Beilein Basketball, Seniors and Superstars

Submitted by Meeechigan Dan on March 27th, 2009 at 9:52 AM

So here I am watching Pittsburgh play Xavier last night, and I am wondering about the talent I am seeing on the floor. Each position looks very skilled, and I am comparing them in my mind to Novak and Douglass and Lee and Merritt. It seems like no comparison, but Michigan came very close to playing in the Sweet Sixteen, so I ask myself: "Self, is Beilein great, am I underestimating our guys or what?" Don't get me wrong. I LOVE Novak and Douglass and Lee - love those guys who play their hearts out and play smart. I had no skills but played hard and therefore didn't suck at times.

So, what am I looking at (pulled only guys with double digit MINS per game)?

NOTE: Sorry about the readability issue. It looked much better as I laid it out.

S. Young 18.9 6.2 1.1 2.4 0.8 1.0 31.7
D. Blair 15.6 12.4 1.2 1.2 1.0 1.5 27.1
L. Fields 10.7 2.5 7.5 2.0 0.1 0.8 32.2
J. Dixon 8.5 2.6 2.0 1.0 0.7 1.4 24.7
T. Biggs 6.6 4.3 0.7 1.0 0.5 0.4 24.0
B. Wanamaker 5.8 3.3 2.1 1.7 0.2 0.8 18.7
G. Brown 5.3 3.2 1.3 1.1 0.3 0.5 19.4

B. Raymond 14.1 4.1 1.4 1.6 0.3 0.5 30.3
D. Brown 13.7 6.1 1.9 1.7 0.9 0.7 29.5
C. Anderson 9.9 5.5 2.5 2.3 0.5 0.7 27.2
J. Love 6.7 5.9 0.5 1.3 1.2 0.4 21.7
D. Jackson 6.6 3.5 2.7 2.0 0.1 1.3 27.1
T. Holloway 5.5 2.0 2.2 1.9 0.1 0.7 21.5
K. Frease 5.4 3.7 0.8 1.7 1.3 0.3 14.6
B. Redford 5.1 0.6 0.6 0.6 0.1 0.3 12.8
J. McLean 4.4 4.4 0.7 1.1 0.7 0.4 14.6

Who are these guys that make up two very good teams and what does it say about Michigan basketball (if anything)?

Their star rankings and year...

S. Young **** SR
D. Blair **** SO
L. Fields **** SR
J. Dixon JR
T. Biggs **** SR
B. Wanamaker **** SO
G. Brown **** SO

B. Raymond *** SR (2005 commit)
D. Brown *** SR (2005 commit)
C. Anderson JR
J. Love *** JR
D. Jackson **** SO
T. Holloway **** FR
K. Frease **** FR
B. Redford *** FR
J. McLean *** SO

I put the "2005 commit" next to Raymond and Brown because they are showing more eligibility, so I assume redshirts, but something ain't right in the database.

Anyway, there is a lack of five stars - although Pitt is loaded with four stars - and clearly leadership from the 2005 guys. As a formula, it would suggest that Beilein can make serious hay with a steady stream of seniors and maybe a four star guy in every class. Both those things are very likely to happen, as Michigan will clearly go in a different direction than Ohio State...

"The 7-foot freshman [Mullens] announced Thursday he would declare himself available for the NBA draft, the fifth Buckeye's player in the last three seasons to leave after playing one year."

I think the upside for Beilein is scary.



March 27th, 2009 at 11:24 AM ^

I have also come to the conclusion that JB's style will be very successful and consistent for years to come. I also agree that the most dangerous tourney teams year in and year out are the teams loaded with upper classmen. Of course programs such as UNC, Kansas, Dook, etc. can just reload with 5-star talent every year. The rest of us need to rely on the upper classmen 3-star guys and I think that's certainly a recipe for success. But I think the most important part of your post is that you still need to sprinkel in a 4-star guy at least every other year. That's what allows you to take it to the next level.

Meeechigan Dan

March 27th, 2009 at 11:39 AM ^

I agree there. Without both Harris and Sims - both 4 star guys - we wouldn't be even an NIT team. Morris this year (Scout rates Vogrich at 4 star and higher than Morris, FWIW) and maybe Ziegler next and so on would be just the skill pop that JB needs to put all these heady three stars over the top. Maybe not enough to hang even with the UNCs and UConns of the world, but close.

And then, if his trained eye picks out a late bloomer who matures like a Patrick Mills, he makes a run for the title.


March 27th, 2009 at 12:08 PM ^

That does seem to be the perfect formula for JB. I don't think he will get the selfish five-star players, but they too often go one and out. The best thing about Beilein is that a lot of his two and three stars turn out better than many of other teams' four stars (and even an occasional five star) by the end of their careers.

It is great to know that UM basketball is in good hands now. Beilein may prove to be the best basketball coach in UM history. Though UM had a fairly consistent program from when Cazzie Russell arrived in the 60's until the scandal, Strack, Orr, Frieder, Fisher, Ellerbe, and Amaker aren't exactly names that roll off one's tongue when talking about great basketball coaches.

Beilein's 10-22 year, though no fault of his own, will always be on his record, but I have a feeling he will still have a higher winning percentage than any of the above at Michigan when all is said and done. Most of all, though, he needs to mentor a few coaches to keep his tweak of the Princeton system alive, and one of them can be his successor and tweak it further.


March 27th, 2009 at 12:18 PM ^

the powers of Johnny Beilein.

--We'll find out how UM stacks up with Xavier in November. Both programs will be part of the Old Spice Classic, Thanksgiving weekend in Orlando. Field trip, anyone? Much of Xavier's squad will be back. Lots of size, lots of athletes.

--Yes, UNC, Duke and KU reload with 5-starts.....BUT.....KU won last year with a very experienced team. The UNC 2005 title team was comprised exclusively with 3-year starters. This season, UNC is not rolling out a bunch of freshmen. Even the programs that seem to grow blue chip recruits on campus need to develop into an experienced bunch into order to do anything special.

--I'd like to feel sad for OSU, but I cant. I am not one to shy away from the great talents because they may leave early. But, wow, the pattern at OSU will keep them stuck in the mud unless they change tact. What happens if Evan Turner leaves as well?

--JB has done great with less, but there's certainly a cap to what can be done in that regard. He needs some top end recruits along the way. And, I have no doubt he will get them....some are already on the way....the school and athletic program sells itself, now that the program is winning.

--This will be a fun ride and I expect to have some high stakes March basketball from here on out under JB's watch.

Good to hear from you, MDan.


March 29th, 2009 at 10:42 PM ^

Like you said, the 2005 UNC team was comprised of a number of guys who had been there a few years. However, they were also comprised of a lot of studs: Sean May (5 stars, #1 rated recruit at his position), Rashad McCants (4 stars, #4 rated recruit at his position), Marvin Williams (5 Stars, #2 rated recruit at his position), Raymond Felton (5 Stars, #1 rated recruit at his position).

This year Lawson, Ellington and Hasnbrough are all 5 Stars, and Green is a 4 star.

I think Beilein is heck of a coach, but he if truly wants to be competing for Final Fours and NC's, he's got to get some stud recruits.


March 27th, 2009 at 12:19 PM ^

You bring up a lot of good points in this post, and I am a huge believer in Beilein, but I still have questions about where the team is headed. Does anyone think we will become a consistent tournament team that actually has a shot at the championship, or do we become a Gonzaga that knocks out a couple of teams every year and then goes home?

After a 10-22 season I am truly amazed with how far we have come, but as any other Michigan fan (especially on this bog), I'm always looking to the future. Any thoughts?

Meeechigan Dan

March 27th, 2009 at 1:03 PM ^

I really think it will depend on how often JB pulls a sleeper out of the recruiting hat. Take for example Matt Vogrich or Will Regan, a kid widely reported to be a heavy Michigan lean. They are three stars now, but if they explode under Beilein as big time money players, then, along with the three or four four-star types on every JB team, Michigan could be 1, 2 seed material.

Otherwise, they may be spoilers more often than not.


March 27th, 2009 at 3:23 PM ^

Some of the debate on this blog has been over whether we want three stars or five star one and dones. As I reflect on this, it seems to me that we want four and five star players, but with the right attitude. Specifically, JB will want disciplined and kind of humble players who learn his D and shoot both 3's and FT well.

The game that struck me was Mizzou/Memphis. With all the talent Memphis has, they couldn't get it done. They half lost at the FT line, and also lost with lack of discipline. Tyreke is great, but is a Freshman. Mizzou played an aggressive D, with lots of subs, and I can see UM doing the same thing.

I think JB needs players who will stick at least two years, because it takes a while to learn everything well. You won't be able to win consistently and at the highest level with a lack of talent, but talent and potential aren't enough. It is necessary to have disciplined team players with talent.

As an example of this, I think to the Chicago Bulls and their championship years. MJ was drafted in 1984, but didn't win his first championship until 1991. Part of his learning curve was to learn to trust his teammates, and to play as part of a team. Once he did this, he still had room to freelance and to star. But when he tried to do it all on his own, he failed.

Dan Man

March 27th, 2009 at 3:43 PM ^

Maybe I missed this in a prior post, but how many stars were our guys given? I'm sure our guys were generally ranked lower than XU's and Pitt's were, but I'd still be curious to know it to weigh your thoughts.


March 27th, 2009 at 3:49 PM ^

Jevohn Shepard ***
DeShawn Sims ****
Anthony Wright ***
Manny Harris ****
Kevin Grady ***
Stu Douglass ***
Zack Novak ***
Laval Lucas-Perry ***

I can find a ranking for Zack Gibson.

Lee, Puls, and Merritt, obviously, were unranked.


March 27th, 2009 at 4:09 PM ^

He college basketball. I know its a bad year in the draft for big men, but come on, he averaged 8.8 points, 4.7 boards, and 1.1 blocks. Is he even going to get picked?

Zone Read Left

March 27th, 2009 at 4:52 PM ^

I agree with the gist of this post that John Beilein is awesome, but Pitt and Xavier aren't good examples. Brad Redford was a 4* Mr. Michigan in bball last year and he only plays 10 minutes per game for Xavier. And its not that he's overrated or anything, he shot 47% from 3 ohis year on a significant amount of attempts. He would have been DEADLY this year but but unfortunately he committed while Amaker was still the coach. On the other hand, Novak was unranked until he committed to Michigan. In fact, he had no other D1 offers. Pitt and Xavier are both LOADED compared to Michigan. 4 straight years of recruiting similar to the 2009 class and we still don't have the raw talent of Xavier and Pitt. However, JB makes up for this with his player development and coaching.

Meeechigan Dan

March 28th, 2009 at 10:20 AM ^

I agree M is not at Pitt's and X's level, but I was suggesting that Beilein will get there. His incoming class has a four and a high three (four on Scout), and that was begun under the 10-22 cloud. If recruiting upticks a little from this year's performance, that might be a couple of fours each year and some hidden gems + his great coaching. I think that combo leaves even Pitt and X in the dust.


March 27th, 2009 at 4:59 PM ^

From what I have heard, JB is rabidly against one-and-dones. He is a firm believer in the education provided by college and the importance of graduating. While I'm sure there will be some defections, I think JB will create an atmosphere for players to want to stick around all 4 years in order to graduate and succeed in college basketball. I think we will have a solid group of seniors every year, able to lead the team, rather than leaving after one year a la OSU.

k bizzle

April 1st, 2009 at 1:48 PM ^

I wonder if a guy leaving would help or hurt UM with their recruiting class already full and a few recruits that still liked UM a lot. Can't name them off the top of my head but I know there are a few that were pretty good.