One Big Man Away?

Submitted by Webber's Pimp on February 28th, 2011 at 11:10 PM

Don't look now but the men's basketball team is a big man away from actually being a top squad nationally. I'm thinking that if Beilein can somehow pull in one more additional recruit in the 2011 class this team is could very well explode next year. As things stand we are highly competitive. But think of what we have coming in: Burke (a PG and Ohio player of the year candidate with ice water in his veins) and Brundidge (a tough SG who gets his points driving in the paint and at the FT line). If we can somehow bring in an additional low post scoring threat - LOOK OUT!  We've been playing Zach Novak at PF on a regular basis. Morgan has had a phenomenal season in my opinion but we could use another big body if we are going to once again challenge the premier squads accross the nation. If you look at OSU, Duke, KU, UK, UNC one of the common denominators is size. We don't have to out rebound those squads to win but we have to be able to hold our own and prevent them from busting us up inside. So I guess my formula for major NCAA success  includes size (something I feel we've lacked since the Tractor Traylor squads). I'm not sure a guy like Nance J.r. is the answer though. What we need is a bruiser who can ocasionally score.

In reading up about Max Bielfeldt I came accross the following evaluation. Sounds to me like this kid could be exactly what we need. Unfortunately we may have already lost out  since Illinois is his childhood favorite and just offerd a scholarship...


This strong high energy power forward never takes a possession off. Bielfeldt runs the floor on a consistent basis and simply out works opposing post for easy baskets. In the low post he scores with good touch and crafty moves. Bielfeldt is a below the rim finisher that can also face and knock down mid range and open three with needed time and space. Bielfeldt is a good passer and active rebounder on both ends. He could be affective in both pick and pop or role situations. Bielfeldt won't wow you with athletic ability but will with his consistent production.

Bielfeldt must work on attempting to improve his explosiveness he is an average athlete at best. And although his is strong he must continue to add strength in order to continue to hold his own in the low post.

Bottom Line:
Bielfeldt is a skilled power forward that rebounds on both ends and plays with great energy and urgency on every possession. His is limited athletically but is consistently productive because of his all business approach on the floor where he simply out works opponents with passion for the game.



February 28th, 2011 at 11:16 PM ^

I think having a team with only 2 upperclassmen (neither of them seniors) is a bigger impediment but to each our own.

Let's not forget we have a couple bigs at the end of the bench. Horford and McLimans are still freshman (True and RS). Not every freshman is able to play immediately but they can be developed. We also have Morgan whose been great and Smotrycz who is serviceable as a post player although a little infuriating at times.

Would another big body help? Yeah, probably. But let's not forget this is almost exclusively a team of frosh and sophomores. Give them time to grow, that'll do wonders in helping us become a text wall.

Also, text wall makes eyes hurt.


March 1st, 2011 at 12:35 AM ^

That guy just LOOKS like a forever-crippling injury. You can be too big.

Many don't realize how rare it is for someone the size of Shaquille O'Neal to have an actual career. People so freakishly large just weren't meant to run and jump all around basketball courts.




February 28th, 2011 at 11:24 PM ^

Smotrycz and Horford will develop into that coveted 4 we don't have right now.  I don't think it makes sense to bring in a post in this class at this point - not when we have a bunch of frontcourt players that are currently freshmen.


March 1st, 2011 at 12:07 AM ^

do not mention Horford and the 4 in the same sentence.

He is a college center all the way and especially so in Beilein's system.  We didnt play two bigs when we had Gibson and Sims.... we're not playing two bigs now.

Smotrycz is the only big on the team with the skill to play JB's 4 spot.

Beilein will adapt his offense and even more so this year, but it is a perimeter oriented system and players have to feel comfortable playing out there.  The 4 spot in our offense is more like  a wing - Beilein 4's will come off screeens and need a semblance of a dribble drive game.

While it is true, we could use another impact big, we do have depth at center with Blake and Jon and that is the only place they will be playing.


March 1st, 2011 at 1:15 AM ^

I think you may be surprised next season.  There has even been talk of McLimans playing the  4 eventually, although that one's harder to believe.


March 1st, 2011 at 8:36 AM ^

McLimans has had a rough season for sure, but he has great height.  He lacks the bulk to bang around with most bigs, but is also supposedly a decent shooter.  I have a hard time believing he's going to be a career 5% 3 point shooter. (LoL)

As to the OP, give me Nance Jr. over Beifeldt. Nance can stretch the court with his shooting, yet is athletic enough to be a bit of a slasher.  He also has good enough size/athleticism to rebound at the 4.

I disagree with the general sentiment of the OP anyways.  Having 2 bigs banging down low is not and will not ever be Belein's style so get it out of your head.  Smotrycz could be perfect for the offense once the game slows down a little bit for him (and he bulks up to play better D). 

We are basically set at the 4 & 5 with Morgan, Horford, McLimans, Smotz, and Christian all being freshmen this year.


March 1st, 2011 at 12:38 AM ^

Smotrycz and Horford will develop into that coveted 4 we don't have right now.

We just don't know that, man. Smots has a long way to go. I thought he would come here with at least some game with his back to the basket but he really doesn't. Very Euro-style player right now.



February 28th, 2011 at 11:26 PM ^

To the improvement Colton Christian will bring in 2011-12. Not looking for anything overwhelming in the scoring dept but a competent rotation player to give the intagibles when called upon. I believe he is capable to become that type of player.


February 28th, 2011 at 11:34 PM ^

Big men in college basketball are so few and far between that I think the position is generally over-rated.  With how well Morgan has played this year and the fact that he should get stronger now that he will finally have a healthy off-season of work outs I think he'll be a fine starting center for this team.  They don't need to recruit someone this off-season, especially since no one of merit is really left.

What is far more important is for Smotrycz to make a leap next year.  Having an athletic 4 who can play in the post or outside is what is missing from this team.  Novak plays his heart out, but he's 5 inches shorter than Smotrycz and totally one-dimensional on offense. 

Slightly less important is for Horford (or maybe McLimans) to mature enough to be Morgan's back-up and play a solid 10-15 minutes per game without us noticing a drop off when Morgan leaves.  Most importantly they need to know their strengths.  Morgan knows he isn't a shooter, so he hustles and stays near the hoop.  Last game Blake and Jon both got a few minutes and what did they do?  They both took ill-advised three pointers that missed badly.  Keep it simple fellas.

Finally, Christian (or possibly Larry Nance Jr. or Max Beilfeldt if signed) need to set their sights on replacing Novak's role in two years.  Again, they don't need to be the star, they need to do all the little things.  I'm still not sold on Christian as being a rotation guy, but he could have a home as the back-up 4 in two years if he can hustle, rebound, play defense, and get the occassional easy bucket. 


March 1st, 2011 at 2:21 PM ^

I don't think big men are overrated, but low-post scorers do seem to be.  Michigan already has that guy in Morgan, so I think, offensively, they'd be better off with a 3-point shooter.

They could certainly use a long athletic rebounder and shot blocker for defense, but on the offensive end I think you'd find things getting bogged down if a traditional low-post player was next to Morgan.

So...Where's Terry Mills Jr at?

Agree that Smotrycz needs to develop, but I suspect he'll always be a liability on D.  Horford, if he can gain strength and develop his jumper, has more upside as an overall player IMO.


February 28th, 2011 at 11:39 PM ^

needs athletic wing player who are slasher more than big men. They have Smotrycz, Christian playing the 4.  Morgan and Horford playing the 5.  McLimans is playing the 5.  Throw in Novak who plays the 4 when Smotrycz and Morgan aren't on the floor at the same time.  That's almost an overkill IMO.


March 1st, 2011 at 12:46 AM ^

you have 6 players playing for two spots.  That's an overkill.  Horford needs to bulk up and will be in the main rotation with Morgan.  Smotrycz has potential and should develop into a quality 4.  Yes, Colton Christian is playing the 4, not the 3.  That's his position.

aMAIZEN slot ninja

February 28th, 2011 at 11:40 PM ^

Is Smotrycz a developmental player like Sims was but vice versa? If i remember correctly Sims played more of the big guy and lacked the talented outside game that he developed later in his career, while Smotrycz is more of the athletic big man who plays outside and lacks that inside presences. I may very well be wrong but thats what comes to mind.

Also, what was the scouting report on Colton Christian? He had an offer from Tulane ( originally committed) and PSU correct? He seems to be a decent defender but lacks the offense. Is he another developmental player who we will see very good contribution in his junior/senior year much like Blake Mclimans?




February 28th, 2011 at 11:42 PM ^

It's going to be Horford.

Dude is too skinny right now, but he's got good rebounding instincts and has a better than expected offensive game. A lineup in two years of...

Darius Morris(SR)/Carlton Brundridge(SO)/Tim Hardaway Jr.(JR)/Jon Horford(JR)/Jordan Morgan(JR) with Trey Burke(SO)/Glenn Robinson III(FR)/Evan Metrics(JR) off the bench is sickness.


March 1st, 2011 at 12:15 AM ^

Horford and Morgan are NOT going to start in the same frontcourt.  Horford does not have and will not acquire the skills to play on the perimeter.  Sometimes you can see flashes of a players potential before he becomes that player. And we have not seen ANY indication that Horford will be skilled enough, mobile enough or a good enough shooter to play the 4.

If everyone stays and we dont get any big time recruits, it will be






with Burke, Vogrich, Robinson and Horford off the bench.

maybe Christian and McLimans get spot minutes here or there.

And new board rule proposal: Nobody is allowed to mention Eso Akunne or Jordan Dumars as a serious playing time candidtate.



March 1st, 2011 at 12:45 AM ^

Horford does not have and will not acquire the skills to play on the perimeter.

Who freaking cares?! We need a four, not another chucker.

If Horford fills out, plays good D, gets boards and can finish, that's all that should matter. Beilein's preferred lineup for his traditional system should not come at the expense of size and rebounding. If it does, we're never going that far with him.




March 1st, 2011 at 12:52 AM ^

And I just don't like that system. I have a hard time shutting up about it.

Once he gets the kids in, Beilein is an extraordinary teacher. There's no doubt he's GREAT at what he does. I'm just not sure that what he does is all that great. You simply don't see Final Four teams that look anything like this. Not just talent-wise, but philosophically.




March 1st, 2011 at 9:40 AM ^

Keaton Nankivil is the prototype for the Beilein PF. I would not be upset if Keaton Nankivil was on our side every year. There is more than 1 way to win basketball games. Wisconsin will be our model, not Kentucky.


March 1st, 2011 at 1:06 AM ^

There are top teams that play with a "hollowed out" offense.  JB's offense this year has developed to offer open 3s an inside opportunities all game long.  If you want a completely traditional offense, you're out of luck, but acting like anything else doesn't work is inane.  Ask Calipari about the dribble drive, or hell ask Knight about his offense before half of college copied it (of course, he took a ton from Iba).

This team was supposed to finish last, has no seniors, and is on the brink of an NCAA bid.  If that doesn't make you happy because Charles Oakley isn't on the floor, I'm guessing nothing will.

PS - McLimans is a freshman.  I bow to your superior basketball understanding, but let's not call our kids non-B1G players before 1) they get a chance to improve or 2) we consider if we're being douchebags about 18-year-olds for no reason.


March 1st, 2011 at 1:53 AM ^

Or his 2005 team, which was an OT session away from the Final Four.

Or heck, the many Duke teams that have had jump-shooting bigs.

But besides all that, Beilein is more flexible than some are willing to give him credit for.  He did not recruit Ben Cronin to shoot threes.  Ditto Morgan (who has zero attempts on the season).  At WVU he often ran his offense with all five guys on the perimeter.  He modified the offense to take advantage of DeShawn Sims' low-post skill, and also puts Morgan down there most of the time (and when he's up top, it's to set screens).  He runs clear-outs for Morris, which he never did at WVU - and when we get a second ballhandler, I think we'll take more advantage of Morris's size in the post next year (he sometimes backs his way down off the dribble even now).  You don't win 600 games and have NBA guys steering their sons to you without having a few tricks up your sleeve.  


March 1st, 2011 at 8:02 AM ^

I'm crossing my fingers that the lineup two years from now reads as you post. However, I will be (pleasantly) surprised if Morris sticks around for his senior year... unless the NBA really messes up their next labor contract.


February 28th, 2011 at 11:44 PM ^

I have been saying Michigan is "one good big man away" for about three years now.  They need a guy like Jordan Morgan but three or four inches taller.  I think that when Michigan finally gets a four or five-star 7-footer, they will be officially "back."  It could happen without one, but it would certainly make things a lot easier to have a 7-footer with talent in the middle. 

Most of all, though, I just want elite talent to see Michigan as a "destination" school again. 


March 1st, 2011 at 12:07 AM ^

Any school that can find a 4/5-star 7-footer is definitely "back", I'll give you that much.  How many of those are there nationally?  Even if there is one out there, they will be almost certainly a one-and-done NBA guy.  I've read that book and I don't want to read it again. 

I'm fine with the roster we have provided that someone steps up to be the PF and we get solid development from the two back-up centers.  I'm not worried about Morgan anymore.  If he gets just a little better each year he'll be all-conference. 

I would like Horford to play the Epke Udoh role where he block shots, rebounds, plays solid D, and is opportunistic on offense.  If they can find a 7-footer to do that, great, but I don't think they need it to be successful in this conference. 

As for it being a requirement, here's a list:

  • Duke 2010 - Zoubek started, Plumlee brothers off the bench
  • UNC 2009 - Hansbrough was 6'9" and they had two freshmen taller than 6'10"
  • KU 2008 - Cole Aldridge was pretty good and Sasha Kaun was a good backup
  • UF 2007 - Noah and Horford were indeed pretty good

Not overwhelming evidence that the center is the key piece, but obviously it helps. 

Desmonlon Edwoodson

March 1st, 2011 at 8:20 AM ^

Next year Michigan will be a top team in the big ten.

The year after that they will be a top team nationally.

I just hope Beilein's recent success on the recruiting trail continues to build.


March 1st, 2011 at 9:54 AM ^

I agree we need another big body. Morgan could really be a 4 in most teams with another guy comparable to him inside.

I'm excited to get another slasher into the team. Our offense stagnates when neither Darius nor Timmy are running a move because the rest of our guys can't drive the ball effectively (Smot might actually be the next closest?). Getting another slasher in who can spell Darius and Tim will be great.

I'm also hoping Evan develops. I do think there's a good chance he becomes a very effective player for us.