Hoops Mailbag: Next Year

Submitted by Ace on March 28th, 2017 at 9:59 AM

It's their team now. [Marc-Gregor Campredon]

I'm not ready yet. A memorable season and the collegiate careers of Derrick Walton and Zak Irvin are over; the postmortem will come when I've had a little more time to collect my scattered thoughts. In the interim, a six-part mailbag question about next season has sat in my mailbox for the last few weeks, and while I'm not quite prepared to look back, I'm ready to look ahead.

I'll get this caveat out of the way now: Moe Wagner and DJ Wilson haven't made decisions about their potential NBA futures. This post makes the not-entirely-safe assumption both will be back. DraftExpress' latest 2017 mock doesn't feature either player; in fact, only Wilson makes their 2018 projection. In Chad Ford's latest update, Wagner is a "stock down" after Oregon while Wilson held steady as a late first/early second projection who "most [scouts] think needs another year of school." There's a decent chance both stay. If not, there will be plenty in this space on the ramifications for 2017-18.

Now that we've addressed the elephant, here are one reader's most pressing questions heading into next season and my attempts to answer them.

Can X make the leap? [Bryan Fuller]

Will we have the necessary performance from a Lead Guard to succeed?
We can gush all we want about the big guys and the allure of Charles Mathews, but Michigan's offense has only reached its potential when there was a lead guard at the controls -- Burke, Stauskas, Morris (to a lesser extent), and the 2017 version of Walton.  Can Michigan reach that potential with Simpson/MAAR having the ball in their hands most of the time?

Xavier Simpson came along at the perfect time. He got a year to learn from Derrick Walton, get his feet wet, and process the intricacies of John Beilein's offense. As a drive-first, shoot-second player, he'll step into the ideal lineup to fit his skill set. Simpson's iffy outside shot would normally put a ceiling on the offense; the Darius Morris squads topped out at 38th in offensive efficiency on KenPom. Those teams couldn't play five-out, however. With Wagner and Wilson, this team can and will.

That should leave ample room for Simpson to operate off the dribble. While we only saw flashes of his scoring ability as a freshman, it's worth remembering he was capable of scoring 65 points in a high school playoff game. As he got more comfortable within Beilein's offense, he began to display his playmaking ability, especially off the high screen. He showed no fear of the nation's leading shot-blocker in the BTT semifinal:

In the conference title game, he displayed a Morris-like ability to both see and make a pass from a difficult angle:

Simpson isn't going to be a dead-eye shooter like Walton; hopefully he can use the leadup to next season to refine his outside shot enough where he's at least not treated like Tum Tum Nairn. Regardless, I expect he'll be a relatively efficient offensive player because of his quickness, court vision, and the surrounding talent; he won't need to be the number one or possibly even nos. 2-4 scoring option. As long as he keeps his fouling under control he should be an upgrade over Walton as an on-ball defender.

I'm not entirely sold on Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman as a primary ballhander; he still seems to decide before he drives whether he's going to shoot or pass. He'll take on more late-clock possessions because of his ability to create decent looks for himself outside of the offense. Unless he has a major breakthrough as a pick-and-roll ballhandler, which isn't entirely out of the question, he'll still be better-suited as an off-guard. As I'll discuss later in this mailbag, however, I believe Eli Brooks is going to have a role on this team.

[Hit THE JUMP for Ultimate X Factor and much more.]

How good is Charles Matthews?
Hopefully he can match the 2017 version of Irvin at a minimum and that's probably good enough.  But is he better than that?  Is he good enough to demand 30mpg like Irvin?  Does he need to be?  Can he shoot?  Can he play multiple positions?  Can he defend?

Let's start with this: no idea. Few players in the country next season will be able to alter their team's outlook, for good or bad, as drastically as Matthews. He could be the team's top scoring option; he could lose a starting spot to Duncan Robinson.

The Kentucky transfer has garnered a lot of practice hype during his forced redshirt year, but we've been burned by that before (see: Donnal, Mark). That said, our circumspection with regard to practice hype doesn't mean we should ignore it entirely; what's been said about Matthews is certainly intriguing:

Ineligible to play this year due to NCAA transfers rules, Matthews is the star of Michigan's scout team. According to those who attend practices, he's described as follows: Slasher. Dynamic athlete. Shot creator. Lock-down defender.

Essentially, everything the Wolverines are currently missing.

"When we go five-on-five, he does some things where you stop and say, 'Wow,'" Zak Irvin said. "He's going to be something special."

Beilein is careful not to preordain Matthews. One of the grand traditions in college basketball is for the redshirt player -- the one no one gets to see -- to be billed as a team's best player. Beilein avoids the pitfall. He has a yearning look, though, when he says, "He would really help us right now."

"He does things in practice that we haven't seen since (Tim Hardaway Jr.)," Beilein added. "He's probably a combination of Hardaway and Glenn Robinson III. That's a good combination to have."

Matthews should be Michigan's best athlete on the perimeter right away; while he may not be able to moonlight as a post player like Zak Irvin, he should otherwise replicate what Irvin did on defense. As for replacing Irvin's offense, I'm cautiously optimistic.

The main question about Matthews is his shot, both from long range and the free throw line. While Scout liked his shot mechanics out of high school, he only attempted four three-pointers (making one) in his freshman season at Kentucky, and he went a dismal 14-for-34 from the line. He wasn't a threat from outside of the paint:

Over half of Matthews’ shot attempts were within five-feet of the basket last season and he was just 5-of-22 (23%) on all shot attempts outside of that range. His free throw shooting is another red flag. Matthews made just 14-of-34 (41%) free throw attempts last season in Lexington.

In high school, the signs were somewhat more promising. Matthews shot 59% in the paint (206 attempts) in his senior season, 36% in the mid-range (103 attempts) and 37% from three (124 3PA).

Beilein has developed shooters before; you need look no further than Wilson and MAAR on this year's team. Matthews had a full redshirt year to hone his shot. This isn't a hopeless cause.

There's another side to those stats, too: Matthews went 17-for-26 on shot attempts inside of five feet. He's much more athletic than Irvin, especially in terms of explosiveness; Matthews recorded a 41.5-inch vertical leap at Kentucky. It was notable when Irvin dunked; it will not be when Matthews does. On tape, he shows the ability to get to the hoop and a feel for finishing when he gets there. As long as his jumper isn't totally broken, that should help him replicate Irvin's offensive contribution. If Beilein and his staff can get Matthews' shooting passably from midrange and beyond—not out of the question, as he displays decent form—he could be a more effective player. The concern comes if neither Matthews nor Simpson develops into a threat from beyond the arc. That would negate the spacing that Wagner and Wilson provide.

Matthews could also potentially be an upgrade on the boards. While Irvin was a decent defensive rebounder, he rarely created second chances on offense. Matthews' propensity for going to the bucket could create more of those opportunities; he pulled down 32 offensive rebounds in 370 minutes at Kentucky and made all four of his putback attempts*, per hoop-math. While he probably won't grab 3.1 offensive rebounds per 36 minutes in Beilein's system, he'll provide more of a threat in that regard than Irvin.

I think it's possible to both underestimate the all-around impact Irvin made on the court this past season and expect Matthews to at least not represent much of a dropoff. His ceiling is certainly higher, and given his athleticism and finishing ability his floor shouldn't be too low.

*Those are conveniently four of the first five clips on UMHoops' reel of every Matthews bucket at Kentucky.

Wilson and Wagner need to grab a bigger share of the boards. [Campredon]

Can we rebound well enough without Walton?
Wilson and Wagner have been erratic as rebounders and Walton has been a stud.  Simpson will not be able to replicate that.  Who picks up the slack?

The hope here is another summer of Camp Sanderson will have Wagner and Wilson better prepared to defend the boards. Most of that improvement should come from Wilson, who showed the capability to be a dominant rebounder only to post a lower defensive rebounding rate in conference play than Irvin. With a little more strength, Wilson will have all the requisite physical ability; he possesses a rare combination of length and athleticism.

The backup center spot should provide a boost, too, whether it's manned by Jon Teske or Austin Davis. Both are big-bodied, physical players. While Mark Donnal was a solid offensive rebounder, he posted guard-like rebounding rates on defense the last two seasons; he was at 10.6% in Big Ten play this year, less than a point ahead of Robinson.

This is still probably not going to be a strength for Michigan. Even with Walton and Irvin providing solid-to-spectacular rebounding for their positions this season, the Wolverines were a below-average rebounding team. Any improvement is going to come from the big men taking a leap and the defense improving as a whole—it's easier to box out and grab boards when you're not allowing good shots near the hoop in the first place.

Livers shoots well enough to be an early contributor. [Fuller]

Who backs up the 4 position?
One luxury with Irvin is that he can effectively back-up three positions on the floor and give Beilein flexibility with how he uses his bench.  Can Matthews do the same and essentially replace Irvin?  Does Livers have the potential to play 10-15 minutes in that spot?  Will one of the bigs (Teske, Bamba?, Davis) allow a few minutes per game where Wagner plays the 4?

Listed at 6'6", 190 pounds, Matthews doesn't have the same broad-shouldered build as Irvin; while he can play the two or the three, defending power forwards wouldn't be ideal. I'm not sure I like the idea of Wagner trying to stick with quicker fours on the perimeter, either, and that lineup shift may not be much of an option anyway if Michigan once again finds that one of their best lineups features Wilson as a small-ball center.

That all may not matter, because Isaiah Livers looks like an early contributor. There's much, much more in Matt D's pair of scouting posts, as well my post on him from earlier this month. In short, Livers looks like a solid option as a three-and-D guy off the bench who can eventually grow into a bigger role. He's a much more natural fit at that spot than Matthews, Wagner, or Robinson. Livers should be the top reserve at the four, though Michigan some flexibility depending on the opponent—Robinson becomes a viable option if presented with the right defensive matchup.

Who is the backup guard on the roster?
Essentially the rotation is set at almost every spot - the five starters, backup wing, and backup bigs.  But who is the other guard that will handle the ball?  Will it be Brooks as a true PG?  Poole as a shooter?

As the embedded video indicates, I like Eli Brooks' chances of getting regular time as the backup point guard. If not for how long it takes most PGs to get comfortable in Beilein's offense, I'd give him a half-decent shot at passing Simpson; he's bigger, more athletic, and shows an impressive ability to make shots off the bounce. The Beilein Learning Curve is real, however, so Brooks will probably ease his way into the rotation; by the end of the season, I bet he'll be getting 10-15 minutes.

Duncan Robinson will soak up most of the reserve minutes at the three, but there's still room for another backup guard to emerge; it hurt Michigan this year not having another bench option in the backcourt, especially given Robinson's defensive shortcomings. If Jordan Poole's shooting lives up to its reputation, he'll be a viable option. While his freshman year was a disappointment, Ibi Watson is too young and athletic to count out, too.

After a season mostly spent on the bench, LeVert starred as a sophomore. [Fuller]

How will the youth develop with such a short bench?
We can rip Izzo for playing too many guys, especially when they are inefficient seniors.  But the byproduct of his early-season deep bench is that he often develops his younger players quickly.  This season Michigan had 4 freshmen and here we are at the end of the year with Simpson playing about 10-12 minutes as the only contribution from the whole bunch.  Next season we bring in 3 more (maybe 4 if we hit the Bamba lottery) and there won't be a lot of minutes with the top 7 spots essentially locked up.  How do those players grow so we don't experience the early-season blip every year?  (Especially if we lose some combination of MAAR, Wilson, Wagner, Matthews after next season).

Chicago, IL

I trust John Beilein's player development. When players are ready, he gets them on the court—sometimes at a slower pace than we'd like to see (Wagner comes to mind), but doubting his ability in this department is to deny reality at this point. Caris LeVert cracked six minutes only once in Michigan's last eight games as a freshman; he was ready to play second banana to Nik Stauskas right away as a sophomore. Wagner and Wilson had similar breakouts this year. Spike Albrecht had freshman-year highs of 15 minutes and seven points until the national championship game.

Game experience matters but only to an extent; after all, there are plenty of college-ready true freshmen every year even (especially) at the high-major level. What these guys do in practice and the film room on a daily basis matters, too. Beilein hasn't just showed the ability to make players better; he's got a knack for bringing them into the spotlight at the right time.



March 28th, 2017 at 10:41 AM ^

"But the byproduct of his early-season deep bench is that he often develops his younger players quickly. "

Dear Adam,

What world have you been watching?  The hook on Izzo is he breaks players down in year 1-2 of their career and then they blossom as 3rd and 4th year players.  Meanwhile John B sent Nik, GR3, Burke to the NBA after 2 years.  He has other guys contemplating it.  Mitch probably would have stayed 1 more year if allowed but that's another.  Caris if healthy could have gone. THJ left early.

Meanwhile until Gary Harris Izzo didn't have a single guy leave early for the NBA since Zac Randolph like 15 years prior.   Early development??

And Izzo gets an array of McDonald's All Americans.  Brandon Dawson types - who stay all 4 years as Izzo "develops them so early".  Denzel Washington was rated within a few spots of Nik. What was each doing by the end of their 2nd year again?

If Beilein had Izzo type HS talent rolling in we might see half our players leave by their 2nd year with his track record. 


March 28th, 2017 at 11:22 AM ^

Yes Richardson and Randolph were together.  Ok I missed Brown.  1 guy in a 15 year span between those 2 and Gary Harris.  That's early development in an era where his so called peers at Kansas UNC Duke are sending guys out after 2 years on the regular?? 

Izzo is the 1 guy in college basketball who is the antithesis of early developer - his bread and butter is senior laden teams.  I was thinking Denzel Washington because that's the age most guys in his program are before leaving.  He was given a Kansas/UNC type of roster this year with tons of high end talent and young guys, and you see the result.


March 28th, 2017 at 4:08 PM ^

Izzo seems to have an irrational desire to play his upperclassmen despite it actually hurting the team.  Winston was a much better player than Tum Tum this year, but he played Nairn too much.  Last year, the fact that he was playing Shilling/Goins as a combo more minutes than Davis made no sense.  Davis was a beast on the boards and at blocking shots last year.

Beilein's unwillingness to play Wagner was understandable last year.  He turned it over too much, fouled too much and was a disaster on defense.  His moments of brilliance weren't worth the negatives.

All the examples you gave of Beilien playing guys right away (Morris, Burke, the whole 2012 class) show that he will play guys that provide a net positive, even if they make some super frustrating freshman mistakes.  Izzo seems unable to accept those mistakes even if guys can make up for it with athleticism - and it's hard to argue with the team results that come from that style.  It's a balance between short-term effectiveness (play your best guys despite the mistakes to give the best chance of winning now) and teaching/motivating for the longer term (use their mistakes as teaching moments for the future).


March 28th, 2017 at 11:38 AM ^

My point, which may indeed be flawed, is that Izzo has a deep rotation and until the last season plus one game has had a great run of success and been able to rotate guys through at a regular rate.

Michigan often has a short bench and takes longer before guys see the floor in a way they can contribute. Ace did a good job of addressing that with his response.

I would still contend that Izzo playing more guys allows them to be more immune to attrition or injury, even if he isn't getting the maximum potential out of any one player.


March 28th, 2017 at 2:56 PM ^

Izzo may need a deep bench because his teams foul more than ours do.  Beyond that, I'm not sure if it makes a difference in the big picture.  One of the benefits of a short bench is that guys aren't constantly looking over their shoulder, afraid to screw up and get benched.  


March 28th, 2017 at 4:24 PM ^

but the downside of a short bench, of course, is the impact of injury. 

Michigan was really fortunate this year that our top 6 stayed pretty healthy all year. The last couple of years we weren't as fortunate, and it showed in our results.

It seems like next year we will be deeper, even if the rotation remains pretty tight. If someone gets injured, someone else should be able to step up without too much loss in production. 

That doesn't mean JB won't have to juggle responsibilities and combinations, however. We have some intriguing prospects with very different skill sets.

Don't give up on Teske yet - both Wagner and Wilson looked really raw last year. Hopefully Teske will show some real improvement.



March 28th, 2017 at 10:41 AM ^

His shooting form looks good.  No idea what happened at Kentucky but 16 months to learn under Beilien and I am buying all the hype.   Can't wait.  

Maison Bleue

March 28th, 2017 at 11:23 AM ^

Kentucky just has A TON of talent, it's hard to get good minutes as a freshman there(unless you are an obvious one and done). There were reports after he announced his desire to transfer, that Matthews was a guy that Calipari really didn't want to lose.


March 28th, 2017 at 11:59 AM ^

But good God, 14 of 34 from the line?  A trained monkey could hit at that rate.  Hopefully Coach has been addressing that stat during this transfer year.  He may have to suck it up and shoot underhand ala Barry.  We saw this year the effect of bad free throw shooting at MSU and also at Wisconsin.


March 28th, 2017 at 10:42 AM ^

...next year, at least to some extent.  But they may be able to do that.  X, Matthews, and Wilson should provide a good nucleus for a defense. Teske should be able to come in a block some shots.  And they won't be learning Donlon's defense anymore. 


March 28th, 2017 at 11:09 AM ^

Good point here. Also worth noting that in each of the last two Final Fours, all four teams were in the top-25 in team defense. I think there's a good chance next year's team is better than this year due to the surge they'll take on the defensive end combined with the usual solid offensive production of Beilein teams.


March 28th, 2017 at 1:13 PM ^

Rim protection doesn't really seem to be Davis's forte. I think the hope is that his lack of athleticism is negated by his size and strength. What I really would like to see from Davis is a guy who can be a real strength on the boards and an actual above average rebounder for a big man.


March 28th, 2017 at 4:22 PM ^

good on defense.  It's not super impressive, but it could (maybe even should) be the best defense under Beiliein.

As you mentioned, it seemed like we improved after we settled into Donlon as DC.  Also, we were pretty unlucky on 3pt percent allowed.  We were a top 30ish defense in the second half of the season when teams stopped scorching the nets at an unsustainable rate.

X very well could be an improvement on-ball over Walton, Mathews could sustain Irvin's good defense, maybe even improvement upon it.   DJ should continue to improve on a very good year that by the end was stellar other than a couple of occasional mental lapses.

The big question mark will be Wagner.  He doesn't have the length and athleticism to be a great defender, but with another year of Donlon, he should make drastic improvements in just knowing what to do, where to be, when to rotate, etc.  He was awful this year, and could get a lot better.  If he does, we could have a top 25 defense.


March 28th, 2017 at 4:30 PM ^

Michigan will look and play very differently next year.

This year's team was very unusual in that all of our heavy-usage guys could shoot from 3.

It doesn't appear that X, Matthews or Teske are three point threats, so pick-and-roll, transition, and attacking the rim will be more important next year.

It will be interesting to see how coach B adjusts the offense, and fun to watch.



March 28th, 2017 at 10:51 AM ^

With Simpson, MAAR, and Matthews not being great shooters, I think there is a chance we see Matthews starting at the 2 and Robinson at the 3 with MAAR playing 20-25 minutes a game as the backup at all three guard spots. Maybe one of those three guys will develop their shot enough to be a legit outside threat and it won't matter, but it seems as though the offense needs at least 3 true outside threats on the court at all times to maintain ideal spacing and operate at a high level.


March 28th, 2017 at 11:29 AM ^

It shouldn't be a problem except in lineups with Teske or Davis on the floor. Having DJ and Mo on the floor will open up driving lanes because their defenders have to cover them to the 3-point line because of their shooting ability. The spacing only gets screwed up if defenders can sag off their primary cover and force passes to players who aren't in dangerous positions. Either the DJ-Mo lineup or a DJ-Duncan lineup wouldn't have that problem (though DJ-Dunc-Matthews-MAAR-X is a problem on defense).

With those three guys on the floor, the drive and kick game that MAAR showed at the end of the year (most evident in the Okie State game) could become a staple of the offense, or, if Matthews and Simpson don't improve from 3, the offense could adopt some of the dribble drive offensive sets that Memphis used to use. 


March 28th, 2017 at 12:11 PM ^

As stated elsewhere, what MAAR actually does with the ball is less important for the overall set on the floor than his ability to shoot well enough to force defenders to account for him behind the arc. 

Where it gets tricky is if Matthew and X indeed shoot poorly enough to allow defenders to sag. If two defenders are able to cheat toward the lane when MAAR has the ball, his drives will be less effective, and as a consequence he won't be nearly as much of an asset. The problem, though, is not with MAAR on the floor, but the other two--Duncan Robinson would not be an improvement in this situation. 

The issue, then, is whether or not one of X or Matthew develops into a enough of a 3-point shooter that nobody is cringing when they take an open shot (MAAR had this problem his freshman year). If they are both dead from the arc, the offense could grind to a halt, and that makes rotations a bit trickier. 


March 28th, 2017 at 12:23 PM ^

X and presumably Matthews (based on his film above) are dangerous enough on the drive that defenses arent going to want to give them space that allows downhill momentum going toward the basket.

Obviously, it's best for the offense if they shoot 35%+ from three, but as long as they can either shoot at a decent percentage from 3 or are coached to attack when they get the ball with space in front of them, they'll be able take advantage of defenses as they try to help and recover.



March 28th, 2017 at 1:25 PM ^

As a counter to this issue I would really love to see Michigan take advantage of the post game a bit more this season. Wagner has already shown the footwork and touch to score on post up situations. Wilson has shown a knack for that little jump hook that is essentially impossible to defend due to his length. Offensive post work has been reputed to be one of the strengths of Austin Davis game as well.

I sometimes get frustrated watching Michigan bigs get into excellent post position, call for the ball, then watch the guards pass it around the perimeter before chucking up a shot. I think we have players now that can really utilize the post to not only score but create for teammates. If teams have to bring a second player over to disrupt a post up that leaves lanes for cutters and lends to more put back opportunities as well. If we don't have our strongest shooting line-up on the floor playing out of the post seems like it would assist Matthews and Simpson in doing what they do best; getting to the rim.


March 28th, 2017 at 4:36 PM ^

or as a change of pace.  Wagner was good against 6'7 Deng on Louisville.  He wasn't great against shot blockers (not that we even tested it much, thankfully).

The reason this offense is so dangerous is that we don't have a guy in middle clogging things up.  Opens up the back cuts and driving lanes.  With potentially three slashers next year, there is even more reason to keep those lanes open. We aren't going to shift dramatically towards being a post-up offense.  But yes, exploit matchups if teams are switching.


March 28th, 2017 at 11:14 AM ^

Respectfully, of course. And much of this is all speculation, naturally. I don't see Duncan Robinson starting on this team at all. He would have to make huge strides on his defensive game to crack the lineup. Also, his inability to consistently score INSIDE the arc and create for himself off the dribble would hold him back and is exactly why we like MAAR on the court. I understand that the combination of Matthew's, X, MAAR gives us a lot of dribble-drive type players in the back court, but I trust the ability of Beilein to develop his players into shooters, and we have a lot of time in the off season to make that happen now. MAAR has shown a much improved shot, X will have another off season under his belt (and has been talked up as a hard worker in the gym), and I believe that Charles Matthews will come out and show a completely different identity as a shooter.

That being said, I have no evidence to support the thought.


March 28th, 2017 at 10:57 AM ^

I'd have to say we'd be a preseason top 10 team and a favorite for the Final Four.  IMO, it's all on the point guard, (X in our case) as it often is with how far teams go in March.



March 28th, 2017 at 11:24 AM ^

Simpson shows great quickness and no fear in that take against Minnesota, but the defender also looks shocked that he would even attempt a layup.

Once X is our main point guard and has been thouroughly scouted, I am nervous about his ability to be effective in the pick and roll game.

If he isn't a threat to shoot and will have difficulty finishing regularly, we may get stymied.

True Morris couldn't shoot either, but he was half a foot taller, which made passing easier.

I am hoping I am wrong, but as of now am really nervous about our efficiancy with him at the point.

Ricky Spanish

March 28th, 2017 at 12:28 PM ^

I was surprised when Michigan offered Eli. He plays for Spring Grove, obviously, which is one of the smallest schools in the mid-state. You have to worry about the quality of competition he is facing. I'll be rooting for him though.


March 28th, 2017 at 12:51 PM ^

When he did play against top competition (which wasn't often), he did OK, but not great -- there's not a lot to go on, though there is some from AAU.

I will say it is good that he clearly is "the man" and has taken his small school to heights they've never achieved before. It shows he can handle (at least at the high school level) the pressure of being a team leader, which is key for the PG position.


March 28th, 2017 at 12:47 PM ^

I don't follow them that closely, but I (generally) had a good impression of people like Chad Ford. How has anyone with more than passing knowledge of Moe Wagner's game have that much change in his "stock" after one game?

Moe's was (obviously) very valuable, but the only consistent thing about him is that he is inconsistent. Go look at his game log: he'll follow up a 24 point outburt against Purdue with an 8 point performance (on 2-7 shooting) aginst Northwestern; he'll do nothing the first two games of the B1G tourney, then put up 17 points on 6-7 shooting against Minny. He did jack squat in a 92 point game against Ok State, then looking like the second coming of Nowitzki against the much tougher defense of Louisville.

The *only* consistent thing about him is he brings great energy, will commit at least one cheap foul, and is not a shot blocker.

Moe is coming back, and so is DJ, unless they want to be second round picks. That's good for us and good for them.


March 28th, 2017 at 12:59 PM ^

"Xavier Simpson came along at the perfect time. He got a year to learn from Derrick Walton, get his feet wet."

I wish we could transport in time, to read this, all the people who one year ago on this board bitched and moaned when Spike didn't get his 5th year from Beilein. It perhaps wasn't the majority of commenters, but it was a significant minority and was one of the stupdiest outpourings of sentiment on this blog in some time.

Spike *needed* to vamoose because Xavier *needed* to get ready to be the man in 2017-2018. The fact it turned out better for 2016-2017 (as Spike, not surprisingly, was injured and thus ineffectual this year, while Xavier was a real contributor the last 1/3 of the season) was just a secondary benefit for U of M this season.


March 28th, 2017 at 2:49 PM ^

I thought it was clear at the time.  Walton was coming back and the Ohio Mr. Basketball (Simpson) was coming in, to be groomed as Walton's replacement.  I think it was more of a case of some posters having fallen "out of love" with Beilein at the end of last season, and this was a convenient talking point.




March 28th, 2017 at 4:32 PM ^

Just to make sure I wasn't mis-remembering, I dug up this thread: while the best "rated" posts state the obvious, there are some dumb, dumb takes in there (and not just from some usual suspects) that got plenty of up votes.


As you noted: it was* crystal clear that Spike, considering his injury history and only having one more year of eligibility, had to move on. It was best for him and best for Michigan.

*or at least should have been