MBB: Player Development

Submitted by Kilgore Trout on January 10th, 2011 at 1:12 PM

For something different...

I have been impressed with the way that Beilein has developed Darius Morris and Matt Vogrich.  Before the season started, I posted that I thought those two would end up being busts and didn't deserve their recruiting rankings.  Raoul called me out on that and he seems to have been right. 

The change in Morris is pretty obvious.  He's gone from a guy who was essentially phased out of the rotation last year to the unquestioned go to guy on the team.  I didn't see that coming at all.

Vogrich is a little more subtle, but to me is an even more impressive accomplishment for Beilein.  Last year, Vogrich looked completely outmatched physically.  His stat line is not overwhelming, but he has become a solid contributor in 10-15 minutes a game and is no longer a massive defensive liability. 

After Amaker's tenure, I got used to seeing what a player did in his freshman year and just accepting that it was what we had for four years.  The improvement of Morris and Vogrich from year one to year two, coupled with the fact that Novak and Douglass are solid Big Ten players given their recruiting profile has me excited about the future.  Anyway, when someone asks why Beilein isn't on the hot seat, I think "player development" has to be one of the first answers. 



January 10th, 2011 at 6:46 PM ^

Bacari Alexander is doing great work with the bigs. I love watching Jordan Morgan play down low. He still isn't quite there as far as finishing when there is a lot of traffic and can be overmatched when playing truely large (6'10"+) players, but he knows what it takes and has great awareness.

Also, the whole squad plays hard and plays for keeps. It's a great attitude, and that's half the battle. If they continue to play with such passion, add in the new practice facility and we should continue getting good recruiting classes.


January 12th, 2011 at 3:10 AM ^

I think we've got a legit final 4 contender on our hands in 2 years.

C: Morgan(Jr.), Horford(Jr.), McLimans(Jr.)
PF: Smotrycz(Jr.), Christian(Jr.)
SF: Hardaway(Jr.), Robinson(Fr.)
SG: Brundidge(So.), Vogrich(Sr.)
PG: Morris(Sr.), Burke(So.)

Morris as a senior...Morgan/Smotrycz/Hardaway as juniors...Brundidge at the two...plus another entire - VERY IMPORTANT - recruiting class.

Beilein works wonders, and this could be a very, very good squad in 2013.  If we can land an impact recruit in this next class...it might be enough to put us right over the top.


January 10th, 2011 at 1:21 PM ^

equally as impressive as the player improvement - which i agree is substantial - is how HARD these guys are playing.  it's impossible not to like this team.


January 10th, 2011 at 3:28 PM ^

I couldn't agree more about how HARD these guys play.  It feels/looks like more of a team than last year.  However, the shooting woes are sometimes inexplicable even though Kansas's D had a lot to do with it yesterday.  They have to practice shooting all day long in his system and it just doesn't seem to translate to games very well.  Overall, though, I am content and a little surprised at how well the team is playing for now.


January 10th, 2011 at 3:55 PM ^

It's because no one really cares about Michigan basketball.  Amaker's last two teams won twenty games and went .500 in the league both years.  Taking over that while inheriting Harris and Sims would have been a recipe for UNACCEPTABLE! at a school where people actually attend basketball games.

At the end of the day though, it is probably a good thing for all of us.


January 10th, 2011 at 1:24 PM ^

agree with you at this point. Although I hope we can get a second big man that plays like Jordan Morgan, because I dont know about you but watching McLimans on the floor yesterday was a horrific sight for me


January 10th, 2011 at 1:49 PM ^

Morgan is certainly a pleasant surprise being a redshirt freshman.  I love his intensity.  Also, the improvement of Horford will be interesting to see, because all we hear is how that kid loves to work, work, work. 

Secondly, Douglass' improvement should be noted.  He has maximized his minutes in probably 85 to 90 % of our games so far.  His ability to get to the rim has improved as it went from zero to being able to do it versus Big Ten guards.  This team and it's work ethic certainly lend to a lot of promise for the future.


January 10th, 2011 at 2:06 PM ^

last year, and is slowly regaining it. He missed a few big shots down the stretch yesterday that I was tempted to attribute to lack of confidence, even now. Really would like to see him get a rhythm with his shot and beat out some of the newcomers next year. He runs the team quite ably when Morris is out. 


January 10th, 2011 at 1:27 PM ^

Good to see someone echoing my exact sentiments about Vogrich.  My buddy and I have gone back and forth about him(he called him a wasted scholarship) and it was nice to see him as a solid contributor. Another example I would point to is that the same team in 08 that lost non-conference games to Harvard and Central later knocked off OSU in Big Ten play and gave 1 seed Wisconsin all it could handle in the Big Ten Tourney.  I really like the ceiling of this team next year because if Hardaway puts it together along with Morris, we can be as good as we've been since I started following MBB(Ellerbe years).


January 10th, 2011 at 2:41 PM ^

That being said, I would caution anyone who is underestimating the value of Novak to this team. Remember when people were happy that CJ Lee and David Merritt were graduating? Yeah, the next year didn't work out so well, did it?

Guys like Lee, Merritt, and Novak know that they have to work hard. They push other people on the team, and in doing so create an atmostphere of mental/physical toughness and selflessness. I'll be very sad to see Novak graduate after next year.


January 10th, 2011 at 3:02 PM ^

I definitely agree. Would we have been close at all in that game yesterday if not for Novak? Hopefully some of the younger guys(I'm personally hoping for Morgan) step up and help maintain this new attitude that the team is developing after Novak and Douglass graduate


January 10th, 2011 at 9:55 PM ^

The team talent level may go up in 2 years, but when we lose Stu and Zack, we lose the heart and sole of this team.  Last year it was Manny's team and this year it is Zack's.  He is setting the work ethic and team play attitude.


January 10th, 2011 at 1:58 PM ^

It's good to see what a coach can do when given enough time to fully implement his system.

/re-reads previous sentence, sighs, drinks.


January 10th, 2011 at 3:45 PM ^

bought himself some time with the ncaa tourney appearance in his second year.  Had UM not made the ncaa's that year, I'd guess his seat might be a little warm right now. 

Football is king at UM.  Everyone wants to see the bball do well, but the pressure and scrutiny to win on the bball coach is not nearly as great as that of the football coach.


January 10th, 2011 at 2:00 PM ^

Any talk of player development has to include Jordan Morgan. I'm amazed at how far he's come as a player. It's nice to see guys like Morgan, Morris (can we please never, ever, EVER call him the butterfly?), Vogrich come into their own. I'd say it bodes quite well for the future of this program.


January 10th, 2011 at 2:55 PM ^

Novak is easily one of my favorite players.  His hard work and hustle are the reasons why he is able to play against opponents that are much bigger than him.  

Tim Hardaway Jr. is also one of my favorite players already.  I know he goes through some slumps and has freshman mistakes.  I think his ceiling is pretty high and it doesn’t hurt to have those bloodlines. 


January 10th, 2011 at 3:08 PM ^

I would totally agree that Novak consistently plays 6 inches and 30 pounds heavier when he is on the court.  This guy hustles and hustles and hustles.  As a coach you can never have too many kids with a work ethic or nose for the ball like that. 

I also agree about the ceiling with Hardaway Jr.  He makes some very freshman mistakes, but he has a quick first step and the ability to take it to the bucket under control.  If he can learn to shoot a higher percentage shot instead of bombing from behind the arc he will increase greatly.

As for Morris, I am not as high on this kid as everyone else is.  He is much better than he was last year at this time and has definitely grown into his ability.  He still has a way to go.  He needs to learn to move the ball around more effectively and quit taking poor quality shots.  He often picks his dribble up long before he has a pass in mind or a shot in mind.  he also is quick to get airborne with no outlet pass or shot available.  Don't get me wrong, he is going to be good.....but he is not great yet.  He could use another summer of growing mentally in the game where he learns to create shots for himself rather than just throwing the ball at the rim. 


January 10th, 2011 at 3:34 PM ^

That and the total leadership vacuum.  I love Peedi, but dude's a headcase, and when the guy trying to keep you focused is Manny Harris you've got a real problem.  The fact that he was our only legitimate C and PF obviously didn't help matters.

Miss those guys despite the inconsistency, but this team is about 100 times more fun to watch than last year's.


January 10th, 2011 at 2:37 PM ^

Is there any better picture to describe Zach Novak. Novak's got the ball on the ground as a bigger, stronger opponent lies on the ground in pain wondering, "How in the hell does he keep getting the ball away from me?" (HT: UMHoops)


January 10th, 2011 at 3:15 PM ^

I think you know little about basketball.

Let me make it easy for you:

PG in basketball is like QB in football.  There's a lot to learn and you're controlling the offensive part of the game.  The learning curve is MUCH more steep than other positions.  Thus, freshmen / rookie PGs are expected to struggle the same way that freshmen / rookie QBs are expected to struggle.

The only counterpoint I can see to this (based on his success last year, and this year in the NBA) is John Wall.  And to that I say - he is a total freak.

The pickup we have seen from Darius is more than we should normally expect, but it's not crazy.  The kid completely dedicated himself to the game this offseason (I follow him on twitter - so what?  who cares?) and is basically our PG version of Denard.


January 10th, 2011 at 4:19 PM ^

Derrick Rose and Tyreke Evans are better examples.  Coach Cal knows how to treat a young PG in his offense (actually make that recruit young PGs, because all three are talented as hell). 

Mike Conley was OK at OSU his freshman year, but he had Oden.  He SUCKED as a rookie in the NBA.  In my example, I'm looking at guys that didn't suck their first year in college / the NBA.  Rose / Reke / Wall seem to be the only guys from the last five years to fit that bill. 

Kilgore Trout

January 10th, 2011 at 3:53 PM ^

Despite your belittling tone...

I'm well aware that PG is the relative equivalent to QB.  My point was that we haven't seen that development in quite a while around here.  The last decent recruit UM had that could reasonably be considered a point guard was Daniel Horton.  He was terrific his freshman year and only managed to match that performance in his senior year after two off years.  


January 10th, 2011 at 3:18 PM ^

under Coach Bee seems to have improved each additional year he's been in charge.  I like that we started out 1-3-1 mostly in his first year and now only use it as a "switch-up" to our main defenses (man-to-man and 2-3 zone). 


January 10th, 2011 at 3:26 PM ^

You thought Morris was going to be a bust? I actually never thought that, I thought he was a for sure star in the making. One of our first true good PG in a while. He worked with John Wall over the summer and has improved his game greatly.


I do agree with vogrich though. I thought he was going to be a bust, and he still may be. He's gotten better but still not to the point where I can eliminate him from being a bust. He still doesn't contribute that much to the team, but he is only a sophomore, hopefully he'll continue to get better.