Can we be better next season?

Submitted by TK on April 3rd, 2018 at 10:37 AM
The thing that excites me about next year is that we made our living on defense and the defense should only be better next season. Swapping Teske for Mo is a huge defensive upgrade and we return our best 2 elite defenders in Matthews and Z. Livers more minutes over Duncan also an upgrade. Obviously we need to find offense next year and hopefully Matthews and Poole can be our go to scorers with others stepping up as well. I think we will be very good. Probably take some time to gel like most Beilein teams. I’m not saying our result will be better, but I feel we have the ability to be at least as good as this year on paper.



April 3rd, 2018 at 10:42 AM ^

It will all depend on the freshman. Mo will be a big loss if he leaves so we will need to depend on guard play so ya it’s very possible

Mr Miggle

April 3rd, 2018 at 12:28 PM ^

This will be a team with a high floor as long as Matthews returns. We have a good starting lineup without the freshmen. They will be needed for depth and can work their way into bigger roles during the season. That seems ideal. I have a feeling that one or two of those freshmen will be hard to keep off the floor.

The keys I see are Poole playing a complete game, not just trying to provide a spark. He showed good defense at times, just has to become consistent. Matthews improving his outside shot, while maintaining the improved and disciplned play with the ball in his hands that he showed in the post season. Livers regaining his offensive game and mindset. 

Of course, Wagner coming back would be huge. Then the expectations are that the team will be better. Without Moe, I expect to see some small ball lineups with Livers at the 5. Even if Davis is improved, Beilein is not going to be happy with an offense that never stretches the floor. Castleton being ready to contribute right away would be a very pleasant surprise.

MI Expat NY

April 3rd, 2018 at 1:12 PM ^

Castleton is going to have to redshirt, no?  In addition to typical first year struggles for Beilein bigs, Castleton looks like he needs to add a lot of strength.  Obviously highlight videos only show you so much, but there are a couple instances where he has to make a nice block only because he was muscled off the boards.  

Mr Miggle

April 3rd, 2018 at 1:57 PM ^

I don't think it's a sure thing if Wagner leaves though. Beilein doesn't like to redshirt players who can contribute. He's had and has some more time to gain strength. 

It's possible that Castleton could carve out a role as a stretch 5. It's hard to see him ready to bang with centers inside, but he could start with that limited role. I can't see Beilein not finding someone to play it. He just has to do it better than Livers and Johns.


April 4th, 2018 at 12:11 PM ^

If Wagner leaves and Matthews stays, I'm not sure where the offense comes from next year.  

Simpson, Poole, Matthews, Livers, and Teske is a poor shooting lineup that provides very limited spacing.  Poole and Livers would really be the only 3 pt shooting threats.  The team will have a really high floor because of how elite they will be defensively, but spacing is a huge concern.

I think Wagner is somehow underrated.  A lot of people talk about Teske coming in as an improved defender, which is true, but Wagner did so much for the team's spacing with having two poor shooters in Simpson/Matthews on the floor.  Allowed Simpson/MAAR/Matthews the ability to get to the rim.


Indy Pete - Go Blue

April 3rd, 2018 at 10:42 AM ^

But is highly unlikely that we will go to the national championship game again. That requires a fair amount of luck. However, you never know. We have a fantastic coach, and we have a very excellent nucleus of players.


April 3rd, 2018 at 1:18 PM ^

I unfortunately agree. I do think we will be better--we should be the favorite in the B10 with MSU's losses--but being better by no means guarantees a final four appearance because, like you said, luck.


April 3rd, 2018 at 3:50 PM ^

In general the comment about requiring luck to get to the Final Four is very true. I was amazed last night when they pointed out Villanova won every tourny game by at least 12 points. Not really much luck needed in that case. So yeah, Beilein simply needs to field a team that much better than every other team they face and Michigan won't need any luck!

CRISPed in the DIAG

April 3rd, 2018 at 10:43 AM ^

Yes. For reasons that have and will be well written elsewhere on this site. In summary: 1) Talented team returning; 2) Wagner and Simpson possibly returning; 3) talented recruiting class arriving; 4) Beilein.


April 3rd, 2018 at 10:43 AM ^

If someone has a traditional 5 - then yes - but anyone playing a stretch 5 or small ball might render Teske nearly unplayable defensively.

(See: Ward, Gary for reference)

Pepto Bismol

April 3rd, 2018 at 12:01 PM ^

Can you name the centers this season with the ability to stretch the defense that would render Teske useless?

I've got 1 guy: Villanova's 5.  ...Out of 41 games.

Every other team we played either had a paint-bound center or a flexy guy that had no business shooting perimeter jumpers. There's a reason every tournament team we played said the same thing: "We haven't seen a big guy like Wagner".  They're rare. 

Teske will be a defensive upgrade.


April 3rd, 2018 at 12:28 PM ^

"Can you name the centers this season with the ability to stretch the defense that would render Teske useless?"

No... but lots of teams don't play a 5 at all.

Like Villanova. They play 3 forwards and 2 guards.

Lots of teams play 3 guards and 2 forwards.

Mr Miggle

April 3rd, 2018 at 12:46 PM ^

But we faced other centers that can definitely stretch a defense. Luke Maye, Isiah Roby and Van Vliet off the top of my head. Roby and Van Vliet should be two of the better centers in the Big Ten next season along with Luka Garza. Garza's shooting was a problem for us this year even though he ddn't shoot many 3s..


April 3rd, 2018 at 10:43 AM ^

We’re bringing in an awesome class and returning a lot of talent. I would expect to be ranked top 10, probably around 10, going into next year.


April 3rd, 2018 at 11:55 AM ^

I just can't disagree more.

It's quite possible that John Beilein will pull another miracle, and by the end of next season, Michigan will have an excellent team, ready to make a deep run in the Big10 or NCAA tourney. I wouldn't bet against it.

That said, I don't "expect" it. As in, if somehow he doesn't pull a miracle, I'm not going to be shocked, disappointed, and angered.

Let's look at your analysis:

You say we're bringing back a lot of talent. Players coming back:

Simpson - An outstanding defender, good playmaker, and uneven offensive player. Clearly our most talented returning player.  Top 50 recruit, fwiw.

Matthews - At times, you think he can take over the team. At times, he almost appears worthless. My belief? He'll take over the team next year. The question is, is a team taken over by Charles Matthews going to be a deep tourney run team? This feels like Zak Irvin taking over the team, except not good senior Zak, but sometimes lost, confused sophomore Zak. (not comparing their games, totally different players)

Livers - A guy that played a really important role this year, but was that: A role player. Can he grow into more? Maybe. Top 150 recruit.

Poole - Another guy that at times (WOOOOO) played a very important role. If I had to bet, I'd bet on this kid being a much better player next year, and succeeding at stepping into an expanded role. But he's got growing to do defensively and "taking care of the ball" wise.

Teske - At times, looked like a future star. At times, seemed lost doing anything but interior D. I love this kid, but I am concerned about him playing 30+ minutes a game.

Simmons - Personally, no belief he will be a substantial contributor. Limited on offense, defense, and special teams.

Watson, Davis, Brooks - It would be surprising to see any of these guys get more than 3-5 minutes a game next year.

Point 2: Awesome recruiting class -

No. We have a good, or even a really good recruiting class. Its ranked 17th by 247. Duke has the top 3 players in the nation. That's an AWESOME recruiting class. We have the 74th and 75th best recruits. Both are guys I think Beilein will turn into excellent ballplayers in his system. Its also going to take a while, as it always does. Is a while 3-4 months or 2 years? I don't know.

Please understand, this is not a criticism of John Beilein. I love/adore/admire John Beilein. He's my coach for as long as he wants to coach.  Recruiting honestly, playing honestly, etc has it's drawbacks, and one of them is that there is less margin for error. That's just the truth.

When you lose a group of guys like Rahkman, Robinson,  and (almost certainly) Wagner, even a certified genius like Beilein is going to take some time to figure it out.

"Expect"ing Michigan to just instantly bounce back like some cheating bunch of asses like Kentucky is not fair to Beilein or to his players.

So, at the end of that diatribe, there is this: I pretty much thought the same thing at the end of last year.

      Go Blue!


Go Blue in MN

April 3rd, 2018 at 1:30 PM ^

You are more realistic than most on this board.  This year, we filled in and then some for those we lost by developing those already in the program in 2016-17, with some contributions from freshmen Poole and Livers.  I expect next year to be similar.  We can expect further development from Simpson, Mathews (please return), Teske, Livers, Poole, and maybe Watson, Brooks, or Davis.  I expect the frosh to play a role similar to Poole this season -- eating some minutes as backups and providing some scoring punch off the bench.

It's unrealistic to expect freshmen who are not one and dones to start for a Top 10 outfit, which is what I hope we are consistently next year.  The good news is that based on the development we see most years from Beilein teams, it is reasonable to expect this even with only modest contributions by the freshmen.  Rinse and repeat for 2019-20.


April 3rd, 2018 at 10:45 AM ^

I want guard play to be the talk of town. Atelast 2 45% 3 point shooters and 2 who can take it to the rim. Bring on March 2019 and destroy fools like nova did. Can Dejulius be our Devincenzo ??? That's be sick good.