2013-2014 Cagers Thread

Submitted by JeepinBen on October 22nd, 2013 at 10:48 AM

So, my copy of the new Hail to Hoops & Hockey book arrived last night and I promptly read through the whole thing. With the Football Bye Week I figured it might be a good time to talk about just how excited you are for Michigan Basketball.

When I was a student I went to 1 basketball game (they lost. And were not good). I went to 3 last year and I live in Chicago. Michigan baskteball is back to being an event - and a damn good one.

The preview mag posits that there are maybe 5 teams that have as much talent as Michigan. Michigan will start lottery picks (as of now) at the 4 and 5 (or 3 and 4) with another great recruiting class coming in.

We also return a great shooter - and not just a (drink) who according to the coaches this morning on Michigan Insider has gained about 20lbs of muscle and added 6" to his vertical. 

How good do you think this team will be? Can they win the B1G or the B1G tournament? What are you most excited for with Michigan Basketball?



October 22nd, 2013 at 10:58 AM ^

With McGary, GRIII, Stauskas, Levert, and Morgan I think that they will be solid no matter how quickly the freshman develop.  A tournament bid with a decent seed is the minimum expectation.  I would predict (hope for) -- top 3-4 in the Big Ten and a seeding of 5 or better.

The biggest question will be Walton and to a lesser extent the other two freshman.  I assume that Walton will take some time to develop, but we'll need to be able to generate offense from places other than the point guard position until he.

I don't know a lot about Donnal and Irvin, but their accolades are impressive. If they can contribute right away this should be a talented team that play with anyone.


October 22nd, 2013 at 12:06 PM ^

The Big Ten will almost certainly be the top league in the country again this year, and we'll b e better than a 5 seed.  I say we'll probably be a 3-4 seed, with 1-2 seed possibility.  We'll be a more balanced team overall compared to last year, and the committee will give us the benefit of the doubt based on our performance in the tourney last year (which I think they dinged us for a year ago).


October 22nd, 2013 at 1:27 PM ^

Agreed about the B1G.

The balance piece is both a positive and a negative to me. On the negative side, I look at the current roster and on't seen an assassin (ala Burke last year). While balance is good, I'm not sure who that player is right now that I trust taking the last second shot, defending the other team's best player in clutch situations, etc. Hopefully that person emerges because I think we need a leader especially with the game on the line. 

On the positive side, though, we have great big men and hopefully (if Stauskas can be more consistent with his shot) some excellent role players. I think this time has the ability to be even better than last year, but it will depend on how long it takes them to gel together because each person's role will carry some added weight now that Burke is gone. 

Either way, I am "intrigued" by this year! Can't wait for the U of A game...

Dr. Merp McMerpleton

October 22nd, 2013 at 11:16 AM ^

Assuming McGary's back injury limits him during the regular season as he was last year with his weight / getting 'up to speed' - this team will have a worse record than last year's.

That being said, if McGary can 'get into game shape' around tournament time, that will have given the (stud) freshmen enough time to be counted on in big game moments (e.g., GR3 against SDST, Stauskas vs. UF, McGary against EVERYONE).  I think this team can make a deep tournament run.  Another final 4 is possible here, no doubt.  Not saying that will happen, but it's definitely in play.  


October 22nd, 2013 at 11:37 AM ^

According to Michigan Insider this morning, Levert will be playing some PG this season.  That means, we would likely have a line up that is:

Caris Levert (6'6"), Nik Stauskas (6'6"), GRIII (6'6"), Jordan Morgan (6'8") and Mitch McGary (6'10").  That's a huge line up.


October 22nd, 2013 at 4:53 PM ^

I like Levert. I think he will play a very important role for UM this year. I think he can be a shut down defender. I think he will be a good rebounder and provide enough offense to warrant good game time. I know he was a true freshman and people can make giant leaps, but Levert is an off gaurd. His body type, game, handle, and mentality is that of an off gaurd. He is not a point gaurd. He may help out in limited situations, but I would not expect this team to run through Levert much.


October 22nd, 2013 at 11:48 AM ^

This team will go as far as Walton will take it. He doesn't need to be as good as Burke was that season because I think we have more talent around him. Spike will be a factor, but I don't think he can be as big as an x-factor as Walton.

I would look for our regular season to be as good as 2 years ago. A slower start possibly, but I think we will finish stronger. In the tournament, if Walton can round into form by the end of the season, we should have no problem making an elite 8 run. Just making the final four would be amazing IMO. 

Whatever the season ends up looking like, it should be a hell of a ride with all the young talent. Heart breaks and excitement. I am expecting it all. But I know at the end of the year, this team will put a smile on my face.


October 22nd, 2013 at 12:03 PM ^

The big difference is that, unlike Burke's freshman year, we have guys who can play the point right away while Walton gets settled.  Walton will be the guy, but if he gets rattled or is having an off night, Spike and/or Levert will spell him for a while.  Burke needed to play almost complete games which led to more frosh mistakes at times.  That won't be the case this year. 


October 22nd, 2013 at 12:03 PM ^

The team this year may end up better than last years team.  Last year they had too strong of a tendency to stop and watch Burke at times.  I feel this years team will be more coehesive.  The only down side is it may take a few games for the young gaurds to get adjusted. I  also feel there will be better teams at the top this year across college basketball.


October 22nd, 2013 at 3:46 PM ^

Michigan was #1 in offensive efficiency according to KenPom at 1.20 PPP.  Even with the tendency to stand and watch Burke do his thing, they're still effective in scoring points.

Defensively, there's ton of room for improvement and I think they'll be a better defensive team than last year.  Last year, they're average on defense, ranking #48 at KenPom in defensive efficiency with .94 PPP.  If they can improve their standing by 20 places and still is top 10 offensively, they'll be a much better team overall.


October 22nd, 2013 at 12:24 PM ^

To answer your question, I think this team has a chance to be better / more consistent this year but I don't know if their peak performance is going to be as high as last year's team. I agree with the above comment that said we got caught just watching Burke a lot last year, eventually that worked out well (Kansas) but also led to some frustrating offense during the year. I think this team will be better as a unit, but I don't know if they have they'll be quite capable of making a final four again. I think a sweet 16/elite 8 would be reasonable expectation


October 22nd, 2013 at 1:16 PM ^

anything beyond a sweet sixteen.  At that point, you are going to be playing nothing but good teams and anything can happen.

A freshman point guard is always iffy, no matter how good the other talent is.  Look at Indiana last year with Yogi Ferrel.  They had a very good team and he played well, but he didn't have the ability to take over games or pull his team over the top.  It is hard to overstate how important Burke was to Michigan.

Once again, we are a very young team.  Very talented, but lacking in experience.  Last years long tournament  run should help in that regard.  It should be a fun year.

biakabutuka ex…

October 22nd, 2013 at 1:53 PM ^



In the initial era of basketball as we know it, an out of bounds pass was awarded to the first person to possess it. Well, it didn't take long for this rule to cause problems. Players were fighting for balls off of the court...fans were getting involved...and it was more like today's pro wrestling than it was basketball. Well, like hockey, it was decided that it would be an improvement for fans if the court was "caged" with a fence, and the patrons were protected. The players eneded up playing in a "cage," and thus the tag "Cagers" became a common term of endearment.



October 22nd, 2013 at 1:26 PM ^

Lots of questions from how well do Irvin and Walton blend in with the returning guys, does Beilein go big and play GR3, McGary, and Morgan/Horford up front, and who replaces the freaking national player of the year?

That said, I'd be thrilled with a Big 10 Championship and a Top 4 NCAA seed. As we know, anything can happen after that.


October 22nd, 2013 at 2:00 PM ^

I have to say that I am pretty excited for Michigan hoops this season. I have a feeling that this team has a realizable shot at going pretty deep into the Tournament again and indeed even win the Big Ten along the way. The preseason predictions on Massey, which are based on historic data (so numerous qualifiers apply, strength of conclusion, etc...) would give us the #1 power and offense ratings in the conference, which with these personnel I could see given how they seem to line up. 

San Diego Mick

October 22nd, 2013 at 2:06 PM ^

I grew up with the great '70's era and was spoiled with great basketball for 3 decades and then the SUV flipped over, ugh!

Let's just say I'm so happy to see our program being back to it's rightful place, top ten material, year in and year out, we're there now, this team is capable of winning it all, at least a sweet 16 or better.

I think in many ways we will be better than last years team, Walton is the real deal and maybe every bit as good as Burke, his advantage is he doesn't have to carry the load as a frosh like Trey did. Gonna be another fun year.


October 22nd, 2013 at 2:09 PM ^

The B1G will not get the hype this year like it received last year. The ACC is going to get thrusted upon the hype-train this year because of the attention borught on from expansion. Duke, North Carolina, North Carolina State, Notre Lame, Pitt, Syracuse, AND Virginia are all going to receive love from the pollsters from the get-go and it won't even be fair. The B1G has UM, MSU, OSU, Wisky, and..... maybe Iowa/Purdue??? Illinois and Minny are going to drop off BIG TIME as well as perrenial bottom dwellers PSU and Northwestern are going to be worse than usual.

Prince Lover

October 22nd, 2013 at 2:33 PM ^

Sweet 16 is a must with this talent. Anything else would be a let down.
As far as regular season, they will be up and down all year. Im not convinced their d will be any better, and lets face it, it was atrocious at times. "Too soft" was heard a lot. And their offensive lapses will still pop up. But thats the bad.
The good and why I say sweet 16; talent, talent, talent. Spike could be a better facilitator than Trey, Nik has more season and maybe more involved in offense, GRIII won't be have to rely on put backs for the majority of his points, and I like the idea of 2 PG playing equal minutes keeping the tempo up and not tiring.
If the d can hold and Morgan remembers how to play, this team will be sweet.


October 22nd, 2013 at 3:49 PM ^

I'm very excited.  No longer do we have to hear about any droughts, since we've buried them all: making the tourney (2009), winning the Big Ten (2012), making the Sweet 16/Elite 8/Final Four (2013).  Now we're just an established program, and it's awesome,



October 22nd, 2013 at 4:06 PM ^

I got to see an open practice the other day and I can't contain my excitement. Walton/Irvin look like legit Big 10 players already and that's adding to a great core in GRIII/McGary/Morgan. The coaches appear to be preaching defense hard and if we improve there, it will offset the probably loss in offensive efficiency without Burke (complaining about last year's offense in any way seems absurd but whatever)


October 22nd, 2013 at 4:25 PM ^

I'm bullish on this team and expect them to contend for a Big Ten title.

I think people are wrong to say Walton replaces Burke. They are vastly different players. Burke was a scorer, Walton is a passer. I think GRIII and Irvin are the keys.

Young John Beilein

October 23rd, 2013 at 12:47 AM ^

This is a team that relies heavily on fast break opportunities, and Derrick Walton will be responsible for pushing the ball quickly up court.  This is something he is well suited for, but he will have to prove to be an efficient finisher in transition as well.  He will be a very important part of this team, even though the scoring burden is not necessarily on him.

Generic MGoBlogger

October 22nd, 2013 at 4:44 PM ^

Have a really good feeling about this year... This is easily the most complete team at all 5 positions that we have had in a while... I'm really excited to see how Walton and Albrecht handle the PG duties, and seeing a redesigned and better Stauskas will be very fun to watch.

My only concern is McGary's health at this point.  Not sure how bad his issues are, but I know from experience, sports are not pleasant and are extremely agitating.  If he can get healthy and the issue is not recurring the post game will be very very good this season. 

It is so hard to try and predict what this season will bring considering the strengh our nonconference schedule and the unpredictability of the Big Ten... I will go out on a limb and say around 25-29 wins with an appearance in the Sweet Sixteen. I have a really good feeling about this team even without Trey.


October 22nd, 2013 at 4:59 PM ^

Losing your starting point and two gaurd (who were also team leaders) will take it's toll early on. I expect a few closer games than anticipated with maybe an unexpected loss in the early part of the non conference and conference seasons. The good news, Beilein has shown his teams get better as March approaches which means this team could be really special again when it counts most.


October 23rd, 2013 at 3:44 PM ^

Walton may be a solid player, but Burke was NPOY.    Burke created for everyone on that team.   Robinson and McGary were reliant on his passing and the space he created.   One could argue the only player who didn't need him was TH3.   I see the team in the top 3rd of the B1G, but dropping more games like PSU than last year.   Still have the talent to make a Sweet 16, but Walton will have to grow up in a hurry.  Nothing against Spike, but he had one game in the Tourney.   Also, if word is getting out that Levert may play some PG, that can't be good sign.  He didn't show that ability last year and would get eaten up by the top returning PG's in the B1G like Craft, Ferrell, Appling, etc.   Hope it doesn't mean Walton looks to struggle against high DI competition.