibly all of them as a back-up, work his tail off, be thrilled to play for Michigan, and be a great insurance policy if the starter can't play. Everyone needs one of these types of players and we're sorely lacking one. Even if Burke stays another year, we still will only have one PG the following year and that person would be a true freshman.
I can think of two perfect examples of this - Travis Trice at MSU and Stilman White at UNC. Both were undersized 3-star recruits surrounded by higher ranked players and lacking any other major offers. Both players stepped up with a few minutes per game when their teams needed it. Both will be around for three more years being solid system guys. We need one of those.
Of all the names mentioned so far, Spike Albrectch seems like the closest fit to this role. He's a true PG who has lead both his AAU and Prep teams to a lot of success playing a ton of minutes. He's played with many of our two best incoming recruits. He can hit a three pointer if left alone. And he's essentially the same size as those two examples listed above. Maybe there are better choices out there and if so I hope the coaches can sign them. If not, I'd gladly welcome Spike to fill that role.