This Week's Obsession: Basketball Takeaways

This Week's Obsession: Basketball Takeaways

Submitted by Seth on November 18th, 2015 at 12:16 PM

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Not just a 6'8 shooter? [Marc-Gregor Campredon]

The Question:

So we've seen a little bit of basketball now. What is your early season takeaway?

-------------------------------

David: I will let the basketball pundits break down how Walton looks like he's back, Caris's B1G MVP potential, HOLY DUNCAN ROBINSON, and the myriad of ways DJ Wilson will contribute this year. My first major thought after seeing the first few games is the deep rotation.

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Also he's quite the 6'8 shooter. [Pat Barron]

This is the deepest M team that I can remember. Beilein has made comments about keeping a tight rotation and playing through their mistakes. While I think that is maybe an ideal goal, I think it is also a bit of coachspeak to generate a lot of competition within the squad. The point I am also trying to get at is that I'm not convinced, yet, that there will be an 8-man rotation. In the past few years, we've been scanning the roster trying to find 8 guys that have potential and/or we can just get on the floor. That should not be the case, this year.

The starters will most likely be Walton, LeVert, Dawkins, Irvin, and Doyle. Obviously the next two off the bench will be Spike and Robinson. After that, you'd have to think DJ Wilson will get minutes. That is probably the most logical rotation. However, due to some youth, inexperience, and lack of endurance, I think that while Donnal's play has been somewhat underwhelming, he will still get minutes at the 5. M is probably going to have to play 3 different centers in most games. After that, you look at the upside of both Rahk and Chatman and both will have their opportunities, as each can present different matchup problems.

An argument can be made why every scholarship player could get some consistent minutes. Will M really play 11-12 guys every game? Most likely not. But I really do think that 9 and possibly 10 guys could see playing time, at least for the foreseeable future. Obviously, there could be attrition and injuries, but with this kind of depth M seems very well prepared for such events. Plus, if fouls are going to be called the way they have so far this season, walk-ons may see time, again!

[After the JUMP: je ne de fense?]

Michigan 88, Elon 68

Michigan 88, Elon 68

Submitted by Ace on November 16th, 2015 at 9:36 PM

It's safe to say Michigan sorely missed a healthy Derrick Walton.

After the Wolverines got out to a slow start against Elon, finding themselves in a 15-12 hole midway through the first half, Walton spearheaded an offensive explosion. First he excelled in transition, getting his teammates going with quick runouts and timely passes. Then he found his own shot, kickstarting M's halfcourt offense as they pulled away.

Walton posted a stat line of 24 points (2/3 2P, 6/7 3P), six rebounds, and seven assists, and he created offense in a multitude of ways. If he wasn't springing a fast break, he was spotting up for a corner three, or driving the baseline before kicking it out to a shooter, or pulling up from midrange, or going coast-to-coast for a Euro-step layup. This was the most aggressive he's looked in a Michigan uniform and the results could hardly have been better.

Duncan Robinson also lit it up from beyond the arc, hitting all five of his three-point attempts and adding a transition dunk and a pair of free throws to score 19 points without missing a shot. While his defense still has a ways to go, his shooting ability is an asset that affects more than his own scoring—when he's on the floor it stretches opposing defenses thin.

The exploits of Walton and Robinson allowed the Wolverines to weather an underwhelming shooting night from the rest of the team, which was a combined 2/12 from three-point range. Zak Irvin played his first minutes of the season and didn't look comfortable coming off his back injury; he went 0/5 from the field, though he still managed to contribute with three assists. Caris LeVert was quieter than normal, scoring 11 points on 3/8 FGs and 5/6 FTs. Like Irvin, he found other ways to create offense, dishing out seven assists with some nifty work to create open looks in late-clock situations; he also swiped four steals.

The big-picture takeaways from this game will focus on the center position. Mark Donnal got the start but struggled, to put it kindly, on both ends in his 15 minutes on the floor. Ricky Doyle looked like he should be the clear-cut starter with eight bruising points in 13 minutes; three fouls limited his time but he looked far superior to Donnal.

DJ Wilson moonlighted at the five but mostly stuck to the four. Mo Wagner, meanwhile, got in early and played seven eventful minutes, pulling down an offensive board and helping M grab at least one more, then taking a charge before triumphantly exiting with a Novak-esque stream of blood running down his face. Donnal's hold on a rotation spot may be tenuous, especially as the season goes on.

There were signs of the rotation forming on the wings, too. Aubrey Dawkins, Kam Chatman, and Robinson have seemingly distanced themselves from Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman, who only saw eight minutes, most of them late, despite Dawkins and Robinson struggling on defense.

While Michigan's team defense wasn't as good as the box score would indicate, they managed to work through some very tight officiating—which seems to be the trend this season—and come up with eight steals, a point of emphasis for them in the early going. With Walton fully operational, the offense came together as soon as the open looks from outside started falling, and the Wolverines didn't look back.

Now Michigan must hope that Irvin gets more comfortable and someone outside of Doyle steps up in the middle, as the first big test of the season looms on Friday when Xavier comes to Crisler.

Michigan 74, Le Moyne 52

Michigan 74, Le Moyne 52

Submitted by Ace on November 6th, 2015 at 9:14 PM


Patrick Barron/MGoBlog

In a game Michigan controlled from the outset, the John Beilein's Wolverines defeated Patrick Beilein's Le Moyne Dolphins, 74-52, in the exhibition tune-up before the season tips off for real a week from tonight. Caris LeVert led all scorers with 22 points on 17 shots; Duncan Robinson came off the bench for 15, hitting three of his six three-pointers, and Derrick Walton added 13 on seven shot equivalents.

Some scattered thoughts from the game:

Caris LeVert and Derrick Walton: still good. There's not too much more to say here except that both looked fully healthy. LeVert's ability to create his own offense outside the arc bailed out some stagnant possessions. Walton is back to his normal self; he had a couple strong takes to the hoop in transition and knocked down a pull-up jumper off a late-clock drive—these were the shots he couldn't get last year because of his injury.

Mark Donnal got the start at center, but he still doesn't look like Michigan's best big man. While Donnal hit three of his five shots, the two misses were layups—not a great sign against a woefully undersized opponent. He affected some shots at the rim but still looked a step slow on defense.

Ricky Doyle only played 12 minutes; I don't think that's a reflection of the pecking order as much as Beilein wanting to see what he has in Donnal and Moe Wagner, who played most of his 11 minutes at the five. Doyle looked much like he did last year, scoring on his lone post-up opportunity and grabbing five boards while allowing a couple other rebound chances to find their way to Le Moyne. Wagner was active but a little lost out there, which doesn't come as a huge surprise; he did look like he could contribute this season in a pinch.

Michigan really missed Zak Irvin, who sat out the game with a back injury that shouldn't affect his availability during the season. With Irvin out of the lineup, Kam Chatman and DJ Wilson played most of the minutes at the four, and their inability to hit the outside shot—a combined 0/6, with Aubrey Dawkins also missing his four attempts from beyond the arc—limited the effectiveness of the offense. Michigan couldn't get much pick-and-roll offense going and mostly scored with one-on-one takes and off-ball movement; not having Irvin to spread the floor constricted some space to operate in the paint.

Chatman's scoring output remains frustrating, especially since he can do other things well; he's a good passer an one of the team's more reliable rebounders. If he can't put the ball in the bucket, though, he'll cede minutes to someone else; he's not strong enough as a perimeter defender to justify getting minutes otherwise.

Wilson is an interesting case. He runs the floor really well—he's a weapon in transition—and he alters shots at the rim, but he doesn't look totally comfortable with his outside shot and he got blown by on the perimeter for a couple layups. He hit a face-up jumper on a post-up and may be better suited for the five, especially if Donnal struggles.

Duncan Robinson is going to pose major problems to opposing defenses. He looked great shooting the ball, as expected, hitting 3/6 triples. Encouragingly, he also hit 3/4 two-pointers, with much of that offense set up by him making nice off-ball cuts. He had an up-and-down game defensively playing primarily the three, but he's going to get a lot of time regardless.

Aubrey Dawkins had an off night on both ends. I'm not concerned at all about his offense—we know he'll be fine on that end. The more concerning stuff came on defense; he got pulled a couple times for Robinson when he ran right into screens and gave up open outside shots. Perimeter defense is a work-in-progress on a team-wide basis; Le Moyne got off 28 three-pointers and many of those were solid looks.

For an exhibition game in which the team was missing a critical starter and trying out a ton of different lineups, this went fine. The offense should function much better with Irvin on the court, Robinson looks as advertised as an offensive weapon, and the two stars who played looked like their old selves tonight.

Hoops Preview 2015-16: Wings, Part II

Hoops Preview 2015-16: Wings, Part II

Submitted by Ace on October 29th, 2015 at 2:00 PM

Previously: Hoops Preview PodcastMGoRadio 1.6 (wsg John Gasaway), Point Guards, Wings Part I (LeVert, Dawkins, Irvin)


Kam Chatman only showed flashes of his four-star ability in 2014-15.

Michigan is deeper this season than at any point during John Beilein's tenure. There's so much depth, in fact, that there's a decent chance at least one of last season's regular contributors drops out of the rotation.

Today's preview post focuses on that depth by looking at backup wings Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman, Kameron Chatman, Duncan Robinson, and Moritz Wagner. DJ Wilson, who could easily fit into this category, will be covered with the bigs.

Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman


Bryan Fuller/MGoBlog

Year: Sophomore
Measurables: 6'4", 185
Base Stats: 19.0 MPG, 4.4 PPG, 49/29/93 2P/3P/FT%, 1.7 RPG, 27 assists, 28 turnovers
Key Advanced Metrics: 16.5% usage, 92.5 ORating, 1.9 steal %

"Rahk" wasn't expected to be a contributor last season after John Beilein picked him up late in the recruiting cycle. When injuries forced him onto the floor for extended minutes in Big Ten season, however, he emerged as a quality scorer off the dribble—after looking jittery early in the season, he shot 54% on two-pointers in conference play.

Rahkman's rise to a prominent role was critical for Michigan in 2014-15, especially when he took on the scoring burden against Michigan State and Illinois, and even more so when he shadowed D'Angelo Russell in M's upset of Ohio State—Russell needed 17 shot equivalents to score 16 points, had five turnovers against two assists, and looked visibly frustrated with Rahk's defense. John Beilein pointed to defense as the way Rahkman can see extended time on the court this season:

“We haven’t even discussed any redshirt possibilities. Muhammad is not of a young age number one, but he’s got his work cut out for him to get the minutes that he did last year and he knows it. He has some explosion to his game and some speed that we do need on this team. That’s all going to come if he can become an excellent defender on this team then there will always be minutes for him.”

That's in part because Michigan could use a perimeter defensive stopper; it's also in part because there are still significant holes in Rahkman's overall game. He shot 29% from three-point range as a freshman, a figure that must improve to keep from affecting Michigan's spacing. He finished with more turnovers than assists; while he wasn't overly turnover-prone, when he drove to the basket he almost always looked for his own shot, and opponents are going to adjust to that. There's reason to think he can improve in both regards; his impressive free-throw shooting (albeit in a small sample) is a sign his jump shot should come around and he looked confident as a ballhandler last year.

The great news for Michigan is that there isn't nearly as much of a need for Rahk to play big minutes with the return of Walton and LeVert; there won't be minutes to spare at the point and there's a ton of depth on the wing. Rahkman may carve out a role as a defensive specialist or off-the-bench scorer against teams that struggle to stop dribble penetration; anything else he provides would be considered a bonus. He should be a solid role player getting 10-15 minutes; the breakout most likely will have to wait until next year.

[Hit THE JUMP.]

Unverified Voracity Plays Underwater Basketball

Unverified Voracity Plays Underwater Basketball

Submitted by Brian on August 7th, 2015 at 3:31 PM

Media Day photos. Via Eric Upchurch:

Michigan Football Media Day 2015 (Upchurch)

Events! Upcoming things:

  • TONIGHT, Ann Arbor: we have an HTTV thing at Literati at 7 PM.
  • August 11th, Washington DC: Season preview. Intimately titled.
  • August 12th, New York: Season preview. Seventh(!) annual. Wow. Do not attend both, they will be the same thing.
  • September 1st, Ann Arbor: John U Bacon discusses BRANDON'S LASTING LESSONS at Rackham.

Events this year with the Chicago and Philly clubs did not come off, but Philly has an event with half a dozen lettermen on the 29th.

Trollin' trollin' trollin' trollin'. Jim Harbaugh took questions from adorable children.

Moments later he said Michigan was about to go in a "submarine" and that you wouldn't hear from them for a while. Media members in attendance snapped their pencils in dismay.

Except this one. Drew Sharp, everybody!

Wear some damn socks.

Simplified, maize-r. Michigan wore last year's jerseys at Media Day but even so there was a clear change to the uniforms this year:

This naturally leads to a discussion about lighting and camera stuff but multiple reports from media day report that the maize is darker. Also: Harbaugh was probably so incensed by uniform clutter he sewed the flaps that cover up the superfluous block M himself.

Fewer seats. Michigan loses 2,300 seats, mostly for ADA compliance reasons:

The most noticeable changes to Stadium seating relate to ADA accessibility, as seats had to be eliminated in order to widen aisles and install hand railings around the entire bowl with the exception of the student seating section.

Michigan still has the largest capacity in the country, and they will actually fill it this year. Also:

J. Ira and Nikki Harris Head Football Coach Jim Harbaugh

Did they drop the "Family" from the still-very-unwieldy endowment there?

Sounds un-good. Linebacker Mike McCray told Mike Spath that he's going to miss a chunk of this season with an undisclosed injury. The way he talked about it seemed a bit ominous for his recovery prospects, as well. McCray on Durkin:

"He told me they're not giving up on me, and to keep fighting to get back, so I've been coming out to 7-on-7s and doing everything I can to stay part of the team, and my teammates have been helping me out with that a lot too."

If we don't see him at all this year he would be in Chris Fox territory, wherein everyone is waiting for the news he's transitioned to a student assistant. Hopefully it doesn't come to that and we at least see him on special teams some.

Okay then. Harbaugh had a direct answer to the minor fifth year kerfuffle caused by Keith Heitzman's comments to the Columbus Dispatch:

"The fifth year has to be a mutual decision," he said. "Nothing is guaranteed except the opportunity to take that spot. Do you want to come back for a fifth year and does the football team want you back?"

Apparently some guys were put on the "impress me" block and some were not. FWIW, I've heard that Countess was not one of those guys—they expected him to stay and were expecting to play him a lot.

Somebody didn't read BRANDON'S LASTING LESSONS. Minnesota's AD has resigned because he started drunk-sexting colleagues late at night. Athletic directors: typing anything after 9 PM is like feeding Gizmo after midnight.

Battle bracket. Basketball's tourney has a bracket:

image

UConn first, then one of Syracuse/Charlotte. Looks like we get to find out what "AXS" is and if anyone in the state gets it, as the opener is on it.

UConn was 20-15 in the American last year and bounced from the first round of the NIT; they lose Ryan Boatright, their highest-usage player, but return everyone else. Syracuse was 18-13 and 9-9 in the ACC; they did not have a postseason because they took the ever-popular midseason NCAA sanctions after Jim Boeheim got nailed for all manner of malfeasance. They lose C Rakeem Christmas but return everyone else. Charlotte was 14-18 last year and looks pretty bad.

Shooting is shooting. Brendan Quinn profiles Duncan Robinson:

The thought of Robinson playing for Beilein -- "He's born to play the system," Maker says -- made too much sense, so a phone call was made and film was sent.

Trusting Maker, Beilein called Robinson before watching the game film. He reached out as a courtesy to tell Robinson that Michigan might be interest in him as a preferred walk-on.

Robinson was flattered, but not interested. Plenty of Division I programs were offering scholarships now.

Then, one week later, a second phone call was made.

"OK, I saw you play," Beilein told Robinson. "Forget the walk-on stuff. We're talking about a scholarship. I want to get you here for an official visit."

Excellent piece; go read it.

One return. Zach Werenski will return to Yost:

Werenski confirmed for NHL.com that he will return to the University of Michigan for his sophomore year.There was speculation that the 6-foot-2, 221-pound left-handed shot would play for London of the Ontario Hockey League in 2015-16. London selected Werenski in the second round (No. 24) of the 2013 OHL draft.

Losing him would have been very, very bad on top of the Copp and Larkin departures.

Etc.: Hiring NFL people to coach college offenses is usually a disaster. Lawnmower men. The Ferry Field gate. BYU loses its starting running back. The Big Ten's new scheduling rules are also about money.

Roster Set, Let's Talk Minutes: Backcourt

Roster Set, Let's Talk Minutes: Backcourt

Submitted by Brian on May 7th, 2015 at 4:35 PM

I thought I'd revisit the basketball roster now that it seems set. We covered similar ground in the Always Next Year post on the team, but now that the Minutes Crunch™ is official, let's look at how things might shake out.

Point Guard

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[Bryan Fuller]

Starter: Derrick Walton (Jr.)
Backups: Spike Albrecht (Sr.), Muhammad Ali Abdur-Rahkman (So.)

Albrecht's hips and Walton's foot are lingering issues hovering over this spot. Derrick Walton was shut down in January and should be back from just about anything by November. His issues massively blunted his effectiveness. Walton went from a 45/41 percent shooter to 32/34. It's never good when a shooting line forces me to remind readers that the first one is twos and the second is threes.

Just about every part of Walton's statistical profile was static or regressed save his reliably mansome defensive rebounding; how much of that was the injury? How much was disorientation in an environment far more focused on his output? How much was just flat-out poor play?

We're hoping the answers to those questions are "lots," "some," and "not too much considering." Michigan and LaVall Jordan's point guard track record should mean that is close to the truth.

Still, the version of Derrick Walton Michigan gets is a major question mark for the season. Point guards have universally played above expectations since Darius Morris's freshman year. I just don't know what expectations are for Walton anymore.

Meanwhile, Spike Albrecht's presence would have certainly mitigated any downside here if he wasn't in the midst of dual hip surgeries. Instead he just probably mitigates any downside. The media has been told that he should be back in five or six months, no problem, but there are whispers he might be forced to redshirt. Albrecht was low usage and could not sustain his ludicrously low TO rates when forced into extensive action; he also led the post-LeVert team in assist rate by a huge margin and maintained shooting efficiency in a more difficult environment.

Spike was a major reason Michigan managed to remain competitive without Walton and Irvin. In the twelve games Michigan played without those two stars, Spike scored in double digits nine times, shot 45/43%, and had a stellar 60:19 assist:TO ratio. Even before the injuries Michigan was leaning on him heavily for minutes until the freshmen were somewhat more prepared. A senior reprise would have been most excellent. Is that still possible?

If not, MAAR steps into the breach. There are worse backup plans to your backup plans than a guy who put up 18 at Michigan State as a freshman and harassed DeAngelo Russell into an awful game. MAAR needs to work on his deep shooting (29% on fewer than two threes a game) and passing, but Michigan hasn't had a guy who can get to the basket like him since Trey. A bit more on him in the next section.

Minute projection: Fuzzy with injury issues. Call it Walton 25, Albrecht 15.

[After the JUMP: Caris, Dawkins, and the cavalry behind.]

There's Always Next Year: Basketball

There's Always Next Year: Basketball

Submitted by Brian on March 25th, 2015 at 12:13 PM

See also: hockey.

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a shruggie of a year [Bryan Fuller]

GRADUATING

Despite a lot more playing time than anyone expected, Michigan seems content to allow Max Bielfeldt to graduate and move on. As a 6'7" center it seems unlikely he can feature on a team with major aspirations.

That is all.

And this isn't graduating yet but we'd be remiss if we didn't mention that Austin Hatch may transition to a medical scholarship at some point.

NBA PIRACY AHOY

The looming unresolved question of the offseason is "wither Caris LeVert?" LeVert would be a mid-to-late first round pick if he decided to enter the draft, but chatter from Scout and Rivals holds that LeVert seems to be favoring a return. I don't have to explain how huge that would be. Fingers will be crossed until the deadline.

Other attrition is unlikely. Zak Irvin's late diversification has not piqued the interest of NBA evaluators just yet; Derrick Walton has not shown the kind of meteoric rise necessary for a guy of his stature to leave early.

INCOMING

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technically incoming is the best kind of incoming [Bryan Fuller]

Technically, nobody right now. Michigan has two guys who are functionally incoming, however. D-III transfer Duncan Robinson spent his redshirt year testing Nik Stauskas's practice marksmanship records and gathering hype:

"I texted Nik (telling him the record fell)," Beilein said of Robinson's record on WTKA 1050-AM on Thursday morning, adding that he didn't witness it personally. "(Stauskas) was happy, but he was also sad that the record went down. Duncan can really shoot the ball and as he learns the other parts of the game, he's tough to stop in practice." …

"He can help us against that zone anytime," said Beilein, who kept the record to himself, later saying, "I'm not going to disclose the numbers and maybe it will come out at some time, because I'm not sure I'm supposed to do that."

Robinson should be Just A Shooter, always a handy thing to have around. He could be something more.

Meanwhile, DJ Wilson took a redshirt after a second injury in a few months. Prior to that he'd offered hints that he could be an impact defender and skilled 4/5 man. He'd also struggled immensely in brief spurts of playing time against grown-ass men. (Not Eddie Johnson. Others.) Wilson was a solid four star recruit after an impressive senior season in California and could play either post-type position.

Michigan is also active in the spring recruiting period. Uber-prospect Jaylen Brown just took a visit, and Sam's saying there's a chance; German Moritz Wagner took a visit and seems set to choose Ann Arbor unless his pro team can convince him to change course; late-rising instate post Mike Edwards was just on campus; Seton Hall point guard transfer Jaren Sina, who Michigan recruited a bit a couple years ago, is listing Michigan amongst his options.

Edwards is 6'10" instate player who blew up as a senior, going from a lonely Akron offer to high-major offers from Nebraska and Georgia. Michigan is poking around but has not offered.

Will they? I'd be a bit surprised. Michigan has Donnal and Doyle plus 2016 7-footer Jon Teske; DJ Wilson may play the 5 for them as well. Even if you assume Wilson is a full-time 4, that would be a post per year for four straight. On the other hand, an incessant parade of senior Cs sounds okay by me.

Michigan has at least one slot from Bielfeldt's graduation and may have up to three depending on Hatch and LeVert. It seems like the most likely outcome here is Wagner, and only Wagner, comes.

USELESS BUT MANDATORY MINUTE BREAKDOWNS

After a year in which we fussed about auto-bench and a couple of walk-ons got meaningful playing time in most games, here is a happy about-face: it's difficult to find minutes for everyone if LeVert comes back.

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remember me? [Eric Upchurch]

POINT GUARD: Walton 25, Spike 15.

Hard to imagine Walton getting fewer than 30 a game even with Albrecht establishing himself a very good offensive player in trying circumstances last year, but 1) Walton only got 26 as a freshman when he was fully healthy and 2) all of the remaining minutes went to Spike.

Meanwhile Albrecht ended up playing over 30 this year and maintained a healthy 112 ORTG thanks to lots of assists and excellent shooting. There are going to be games and matchups where he may be the preferred option. When Michigan goes up against Bennie Parker or Lourawls Tum-Tum Nairn Jr, Spike's size deficiency isn't going to be, you know, deficient.

Walton could blow up a la Morris/Burke and relegate Albrecht to more bench time. The above is a best guess at a position that's relatively uncertain despite having two upperclassmen.

SHOOTING GUARD, LEVERT EDITION: LeVert 30, Spike 5, MAAR 5.

There will be some dual-point lineups. Spike's five minutes here are a representation of that. Past that, if LeVert's around he's playing a lot of minutes. Surprise!

MAAR looks like he might be the odd man out in the musical chairs of next year's lineup: his handle won't be needed to spot PG minutes, he didn't shoot anywhere near Dawkins's numbers, and he doesn't bring the rebounding others might. Ace pointed out on a podcast that MAAR showed hints that he might be a lockdown perimeter defender (D'Angelo Russell had a terrible game against him) and that this might be a ticket to playing time. That's probably his best hope for PT next year.

SHOOTING GUARD, NBA PIRACY EDITION: MAAR 20, Spike 10, Robinson 10

In the unhappy event LeVert decides on the draft, dual-point lineups increase, MAAR gets a healthy chunk of playing time, and Duncan Robinson finds more time as a floor-stretching kickout option even if that's the extent of his game.

It'll be disappointing if LeVert does enter after these positive noises, but this hypothetical SG lineup is far from ominous.

SMALL FORWARD: Dawkins 25, Robinson 15

Dawkins's late shooting surge—he shot 48% from 3 in Big Ten play as part of a larger improvement in his game has everyone hype, as does the addition of the alley-oop dunk to his arsenal late in the season. This minutes breakdown is looking at Dawkins as 3 defensively but envisions his role on offense similar to that of GRIII: shoot corner threes, cut to the basket for explosive dunks, drive off closeouts.

Meanwhile, Robinson is a wildcard. It seems like his floor is a knockdown shooter off the bench. Robinson hit 45% from three as a freshman at Williams, and if he's given similar quality shots there's no reason to expect a dropoff. Readiness won't be an issue after a redshirt year, especially since highlight videos of his year in D-III demonstrate he's running Beilein's offense down to the cut.

If Jaylen Brown does come to Michigan—knock on wood—he would suck up 30 minutes here, leaving Dawkins and Robinson in a situation similar to MAAR's.

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HELLO THIS IS ZAK [Fuller]

"POWER" FORWARD: Irvin 30, Chatman 10, Wagner?

Irvin will be the non-post most suited to bang in the paint on defense and rebound so he goes here. Michigan hopes to get the playmaking ability he demonstrated late last year. He could be the alpha dog; that could be LeVert; hopefully we get something like the Trey/Tim/Nik or Nik/Caris/Derrick teams in which the shots are spread out such that focusing on any one player just makes his assist totals go up.

Chatman struggled for most of last year. Like Irvin and Dawkins, he did come on late with a number of skilled drives to the basket and the first flashes of the passing ability he was noted for in high school. It does not seem likely he will push through anyone to field extensive playing time in year two, but if he can start giving consistently quality minutes off the bench that would set the table for a starting job as a junior if Irvin's improvement carries him to the draft.

Wagner's not even on the team yet; if he comes he will compete at the 3 and 4. He is not coming to redshirt but he's super skinny so playing time in year one might be scant.

CENTER: Doyle 24, Wilson 8, Donnal 8

Bigs develop.  Repeat this mantra until you feel good.

Either Mark Donnal takes a quantum leap forward on defense or Ricky Doyle eats up most of the minutes in the post next year, fouls permitting. Doyle has a much larger frame than other options and held his own against the posts of the Big Ten. Since Doyle is also a year younger than Donnal you would expect him to develop more quickly.

Doyle has a terrific ability to finish around the basket and actual post moves. he needs to work on his hands, mostly, and reduce the foul rate that is inherent in project freshman bigs. He hedges pretty well and he gets a lot of offensive rebounds Meanwhile I wonder what the team defensive rebounding rates are with Doyle on the floor versus other options with shinier DREB numbers. Michigan is utilizing a boxout-focused style that often results in a guard skying for the rebound as Doyle butt-shoves his man out of the way.

In any case, I've been a bandwagon member since the start and think he will develop into a very solid option. He shot 61% this year in a finishing environment leagues tougher than that faced by any Michigan post since the Beilein effect kicked in; with more assisted buckets he could scrape Jordan Morgan efficiency levels while providing a bit more size on D.

Donnal, meanwhile, needs to spend the offseason gluing sand to his jaw and making mean faces in the mirror. (Also lifting weights but mostly the first two.) He averaged 6.4 fouls per 40 last year (Doyle and Bielfeldt were around 4), which was indicative of his overall struggles on D. Offensively he was efficient but low-usage.

Wilson could figure in at the 4; the guess here is that Michigan deploys him as a skilled, skinny 5, hoping his promising shot blocking makes up for what figures to be a rebounding deficiency.

WELL?

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FORWARD [Patrick Barron]

A major rebound beckons. This is a team that was a few points away from being 10-8, even 11-7 in the Big Ten despite not having the two guys expected to be stars before the year. If LeVert returns Michigan adds him, Walton, Robinson, Wilson, and possibly a recruit to that team. Meanwhile subtract only Bielfeldt.

Michigan also gets a year older all around. This should see them rise to approximately average in Kenpom's "experience" metric. Michigan has been hovering in Kentucky territory for a while now. It is a Beilein miracle that they've had the results they have despite that.

It'll be nice to have some guys who are a bit older. Michigan started Getting It on offense late last year as the posts realized when they should roll to the basket and the wings figured out their cuts. It wasn't just Zak Irvin knowing he should pass that helped his assist numbers go up; there were also options for him to pass to.

The LeVert version of this team can be really good, especially if Irvin is going to continue to progress and Walton regains the explosion he lost as a sophomore. They would be a Big Ten contender—and depending on what happens with the rest of the league possibly the favorite—and an easy Sweet 16 seed.

The No LeVert version of this team could still hit that ceiling but it seems more reasonable to project them as a second-tier Big Ten team that gets a seed from 5 to 9.

Unverified Voracity Might Be Real Maize

Unverified Voracity Might Be Real Maize

Submitted by Brian on August 8th, 2014 at 11:58 AM

1994: when the universe was right-side up. Via Wolverine Historian:

This game featured a halftime interview with one Gerald Ford:

It's over. Everything is over. The FAKE 40 scale has been broken. They said that man could not claim a 40 time with more than five FAKES attached. They said a lot of things. Well, I present you with the first level eight (eight!) FAKE 40 time:

Unstoppable run-god Trevor Siemian? That does not sound right. Rodger Sherman figures that whether this is true or false this is the beginning of the end for Pat Fitzgerald. I agree. This has destabilized the entire structure of the sport.

IS IT MAIZE? This poster-type thing makes Michigan's uniforms look far less highlighter-y than they have in the recent past:

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Delonte Hollowell front and center

All discussions about this inevitably center on the fact that you can make the same color look vastly different depending on lighting and various other photo doodadery, so let's just stipulate that. But maybe it'll look like a color instead of a fire truck this year.

I am intrigued by your newsletter. 2016 AL SG Josh Langford is arriving on campus today. It is possible there has not been enough chatter about this. Everyone's focused on Tyus Battle after Battle's camp appearance, but Langford is just as highly touted of a prospect, says highly positive things when asked about Michigan, and now 247's Jerry Meyer has put in a prediction for M on their Crystal Ball. He offers a brief explanation as to why:

Duke had been considered the leader in his recruitment but the Blue Devils have only showed minimal recruiting interest to this point.

Sources tell 247Sports that Michigan and Kansas are the two schools in the strongest position with Langford. … A physical guard at 200-pounds or more, Langford loves to attack the rim and also has a versatile and skilled game that would fit great into John Beilein's system of play.

Langford's quotes about Beilein are on the rapturous side, and apparently there's some substance to that.

Meanwhile, Michigan is asserted to be the leader($) for 2016 CA PF TJ Leaf by Scout analyst Evan Daniels. Asserted to be the "slight" leader. That is still an improvement over the perception that Indiana or UCLA was on top.

Leaf's Crystal Ball is a total mess, with five different schools listed—a recent Duke offer has caused a lot of picks for the Blue Devils to come in, there's a random CBS Sports writer projecting Florida, etc. Leaf just visited Arizona, as well. His recruitment could go any direction from here. Michigan probably needs another visit before Leaf's announcement in March or April to feel good. The current plan is for Leaf to take an official in February.

DRIII. Jeff Eisenberg has a rather lengthy article on the second-newest Wolverine, Duncan Robinson. How does a guy go from D-III to Michigan? Bad luck and hard work.

He stood only 5-foot-7 entering his freshman year at Governor's Academy in Byfield, Mass. He suffered an ill-timed back injury that hampered him during the all-important summer before his senior year at Exeter. And even after his growth spurt, he still needed to build the muscle necessary to absorb contact and finish at the rim. …

"His goal is to be an impact player," Tilton said. "He's not a kid looking to play a small role. He'll put the effort and energy in. I have not coached a kid with more passion for the game of basketball. He has a tremendous work ethic. He spends hours and hours on his craft. Basketball is his social life, and that's why he has been able to put himself in this position."

It'll be fascinating to see how this decision works out. Michigan passed on Nevada's Cole Huff when it looked for all the world like he would end up transferring in and seem ready to shut down 2015 recruiting entirely with Robinson in the fold. All Hail Infallible Beilein, of course, but 6'8" two-guards shooting 45% from three do not grow on trees.

Almost ready to shut down 2015 recruiting. 6'6" combo guard PJ Dozier just announced a top five and a plan to visit Michigan this fall, and if he has been shut out by the Robinson commitment he is not aware of this fact:

“Some people will say I like this school because they’re this type of school and I’ve watched them forever. But P.J. is selecting a school that is the correct way in what is going to be the best program and the best fit for him so Michigan is definitely a strong, strong possibility.”

Michigan does have a spot in the 2015 class, and if a guy on Dozier's level—#31 on the composite—wants to take it you probably let him even if it removes the possibility you get a similarly-ranked 2016 guy.

Well yeah. Listen to this man, he is a wizard.

"It's no longer about education," Snyder said. "We've sold out to the cameras over there, and TV has made its way, and I don't fault TV. I don't fault whoever broadcasts games. They have to make a living and that's what they do, but athletics -- that's it. It's sold out."

I am skeptical it was ever really about education but yes probably more so than now; "sold out" is correct.

I would be okay with this. Stunningly, a plurality of coaches in the Power 5 support doing away with cupcakes entirely:

Of the 65 Power Five coaches from the ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12, SEC and Notre Dame, 46 percent (30 coaches) favored playing exclusively Power Five opponents while 35 percent (23 coaches) were opposed. About 18.5 percent (12 coaches) were undecided.

"About 18.5." Significant digits, man.

Anyway, they did away with the requirement that you have to win six games to go to a bowl, significantly greasing the skids towards a "yes" vote. Pac-12 coaches were the most gung-ho in favor, with only Rich Rodriguez opposed; the ACC was the only conference where more coaches were opposed to the idea than in favor; The Big Ten split down the middle. Hoke was not quoted but was listed as in favor.

Joe Dumars' last transaction. Brendan Quinn notes that the DRIII transfer saga was kicked off by none other than Joe Dumars's firing:

After the Pistons fired general manager Joe Dumars in mid-April, a six-week search for his replacement finally landed on Marist College head coach Jeff Bower.

Bower accepted the position, vaulting from a low-major college coach to an NBA GM.

That left Marist scrambling for a new coach as the summer churned toward key recruiting periods. The coaching search in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., ultimately landed on Mike Maker, a 48-year-old who had led tiny Williams College to a 147-32 record and two national championship game appearances in six years.

With Maker gone, Robinson started looking around. May this transaction be more in the 'Sheed department instead of the "everything after the Billups trade oh and also the Billups trade" department.

Etc.: Thanks, Landon. Autonomy passes. No one knows what that means yet. Impact figures to be minimal in basketball. Scrimmage details. You have to register, because you need to be bombarded by emails. The NFL is suddenly open.

USA Today previews Michigan. Scouting Caris. YOU WRE-E-E-CKED ME.

Hoops Hello: Duncan Robinson

Hoops Hello: Duncan Robinson

Submitted by Ace on August 6th, 2014 at 5:29 PM

D-III Williams College sharpshooter Duncan Robinson announced on Twitter moments ago that, as expected, he's transferring to Michigan:

Robinson will sit out this year, then have three years of eligibility remaining when he suits up for the 2015-16 season.

GURU RATINGS

As you might expect of a D-III player, Robinson didn't even have recruiting profiles on any of the major sites, let alone actual rankings. That's not to say he wasn't a D-I caliber prospect, however, as the New England Recruiting Report ranked him as the #12 recruit in New Hampshire and #47 in the New England region—ahead of several D-I commits—when he came out of high school in the 2013 class.

So how did Robinson not land at a D-I school? By choice:

A year ago he was a relative unknown coming out of Governor’s Academy.  One year, two inches, and 20 pounds of muscle later now he’s a NEPSAC finals MVP and a huge steal for Williams College. While the masses are wondering how a sharp-shooting six-foot-seven forward could have slipped through the scholarship cracks, the reality is that he jumped through, spurning scholarship offers for the top ranked liberal arts school and one of the most storied Division III basketball programs in the country.

Academics should not be a concern.

SCOUTING

So, yeah, you just read "sharp-shooting six-foot-seven forward" and now know why John Beilein coveted a D-III transfer. Here's more from the NERR from when Robinson committed to Williams:

One of the best pure shooters in all of New England, Robinson has a feathery stroke with range well beyond the three point line, a high basketball I.Q., and a long six-foot-seven frame that is just starting to add muscle mass.  

Excellent use of "feathery" there.

Other scouting reports from his recruitment, as you might expect, are scant. What the heck, here's one from something called BallasTV, which included this blurb when they published the above video:

Duncan Robinson is probably the most under recruited kid in the NATION that we have seen this year! At 6'6 Duncan meets all the criteria for a low - mid major d1 G/F, he is tall, long, athletic, has guard skills and a GREAT student. Some times kids develop later then others and we think that is the case for Robinson, even from this summer to spring he looks to have added 10+ pounds of muscle to his lean frame.

They seemed pretty excited about him, also noting that "there isn't ONE" AAU coach who faced Robinson who wouldn't say he was a D-I level prospect. Seeing his shooting stroke, as well as some solid drives to the rim, the excitement is quite understandable.

Talking to the Freep's Mark Snyder, Robinson's AAU coach added a couple details beyond "shooter":

A dead eye shooter, hitting 45% from three-pint range while averaging 17 points per game, Robinson is nearly 6-foot-8 and weighs 195 pounds. With the redshirt year he would have to take if he transferred, “who’s to say he’s not 215 and Big Ten-ready?”

He’s not just a standstill shooter, he can put it on the floor, he’s a smart cutter,” Crotty said. “He knows how to have patience and use angles as well.”

His ability as a cutter could play very well in Beilein's system, especially if his shot is dangerous enough that defenders are predisposed to closing out hard on the perimeter.

UMHoops got an exclusive scouting report from Nothing But NESCAC, which noted that he was comfortable and effective as both a spot-up and pull-up shooter, then pointed out some areas in need of improvement if Robinson is going to succeed against a much higher level of competition:

The defensive and rebounding parts of his game are really where Robinson will need to work on if he wants to be a contributor at Michigan. He currently lacks both the lateral quickness and strength in order to consistently stay in front of quicker shorter defenders who could use their leverage against him. Rebounding he used his size to average 6.5 rebounds per game, but he wasn’t very active on the offensive glass or ever really dominated in the paint.

If you're thinking "this guy sounds like a D-III Nik Stauskas," you're not alone, as NBN made that exact comparison. Robinson may actually be a bit taller: he told UMHoops that he's 6'8" and up to around 200 pounds. Unless he adds a good deal of bulk and strength, he's probably ticketed for the three at Michigan; regardless of what position he plays, he should at the very least stretch the floor offensively.

STATS

They are impressive. Via MLive:

As a freshman at Williams in 2013-14, he averaged 17.1 points and 6.5 rebounds per game in a school-record 1,110 minutes played (34.7 mpg), all while making 81-of-179 3-pointers (45.3 percent)

Shooting 45% from distance on a high volume of shots while being the team's star player is quite the feat for a freshman at any level. Robinson won D-III Freshman of the Year honors and was a fourth-team All-American on D3Hoops.com; not only was Robinson the only freshman among the four AA teams and five players who earned honorable mention, no sophomores were selected and only three juniors made the cut. 

OFFERS

I can't find a high school offer sheet for Robinson, but he had plenty of interest when he announced his plans to transfer, per UMHoops:

“A whole bunch of schools that reached out,” Robinson said. “No other Big Ten schools, but a couple of ACC schools, Big 12, and then a lot of lower-conference and mid-majors. I’ve kind of narrowed it down to two. I’m going to take a visit to Davidson (this weekend) and I’m going to take a visit to Michigan (Monday).”

While Davidson isn't a high major school, they're in or around the KenPom top 100 on a very consistent basis from year to year, and they did produce that Steph Curry guy. Dylan also noted that Creighton, the most DEATH FROM ABOVE team in college basketball last season, also showed interest in landing Robinson.

VIDEO

UMHoops helpfully compiled a video of Robinson's Williams highlights:

Yup, dude can shoot.

PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE

Projected a D-III player to the Big Ten is a rather difficult endeavor, as a jump like that happens very rarely:

Matt Hart led Hamilton in scoring before transferring to George Washington as a walk on and Varun Ram left Trinity to walk on at Maryland and earned a scholarship, the 5-9 point guard played in 16 games last season.

Those were the two recent D-III to D-I examples UMHoops found; Hart is in the same boat as Robinson—sitting out 2014-15 after his transfer—so we don't know how the transition will go for him.

My best guess is Robinson works his way into being an off-the-bench gunner eventually; he does appear to be an ideal fit in Beilein's offense, and woe be upon the blogger who questions Beilein's talent evaluation. Beilein thought it was worth not just bringing in a D-III transfer, but using a scholarship spot on one, and just based on that I get the feeling Robinson will make an impact in his Michigan career, even if the constant influx of blue chip recruits* prevent him from grabbing a starting job.

*Man, was that sentence fun to write out.

UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS

Adding to the intrigue of Robinson's transfer is the fact that it likely quite possibly closes the book on guard/wing recruiting for the 2015 class. Though this is likely to change, Michigan has only one open scholarship for 2015-16 at the moment, and the priority is going to be landing a big man: Sam Webb posited on The Victors Board that five-star IN C Caleb Swanigan is going to be the main priority moving forward ($).

Out Of Several Left Fields: Duncan Robinson

Out Of Several Left Fields: Duncan Robinson

Submitted by Brian on July 29th, 2014 at 1:42 PM

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Via Chris Balas, here's a new, crazy name for Michigan's SG spot in the 2016 class: Duncan Robinson, who spent last year at D-III Williams College. It sounds like this is escalating quickly, to the point where a visit that starts Monday is likely to see him commit:

"Coach Beilein said once I get on campus, they have a scholarship open that I should have one. That's exciting, kind of a dream come true. Hopefully that all works out. Coach Maker is excited for me - he said he would have recruited me at West Virginia or if he had gone with Coach Beilein to Michigan. He definitely believes in me, and I believe in him as a coach."

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So, like, brace yourself. There will be some caterwauling on your message board of choice because what about Jalen Coleman. And I feel that too, a bit.

Only a bit, though. The 6'7" Robinson hit 45% of a lot of threes and is looking to transfer after his coach moved on, with the usual suspects sniffing around. Along with Michigan, Creighton and Davidson are involved. That is a who's who of Shoot It Shoot The J programs. Meanwhile Williams's coach is a former Beilein assistant who runs all of the same stuff Michigan does. Last year was an apprenticeship.

UMHoops already has video of him last year:

And… yeah, doesn't most of that translate to D-I? I mean that on the block fadeaway is a Stauskas move and the various moving three pointers are un-checkable at any level. If this was a high school reel we'd all be like "yes please."

So why is he in D-III? Apparently because he really really wanted to go to this one college, scholarship be damned. NERR was like "you guys who are lolwut aren't entirely wrong" last year:

“While the masses are wondering how a sharp-shooting six-foot-seven forward could have slipped through the scholarship cracks, the reality is that he jumped through, spurning scholarship offers for the top ranked liberal arts school and one of the most storied Division III basketball programs in the country.”

At this point Michigan has earned a bit of leeway when they take someone you cock your eyebrow at. Beilein can just say "scoreboard." While taking this guy would be a bit weird, shooting is shooting is shooting is shooting. At 6'7" he also has flexibility to play the 3 and maybe even the 4 if he gets stronk like bull under Sanderson.

I mean, at this point you just look at a skinny 6'7" guy and wonder when the NBA comes calling, no matter where he's from.

If Michigan does offer and Robinson commits, that would not necessarily put an end to Michigan's 2015 class. That currently stands at no people; Michigan is bracing for a LeVert departure and reclassified Max Bielfeldt to senior status. They're also likely to put Austin Hatch on a medical. So they would almost certainly have room to add a second player in the class. A third is even possible.

Possible, but doubtful. Given the state of the roster and how strong Michigan is with a number of 2016 kids it seems like it would be a bit difficult for them to get another kid in without compromising what they hope is a monster class the year after. A Jalen Coleman in the hand is worth two Tyus Battles in the bush, though. Wouldn't rule it out. Do think that Michigan's expanding 2015 SG recruiting pool would get restricted to one, maybe two guys.

Meanwhile, Robinson would sit out the upcoming season and then have three to play.