Dick Vitale: Five players who need to step up (Jordan Morgan)

Submitted by robbyt003 on October 3rd, 2012 at 9:15 AM


Vitale had an article on the five players in college basketball that need to step up this year, and our own Jordan Morgan was on the list.

When people look at Michigan, Trey Burke is the first name they think of. I feel Jordan Morgan, the big man up front, has to raise his level of play. He was the top performer on the glass for the Maize and Blue, but he has to provide an inside scoring presence after averaging just over seven PPG.

It will be interesting to see what his role is this year, considering we actually have depth at PF/C.  If he doesn't improve offensively, both McGary and Horford could pass him on the depth chart.  

Here is my projected starting line-up:

PG : Burke

SG : Hardaway

SF : Robinson

PF : McGary

C  :  Morgan 




October 3rd, 2012 at 9:25 AM ^

Well we hopefully have depth. McGary should be very good (Glenn Robinson Jr and Stauskas also) but none of them have played a minute in college yet.

It's a little different than football in that freshmen are able to compete much sooner in basketball but right now there is only potential.

If Morgan, McGary, Horford, and McLimans can step up and push each other we could get a huge increase in big man production.

Lots of danger but also lots of opportunity and I do think Beilein is a very good X's and O's coach and has a lot of talent to work with.


October 3rd, 2012 at 9:32 AM ^

I don't even think he really needs to step up/improve statistically for UM to have a great year. Bringing back both Burke and Hardaway and adding some talented freshman (including McGary who should be a huge inside presence), I think if Morgan plays at the level he did last year UM would be fine.


October 3rd, 2012 at 10:25 AM ^

Jordan Morgan can be as effective as he has been and still contribute quite a bit. As Vitale points out, he averages 7.1 PPG, but his FG percentage is 61.8% (102 for 165), so he's making a majority of the shots that he does attempt, and I don't think that's a bad FG% for a forward anyway. Between graduations and departures, he's also the third most prolific shooter on the team now as well. We should have enough talent out there - returning and incoming - that it shouldn't hinge solely on Morgan's production as he is doing OK here, although it should be noted that 7.1 PPG is basically a two point drop from his 2010-11 average of 9.2 PPG.

What will be intriguing is how Morgan looks this year with this talent and how McGary and others look. I don't know if his statistical production necessarily gets better, but I think Morgan has the opportunity now to actually diversify his game a bit and be creative out there.


October 3rd, 2012 at 1:03 PM ^

Consider that Morgan could probably have upped his PPG by 2 points if he just hung on to more passes under/near the bucket. It seems like his lost the ball more (dribbling or ham fisting passes) last year than he did the year before. 


October 3rd, 2012 at 9:45 AM ^

This seems like a very lazy "analysis" to put Morgan on the list without considering the return of Horford and the arrival of Biefeldt and McGary. I would actually be pretty concerned if UM's success hinges on Morgan droppiing more than 7 ppg.


October 3rd, 2012 at 10:04 AM ^

Horford hasn't been that great, and Bielfeldt and McGary are both unproven at the college level.  I don't think it's "lazy" at all.  Losing a couple integral seniors and with the up-and-down nature of Tim Hardaway, Jr.'s game, I agree that Jordan Morgan needs to step it up.


October 3rd, 2012 at 10:26 AM ^

It's not that Horford hasn't been that great, he hasn't really been on the court at all.  That said, given his experience I also agree that Jordan Morgan needs to step it up for Michigan to truly be elite.  Can that be somebody else to give Michigan the size and athleticism?  Maybe, I just think Jordan has the experience needed to be that guy.


October 3rd, 2012 at 11:45 AM ^

I don't disagree with you. The point I was making is that the previous two seasons, Morgan has been the only (arguably) legitimate 4/5 on the floor (other than McLimans). This year, we have four guys who can legitimately step into that role. Without mentioning that shift in personnel, I think the analysis is incomplete. My main point is that if Morgan averages 7 ppg, the other three guys I mentioned don't need to contribute very much to add to our productivity down low.

turd ferguson

October 3rd, 2012 at 1:26 PM ^

Given that up-and-down nature of Hardaway's game, he's the one who seems like the "step it up" candidate to me.  Morgan has been a pleasant surprise, but I wouldn't be surprised if we've seen him near his ceiling already.  Hardaway teases that he could be an NBA player.  If we can get that level of play from him consistently, look out.


October 3rd, 2012 at 10:48 AM ^

It was basically a blog post about five players who need to step up.  I agree with Magnus that there was nothing "lazy" about this.  Vitale delivered everything he promised in the title, and gave reasons why he thought that way.   The post was about experienced players who need to step up their games: not about incoming freshmen who may or may not make a big splash.  

Besides, Vitale is a "personality;" tWWL can leave the mundane tasks of writing preseason previews to somebody else.  All they need to do with Dickie V is put him in front of a camera and turn it on.


October 3rd, 2012 at 10:10 AM ^

Morgan is a better overall defender than Horford has been, though JH missed essentially all of last year, so who knows.

Michigan needs some inside scoring in order to cause problems for defenses in the half court game.  Morgan is one possibility.


October 3rd, 2012 at 11:08 AM ^

away (if one of his ed. assistants isn't telling him this to begin with).

First, Morgan HAS stepped up, past all original expectations for him. He's a great defensive player. Without him M has no Big Ten championship this past season; it's a little annoying to have someone infer he hasn't. (The occasional misses of his first year were largely erased.) Second, he's going to improve in all aspects, but he is never going to develop an outside shot, or even feature in a way that he works other teams' bigs underneath for baskets (although he has demonstrated this ability at times, as well as a baby hook). Who he plays with (paired with McGary, etc.) and for how many minutes are really up for grabs. And don't rule Horford or Bielfeldt out; we've got some power underneath, and I won't be surprised if Beilein is still experimenting even as M enters Big Ten play, playing quite a deep roster, unlike in previous years. 

What I am really excited about it how this team will be able to run--look for Burke to have both JoMo and McGary available for thunderdunks sometimes, as the first two down the court. 


October 3rd, 2012 at 10:20 AM ^

as a player that UM needs the most to step up.  Morgan is consistently solid and will give you decent production almost every game. 

Obviously it would be great if he could take it to another level, but I think this team's chance at greatness rides mostly on Hardaway.  Burke can't do it himself and everyone else who can is a freshman besides Hardaway.  Time for him to be the all B1G caliber player he capable of being.


October 3rd, 2012 at 11:23 AM ^

I'm not being sarcastic....

JB needs to step up his game.  He's NEVER HAD this kind of talent on a team before.  He has expectations and pressures he's NEVER seen.  He has a team with, probably, 4-5 future NBA players on it.  He has had defenses and offenses for decades based on lower-talent guys (compared to the top 10/ top 20) running very precise, scripted plans.  He has found ways to win with less.  Now... he has MORE, not less.  I don't think it means, everything he's ever done automatically translates to this new team.  I think there are going to be challenges and issues he hasn't seen before, which the Roy Williamses and Coach Ks and John Caliparis of the world know about but most college coaches don't.

I'm 100% positive he'll step it up, but the fact is, this is new territory for him.  It must be SO exciting for him... like he's been driving Fords and Chevys for decades, and now someone handed him keys to a Ferrari (which at the push of a button becomes a Range Rover).

Space Coyote

October 3rd, 2012 at 11:35 AM ^

I don't really think they do, though. Horford is still a liability on defense, and McLimans proved last year to be a bit of a liability on both sides of the court. We may have some servicable depth at the 5 (Morgan, McGary, McLimans), but at the 4 Michigan is quite limited. This is where losing Smotz really hurt this team. I don't believe McGary is what JB wants in a 4, and Morgan really isn't, as neither have the shot to spread the defense. Horford could be alright, but he's probably not starter level, so now your hinging depth at the 4 on Bielfeldt and GRIII (the 4 not anywhere near his natural position either).

I'm not that concerned about the 5, though I do think Morgan needs to step up and be more consistent and hit the easy ones he missed last year, but at the 4 Michigan is quite the question mark right now. Leadership and having servicable PFs to stretch the floor and allow Burke and co to cut, pick and pop, pick and roll, etc., are probably the two keys to this teams ultimate success or lack-there-of.


October 3rd, 2012 at 12:05 PM ^

I guess I haven't seen a ton of footage on McGary, but I was under the impression he did have a bit of a jump shot?

Horford doesn't need to be starter level if he's backing up starters.

Between GRIII, Bielfeldt, Horford, and Blake (desperation only) at PF
and McGary, Morgan, and Horford (I know I listed him twice) at C

I'd say that's fairly deep


October 3rd, 2012 at 11:54 AM ^

The most interesting thing about this season will be how the post-players are sorted out as the season goes on. 

  • Morgan - He has a ton of experience, fits well into the flow of the offense, makes most of his shots, and defends well despite being undersized.  He also no longer has to worry about foul trouble since we have depth.  But yet he has zero post game of his own, blows 1-2 easy layups per game instead of finishing strong, and doesn't block shots.  I think he'll be the de facto starter at the 5 all year though his minutes will be reduced from the past.
  • Horford - I'm not sure where the criticism of him is coming from since he's played so rarely.  As a true freshmen everyone said he shouldn't play because he was too skinny, yet he mixed moments of competence with moments of being over-matched.  Last year he barely played before the injury, but did have a good game or two.  In my opinion, he's the closest to a true-center we have given his size, athleticism, and shot blocking ability.  For defensive purposes I think he's actually good, but the big question remains his offense and health.  I think he can hit a medium range shot (something I'm not convinced Morgan or McGary can do), but he has to show that consistently.  I think he'll play decent minutes and is a total wild-card that has a decent upside.
  • McGary - I'm really excited to see how good he can be.....as a sophomore.  As a freshmen you see a lot of post players that are slow to contribute and I think he'll be a rotation player for much of the year.  His energy, size, and rebounding will earn him minutes, but I'm not sure he knows what to do in the offense yet.  I am not convinced that we'll see him play much PF unless Beilein changes his system based on the roster.
  • Beilfeldt -  No clue what to expect, but I'm guessing he doesn't play much.  I could see him rotating in at PF a little against bigger teams but probably not much of a contributor this season.
  • McLimans - Love the Darko victory cigar analogy.
  • GR3 - Even though he's a little shorter (6'6") than some of his scouting reports suggest, I think you'll see him play a lot of PF this year.  Most college teams are small and Beilein likes to spread the floor.  I also think he's going to be one of the most talented players we have. 

I'm excited for the front-court depth this season since it has been ages since we've had that around this team.  But I feel a little nervous that it will be like having Borges coach a spread-option QB in that Beilein normally doesn't have a bunch of post players in his system and is really going to miss having someone like Smotrycz around. 

With that being said, my prediction for rotation:

PG - Burke

SG - Hardaway

SF - Vogrich early in the season, GR3 or Stauskas by B10 season

PF - GR3 gets the most minutes, post guys rotate in

C - Morgan starts and plays 20 minutes, Horford/McGary split back-up time at PF/C

Blue boy johnson

October 3rd, 2012 at 12:47 PM ^

I would be willing to bet Dick Vitale didn't have a clue who Jordan Morgan is until somebody showed Vitale what was going to be in his article. Vitale is truly clueless.

To me the premise of Jordan Morgan stepping up is ridiculous. Morgan is what he is; A nice college player with limited upside. With the influx of talent on M's frontline, Morgan will be asked to do less, not more, he just needs to do his less more efficiently.



October 3rd, 2012 at 1:44 PM ^

I haven't read through this entire thread, but I almost want to say it's unfair to Jordan. I went to a few games last year and I have to at least try to defend him for a second. Especially the Indiana game, he was wide open I think around ten times right by the basket and Burke never passed him the ball. Then twice Burke threw it out of bounds when Jordan was open. Now, I'm not saying Jordan doesn't need to step it up some, and yes I only named one game. But there were other times when Jordan had opportunities that he just didn't get looks. But like I said, especially that IU game. It was pretty bad to say the least, he was doing work underneath and they would not give him the ball.

I just looked up his stats and he was 6-7 for 12 points and 9 rebounds. I literally mean it when I say I counted 10 times that he was open, that they didn't give him the ball. Plus those two bad passes by Burke. If he only makes half of those that's 11 for 17 for 22 points. See the difference it makes? Now, he does need to step up. But he also needs to get more looks when he's doing work and playing hard. It's not fair to say he needs to score more if he's not given the opportunity when he is trying to get the ball.

With that said, he still can improve his game and I know he's not perfect. But, I think he'll be fine this season. I also think it will help that Trey has a full year in the system, so he'll be more aware of Jordan and everyone else.