Summer Hoops Update

Submitted by Tim on August 5th, 2010 at 3:32 PM

August isn't usually a hot time for basketball news, but a trip to Europe is fast approaching, and there's a little bit of other news surrounding the Michigan program. For video of John Beilein's press conference, check out UMHoops, where Joe posted the entirety of it.


Injury Updates

A few guys are banged up, but all three are expected to be healthy by the time the team leaves for Europe.

  • Evan Smotrycz broke his toe (playing wiffle ball!) a week before reporting to Michigan. He's practicing, but is not cleared for full-court drills. Once he's healthy, he'll pick things up very quickly.
  • Colton Christian has a pulled hamstring.
  • Jordan Morgan has another week to go in his rehab from shoulder surgery in the winter.

The Players

John Beilein gave some of his early impressions on Michigan's newest players:

  • Tim Hardaway Jr. is focused, and he's learning things quickly. All of the other guys also had good coaching, but it's obvious that he's been very well-coached. He's playing at 190 pounds (though he doesn't look it, and I'd be surprised if this was true). He has a good attitude and wants to improve.
  • Jon Horford is long and athletic. He has a desire to learn and be coached.
  • Colton Christian will bring a physical presence defensively.

...and shared a bit more about the improvement from some of the guys we already know about:

  • Matt Vogrich has shot the ball more consistently so far. He'll get a chance to be either a 2-guard or wing forward.
  • Darius Morris has improved his leadership. It's tough for a freshman to be a team leader, so he's moving forward in that respect. He's also been shooting the ball well, and it's clear he put in lots of time individually.
  • Blake McLimans is up to 240 pounds, after playing at 200 in high school. He's been getting a lot of time at center because the other options there have been banged up.
  • This year, they'll have more opportunities to play Novak at a spot that plays to his strengths. They needed to play him out of position most of last year because they didn't have the bodies.

From my personal observations:


Jordan Morgan might need to work on his finishing. John Beilein joked that, at five push-ups a miss, "you're going to lead the league in push-ups." Blake McLimans looks a lot bigger than he did last year. Evan Smotrycz (at right) looks good, despite the toe injury. He's much broader than I thought he'd be, and he has good athleticism and a nice shot. Michigan fans are really going to like his game.

Novak and Douglass appear to be the vocal leaders of the team. I didn't see a huge change in Darius Morris's shot. It's clear Bacari Alexander is new around here. Beilein had to show him some of the drills before they could instruct the players. Ben Cronin (now a student assistant) had to help him out a bit, too. Still, Bacari's as enthusiastic as his Twitter account would lead you to believe.

Europe Trip

The trip overseas is something that teams can do once every four years. It's a good experience from a basketball standpoint, and also culturally (four of Michigan's players had to apply for their first passports). To prepare for the trip, they are allowed 10 days of practice. They're doing 2-a-days for all of them, and today was #4. They'll have next week off and then have five more before they leave.

Former Wolverine Travis Conlan, who played professionally in Belgium before joining Michigan's staff as an Administrative Specialist, helped the team set up their games in Belgium.

The team will have to adjust to playing with a 24-second clock on the trip. They'll probably commit a lot of shot clock violations, Beilein admitted, but it will help them play at a faster tempo when they return.


Michigan's opponent for the semifinals of the Legends Classic on November 26th will be Syracuse. Georgia Tech and UTEP are in the other semi-final. The final pits the winner of the two games against each other at 8PM on Saturday the 27th, and the consolation game will be played at 5:30 - potentially during the Michigan-Ohio State football game.

Photos from Michigan basketball on Facebook.



August 5th, 2010 at 3:51 PM ^

the consolation game will be played at 5:30 - potentially during the Michigan-Ohio State football game.

Well then, we'll just have to make sure the first game is a win.

Blue boy johnson

August 5th, 2010 at 5:01 PM ^

Belien appeared relaxed and confident in his presser. People on blogs putting him on the hot seat, probably not going to register too severely with Johnny.

This will be a fun team to watch, don't think they will make  the tourney, but I look forward to watching the team progress.

Blue boy johnson

August 5th, 2010 at 7:42 PM ^

Doesn't matter if Belien signed an extension tomorrow, some will call for his job. I was struck by how comfortable Belien seems, I think he coaches here as long as he prefers.

What are the expectations for this team? NIT? 7th place in the Big Ten? 500 record? I truly don't know.


August 5th, 2010 at 8:38 PM ^

I understand what you're saying, but the people calling for his job don't have the power to put him on the hot seat. That's all I was getting at.

I like what you say about him being comfortable. I hope he stays until he retires.

It seems as if the expectations are very low. The consensus might be 9th place in Big Ten and a sub-.500 record. They already have some tough nonconference games scheduled--Syracuse, at Clemson, Kansas--so if they could manage an overall record above .500 and then make a deep run in the NIT, I'd take it. That would set the stage for bigger things in 2011-12.


August 6th, 2010 at 10:52 AM ^

Expectations may be low, but double digit wins considered decent?  The 2007 team won 10 games and that was with a freshman Manny playing the two and a sophomore, undersized Peedi at center.  For reference, their best three-point shooter was probably Anthony Wright.  This team is better than that based on depth alone.  I would be shocked if they only won 9 games.

Personally, I'm hoping for 12-13 wins and something like a 9th-place finish.  The NIT would be a big accomplishment

Blue boy johnson

August 6th, 2010 at 5:26 PM ^

Ok, I can go with that. If this team makes the NIT this season, expectations will be exceeded, if this team wins 9 games, this season will be a disappointment.

I would love to go with exceed at this point but have to wait and see how the newcomers perform. College baskeball team can improve quite a bit with just a couple of players coming new into the program. Look at Purdue a couple years ago when Hummel and Co. came in, so for that reason I'm hopeful.


August 6th, 2010 at 5:28 PM ^

The 2007 team won 10 games and that was with a freshman Manny playing the two and a sophomore, undersized Peedi at center.

There's (probably) nobody with the talent of either of those guys on this team, experienced or not. This team also has zero seniors.


August 5th, 2010 at 10:54 PM ^

Tim & Brian -

I think you should put the word out on the Blog to see if there are any UM fans in Europe who can take in these games and give us a first-hand report.  Some things I'm looking to see:

  • Where does the offense come from? 
  • How has Morris' involvement in the offense changed?
  • What starting lineups are used?
  • Which of the freshmen get extensive time?
  • Who actually shows the ability to hit outside shots? 
  • Is there more motion in the offense without Sims and Harris taking most of the shots?
  • What big guys contribute?

I have high hopes for Smotrycz, McLimans, and Hardaway/Vogrich. 


August 5th, 2010 at 10:54 PM ^

They will be way too young and way too inexperienced and that will cost them some games.  But I think that they will be fired up, playing together as a team and playing their proper position.  I prefer watching a team like that, even if they are sub-par, than watching some of the teams of the past that were maybe more talented but didn't give it their all.


August 6th, 2010 at 4:28 PM ^

a game or two in Belgium. But that's only if I can figure out how the heck to get tickets. Michigan's not selling them, so I'm waiting on the Belgian teams to get back to me.

I mean, it's a good idea to go to Belgium a day before your thesis defense for a basketball game, right?


August 6th, 2010 at 7:28 PM ^

Not sure if this has been posted already, but U-M released a "Michigan Basketball Summer Prospectus" yesterday. It's sort of an off-season media guide, which I'm assuming was put together because of the trip to Europe. It can be accessed at and also here.

Beilein has also set up his own web site at Home page includes a "Depart for Europe" countdown clock.


August 7th, 2010 at 11:20 AM ^

...on the site.  This story about his first basketball memories is solid gold

I got the chance to talk to him for a few minutes at last summer's U-M Alumni Club event with Martin, RichRod, Beilein and Red and he was so genuine and so at ease.

I'm a huge fan of his style and am confident he's taking the program in the absolute right direction, regardless of the actual outcome of this season.


August 9th, 2010 at 2:25 PM ^

...on Colton Christian's hamstring issue and some other good insights on his early experience with the team.  A sampling:

On his injured hamstring: “It feels great. I’ve been rehabbing it for a couple of weeks now, and it was feeling good out there. I’m back to running on it so it’s good. Today’s the first day that I’ve really gone through a practice doing everything. It felt great. They wanted to see if I could get through everything and it feels good. I’ll be ready for next week.”

On taking pride in his defense: “I love defense, I love rebounding going after the boards. The offense will come, just keep improving on that, but stick with my defense right now.  “Last year I guarded positions one through five in high school. It helps when you’re at Hargrave guarding players like Lorenzo Brown and guys like that, but crashing the boards offense, defense, midrange game … just trying to get the three-point game down.”