Looking Ahead the Brighter Side

Submitted by Fhshockey112002 on March 20th, 2011 at 5:30 PM

Ok, I know its very very early, but not losing anyone from this team we all know there is huge potential.  The question I am looking to get answered is what are the key factors to making a jump next season, either to challenge for B1G champs and making a solid tourney run.

At first glance, here are my keys:

1.) Evan Smotrycz gains 10-15 lbs and becomes a starter.  I love what this kid brings to the floor, but he has to put on some weight to handle himself inside on the D side of the ball.

2.) Center position, there needs to be development in this area to establish an interior presence and get a team in some sort of foul trouble.

3.) D-Morris continues to develop a jump shot.  Great distributer of the ball, and great getting to the rim, but really struggles even with open looks.

I am so pumped for Michigan basketball's future I couldn't wait to put this up.



March 20th, 2011 at 5:35 PM ^

It would be awesome if Horford could bulk up some more, seems like there'd be some great potential there for him to really add more to the team.


March 20th, 2011 at 5:35 PM ^

Definitely agree on the center position needing development.

Other than that, I'm just hoping that THJ and Morris hit the gym like they don't tie their shoelaces. They could both be scary good after gaining experience this year, and practicing all offseason.


March 20th, 2011 at 5:52 PM ^

i don't see morgan and horford (or insert any other big man) on the court together much.  it would complete stifle the offense.

My keys to (greater) success:

1. smotrycz.  if he becomes a consistent scorer, the team will be much improved.  i like the confidence he showed the past few games.  i would like to see him start, play more minutes, and put stu as the 6th man.

2. the new guys.  hopefully one of these new frosh guards can play a solid point, so we can still push the ball up the court when morris is out.

3. horford adding a little more bulk and becoming a solid back up center, since morgan is in constant foul trouble.

Webber's Pimp

March 20th, 2011 at 10:35 PM ^

It's not a matter of having both guys on the court at the same time. It's a matter of keeping teams honest. We get pushed around allot and once Morgan goes to the bench due to foul trouble our next wave of guys need to be strong enough to handle opposing team's PF's and C's.


March 20th, 2011 at 6:18 PM ^

is exactly correct and probably the biggest aspect...keep fighting, stay hungry, and every game, it's gotta be us against the world...thankfully, I see that in this team and this result could fuel that fire, but having the drive to come out every night and take it to your opponent is so huge...


March 20th, 2011 at 5:40 PM ^

We need to somehow snag a highly rated big man for next year.  I know it's late but maybe this game has opened some players eyes to the potential this team has next year. IMO, Michigan is just 1 6'10"ish big man away from being a serious National contender. 


March 20th, 2011 at 5:41 PM ^

You bring up a good point, one that I've wondered while thinking about next year.  What is the starting five?  If Smotrycz progresses the way that we all think that he can, he should be in the starting five.  Does Beilein keep Douglass & Novak as in the starting line-up simply out of loyalty?  I say Smotrycz takes over at the four, Novak to the three, then Hardaway to the two. 


1. Morris

2. Hardaway

3. Novak

4. Smotrycz

5. Morgan

Douglass is your first player off the bench.  He can sub for the point, or for the two.  Vogrich can sub for the two or the three, in a pinch.  Horford and McLimans can spell Morgan at the 5. 


March 20th, 2011 at 5:54 PM ^

Stu is the best defender on the roster and a senior.  I don't see any reason to push him aside for Evan, especially when your bench big men would be reduced to just Horford and McLimans.

Just hope for general improvement from all the players, maybe a leap by someone like Horford, and hopefully Bundridge or Burke providing a spark as bench players.

Improvement in skill and experience will be assumed..  The most important thing for this team is to maintain the attitude and heart they showed all season long.


March 20th, 2011 at 6:22 PM ^

This was our starting lineup for the first half of the year, when we weren't playing nearly as well. Then Beilein switched Smotrycz out for Stu and we started winning games. I agree that the lineup from the beginning of the year seems better, but seeming better doesn't win games.

I just hope we can develop Horford the way we developed J-Mo. Having a legitimate backup center would be huge, and I'm not sure if I believe McLimans is gonna get to that level.


March 21st, 2011 at 2:56 AM ^

We used that lineup for 24 games.  The turnaround began with that group starting - the MSU game in East Lansing was Game #21.  Smotrycz finally lost his job when he hit the freshman wall and wasn't contributing at all for awhile.  Given that he's now picked it up, I'd expect him to return to the starting lineup next year.


March 20th, 2011 at 5:41 PM ^

Thoughts on the game:


Good game.  I thought this would be a close one and that M would beat the spread, but they unfortunately didn't have what it took to beat Duke in the third round.  We were definitely helped by Duke missing quite a few FTs in the first half, but we were clearly the lesser of the two teams--against a squad returning two starters from last year's Tournament Champion team.  

Bottom line, we have limitless potential and I think we represented extremely well against No. 1 and No. 2 teams this year.  I'm amazed we managed to get so many top-2 match-ups this year, but that's what happens when you play in the B1G, schedule an OOC vs. Kansas, and play #1 Duke in the third round.  Returning 100% of the starters from this year's team, as well as having some seniors, will help next year.  We're definitely looking at a solid NCAA Tourney team in 2011-2012.


March 20th, 2011 at 5:55 PM ^

I certainly hope you are right, yet as we all know NOTHING is guaranteed in college basketball (perfect example is this year's team). Beilein has to do a good job of keeping them focused and hungry or it will be the 2009-2010 season all over again... This team now has to learn to play under big expectations which can be hard for a young group of guys. Here's to hoping they keep working hard and give us the pleasure of watching another tourney appearance...


March 20th, 2011 at 5:48 PM ^

If past performance is any indication, the Horford family blooms a year or two "late."  They start out undersized, gain weight, and take a year to adjust to having a bigger body.  Horford could end up being the big guy Michigan needs.  

But I agree that Michigan needs to sign one big recruit.  MSU was down this year, and should be for the next one or two.  This is the perfect time for Michigan to regain its normal status (all but the Magic years and the post-Martin hangover) as the better of the two instate majors.  

When one big, elite recruit says "yes" to Michigan, the floodgates will open.  And Michigan will occasionally have more McDonald's All Americans than the team on the other side of the court.


March 20th, 2011 at 5:54 PM ^

I'm not sure if we need another big guy recruit.  We need Morgan to learn to defend without fouling and hopefully feeling comfortable enough defensive with Hardaway/Morris to have Stu come off the bench and Smotrycz start.  Then you've got two pretty big dudes and Novak who plays bigger than he is for rebounding (which we weren't THAT bad at except in exceptional circumstances like today).  I like the Morgan/Smotrycz/Novak/Hardaway/Morris lineup with Stu first off the bench.  Hopefully Horford gives us good minutes as Morgan's backup.  Then Vogrich is backup Novak, and we work in Burke and Brundidge.  That's a pretty good 10 man rotation, if the recruiting services are to be believed.


March 20th, 2011 at 6:04 PM ^

You guys need to stop with the "BIG MAN" posts.  Our offense is based on spacing and it only works if you can knock down the open shot.  You can only really afford to have 1 non shooter on the floor.   We are more likely to try and force other teams to go small to guard us than go big.  Smotrcyz is your 4 of the future with Horford and Morgan manning the 5.   If the big guys really improve here we may go big, but it will be rare when the match up is really tough, but we're going to punish lumbering bigs with Smotryz jacking 3's and taking him off the dribble.  We will force teams to go small.  

I'm already on record that Mich will win the Big Ten in football next year.  For the sweep we need the following.  All players need to work on everything but here is the 1 thing we need to win the Big Ten from each player.

Morris-He's incredible with all these awkward shots and he'll never be a 3pt specialist but he needs to be able to knock down the wide open spin the laces type ones.  500 3pt shots a day.

THJ- Some will say weights, but he needs to work with this dad on ball handling.  He needs to be able to punish guys off the dribble.

Morgan-Squats and hand grippers.  All he needs to do is convert dunks and clean the glass. We're not dumping it to him in the post.  We need him to convert bunnies and play tough d.

Smotrycz- He needs a Mike Barwis plan.  He's got everything except some explosion.  He needs to build up that strength for d and drives to the hoop.  Does this guy have a pulse?  Great swagger.

Vogrich- I know everyone wants strength, but he needs to work on his release.  He's a great shooter and his role will be the shooter.  He just needs to keep gaining confidence and getting his release  quicker.

Novak- Beat the shit out of anyone above not doing what they are supposed to.

Stu- Ball handling.  He needs to gain more confidence in his handle....and some free throws,  you have to be a good free throw shooter Stu.



March 20th, 2011 at 6:17 PM ^

I mean, in 2009-10 he shot it at 77.8% on only 27 attempts and this year he had, wth??, only 12 attempts!  I know he only made 3 of them but I don't think a 12 shot sampling is enough to say he sucks at FT's given the previous year mark with over twice as many attempts.


I agree with everything else though - I do think we could really hurt teams like Duke if we played Smotrycz  (assuming he adds 10-15 lbs, don't want to get too big and lose that quickness) at the 5 w/ 4 3 point shooters on the floor with Darius (#1 NCAA assist guy next year) dishing it out.  Of course that depends on the team we're playing.  Against, say, tOSU it's definitely Morgan and Smotrycz but against a team like Duke we could probably rock the 5 shooters line-up.


March 20th, 2011 at 6:26 PM ^

Thanks for compiling the stats.  I never said he sucked.  He doesn't shoot a lot of them but he handles the ball and down the stretch he needs to be nails.  This is to win the Big Ten.  We're going to hopefully be leading a lot of games.  For someone that has that good of a shot he needs to be money that is all.  I never said he sucked.


March 20th, 2011 at 11:09 PM ^

I use "suck" and don't really mean it with that much negative connotation just more of a "doesn't shoot very well from the FT" and I just suck because it's shorter but I think when I personally say someone sucks at something it's not as bad as what is probably the general definition but I agree with you - if he's going to be our #2 PG and is going to continue develop that move to the basket he needs to be automatic and with such a pretty stroke I don't know what why he couldn't leave the B1G in FT %.


March 20th, 2011 at 6:24 PM ^

I am confused about the "big man" issue.  Can someone more knowledgable help me understand this? 

I've heard all year that our team is smallish, and when I look at the two guys we have committed for next year they are both 6'1" guards.  Should we be concerned about this? At some point doesn't this hurt our ability to defend the post against teams with greater size? 

Maybe this is refuted by the simple fact that with a very inexperienced team we were able to play right with teams that were in fact much bigger than us, including Duke.  However, if we did have an inside presence that could play with his back to the basket, wouldn't this just open up the 3-pt shooting even more?  Or is there room for a player like that under Coach B's system? 

I apologize if this has been covered elsewhere. 


March 20th, 2011 at 6:34 PM ^

Mclimans, Horford, Morgan and Smoitrcyz are all 6' 8" or bigger.  They are not strong as they are freshmen that is why we get killed inside.  They'll be better next year and stronger.

It would be great to have a big man that requires a double and it would lead to wide open threes like Ohio St does.  Only problem is the amount  of 6' 10" big men who can force a double team are usually playing in the pros.  I'm sure if Beilein had a player like that we would feed the post more, but his general philosophy is to spread the floor and either drive or shoot depending on the defense.  He believes if you have big men down low that they clog the lane for drives.  Ever notice how Morris is allowed to keep dribbling and working down low for his shots?  That's because the post defenders are outside of the key covering theri man.   His system is not better or worse than guys that like to feed the post it's just a matter of best utilizing your personnel.   I was very curious if we had gotten Amir Williams what we would have looked like and how we would have adapted.


March 20th, 2011 at 7:29 PM ^

I guess, as it always seems to be, it's about trade-offs.  Under this system we won't be as effective cleaning the glass or defending the post, but we will hit a lot more triples and run the other team ragged trying to defend us.  We are also always capable of igniting a run with hot shooting. 

Another benefit is that b/c there are not a ton of other teams out there running this system, it's very difficult to defend.  This could be especially so in the NCAA tournament, where an opponent can be eliminated before they are able to adjust to it effectively.

Whatever.  It's been said that any system that is properly staffed, coached, and executed can work.  Our team sure does look well-coached right now, on so many levels.

Will Vereene

March 20th, 2011 at 7:35 PM ^

In the first half, there were a few rebounds that we lost on the count of our lack of size. Then adjustments were made, opposing sequoia got tired, spread out, and then it was not a factor. Basically this is not a factor so I agree. The system works with smaller quicker players (unlike some other guy that is no longer relevant to football).


March 20th, 2011 at 9:21 PM ^

Taking the ball inside, and if they're not giving it up, kick it outside. But if they're guarding the perimeter, pound it inside till they open up. You mention a big man who can score, rebound, and play defense is a rarity that few teams we come across have, but that's who we need one against. We can already beat the mid-range teams. To get over the hump against the elite teams, we're going to need a big man with more upside. We're not talking what it takes to win another game in the Tourney, but what it takes to get to the Final Four. Morgan is surprisingly solid, and Horford will develop, but you need a guy who can demand a double team, or at least not let it be a tip drill for the other team. Then you can go "spread" with Smot at PF. Morgan and Evan down low is just a recipe to get beat up underneath. You either have to upgrade the 5, or balance out the 4-5.


March 20th, 2011 at 6:06 PM ^

Next year we need:


1. Smotz to step up.  Limit the stupid fouls, he gets way too many of those.  He needs to be a threat to drive the ball and shoot the outside jumper.  He driving just came on the last two games.  He needs to do that more.

2. Morgan:  Do what you do, but stop the silly fouls. 

3. Morris: develop a 3 point shot.  Defenses sag off him, with a 3 point shot he'd be deadly.


That's really about it.  Those things certainly would have won us the game today and won a few others during the season.  The leap Hardaway makes next year is going to be astounding.


March 20th, 2011 at 6:10 PM ^

I too am ridiculously proud of and excited for the future of this team, however, I advise some caution.

Player progression is not a guarantee, it is all up to the players to put in the work in the offseason to get better. A perfect example is MSU this year. After their Final 4 run, everyone pegged them as a lock to be back there, but they lacked team chemistry and ended up choking on applesauce.

I am, however, confident that behind the senior leadership of Novak and Douglass, the young guys on this team will work very hard on the weak points in their game.


March 20th, 2011 at 6:28 PM ^

Novak is the kind of guy you try to bring back as an assistant coach for a few years after his playing days are over. The kid is all toughness, heart, and grit. Never underestimate the grit.


March 20th, 2011 at 6:34 PM ^

I've never really felt much better about a team after a loss. I'm not going to call today a "moral victory," I hate that whole mentality, but at the very least this group showed today why they have as bright of a future as Michigan basketball has seen in a while.

I think most would agree that our most valuable players this year have been Morris, THJ, Morgan, and Novak (not necessarily in that order). After those four, we really need someone to step up, with Smotrycz being the most beneficial thanks to his size and fit with our system. Douglass needs to start hitting his shots at a higher percentage, this year he was one of our more inefficient offensive players (which is a pretty big issue when you're a role player who shouldn't be doing much more than taking open shots).

This team is already really good, and has so much room for improvement, it's hard to not be excited about them.