Michigan Hoops Observations/Predictions. (Pre-Italy)

Submitted by MichiganMan14 on August 15th, 2014 at 1:59 AM



The boys will be taking off shortly for the Euro-Trip and UMhoops.com was kind enough to record nearly 8 mins of practice in a video that debuted earlier this week on MGoBlog.  

Here is what I gathered from player to player on the video and over the summer in general.

Derrick Walton- Looks very "quick-twitch" and improved atheletically.  (37.5 inch vert)  Also seems to have improved his jumpshot.  It looks cleaner and more consistent.  I fully expect him to blossom into a top 3 B1G point guard and build off of his solid 2013/2014 campaign. 

Zak Irvin-  Zak looks like a whole new man honestly.  He might be the next affirmation of the 2nd year "Beilein jump".  His shot looks cleaner.  He looks bigger and toned physically with a much improved "bounce".  Zak could really blow up this year and we may need him to.  I think Zak makes a push to a double digit scoring average and becomes a leader on this squad.  

Caris Levert-   Caris looks primed for a huge season point blank.  He has put on nearly 20 more pounds.  (somewhere in the ball park of 190)  Caris is a seasoned war veteran when it comes to big time basketball and he will be the most rounded offensive talent in our arsenal.  Caris will have the green light and with his improved strenght I can see his drive game soaring to new heights.  Caris will average 15ppg or better this year and be a B1G POY candidate.  

Mark Donnal- Mark looks like a fluid big around the basket and the word is that he can shoot as well from a good distance.  He has also gained legitimate size and looks the part of a B1G.  His maturation and development over the next 3 months will be crucial as he will be leaned on to be our starting Center.   I think Donnal will work out nicely against most opponents.  It remains to be seen how he will fair against "bully ball".  The MSUs....Ohios and Wiskys of the B1G will definitely test his mettle.  

Kam Chatman-  Kam is a West Coast Blue Chip that seems to be right at home in Ann Arbor. He has an advanced game at 6ft8, with handles and a consistently improving shot that ranges out to 20+ feet.  He is definitely a freshman to be excited about.  His game seems much more polished and applicable than Zak Irvin's this time last year.  He moves well defensively and seems to have a bit of "back alley" in his game which I personally love.  Swagger and attitude has become a staple in our program and it's very important that we continue recruiting those type of players. (Trey, Tim, Nik, Glenn, Mitch, Jordan, Derrick, Caris, Spike)  I expect Kam to be an impact player on this team and average 8ppg+.  His versatility will be huge for us as he can slide from 2-4.

Aubrey Dawkins- Aubrey has elite BOUNCE.  This kid can absolutely get off of the floor and rival GR3 and Pettway.  Aubrey has pleasantly surprised with how his jumper is coming along and with his obvious athleticism, he figures to be Caris's back up.  Aubrey provides our team with a jolt of electricity and I predict he will be a suprise contributor and get you up out of your seat at least once a game.  

Ricky Doyle- Ricky is Mitch McGary sized at 6ft9 240 and has trimmed down to 12% body fat.  He moves well and looks punishing physically.  I'm a big fan of this kid because he will give us presence inside.  His back to the basket game is advanced according to Baccari, which is something we have not had consistently in the past years.  Doyle will be our most important freshman because he is one of 2 Centers on this team.  We need Doyle to be better than advertised and be a sturdy rotation man.  He will back up Donnal.

DJ Wilson- DJ reminds me a lot of Austin Daye.  He has terrific atheleticism and a solid jump shot according to Beilein.  DJ was recruited for his athleticism and shot-blocking and that is exactly what I expect him to bring.  At 6ft10 220, he is still light in the shorts but he should have the tools to work around the slight build and bolster our team defensively.  I doubt he will be relied on offensively but do believe he will showcase his athleticism a few times this year on the offensive side.  DJ is a high ceiling type that could really become an NBA prospect by his Junior year in our program.  Our 2016 Michigan Basketball team is going to be scary big.  

Spike-  Spike is a fan-favorite and a very solid back-up point guard.  He handles the ball well and plays aggresively.  He has a huge heart and doesn't back down from anyone or any situation.  He will once again bail us out of a few life-less periods of play and be an intregal piece of the Michigan Basketball puzzle.  Spike is part of the glue and guts of this machine.  He is vital because of this.  

Max Beifeldt-  Max is an experienced, big-bodied defender.  He is not an offensive option at this juncture.  He is not overly athletic but looks to be our strongest player.  There will be situations where we rely on him but its hard to see him as a starter at this time.  His knowledge will be of value but it appears that the other bigs are signifcantly more talented.  At 6ft7, Max will be undersized at either post position.  His calf muscles will still kick all other calf muscles' asses. 

MAAR-  MAAR looks to be another ball handling option.  He has nice quicks and looks very athletic.  This will come in handy on more than a few occasions defensively.  At 6ft4, he has combo guard size which gives him and us versatility in our lineups.  I think he plays behind Spike as a 3 point and gets limited time as a 3rd 2 guard.  His shot is still coming along but he has a very quick first step and ability to get to the cup.  


*I don't feel comfortable speaking about Hatch yet because he is still recovering.  The fact that he made it to Ann Arbor is special in itself and it's great to see a University stand up for what is right like Michigan did for him.  

Starting Lineup Prediction.

Derrick Walton 6-0  185lbs Sophmore   (12ppg)

Caris Levert 6-7  200lbs   Junior     (15ppg)   

Zak Irvin  6-6  215lbs    Sophmore   (13ppg)

Kam Chatman  6-7  215lbs   Freshman  (8ppg)

Mark Donnal  6-9  240lbs  rFreshman   (7ppg)


Spike  5-11  175lbs    Junior     (5ppg)

Ricky Doyle  6-9   245lbs   Freshman   (4ppg)

Aubrey Dawkins   6-6 190lbs    Freshman  (3ppg)

Max Beifeldt  6-7    240lbs     Senior  (2ppg)

MAAR  6-4  175lbs    Freshman.  (2ppg)

DJ Wilson  6-9  220lbs   Freshman  (2ppg)


Season Prediction-  Michigan will lose at least 2or 3 games before B1G season due to youth and maturation growing pains.  Michigan will improve as the season goes on and finish 10-6 in the B1G.  Michigan will likely be a 5-7 seed in the Big Dance and I see them as a Sweet 16 team pending on the draw.  They have SERIOUS potential in the back court and promising post play, albeit young.  Their bench is athletic and deep but also young.  I think youth will ultimatley define this team and see them just short of the recently established standard.  Caris will deserve the B1G POY but be passed up for Pettway of Nebraska.  PJ Dozier will commit to Michigan and Caris in a suprise move will elect to come back to Michigan for his Senior Year.  Zak will flirt with the 2nd round of the NBA but return also.  This will result in Michigan featuring a starting lineup in 2015 of:   Derrick (JR)-Caris(SR)- Zak(Jr)- Kam(Soph)- Donnal (rSoph).     Add a seasoned bench and Beilein running the show...2015 looks like a return to the FInal 4.  

I know its football season....but our basketball program is awesome and always worthy of analysis.  Go BLue!



August 15th, 2014 at 3:03 AM ^

What with all the O-line panic and football purgatory, nice to know there are universal constants.  There's Pi - 3.14; there's war, there's peace; there's the polar vortex ... then there's Beilein / MBB. Good to know that team is still strong.

Looking forward to some Crisler Center this year.

Gucci Mane

August 15th, 2014 at 4:43 AM ^

I can't believe UCONN won the tournament last year. They certainly were not a top 5 team. I love the tournament, but at the same time I hate how poor of a job it does at finding the best team. As for this Michigan team I think a lot depends on if someone can develop into a star, whether that be Levert, Irvin, Walton or possibly even Chatman.


August 15th, 2014 at 7:58 AM ^

the contrary, it does identify the best team every year, it is just that the best team is not always or possibly never who you think it is.

As for M Hoops, we lost too much inside to be a legit nationaly championship level team.  We have talented bigs, but they are talented "boys" as this point and we lost two talented "men" and another big whose presence and size is going to be sorely missed (I don't know what Horford thinks is going to happen in Gainesville that made him pass up what was almost certain a starting 5 spot gig with a primetime program).

I still think we will have that "death by 3-ball" factor where Michigan just flat out shoots an opponent out of a game, and I think we will be a very exciting team with a lot of impressive athletic plays.  I do not, however, believe we pose a significant threat to Wisconsin this year for the BIG title nor do I think we are a team that will handle OSU, MSU, or other solid outfits with relative ease.

6 seed NCAA tournament.  Sweet sixteen loss to a perrenial power in a good game.  1 first round draft pick.  1 freshman who stands out as the next big thing (likely Chapman), massive excitement levels for the 2015-16 season with more seasoned bigs and the Junior year versions of Irvin and Walton(me like).

Bam, there you have it.


August 15th, 2014 at 10:47 AM ^

First off, just because UCONN won a one-and-done tournament, that doesn't mean they were the best team last year. It also most certainly doesn't mean Kentucky was the 2nd best team.

Second, there isn't a single team on the B10 that gets handled with ease. When a team like PSU can beat MSU, I wouldn't call any game a gimmie. That being said, what makes you think we won't beat MSU? We beat them 2 put of 3 last year, have had their number the last 4 years, and they lost a lot more than we did going into next year.


August 15th, 2014 at 11:11 AM ^

me one other team last year other than UConn who has a legit claim they were the best team.  I can promise you that UConn's claim that WE WON THE NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP will prevail in the debate.  You are falling into a trap, the NCAA tournament is designed to identify the best team, and that is what it does.  You don't have to engage in the conversation of who the best team is because that is the purpose of the NCAA tournament.  That is the entire reason college football is trending toward a playoff, so that question never has to be asked or answered except for on the field/court.

Red is Blue

August 16th, 2014 at 11:43 AM ^

The NCAA tournament is not designed to find the best team, it is designed as a reasonable proxy method for finding the best team within reasonable constraints while generating fan interest.

Even the World Series with multiple games between teams under different conditions does not always find the best team.  A good example of this is the Twins winning the series after making it into the playoffs with right around a .500 record.  Clearly, if you can only win half of your games, you are not the best team that year.  But, they got hot at the right time, went on a run and captured a championship.   

Gucci Mane

August 15th, 2014 at 11:24 PM ^

To you and anyone else who thinks the NCAA tournament is good at finding the best team. How can you rationally say that when everyone has a different path to get to the final game ? I suppose you also think the USA was the best hockey team at the 1980 Olympics. The best team does not always win, and when you set up a tournament like that I think the best team losses more often they they win it all. Out of all sports formats college football does the best job of finding the champion. I hope they don't expand the playoff by much and ruin that.


August 15th, 2014 at 10:45 AM ^

I.... disagree. UCONN was the best when everyone knows it matters. I don't understand how they didn't prove they weren't the best team. Is it just because they weren't highly ranked in the preseason or before the tournament? The tournament does a great job of eliminating pretenders that are loved by the media and showcasing teams that take care of business on the court.


August 15th, 2014 at 6:16 AM ^

Great post , thanks for all the info. I'm excited as usual for this season. I think we compete for a bug ten title and win three or four games in the tournament. I say that based on what this program is now and the coaching staff. The players will gel at the right time and this is a smart team, we've seen how important that is.


August 15th, 2014 at 6:24 AM ^

Few notes - mlive said Dawkins was playing some 4 in the open practice with Wilson out so I don't see him fitting too much at the backup 2.  I think he will be Irvin's backup as a 3 primarly and I guess now Chatman as an undersized 4 until Wilson gets back.

Same mlive article said both Donnal and Doyle looked a bit raw out there but they were actually pretty high on Doyle all things being equal.

MSU's inside game is not one I worried about this year at the 5 - Doyle and Donnal are matching Schilling and Costello, not 2 powerhouses. With MSU Dawson's physicality at the 4 is more the issue this year. Chatman is going to have to deal with a 22 year old man there - I expect him to struggle a bit on defense against that type of player at this age (Nigel Hayes from Wiscy is another guy Chatman is going to deal with).  I am worried about Illinois and Wisconsin inside at the 5. Maryland also recruited some serious big boys but they are likewise freshmen so those will be interesting battles down the road.

Irvin looks like he could be a MMA figher right now - he really needs to show the ability to rebound since we are going to undersized/young at a lot of places.  Nearly impossible to judge his ability at it last year since he was parked at the 3 pt line.

My assumption for a long while has been Doyle and Donnal will be the long term 5s but there is a lot of talk now (as some here correctly predicted) that Wilson will eventually be a 5 (needs about 20 lbs) so if he manages that next year it could make for an interesting scenario of Doyle and Wilson inside, with Donnal coming out to the 4 - which I think was the original goal ("stretch 4").  Would let Chatman drop down to 3 - Irvin to 2 to replace Caris and give us some serious height everywhere but PG.  It will be interesting to see where Wilson goes in his development - he seems like one of the most raw now but with a high ceiling if he puts it all together.

I have 9-7 Big 10, and about a 6th/7th seed, and hopefully to sweet 16.  As always will depend on matchups in the tourney, especially who we get in the 2nd round.  I think our defense at the 1, 2, and 3 should be pretty good - and I expect struggles at the 4, 5.



August 15th, 2014 at 6:36 AM ^

I don't think he will be playing much 4 once Wilson is back and the 2 and 3 in Belein ' s offense are pretty much interchangeable. Aubrey may be a more natural 3 and that would bump Zak down to a 2. Regardless, Aubrey looks to be the top wing option off of the bench. MAAR is a combo guard that seems more like a ball handler than an off-guard. I expect solid defense from Doyle and Donnal. Both are 6ft6 and 240 pounds. Defense is all about effort and Doyle definitely looks like he gives % 110 on that end. Time will tell. MSU will develop Schilling and Costello and they will be formidable. Dawson will be a beast down there as well.


August 15th, 2014 at 8:12 AM ^

I expect a lot of early foul trouble for one or the other ... young big men are not respected.  I will have to see how they look in terms of lateral quickness etc.  I think expectations defensively are a bit too high for them.  Look at Matt Costello who is a guy we recruited pretty hard - his first 2 years he basically goes in, gets his 2 fouls in 10 minutes, and then goes back out.  Hence why I think Max will be playing more than most think.  Refs love to call fouls on young bigs not named Julius Randle etc.

"Defense is all about effort" - a bit of a meme.  I think Jon Horford played his heart out but was mismatched athletically at times, and picked up cheap fouls at others. 

The farther away you get from an event or time the more people romantacize is and forget the negatives but UM's interior defense when Morgan was out was darn near atrocious. Now I am hoping the easy dribble drive penetration is reduced a bit by better defense from Walton, Caris, and Irvin but we dont know. So you are replacing GR3 who at least was experienced on D (if not excellent) with someone with none, and our best interior defender with 2 freshmen (one a RS).  Neither of these guys are above the rim type of dudes like DJ Wilson so I think it will be a lot of frustration at our interior defense again - so we could see a lot of zone.  A lot.



August 15th, 2014 at 9:29 AM ^

Doyle is expected to be a good shot blocker. If Wilson and him figure things out on defense quickly, Michigan could have 2 big time shot blocking threats on the court at times. That will be quite the change, even if they do not have Morgan's positioning. Of course, your concerns about foul trouble are legit.

The other big question is, can these guys rebound? From their HS tapes, I think so, but we'll see how they hold up in college.


August 16th, 2014 at 10:32 AM ^

i dont know how much we can hope irvin rebounds. i think, typically, rebound rate stays consistent. some people have a nose for the ball, some dont. im delusionally optimistic about the team, but rebounding is going to be an issue. i dont see zak helping it much.


August 15th, 2014 at 8:17 AM ^

You, my friend, are quite the optimist. I hope you are correct, however, I see too much youth. Our last crop of talent was something you only see once every 25 years or so, unless you're Kentucky, Duke, UNC, KU, etc etc..


August 15th, 2014 at 7:08 PM ^

JB has proven time and again that he is capable of developing players and putting them in the position to succeed.  "Our last crop of talent" wasn't seen as much of a "crop of talent" until JB developed them.  

My assessment is almost the same as the OP: struggle early, improve daily, make the tournament and be a team nobody wants to play.  I think the Sweet Sixteen is a reasonable expectation and that they could do even better.  Remember that nobody expected the 2012-13 team to make the Final Four.  



August 15th, 2014 at 9:27 AM ^

I don't have to worry about player development. The Italy trip will be a huge beneficial for the team and it came at a perfect time for them to take a trip. The early season problems due to youth will be mitigated by the face they already had practices and games at Italy.

My expectation is top 3 in B1G due to the fact they won't be as good as they have been in the past 4 years. Sweet 16 appearance is also my minimum expectation as well.


August 15th, 2014 at 9:45 AM ^

I think it's going to be like that year (2011?) when a bunch of teams tie or are within 1 game of each other so the difference between 2nd and 7th place might be 2 games maximum.

Wisconsin is the easy favorite and then I could throw all these teams in a bucket and based on 1 road win here, or 1 hot streak there could come in 2nd or 7th:

  • UM
  • OSU
  • MSU
  • Nebraska
  • Maryland
  • Illinois

You might even throw Iowa in there.  Illinois was the 2nd or 3rd best team in the conference the last 10 games last year as it finally clicked in for them - only UM beat them late in the year.  If (big if) they can find some scoring this year they might have a chance to get to 2nd (remember they were top 25 last year before swooning mid season).  OSU brings in some mighty talented freshmen and some nice transfers.  MSu still has Dawson+Valentine and a sr PG.  Nebraska has 2 of the top 20 players in the conf including one of the top 4.  Maryland brings back a lot of experience plus a big class of highly touted freshmen.  I expect all these teams to be in a big cluster between 9-9 and 10-8. 

Teams like Indiana, Purdue, and Minnesot won't be pushovers on their home courts either.  It's going to be a very entertaining year in terms of competitiveness in a quality conference.


August 15th, 2014 at 11:06 AM ^

My thoughts are Michigan will be one of the top 3 teams in mid to late February, when they have time to integrate all these new faces.  But I dont think they will be in January so some losses that month might hurt the overall standing.  Depends on how ready Chatman is right out of the gate - one thing we take for granted from GR3 was he came right out of the gate ready to play.  If Chatman is the same that gives us 4 guys on the court who should be "veteran" like and you can live with the young guys at 5.  If Chatman plays more like Irvin did last year - then you really have 3 guys on the court who act like veterans.

Anyhow I know this team will be better in February than November since this is a staff we can trust and has the experience.  But how long it takes to gel will be the key aspect in a long Big 10 season.  It might all come together late or it might happen 2nd week in January - who knows.  I dont think it will be a team someone will want to face in the 2nd round of the NCAAs.

Perkis-Size Me

August 15th, 2014 at 10:45 AM ^

Add onto that what Beilein has been able to do with this team despite having a real lack of upperclassmen on a regular basis. 2 conference titles in 3 years, a national title appearance, a Wooden Award winner, 5 NBA draft picks in 2 years, 4 of which were 1st rounders, and correct me if I'm wrong, but the most tournament wins of any D1 team in the past 2 years.

I honestly can't imagine what this team would have ever been like had the likes of Burke, Hardaway, GRIII, Stauskas and McGary all stuck around for junior and senior years. There's no such thing as national title locks, but if there was, Michigan would've fit the mold quite nicely. But honestly, whatever Beilein is doing, its working, so he's got my utmost confidence going forward. Not that he really even needs it.


August 15th, 2014 at 10:47 AM ^

Over at UMHoops, Dylan's strongest impressions (and those of others) are (1) that Chatman looks more ready than perhaps expected and will likely play almost exclusively the 4 (right corner), (2) that Dawkins has been the most pleasant surprise, but (3) also that Donnal hasn't looked comfortable (or strong) yet in the post.



August 15th, 2014 at 11:34 AM ^

What an awesome breakdown. I truly hope all of your predictions come true!! Very excited to see what all of these freshmen can do this season. I am hoping that you are understimating slightly :)


August 15th, 2014 at 11:39 AM ^

5-7 seed. Hell no we are going to compete for a regular season title with this team and be a 3 seed. We have the best backcourt in the Bigten and hopefully Donnal can shoot like they say he can. We are going to see another side of the offense.


August 15th, 2014 at 11:46 AM ^

I fear that our expectations are way too high. Michigan lost most of it's scoring and rebounding. They are almost totally without experience in the paint. And - while I have high hopes for this bunch in the long run - the incoming freshman class (plus Donnal) is not chalk full of blue chip guys.

This could be a year that is very similar to IU's last season.


August 15th, 2014 at 12:39 PM ^

Post defense is B-ball's offensive line. If by some miracle it doesn't turn out to be the weakest link, we're looking at another deep tournament run. If they can't keep the post in check and secure their share of boards it could be bubble city.


August 16th, 2014 at 4:55 AM ^

A few thoughts... Walton in my opinion will be the premier pt guard in the BIG. lets not diminish his fantastic season last year. Without him we dont win at msu or the BIG. and saying chatman is further ahead of Irvin at this pt is a stretch. Irvin was quite ahead of the game as a true frosh.