Well: What Now?

Submitted by Brian on April 25th, 2014 at 12:54 PM


ludicrous photo illustration of Donnal via the Blade.

I'm trying as hard as I can to not go on a rage bender, so let's just move on to the implications for next year's basketball team. They are not good, obviously, but it is also not the end of the world. John Beilein won a Big Ten title with a 6'4" starting power forward; Michigan will live.

Post Situation

Jon Horford's ever-more inexplicable decision to exit as buckets of playing time beckon leaves Michigan with the following options for tall rebounding folks:

  • Mark Donnal. Freshman coming off a redshirt; reputed to be highly skilled perimeter big who certainly could play the 4 in a Beilein offense but now slides down to the five. Has a back-to-the-basket game, not that such things are at all relevant in Ann Arbor. Can be a Pittsnogle pick and pop guy; defense questionable. Supposed to be a below the rim type, though Camp Sanderson has endeavored to change that.
  • Ricky Doyle. Gangly three-star freshman out of Florida now standing next to Bacari Alexander in an effort to demonstrate that he's a legit 6'10", Doyle has a decent face up game and is reputed to be your standard hard-working blue-collar rebounder. Freshman bigs, though, are not fifth year senior bigs.
  • Max Bielfeldt. If only Bielfeldt's body was as large as his calves. Since they're not, the 6'6"-ish Bielfeldt just gets swallowed by actual posts. The first half of the Big Ten Championship game is the most recent example. Will have a role off the bench against certain matchups.
  • Random fifth year guy. Nobody on the radar and Michigan's contingency plan in the event of a McGary exit appears to be Cole Huff, who won't be eligible next year if he does end up transferring in and wouldn't be a post even if he got a waiver.
  • Random freshman. See previous bullet: Michigan's late offers have been focused on the wing. If Dawkins or Huff does turn Michigan down they would have a spot to go fishing with. Finding someone this late who is both a fit and able to play basketball is doubtful.

So Michigan's going to have to roll with what they've got, it seems: a 6'9" redshirt freshman and a 6'10" freshman plus Max Bielfeldt.

What about the four?


Irvin is not an ideal option at the 4. [Fuller]

Any thought Donnal would spend significant minutes at the 4 is out the window. Michigan's options there:

  • Zak Irvin. Irvin saw the occasional stretch at the four a year ago, always when Robinson was on the bench. It seems doubtful Irvin can provide anything more than a few minutes here and there against a decent matchup, as he's far more wing-shaped than Robinson. His DREB rate was the lowest on the team, yes behind even Spike. That's partially roles and whatnot; I think it's also Zak Irvin not being much of a rebounder. Even a Hardaway-like move there does not make him the best option, which means Michigan's in a different place than they were a few years ago. Also, Irvin is going to be needed at the 3 for about 30 minutes a game.
  • Kam Chatman. Chatman measured in at 6'8" at the most recent camo basketball all star debacle, so he'd actually be an improvement over Robinson in the height department despite being widely regarded as a wing player. At around 200 pounds that's understandable. Chatman would probably get beat up worse than Robinson did as a freshman, as he's taller and skinnier—going to be a lot of times he gets shoved under the basket when rebound time kicks in.
  • DJ Wilson. Chatman's fellow freshman is the truest stretch four Beilein's brought in during his time at Michigan. Depending on who you listen to and what time they scribbled his weight down, Wilson's either the same 200 pounds Chatman is or a skinny-but-survivable 215 at 6'8" or 6'9". Wilson finally had a healthy high school season and used that to shoot up almost fifty spots in the Rivals rankings.
  • Guy who looks suspiciously like Zack Novak wearing a fake beard and stovepipe hat. It could happen.

That seems super young

Yep. For the third straight year, Michigan projects to be one of the youngest teams in the country, with a frontcourt that is handing probably 70 of its 80 minutes to freshmen, has no seniors, and will have only one starter who's even a junior. That junior is almost as young as you can be and still be a junior. Kentucky might be older. For real.

This is not necessarily doom. The last two years Michigan has been 342nd and 330th in Kenpom's experience stat*. This did not matter much: no team in the country collected more NCAA tournament wins than Michigan whilst they were idling at the bottom of the table there.

It is something different to have freshman bigs who are not Mitch McGary, though. Bigs are long-term projects best eased into serious time lest they be overrun. Michigan can and will survive—I see Jane is tweeting out modified Forgot About Dre lyrics, which I second. "Surviving" is not what they did the last couple years, though, and we're probably in for a comedown from the highs of the last couple years.

*[Which is just an average of FR/SO/JR/SR weighted by playing time, so that a senior who plays five minutes a game doesn't throw you all out of whack.]

But I didn't want this to happen

Hey, at least the staggering hypocrisy of the NCAA chasing dudes out of school for an infraction that the legal system treats like whatever dude has a really good rationale behind it.

"Whereas the CSMAS rightly focused on the fact that marijuana and other street drugs are not performance enhancing, the committee also recognizes that the universe of sport is special, and the student-athlete is obliged to embrace the spirit of sport."



I'ma go build a lego Mark Emmert so I can hurl it off a building.



April 25th, 2014 at 12:56 PM ^

on that rage bender.  You are going to have to at some point.  It is Friday.  Get it out of the way.  Sober up on Saturday and then you can have it out of your system and enjoy your Sunday.  Sometimes it is just the right thing to do.

Ali G Bomaye

April 25th, 2014 at 1:28 PM ^

Remember that according to the NCAA, you could build a Lego Mark Emmert that looks just like the real Mark Emmert, dresses the same, has abilities that are roughly the same, and even is called "Mark Emmert" by announcers, and it still wouldn't be Mark Emmert so long as you labeled it "NCAA Administrator #1."


April 25th, 2014 at 1:06 PM ^

If you set lego Mark Emmert on fire as well, I think you could charge admission to see that.  Then you can donate the proceeds to charity.  Or just buy more legos and begin the process all over again.


April 25th, 2014 at 1:24 PM ^

Early signing happened in the fall and the late signing period just happened.  I think Myles Turner is the only prominent player who hasn't signed yet, though some lower rated guys like MAAR and Dawkins haven't committed yet.

To add a big for next year we would need to find a grad year transfer who hasn't decided to bolt yet or a guy who can get out of his LOI due to a coaching change (Elijah Stewart is a late-rising guy who did this, but he isn't a big).


April 25th, 2014 at 1:13 PM ^

All I can do is lol. 

And maybe go to the bar later. Yep, I'm leaving work early and going to the bat. It's been one of those days, and I haven't even had lunch yet. 



April 25th, 2014 at 1:15 PM ^

We don't know much about his defense yet, but he does show a knack for blocking shots in his highlight reel. Combined with more muscle and athleticism he might be at least better than Morgan's non-existant shot blocking (not a knock on Morgan, it wasn't what he was taksed with doing). Perhaps he might be a better help defender than Morgan or Horford were, despite being a worse post defender.


April 25th, 2014 at 2:04 PM ^

which are two of the most crucial attributes of a shot blocker. 

But with that said, he's going to have to be strong, because as everyone knows, the way to defeat a shot blocker is to take it right into his chest. If he's getting blown backward, that's a problem. 



April 25th, 2014 at 1:16 PM ^

Has Horford landed anywhere?  If not, is landing at Michigan an option for him? 

Apologies for what I'm assuming is probably a stupid question.


April 25th, 2014 at 1:20 PM ^

But guys changing there mind does happen.  St. John's just had a dude request a transfer and get his release, only to ask to come back and be allowed to return by their coaching staff.

If reports of a Florida offer are to be believed, I think Horford is definitely out the door completely.


April 25th, 2014 at 9:59 PM ^

With mitch leaving, and team now needing him more than ever? Give me a break. Leave after a fukking year or at most two. By leaving now it breaches the shared commitment by both parties. You guys are nuts... You dont have to dislike him but by no means is Horford a champion. MORGAN is a champion. Morgan couldve quit like a baby a few years ago, but he took it like a man and for the team. So to the sob sisters here, fukk off.


April 25th, 2014 at 1:16 PM ^

Camp Sanderson and the Euro trip seem pretty important now.  Hopefully every returning guy gets in the summer training sessions and hopefully the extra time in Europe helps integrate the freshman quickly.


April 25th, 2014 at 1:24 PM ^

FWIW: Chatman iirc weighed in at 213 at the same Jordan Whatever Camp Thing. Getting him up to GRIII Fr. weight seems doable.

...things are still anger rage face times though


April 25th, 2014 at 1:50 PM ^

...how many of those guys would have been welcomed among the upper crust sons of privilege who were the first student athletes in the US and who therefore are our models of what a college player should be?  I say, old sport, that McGary fellow was caught smoking jazz cigarettes with coloreds! 


April 25th, 2014 at 3:32 PM ^

I posted this somewhere else but whether he did only use once or whether he was a frequent user, the problem is he got caught. If the percentage of users is 30% to 70% in the NBA, you can be pretty certain its about the same % in college. Mitch's problem is not taking the proper steps to avoid detection like the hundreds of other college players did.

biakabutuka ex…

April 25th, 2014 at 1:30 PM ^

Next year I expect explosions and velociraptor attacks in your offseason "worst case scenario" prediction. The worst you could come up with this year with was clearly not pessimistic or imaginative enough.


April 25th, 2014 at 1:33 PM ^

John Calipari will apparently be able to take part in NCAA games next year, but Mitch McGary would have had to miss the entire season. 

(This thought brought to you by Chevrolet and Cialis.)


April 25th, 2014 at 1:38 PM ^

Is that weed smoke around Donnal...be careful it could bring about an NCAA investigation. I guess Horford's family should of kept quiet. It always sucks forever when you give family bad advice. He would of been on the court 28-30 a game more than likely, at least early in the season.