Michigan 78, UCLA 69 (OT)

Michigan 78, UCLA 69 (OT)

Submitted by Ace on December 9th, 2017 at 4:08 PM


Today's unlikely heroes. [Marc-Gregor Campredon]

"I've coached more college games than any of you," John Beilein said to the assembled media. "I've never seen anything like this."

Rarely has a game, and quite possibly a season, turned so dramatically in so little time.

Facing UCLA in a matchup of paramount importance to their NCAA tournament resumé, Michigan allowed the same problems that have plagued this team all year to appear at seemingly the worst time. Despite open looks, they couldn't buy a three, opening the game 4-for-19 from beyond the arc. UCLA's Aaron Holiday got whatever he wanted against Michigan's point guards; ditto Thomas Welsh going to work inside against M's centers.

The Bruins took a three-point lead into halftime, and the lead easily could've been larger if not for some sloppy play on their part. That luck didn't last. UCLA's margin ballooned to 15 when Holiday drilled a three right out of the first media timeout of the second half. Then Charles Matthews, who'd had a quiet first half and opened the second with a traveling violation, started cooking. Every possession went through him, and for good reason; by the next media timeout, Matthews had ten more points and a Kobe assist, almost singlehandedly cutting the defecit to seven.


Charles Matthews went off in the game's final 20 minutes. [Campredon]

Matthews would've been even more productive in that stretch, and throughout the game, if not for major struggled at the free-throw line that extended to the rest of the team. Michigan would finish 8-for-22 from the charity stripe; Matthews posted a brutal 2-for-10 mark. As such, he couldn't bring the team back on his own. A pair of unlikely players picked him up.

"Eli [Brooks] saved the game for us," said Matthews. "I was so glad he made those free throws. I was going to hear about that for weeks to come. They're tough, especially that little dude over there [Zavier Simpson], he's a bull. He just brings toughness that a lot of point guards can't match."

Simpson did more than bring toughness, though he did plenty of that, recording four steals and helping hound Holiday into five second-half turnovers. He also had his best offensive game in a Michigan uniform, scoring 15 points on 6-for-9 shooting with a pair of threes and a couple huge late layups, including an improbable scoop past Welsh to beat the shot clock.

"I call that the three o'clock," said Simpson. "Coach Beilein calls that the time layups, where he wants us to shoot 12 o'clock scoops, three o'clock, six o'clock, nine o'clock. Now I didn't know it was going glass, but I knew it was going in when I released it. It felt good."


Simpson scored 15 points and went 2-for-2 from downtown. [Campredon]

Seemingly all his shots were timely. After Moe Wagner shook off a slow start to add some critical buckets down the stretch, Simpson's "three o'clock" shot got the Wolverines within two, and with only 18 seconds left he pickpocketed Holiday and took it the other way for a layup, bringing M within a single point. G.G. Goloman split a pair of free throws, giving Michigan a chance to tie. When Eli Brooks got fouled on a strong baseline drive, the game came down to the last place Michigan wanted it to be: the free-throw line, where Brooks had gone 3-for-6 to start his freshman year.

"I don't think he's made two in a row all year long," said Beilein.

Brooks calmly sunk both free throws, the first he'd attempted all game. Beilein went back to Simpson for UCLA's final possession. That paid off in spades when he poked the ball away from Holiday, forcing an ugly final attempt by Prince Ali that was well off the mark.

Once Michigan had forced overtime, momentum carried them the rest of the way. Simpson opened the extra period with a three-pointer and Matthews took over from there, responding to a late-game challenge from Beilein, who didn't mince words late in the second half when missed free throws looked likely to cost the team the game.

"You've been the MVP for UCLA so far," Beilein told Matthews. "You've gotta be the MVP for us."

Matthews rose to the occasion, adding four more points in the final period to finish with 20, just behind Moe Wagner (23) for the team high on the afternoon. He also had one of Michigan's three steals in the extra session to ensure the team wouldn't have to sweat out the final seconds at the line.

"It's really a great testimony to our kids," Beilein said. "We did everything we could to play some inefficient basketball. When we really needed to suck it up and get some work done at the end, we got it done. I'm hoping it's a huge benchmark for our team as we go forward."

At the very least, it got Michigan a much-needed quality non-conference win, and they'll get a shot at another on Monday night at Texas. We may very well look back today's game—and the brutal Ohio State loss that preceded it—as a turning point akin to last year's Illinois debacle and its aftermath.

[Hit THE JUMP for the box score.]

Basketbullets: Can This Team Be Good?

Basketbullets: Can This Team Be Good?

Submitted by Ace on December 6th, 2017 at 2:48 PM


[James Coller]

After the collapse at Ohio State on Monday, there's been quite a bit of consternation among Michigan fans about the course of the season. The Wolverines sit at 7-3, and they're only 2-3 against viable competition, with their best win coming against the #82-ranked team on KenPom. If they don't at least come away with a split in their upcoming games against UCLA and Texas, there's good reason to worry about how this team is going to compile a worthy tournament resumé.

To get an idea of how the season could play out, I wanted to take a look at how John Beilein's Michigan teams have improved (or not) over the course of the season. I'm an idiot, however, so thankfully our very own Alex Cook had the same thought and could actually put it into action. Alex used the game score metric from Bart Torvik*—a 0-100 score for each game based on adjusted efficiency margin—to map out the in-season progression of Beilein's teams. This, for example, is last season's graph. The blue line tracks the individual game scores; the black line is a five-game running average; the gray line is the overall season trend. As you certainly guessed, the 2016-17 graph shows a great deal of late-season improvement:


Waltoning, The Graph

The first question that I had: was last year more the exception or the rule? Alex went through each season to get the answer. Positive numbers show in-season improvement, negative the opposite:

I'm about to get into much more detail, but the initial takeaway is we can't assume that Beilein is going to turn things around this season without a couple things breaking the right way. Using the above as a guide, it's time to take a look at the potential ways this season plays out.

[Hit THE JUMP for season scenarios with past precedent.]

Michigan 69, Indiana 55

Michigan 69, Indiana 55

Submitted by Ace on December 2nd, 2017 at 3:42 PM


Jordan Poole saw an opportunity and seized it. [Marc-Gregor Campredon]

Fifteen seconds into today's game, Michigan star wing Charles Matthews picked up a foul on a rebound attempt. John Beilein sent him to the bench. It was an inauspicious start to Big Ten play against an Indiana squad coming off a tough battle with top-ranked Duke.

Jordan Poole, who'd barely played significant minutes, entered for Matthews. Despite playing untested freshman in place of the team's leading scorer and best defender, Michigan didn't miss a beat, jumping out to a 14-2 lead with four three-pointers. Poole drained two of those triples and didn't stop there; he'd make three more on his way to a team-high 19 points, looking like a major difference-maker for a team that could use an outside shooting boost.

"Today I was getting a lot of open looks," said Poole. "[The coaches] constantly stress 'shoot the open shots,' and not hesitate and try to make a play. If I'm open, shoot it. You don't need to tell me twice."

With Poole leading the charge, Michigan controlled the game from start to finish. The team moved the ball beautifully, tallying 16 assists on 26 field goals and creating open look after open look with crisp passing. A disjointed IU offense couldn't keep up. Only Juwan Morgan (24 points, 9/14 FG) scored in double figures, the Hoosiers had more turnovers (11) than assists (7), and they only got off seven three-point attempts.

"DeAndre Haynes did a great job with the scouting report and our kids lived that scouting report," said John Beilien. "They did a great job."


Eli Brooks did a great job moving the ball around. [Campredon]

While the expected titanic post matchup between Moe Wagner and De'Ron Davis didn't quite come to fruition, Wagner fared better among the centers, scoring 13 points and adding seven rebounds, three assits, three blocks, and a steal. Davis, limited by fouls, scored only four, but Morgan proved a much harder guard for Wagner in the post.

Morgan couldn't keep IU in it on his own, however, while Michigan gave Poole and Wagner plenty of support. Eli Brooks played 22 strong minutes, dishing out six assists to no turnovers, going 2-for-4 from the field, and swiping a couple steals. While John Beilein wouldn't go so far in the postgame press conference, Brooks looks to have taken control of the point guard job with Zavier Simpson as his primary backup; Jaaron Simmons didn't see the floor this afternoon.

Another freshman, Isaiah Livers, contributed four points in ten minutes with Duncan Robinson in foul trouble. Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman had eight points and a career-high 11 rebounds. Jon Teske had six points, three boards, and a steal. Only Robinson, who went 2-for-10 from the field, seriously struggled among the rotation players, and his were uncharacteristic misses on good looks.

After going with a disjointed 11-man rotation in the loss to North Carolina, tightening things up a bit—and featuring Poole as the primary backup wing—paid serious dividends today. There's still plenty of work to do; as Beilein noted, Michigan's had only one practice in the last couple weeks that wasn't entirely geared towards preparing for the next game.

There will be more lineup combinations (yes, he mentioned playing two bigs); Simmons will still get a shot to crack the rotation. Today still gave a good idea of what this team will look like in a couple months, and the freshman class of Poole, Brooks, and Livers is going to be a big part of it.

"I love these three freshmen," Beilein said. "I love them."

"They still make me angry every day," he added with a laugh.

He's still John Beilein, after all.

[Hit THE JUMP for the box score.]

Basketbullets: Matthews-Wagner Ballet, Point Guard Roulette, Two Bigs?

Basketbullets: Matthews-Wagner Ballet, Point Guard Roulette, Two Bigs?

Submitted by Ace on November 29th, 2017 at 3:33 PM

If you're looking for the UNC preview, click here or scroll down.

Charles Matthews, Point Guard


No point guard? Just run the offense through the wing. [Marc-Gregor Campredon]

Charles Matthews was nothing short of spectacular in the Maui Invitational. The only thing that could slow him down was cramps, which hit in the third game in three days after Matthews had posted back-to-back 20+ point, 8+ rebound, 3+ assist games.

If anything, those numbers undersell Matthews's impact. This offense now runs through him, much like the 2014 team's went through Nik Stauskas while the team broke in a freshman point guard. In the loss to LSU, Matthews took on 40% of the team's possessions with remarkable efficiency: 28 points on 22 shot equivalents, six offensive rebounds, three assists, and only two turnovers. While the final result may not have been desirable, Michigan established their offensive identity in this game. Once again, the two-man game with Moe Wagner will be the centerpiece of the offense, this time with Matthews running the show.

Early on, Michigan used a side screen to get Matthews going left-to-right into the paint, where he could either pull up for a short jumper or dump it off to Wagner for a jumper:

Like the Walton-Wagner duo, the two showed an innate ability to read the defense and make the right play off the screen, whether originating at the top of the key or off to the side. Matthews found Wagner with a nifty lob on the roll to set up an and-one; Wagner flipped a high screen to get a wide open jumper; when the roll wasn't open, Wagner cleared out so Matthews could isolate his defender and draw a shooting foul off the drive; when Wagner popped out for a three-point attempt, Matthews crashed the boards and cashed in with a putback.

What's been most impressive, and pleasantly surprising, is Matthews's court vision and passing out of the pick-and-roll. According to Synergy, Michigan ranks in the 88th percentile in pick-and-roll derived offense when Matthews is the ballhander, and he's currently providing more value as a passer (87th percentile) than a finisher (69th). This play jumped out to me the most from last week. Wagner slips the initial screen as VCU aggressively doubles Matthews. When the defender in the corner slides down to prevent a Wagner layup opportunity, Matthews throws a really difficult pass to Duncan Robinson over the double:

If that pass is late or even a bit off-target, VCU can recover to contest Robinson's shot. Instead, it's an easy three points because Matthews puts it right on him.

[Hit THE JUMP for the Matthews-Wagner off-ball two-man game and more.]

Michigan 68, VCU 60

Michigan 68, VCU 60

Submitted by Ace on November 22nd, 2017 at 7:48 PM

John Beilein will express his gratitude for the refs tomorrow.

Moe Wagner may have been on the wrong end of some questionable calls for most of the evening. With the game knotted at 60 and under 90 seconds to play, however, he got away with an obvious foul while stealing the ball from VCU's Jonathan Williams.

Wagner, who'd never been able to get into the rhythm of the game, finished a three-point play at the other end, then coolly knocked one down from beyond the arc to put the nail in the coffin. Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman's unnecessary—but consequential, given the game's Michigan -7 betting line—layup just before the buzzer gave the Wolverines an 11-0 run to close out a much-needed win.

That final six-point flurry represented half of Wagner's point total. As you might imagine given that stat, Michigan didn't have a stellar offensive performance, especially as Charles Matthews struggled to stay on the floor in the second half with cramps—and struggled to make free throws (1/6 in the half) when he did.

Michigan didn't have the Matthews-Wagner two-man game going like they did in the first two games in Maui and the halfcourt offense suffered mightily for it. The Wolverines shot 5-for-20 from beyond the arc and nine of their ten turnovers came after halftime. They managed to make up for that, at least for tonight, with a 16-0 edge in fast break points.

While it wasn't pretty, Michigan needed this victory badly to get out of Maui with a 1-1 record against D-I teams and not saddle themselves with potential resumé-hurting losses. After a home tune-up against UC Riverside, they'll face their toughest test of the young season next week when they travel to Chapel Hill. Without more consistent production in the halfcourt, that UNC game could get ugly.

[Hit THE JUMP for more notes and the box score.]

LSU 77, Michigan 75

LSU 77, Michigan 75

Submitted by Ace on November 21st, 2017 at 2:35 AM


via Alejandro Zuniga

I'm starting this a little before 2 am, so this won't be a standard recap. Some scattered thoughts following a loss that may have a big impact on this season in several directions.

The schedule impact is rough. Michigan's tourney fortunes may end up tied closely to the fate of this LSU team if the Wolverines end up on the bubble. While LSU has looked good early on, they were terrible last year—this could wind up being a bad loss on the resume, though I suspect Tremont Waters is going to get the Tigers respectable soon. The bigger deal is having an opportunity to play Notre Dame replaced by a date with D-II Chaminade, a no-win game for Michigan. Instead of getting three quality opponents out of this week, they only get two.

The point guard situation is the team's biggest problem. Let's get the bad out of the way. While there were some flashes of talent from Eli Brooks, who canned a pull-up three and had a nifty drop-off assist to Moe Wagner, the point guard position is still in major flux. John Beilein put his trust in Brooks down the stretch; Brooks missed a couple crucial shots, got pickpocketed by Waters, and had a difficult time staying in front of Waters down the stretch.

Those are growing pains you expect from a freshman point guard. The problem is that Brooks is being relied upon in the first place. Zavier Simpson almost wasn't playable because of his passivity on offense—he didn't attempt a shot in ten minutes—and he had his troubles with Waters as well, picking up four fouls. Jaaron Simmons went 0/1 with an assist and a turnover in 15 minutes. Even if this team is going to run through the wings, which it sure looks like will be the case, they need way more production from this spot.

Duncan Robinson's defense is one, too. LSU mimicked Oregon's game plan from last year's tournament, isolating Robinson when they got the opportunity and attacking him off the dribble. To little surprise, this worked.

Far more concerning was Robinson's offense, which was all but nonexistent. He was unable to shake lanky 6'5" wing Brandon Sampson, scoring his only points on a transition three and getting nothing in the halfcourt. Michigan will be in trouble against bigger, more athletic teams if they're unable to find ways to free up Robinson for shots.

Charles Matthews looks like a star. There was still plenty of good in this game, none better than the performance of Matthews: a game-high 28 points (9/15 2-pt, 1/2 3-pt, 7/10 FT) with six offensive rebounds and two assists while playing his usual strong defense.

Michigan's offense was at its best when it ran through Matthews, especially when he paired with Moe Wagner (24 points, 6/7 2-pt, 3/7 3-pt) as a screener. The most effective play was the side pick-and-pop, which opened driving lanes for Matthews to sky for short jumpers and easy midrange opportunities for Wagner. It took the team most of the first half to find this offense, however, and they strayed from it at times in the second; I'm excited about the future of a team that makes this their identity.

Other quick notes:

  • While Jon Teske didn't make a huge splash tonight, he still looked good out there. He batted another offensive rebound back out for a reset, engulfed a shot off a drive, and dished out a pretty assist. His post passing looks like it could be special—it's already quite good.
  • This was a rough game for Ibi Watson, who chucked four shots, making only one, in eight minutes and giving up some easy blow-bys on defense. He's going to lose his minutes to Brooks and perhaps Jordan Poole, who got in for a minute tonight, if things don't get better fast. He may be a good player in practice but it's not translating to games.
  • Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman had an uneven performance. He couldn't find the mark from the outside, missing all five of his threes. He was great at getting to the basket, however, and made 4-of-8 twos, including some tough baskets to keep it close down the stretch. MAAR was often the only Wolverine willing to assert himself, especially when Wagner and/or Matthews weren't on the floor.
  • Isaiah Livers had a putback and a steal in 12 minutes. I noticed some trouble on defense and on the boards, though, and that type of stuff is going to hold him back from getting more minutes unless Robinson goes into an extended slump.
  • Tomorrow's game against Chaminade tips off at 8 pm EST on ESPN 2.

[Hit THE JUMP for the box score.]

Michigan 72, Central Michigan 65

Michigan 72, Central Michigan 65

Submitted by Ace on November 13th, 2017 at 10:04 PM


Bench Mob, activate. [Marc-Gregor Campredon]

It's me again, the guy who tells you not to pay too close attention to the final score.

This time we're talking basketball. Michigan went to 2-0 this evening with a win over Central Michigan that never felt particularly alarming nor particularly comfortable. While it wasn't pretty in the moment, however, there were some promising signs for the future of this young team.

Much like North Florida in the first game, the Chippewas came out in a zone defense that kept the Wolverine attack stagnant. They also started off hot from beyond the arc, making five of their first ten three-point attempts to jump out to an early 22-14 lead.

Then the Wolverines got some good things going. Zavier Simpson calmly sunk a three over the zone, then worked his way to the hoop for a layup. Moe Wagner took ownership of the defensive boards. Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman salvaged a possession with a hard driving layup to beat the shot clock. After an 0-for-4 start, Duncan Robinson drilled a triple. Jon "Big Nasty" Teske checked in for Wagner, blocked two shots, and got hit with a terrible foul call on a third. Teske combined with Simpson for a textbook shutdown of a pick-and-roll that led to an Abdur-Rahman three that gave Michigan a one-point halftime edge.


MAAR kept a sometimes-stagnant offense going with some tough shots. [Campredon]

Frustratingly, Michigan couldn't hit enough of their open looks to really pull away in the second half; on the game, M would go 10-for-34 on three-pointers. Instead, they had to grind out a win with defense and timely transition buckets. That began early in the stanza, as blocked or altered shots by Matthews and Wagner begat five fast break points for Abdur-Rahkman, capping a 15-3 Michigan run.

The offense had its moments breaking down the CMU zone. While Matthews didn't look confident in his three-point shot, he was able to get into the lane and get the defense moving to set up a couple baskets, then showed off his athleticism with a hanging jumper in the lane. Jaaron Simmons, who was mostly quiet as the backup point guard, got a three-pointer to go in rhythm after some nice ball movement. Abdur-Rahkman, who led the team with 17 points, saved another late-clock situation with a slick step-through scoop that rattled home. With some late fast break points helping out, Michigan eventually clawed to 1.13 points per possession.

But it was the defense, which held CMU to 1.01 PPP despite 10-for-24 three-point shooting, that stood out for Michigan. Simpson's constantly pesky approach, which resulted in two steals and multiple other knockaways tonight, will make him hard to unseat as the starting point guard if he continues making open threes (2-for-3 tonight). Matthews generated some points all on his own by jumping a passing lane and going coast-to-coast for a dunk. Wagner looked improved as both a rebounder and defender—he's noticeably stronger and putting in a greater effort on that end. Teske made some impressive plays on the boards and looked surprisingly fluid; less surprisingly, he proved difficult to shoot over.

While it's not safe to assume that Michigan will be as good of a shooting team as last year, they'll certainly be better than they were tonight; Robinson and Wagner won't combine for too many 3-for-13 nights from downtown. Meanwhile, there are some early signs that Wagner and the rest of the squad have improved in the expected problem areas of defense and rebounding. That's a tradeoff I think John Beilein will take this early in the year.

[Hit THE JUMP for the box score.]

This Week's Obsession: Hoopsters Of Intrigue

This Week's Obsession: Hoopsters Of Intrigue

Submitted by Ace on October 25th, 2017 at 11:57 AM

THIS ARTICLE HAS A SPONSOR: If you haven’t yet talked to Nick Hopwood, our MGoFinancial Planner from Peak Wealth Management, hopefully his appearance on last week's live podcast convinced you that he's the right guy to help you plan your financial future. As we learned last week, he saw well before many that Joe Paterno had become a useless figurehead; that same perceptiveness can be utilized to bolster your bank account.

Our deal is Nick is the guy I go to for financial strategies, and he gets to ask us Michigan questions on your behalf. Anytime it’s a Nick question, we’ll let you know. Anytime you’ve got a financial question, let Nick know.

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

Legal disclosure in tiny font: Calling Nick our official financial planner is not intended as financial advice; Nick is an advertiser who financially supports MGoBlog. MGoBlog is not responsible for any advice or other communication provided to an investor by any financial advisor, and makes no representations or warranties as to the suitability of any particular financial advisor and/or investment for a specific investor.

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Jaaron Simmons is expected to take over Derrick Walton's role. [Marc-Gregor Campredon]

Nick's Question: Basketball media day is today, which gives us an excuse to talk about something besides football. Let's do that.

Which Basketball Player Are You Most Interested To See As The Season Starts?

Ace: You might expect me to say Charles Matthews, and the Kentucky transfer’s development since his freshman year is certainly of paramount importance to the success of this team. That said, I’m going with Ohio grad transfer Jaaron Simmons, who’ll be tasked with replacing the majority of Derrick Walton’s possessions as the team’s lead guard.

The key to last year’s offense was the high screen tandem of Walton and Moe Wagner, who found a way to beat opponents no matter how they tried to defend it. According to Synergy, Walton graded out in the 86th percentile as a pick-and-roll ball handler in 149 possessions; the only returning Wolverine to use 50 such possessions last season was Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman, who graded out in the 31st percentile. Zavier Simpson showed good passing ability on limited possessions but his lack of an outside shooting threat is going to seriously limit him — opponents are going to sag off and dare him to shoot until he proves he can make them pay.

Given an enormous workload on a team with limited talent, Simmons played with surprising efficiency last year, reaching the 65th percentile as a P&R ball handler in 228 possessions, the 18th-most in the country. (Others in the top 25: Jawun Evans, Melo Trimble, Tai Webster, Bryan McIntosh, Corey Webster, Nate Mason.) He ranked in the 70th percentile in offense derived from pick-and-roll situations even though he played with substandard (47th percentile) roll men; Wagner graded out in the 90th percentile.

Simmons is very capable as both a scorer and passer, and Michigan’s surrounding talent should allow him to play with greater efficiency than he did as a heavy-usage player on a mid-major squad. (Ohio’s #2 option last year was MSU castoff Kenny Kaminski.) While Matthews is the key to Michigan’s defensive success, Simmons is the newcomer who’s best equipped to keep Beilein’s offense scoring up to its lofty standard.

[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the roundtable.]

Basketbullets: Walton, Irvin Ink Pro Deals

Basketbullets: Walton, Irvin Ink Pro Deals

Submitted by Ace on July 25th, 2017 at 11:48 AM

Walton Signs Two-Way Deal With Miami

A strong summer league performance and the NBA's new contract structure got Derrick Walton a gig with the Miami Heat, which signed him to a two-way deal yesterday. That means Walton will play for Miami's G-League (formerly D-League) affiliate, the Sioux Falls (SD) Skyforce, and could spend up to 45 days with the NBA squad if he earns a callup.

Walton landing a contract wasn't a surprise given his summer league performance, which had plenty of Orlando fans hoping the Magic would hold onto him.

Walton has a place in a pick-and-roll league, and it's great to see him get a shot straight out of college, even if he'll have to work his way from South Dakota to Miami.

Zak Irvin had a tougher go in summer league. While he didn't land an NBA deal, he'll still play professional basketball. VL Pesaro of Italy's Serie A (the top Italian league) signed him yesterday. He'll play with a few other Americans, including former BYU standout Eric Mika.

[Hit THE JUMP for Wagner at the FIBA Euro Championships, some 'crootin happy trails, and more.]

The All-Beilein Teams: Giants

The All-Beilein Teams: Giants

Submitted by Ace on July 10th, 2017 at 2:50 PM


Space is limited. [Eric Upchurch]

Previously: All-BenchBench MobAll-Freshman, All-Senior, Small Ball

John Beilein has spent ten seasons in Ann Arbor. As of the most recent, he's the winningest coach in program history with 215. He snapped Michigan's post-sanction tournament drought in 2009, the first of seven NCAA appearances with the Wolverines, three of which have extended at least into the second weekend.

In recognition of the above, as well as the need for offseason #content, I've put together a series of All-Beilein teams, inspired by this twitter post and the ensuing conversation. My guidelines:

  1. I'm attempting to put together the best possible lineups, which isn't necessarily the same as picking the best individual players at each spot.
  2. I'm choosing individual player vintages (i.e. 2013 Trey Burke). A player can only be chosen once for each category, but different player years (i.e. freshman bench gunner 2014 Zak Irvin and well-rounded senior 2017 Zak Irvin) can be eligible for separate categories.
  3. The same player/year can be chosen for multiple categories—for instance, 2013 Mitch McGary making the All-Bench team doesn't exclude him from making the final All-Beilein team.

Eligibility for certain categories may be slightly fudged because of the limited pool of players.
I'm not putting too many constraints on myself for this exercise since the point is to let our imaginations run wild.

Today's lineup is the counterpart to the small-ball squad. This time I'm putting together the biggest conceivable lineup that'd still play with some cohesion. While attempting to construct a 2014 Kentucky facsimile is very much at odds with Beilein's approach, there are enough quality bigs and ultra-skilled wings to assemble an overwheling group.

POINT GUARD: 2015-16 CARIS LEVERT


LeVert's passing acumen makes him an ideal oversized PG. [Bryan Fuller]

I know, I know, a true 6'4" point guard is sitting right there in Darius Morris. I know, I know, LeVert only played half of his senior season. I still want shooting, though, and for all Morris's talent, 25% three-point marksmanship with no ability to pull off the high screen doesn't cut it here.

Also, I'm a LeVert stan through and through, and will insist until my dying days that he'd have been a national player of the year finalist if he'd been healthy for all of 2015-16. As the functional point guard and clear-cut #1 offensive option, he shot 53% on twos, 45% on threes, and 79% from the line with a high free throw rate; he dished out 74 assists against only 25 turnovers; he led the team in defensive rebounding rate. At 6'7" with a 6'10" wingspan, his length and NBA-caliber athleticism would overcome any quickness deficiency against opposing point guards on defense. Let me have this.

[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the post.]