July 18th, 2014 at 11:32 PM ^

Way to completely ignore defense, 24/7 writer.  The thing that was very obvious to everyone who watched us last year is that without Morgan in at center, we were completely discombobulated defending our basket.  The Big Ten title game is the most obvious example, but it was fairly clear all year.  Particularly without McGary.  That's where we're going to miss him, and while Donnal may be fine offensively, it's where I'm terrified.  The only way I think we could replace that aspect with a freshman is if he were a true rim protector.  Which is not Donnal's rep.

We're probably going to need dramatic improvement defending on the perimeter from Caris/Irvin/Walton to make up for J-Mo's experience and leadership on that end.


July 18th, 2014 at 11:55 PM ^

Beilein has a no-foul defensive strategy. It looks bad, frequently, but in the end it keeps opponents off the line and it keeps us out of foul trouble. In return he generates absurd offensive efficiency. I think the focus on how bad our defense looks at times in general is misguided. I agree JM was probably our best defensive player last year. But this system is predicated on not fouling, and yes it will give up some easy hoops, and it seems to work damn well anyway. I'm not terrified about what our defense will bring next year at all, personally. We've seen that elite defense is not a prerequisite to win conference titles and make Final Fours with coach B around.


July 19th, 2014 at 12:29 PM ^

Seriously?  Only if you elevate shot-blocking over everything else on D.  Besides probably being our best man-on defender, Jordan hedged the ball screen/point guard as good as anyone in the country.  And he quaterbacked the defense--constantly communicating. Compare it with our defense when he was out.

I agree with the poster who pointed out that Beilein's system doesn't necessarily require us to be a lockdown defensive team---but we will definitely not be as strong defensively down low as last year.


July 19th, 2014 at 5:26 PM ^

Not sure why people knock Burke's defense.  He was not a liability.  If not a lockdown guy, he could hold his own in man-to-man D.  His long wingspan helped him get a lot of strips and blocks (he was about the best shotblocking 6-footer I've ever seen).  We struggled a lot more last year against dribble penetration than we did in Burke's two years.

Now, Stauskas, yeah, he was bad at that end of the floor.




July 19th, 2014 at 10:04 PM ^

I expect a lot of early foul trouble on Donnal just because young bigs who are not named Julius Randle get into foul trouble.  I think we'll be fine on offense as a general rule because... Beilein.  I feel we will struggle on the interior defense as our bigs are not going to be super athletic and that is how you overcome being very young.  See what UK could do - you could get to the lane versus them but then they had multiple trees to swat your shot.  See how they neutralized Kaminksy.  Our bigs are not that type and even Beilein said after UK they play above the rim and we don't.  We just don't have that type of player - Doyle nor Donnal are that.  Wilson is probably the only guy on the roster who is at that size.

And yes our interior defense was quite bad last year and no one can dispute it.  Our perimeter defense also sucked many times but I am hoping Irvin Caris and Walton can improve that this year.  Nik was not a great defender and GR3 was here or there.  We'll see. 

I expect a lot of very high scoring games where we score and the other team immediately comes down the floor and scores right back causing frustration.  That is just how young teams are on defense - Beilein had many quotes about this.  Guys like Wilson are athletic but I dont know how big his role will be and he is still a twig - he is not going to face up a 240 lb Big 10 center.


July 19th, 2014 at 12:27 AM ^

First off, our defense has been poor even with Morgan. Second, your point is one of the reasons why I hope we show more 1-3-1 this year. DJ Wilson is supposed to be a rim protector. If people get past our guards or Donnal, it would be nice to have Wilson rotate over to swat it.


July 19th, 2014 at 12:38 PM ^

As should be clear by now, Beilein isn't really a hardcore 1-3-1 advocate. He's had the personnel to run it the past few years, but opted to use it sparingly or, this past year, as a change of pace/look, particularly coming out of time-outs.  I suspect he used it more often at WVU because he simply didn't have the kind of athletes he does now (to play man).

I wouldn't be surprised if we used it a little more this year--not because Beilein prefers it, but because we will have too many holes on man D, particularly down low---and it helps Spike and, of course, Caris is a perfect fit on top.  

Given his choice, Beilein will opt for man-to-man----as he should.



July 19th, 2014 at 2:04 PM ^

As you pointed out - inexperience will encourage them to use the 1-3-1 as a crutch to get through some tough times.  They did that last year too, but now there will presumably be more tough times.

Furthermore, the length of Caris, Irvin, Chatman, Wilson, Donnal makes the 1-3-1's upside a bit higher than it has been.


July 19th, 2014 at 5:34 PM ^

Actually, the 1-3-1 isn't necessarily something you want to run with an inexperienced team.  It takes time for players to grasp their responsibilities and learn to work with their teammates in it.  I think we'll probably still be mostly a man/2-3 team, with maybe a bit of 1-3-1 sprinkled in later in the season.





July 19th, 2014 at 2:01 PM ^

You hit the nail on the head.  The offense should still be deadly.  Caris was already the go-to guy when things bogged down on offense (e.g., vs Duke).  He'll face more defensive attention w/o Nik, but he'll also be better.  Donnal will add a shooting dimension it's true, but Morgan was a flawless screen and roll man, and GR3's athleticism won't be replaced. Things will just be a bit different. I think we'll have more balance and shooting ability than last year. Ultimately, it'll be hard to maintain the lofty ranking of last year, but we should come close.

As for the critical issue of defense - we will badly miss Morgan and GR3, who is wildly underrated IMO.  The key will be how quickly Dawkins, Wilson, Chatman, and Doyle can fit around Donnal into the defensive framework.  In a best case scenario they will offer length and shot-blocking that we didn't have.  The upside of a Wilson-Donnal frontline is pretty high defensively, but they won't all be ready and depth will be a problem.  Bielfeldt will see a lot of minutes I think.

Bottomline - we're going to see a different mix of talent defensively. We'll add some ability and length, but we'll lose a ton of experience, leadership, and intangibles.  Last year we worked from the inside out defensively, everything flowing from Morgan. Now it'll have to be the other way around.  Caris, Walton, and Zak will have to keep things in front of them and guide the forwards to the right spots.  Mistakes will be made, but hopefully by spring the young guys are playing more like sophomores.


July 18th, 2014 at 11:36 PM ^

No doubt Donnal will be on upgrade on offense, but I think JMo was underrated as far as his ability to neutralize guys. He bodied up well and kept things in control down low. It was never flashy with monstrous blocks, but he kept things in control. I'm afraid we'll see a lot of Donnal getting beat up down low. He's just not a very big guy, I foresee him getting backed down regularly


July 19th, 2014 at 2:08 PM ^

I don't doubt that Donnal can score more in a one-on-one game against Amir Williams than JMo, but JMo set killer screens, rolled aggresively, and absolutely killed it with his hustle in the the transition game.  He could make the offense better without touching the ball - and when you have guys a bunch of talented NBA guys who need/want/should get the ball, it's not necessarily that helpful to have your 4th or 5th guy be marginally better at getting buckets.  A wide open layup is a high percentage shot, either way.

So - no, it's not a sure thing that Donnal will upgrade the offense.  He will however bring a nice ingredient to this delicious stew.

Mr. Yost

July 18th, 2014 at 11:57 PM ^

I'll believe it when I see it.

Morgan's impact many times didn't show up in a stat sheet. I mean look at his last memorable play, it was a charge drawn against Stokes from Tennessee.

But even more than that...THIS (1:17:42 mark)


...THAT play is more Jordan Morgan than anything else. No one will remember it 5 years from now. But that play won the game just as much as Trey Burke's shot did. If Morgan isn't there, in position, to play GREAT defense AND get the rebound. We lose. It's really that simple. A layup there and the game is over. 

That is Jordan Morgan in a nutshell.

I don't care about star ratings. Jordan Kovacs was a walk-on and we haven't replaced him since the day he left campus.

I have no doubt Donnal will be a more skilled offensive player. What I worry about is..

1. Can he play defense? Because J-Mo has been our best defender for 3 years. We were AWFUL on defense without him, we had to try and outscore everyone.

2. Is he tough? Because J-Mo has been our toughest player for 5 years...and we still saw what UK did to us, they just bullied us.

3. Is he a leader? Because LeVert is naturally quiet, Walton and Irvin are still learning, and we have to have someone on the back line to bark out instructions and get people in position. No one has been better than J-Mo at this.

...so sure he may have more 15 or 20 point games than J-Mo ever had...but that may not mean wins if we don't get the other stuff too.

I'm not knocking Donnal, I'm very excited about him. But Jordan Morgan was the most underrated player in the B1G last year.


July 19th, 2014 at 8:44 AM ^

I spend yet another 20 minutes watching the end of that game. I swear with each viewing Trey's shot gets longer. I'll be checking to see if his feet were in bounds soon. You're right about Jordan, the intangibles he brought to the table - senior leadership, 'muscle presence' - are things the underclassmen are not going to be able to bring to the table in their first year of playing in the B1G. Still, I'm confident we will have new players stepping up and new reasons to root for team #(insert number here).


July 19th, 2014 at 11:54 AM ^

Agree with mostly everything you said, but in regards to the UK game, so much of being bullied by them was an inability to keep their perimeter players in front of us on the defensive end. When UK's perimeter players blew past our defenders that requires Morgan or someone else to come over and defend. That allowed several UK forwards to have wide open dunk or put back attempts as the person guarding them was forced to rotate. It was a problem all year long.

Hopefully defensive improvements from Caris, Irvin, and Walton on the perimeter will help keep more of the opposing team's perimeter players in front of them. That would help mitigate the defensive drop-off at the position. However, as you are apt to point out, Morgan was running the defense from his position, which Donnal will probably not be able to do this year. Might make it tougher for Caris, Irvin, and Walton to handle switches and the like. I guess we will see how it plays out. Morgan is a major loss. Hopefully Donnal can fill the void.


July 19th, 2014 at 2:13 PM ^

The amount of time we spent with Nik and Spike at the same time was a problem on D.  Part of it was that they needed the shooting because Morgan didn't offer any and GR3 wasn't a major threat.  Walton-LeVert-Irvin all need to get better, but our perimeter D improving is the best hope for our D to stay respectable while playing a bunch of skinny freshman (or a 6'6 Center) up front.


Mr. Yost

July 19th, 2014 at 2:25 PM ^

You are 100% right, but I was referring to Randle catching the ball above the free throw line, lowering his head and just overpowering his way to the basket.

That had nothing to do with the perimeter players. That was just a Barkley-esqe PF being a Barkley-esqe PF and the refs chosing to swallow their whistles and allow it to happen.


July 19th, 2014 at 2:16 PM ^

Nits to pick are that Morgan wasn't NEARLY as good 2-3 years ago as he was last year.  Secondly, his physical limitations did hold M back a bit.  He made the right decision so often in part because teams were absolutely unfraid of his shot blocking.  They took it to him and he rarely let us down, but they never stopped trying.  May not be better with Donnal but at least he and Doyle offer a little more length.


July 19th, 2014 at 10:12 PM ^

Agreed.  I love Morgan but lets be realistic - he blossomed in the 2nd half of last year.  Remember Morford?  Morgan was not the same guy he was the last half of the year as he was 1.5 years ago or 2.5 years ago.  Remember he was benched in one of those NCAA games previous years.

So yes I am 100% in agreement people here won't miss Morgan until we see this year's team - he did a lot of things that you don't notice until a guy is gone.  He was easily our best defender interior 2nd half last year but that was not the same JMo who was around 18 to 36 months ago.

I feel we are just going to be more of a run and gun game and those of us who like defense (hand raised) on a bball court are going to be frustrated with this team at times.  I was very frustrated in the whole BTT how easily teams scored on us - our perimeter defense sucked.


July 19th, 2014 at 12:01 AM ^

was a great team player in many ways that did not show up in the stats no doubt. My guess is Donnal has gained enough strength to body guys in the post and keep them off the blocks. I truly believe his practice performance influenced Horford's decision to leave. This is really a shame because we could have used Horford's Senior leadership and energy off the bench.


July 19th, 2014 at 12:01 AM ^

JMo was a fifth year senior last year. He played with a confidence that he'd never shown before. His stats were better his first year on the court, yes, but he wasn't as valuable as he was last year (it's also not an apples to apples comparison, because his stats came from DMo finding him on pick-and-rolls in a way no other Michigan PG ever did again).

There is reason to be excited by Donnal. But it's a lot to ask that he outpace Michigan's defensive captain, a guy who played in four straight NCAA tournaments and who won two Big Ten titles.


July 19th, 2014 at 12:30 AM ^

After sitting out the last couple of games, he got more minutes tonight and used them well.  A couple nice dunks should make the highlight film, 5 out of 6 shooting, and the night's coach (one of the Wolves ass'ts, who looks like a former player) was cheering him on and patting him on the back.  Nice.

Semi OT:  Robinson III also had a very good night, finally getting one of his high-flying dunks off a nice pass from the Wolves' first round pick, doing better at the foul line and a couple 3-pt shots falling.  Looked much more comfortable tonight and his shots looked smooth.  17 points, a few  rebounds, an assist and a steal, and no turnovers. 


July 19th, 2014 at 12:26 AM ^

and was struck by him completely ignoring the impact of D-Mo to J-Mo.  J-Mo had great production as a redshirt freshman because Darius was 6-4 and would hit him on the PnR all the time.  Derrick Walton, though still very efficient on the PnR, does not have the height of Darius, so I wouldn't expect the same production from Mark Donnal his freshman year if only because of that.  I still have high hopes for him as a player overall though.


July 19th, 2014 at 10:12 PM ^

Agreed.  It was interesting that Beilein said he was considering adding an above the rim player but in the 2015 class the 2 guys who could be that didnt really appreciate us, and I dont see such a player in the 16 class. 

I know Beilein wants 5 shooters on the floor to make this offense unstoppable but generally your 4th and 5th man are not going to get a lot of touches.  I'd like us to have a Dennis Rodman type somewhere in the rotation who is limited offensively but is a ridiculous athlete and someone you dont want to go inside in on.  Even if he plays 14 minutes a nite he is the type of guy you can throw in at the end of tight games on defensive timeouts and its an asset.  I think the lack of an athletic big man (I miss you Mitch) is the one thing that right now is lacking in the program.

Mr. Yost

July 19th, 2014 at 9:48 AM ^

That's something that has to be practiced over and over and your entire team has to be able to do it to some extent.

Spike Albrecht is quick, but he's not pressing anyone. I don't even know if Caris is pressing anyone because he's not the biggest guy in the world. Max B certainly isn't pressing anyone and neither is Doyle.

We could roll out 5-6-7 guys who'd fit the bill, but that would be about it.

Also Beilein has predicated his style on not fouling. Louisville doesn't do that. They roll 10 deep and can survive when their best players get hit with 2 early fouls.

The 1-3-1 is smart, Levert at the point, Donnal in the middle, Irvin and Chatman/Wilson on the wing and Walton underneath.

At the end of the day, they're going to have to guard someone man-to-man. 1-3-1 and 2-3 will only get you so far, especially in league play.

I don't think there's much anyone can do about defense unless these guys like Dawkins and MAAR are crazy good defenders --- which they could be. Even with that, we're proabably going to get owned in the post when we play top notch post players.

I'm just as concerned/intrigued about offense. This isn't a popular opinion, but Caris to me is a GREAT #2, as of now, I don't think he's a #1. I'd take THJ as a junior over Caris right now. This certainly can change, we haven't seen Caris and I definitely know he's better than THJ as a sophomore. But all this lottery stuff is overblown to me, IMO, he'll be a respectable 20s type pick and I think he's a respectable 20s type talent. Just like THJ.

Problem is, this team doesn't have Trey Burke who was the clear #1. I think Walton improves a TON, but to ask him to improve to that level is unrealistic. Irvin will also improve, but same thing.

I'm going to enjoy watching this team grow, but I think we should lower the expectations. They're going to be solid, but I think that's a 7 or 8-seed right now. We're without a true #1 and we're banking on a ton of potential, which SHOULD pan out, all signs point that it will. But it's going to take time.


July 19th, 2014 at 10:44 AM ^

Mr. Yost. I agree If Caris is going to be the go to he will need a strong 2nd option to keep the focus off him. I would also like to see him play a little more under control. I will take Caris over THJ though. He did many great things for MBB but THj's ability to be 3 of 17 and jack up another into a double team in a tight game made me nuts.

Mr. Yost

July 19th, 2014 at 2:40 PM ^

Junior THJ had a few bad shooting nights, but he was WAY more under control.

He also affected the game in other ways when his shot wasn't on. He came back and much better (and willing) defender. He also played PG for us in spurts when teams decided to double Burke to keep the ball out of his hands. He wasn't a bad rebounder either.

He was much improved.

Caris, agreed, I think he gets away with being out of control...but I'm still trying to figure out if he's actually IN control when he's out of control. Watch James Harden or Manu, sometimes they look wildy out of control too, but the ball goes in or they draw a foul and make their free throws. Different players and different talent, but at periods in their careers, much of their game was predicated on being unorthodox.

I'm not sure that's Caris. I think he's long and wirey and can leak and stretch his way around people and get fouled, but I'm not sold it's intentional. It's almost like if people just let him go rather than fouling sometimes - he'd lay up a brick off the backboard or just fall over.

All said, what this coaching staff does to guys in terms of attribute progression is borderline cheating. It's like they have the Xbox Marketplace points for progression and no one else does.

I haven't been following the team as much this summer, and I know Caris has had the issue with his foot...but it wouldn't shock me if he isn't a much smarter and under control basketball player this season. One who's ready to lead.

Unlike last year where it was a GRIII, Stauskas, McGary (who's gonna be the #1??!!!) It's clearly Caris this year even if Irvin and/or Walton has a better year. Caris is older and this is his team from day 1. That should help settle people into their roles quicker than last year where we didn't get settled until we went on the road to MSU.

In the end, I'm just not banking on Caris to be a top 10 draft pick and have an MVP season. I'm not saying it's not going to happen, but I've seen too many people make that assumption just because of Burke and Stauskas. Caris to me is poised to have a THJ junior year type season with more chances to shine because he's the #1. Walton I see making a HUGE leap this year and I see Irvin settling in, although he's gotta put it on the floor and pass every now and again.

I'll be most interested to see which true freshman is better than advertised because we're going to need at least 1 of them to be a MAJOR player on this team. Darius Morris/Trey Burke level of dependence.


July 19th, 2014 at 2:58 PM ^

I agree with your Caris-THJ and Walton-Burke leap comparisons - they're more likely than Nik's epic leap, since Trey and THJ took up so much usage in 2012-13.

The thing I think you're underrating is just how good Caris already was last year.  That ability to create off the dribble is something THJ never had, and Caris was already better at it than Nik was last year. He didn't have Nik's shooting ability, swagger, or coolness about him, and he's not as good of a passer -- yet. One guy people never mention when talking about Caris is Manny Harris. That's another guy whose quickness enabled him to get a shot (or opportunity) against absolutely anyone.  Manny was stronger and a better finisher, but he didn't have the jump shot that Caris does.  Caris is some combinaton of THJ and Manny Harris offensively, but he's a better passer than either -- that's high praise,and I think it's well deserved.  With Zak and Derrick beside him, I have full faith in Caris being able to drive this offense.

He will miss JMo's screen and roll's though.  Maybe Chatman, Donnal, and Wilson can come close though....

Mr. Yost

July 20th, 2014 at 2:33 PM ^

LeVert glides, slides and uses his length to get around people.

Harris would break you down and rise over you.

Both very effective, both very good players, but just two different ways of going about it. I'd argue that Stauskas played more like Harris than LeVert (and I know Harris wasn't even close to the shooter Nik is/was). Stauskas used moves, he'd cross you up, hit you with a step back, he'd drive hard and pull up. That's more Harris' game than what LeVert does. LeVert slithers and eurosteps his way to the basket for a lay in.

Again, both work and you need variety on your team. Both are "creating your own shot"...it's just going about it in different ways. Manu and Kobe can both create their own shot, but they don't play the same way.

Anyway, my thoughts on Caris are simply a personal prediction. I think he's a very good #2, I don't see him as a lead man. I don't think he's better than THJ the junior year version, but I think he will get there this year...however, I don't see him blowing by THJ as a junior into the NBA lottery. IMO, both are 20's type players. Which is damn good.

For my money, Irvin actually has the highest NBA draft ceiling on the team, just not the 2015 draft, but the 2016 draft...again, IMO.

Mr. Yost

July 21st, 2014 at 12:58 AM ^

But he also wasn't the focal point of the team or even the 2nd focal point in most instances.

Also, like Jordan Morgan...THJ did things that didn't show up in the stat sheet. He guarded the other teams best player and our perimeter defense wasn't nearly as bad as it was last year when LeVert did the same thing.

THJ played PG for us in crucial spots when Burke would get double teamed on the inbound. His solid play at that position may have beat MSU and it definitely helped us vs. OSU (twice when Craft was all over Burke) and against VCU in the tournament when they wouldn't let Burke bring the ball up.

***This was a huge improvement from his sophomore year when he could barely dribble and he probably was a key contributor to the loss on the road @OSU because he kept turning the ball over when Craft was all over Burke keeping the ball out of his hands...THJ was awful at ball handling but got MUCH better his junior year***

So in this case, like with J-Mo, I don't think stats tell the whole story. THJ was asked to do a lot more than LeVert was last year. LeVert will be asked to do those same things this year so we'll see. Again, I think he's right there, but I don't see him being significantly better is all I've been saying. Again, I think they're both NBA Draft 20s level talents and that's nothing to sneeze at.

Personally, I thought THJ was one of the 2-3 best all around players in the country his junior year behind Oladipo. His transition to the NBA has shown that when everyone threw shade on me for saying this way back then. I don't think he was one of the 2-3 BEST players, but all around, able to do some of everything...his junior year was very solid. He just took so much heat for being a streaky shooter, but really he was pretty average --- just in Beilein's system with Beilein's players, average looks below average.


July 19th, 2014 at 2:40 PM ^

  • Caris was was already option 1B, if not option 1.  Did you not see the Duke game?  Nik was an amazing talent but elite defenders could lock him down and when that happened Caris was the go-to guy. Level of difficulty will be ramped up this year but Caris will be better too. He can get by anyone, anytime AND, unlike Manny Harris, he can play off the ball and be a spot-up threat too.
  • Compare Trey's freshman year to Walton's. Walton is, at the very least, a better shooter than Trey. Trey's usage was higher, but given who Walton was playing beside that made sense.  They both have elite composure and turnover-avoidance.  Now Walton isn't going to be a Naismith, but he can be the best PG in the Big10 if he gets better at finishing at the rim.
  • Irvin - the frosh to soph leap is well documented. He didn't do more with the ball because it wasn't needed.  Too many other mouths to feed. Not anymore. He has the talent...I don't really care if he's more Nik or more THJ - he's in that same neighborhood.
  • GR3 and Morgan will be missed for what they did, but Chatman and Donnal will bring some very intriguing elements that weren't there before. If Wilson or Dawkins get up to speed, you have the potential of throwing out some 5-man lineups where literally every guy is a 3-point threat.
  • Don't underestimate our coaches.  They've proven time and again they play to individual strengths and mitigate weaknesses.  Whatever Donnal, Chatman, Wilson, Dawkins, and Doyle can do right now -- the coaches will find a way to let them do that, and work on the rest in practice.

As for D -- don't underestimate how beneficial it will be to not have Spike and Nik out there at the same time.  Our perimeter D was pretty awful last year, so there's a ton of room for improvement to mitigate the woeful inexperience inside.  Walton/LeVert/Irvin ALL have the potential to be plus defenders and that hasn't been the case for Michigan since... IDK. Caris isn't the lockdown defender we wanted him to be but he's an asset.  Experience really matters on the defense end more than anywhere, and we'll have it with our starters.  If MAAR can be a solid defender off the bench and we don't have to lean on Spike for heavy minutes that'll do wonders for the defense.  I love Spike, but if he's playing 20 plus minutes a game you're in trouble defensively. For this team, he might not have to (especially if the freshman are providing shooting from the front-court - that opens things up for MAAR.)

Mr. Yost

July 19th, 2014 at 2:56 PM ^

Caris wasn't option 1B. Stauskas was clearly #1. Caris was 2 or 3 depending on which GRIII you got.

You can't take anything from the Duke game last year...NO one had a define role at that time. You should basically wipe out anything before the game @MSU. Hell Caris was our leading scorer in a couple games early in the year. J-Mo and Horford had big games early. We were still finding roles and guys didn't even know who was going to take the big shot when we played Duke.

Elite defender locked Nik down? When? He had a tough stretch in the middle of the B1G season when teams put smaller guards on him. Not elite defenders. 

Nik Stauskas gave Gary Harris, maybe the best defender in the B1G and MSU, maybe the best defensive TEAM in the B1G 19, 25 and 17 points respectively. The guy played three games versus the Spartans last year and averaged over 20ppg. 

Once he figured out how to score on smaller guards, it was over. 


Walton is not Trey Burke, they don't even play the same way. Walton is a very good player and I've already said I think he'll be most improved. But for anyone to think that suggests he'll be elite is crazy. The B1G lost a number of PGs, so maybe he'll be the best...but no one can sit here in July and be sure it's going to happen. Trey had more indicators for sophomore success than Walton has.


How do you know? Tim Hardaway Jr. was awful his sophomore year. He was actually better his freshman year. Again, this is just an assumption. I can't argue against it, but you can't argue for it because neither of us know. Until the tournament, Irvin hadn't shown ANY indication that he was going to be ready to step into a bigger role. He finally started to put the ball on the floor in the tournament and pass to keep the flow of the offense. I'm definitely not sold that he won't jack up horrible shots like THJ did his sophomore year.


No argument to the last bullet. Don't forget MAAR if you're including Dawkins.


Spike is going to play, he's too good and the offense moves too well with him in for him to sit. Especially behind true freshman wings with athleticism and talent. His minutes will probably go down as the season goes on, but don't be surprised to see 4-6 minutes a game with Walton and Spike on the floor together.

Mr. Yost

July 19th, 2014 at 3:03 PM ^

After that Duke game on 12/3/13 Stauskas scored double figures in every single game except TWO (including the tournaments).

One of those two games we won by 30 points and he had 9 points and 8 assists (and 5 rebs).

In the month of March he scored less than 15 once, he had 14 against Tennessee.


July 19th, 2014 at 3:32 PM ^

You want to toss aside half the season, OK, I guess. Then how about the Wisconsin game when Nik got completely shut down and Caris carried the team on his back to hang in it. How about the Ohio State game where both guys were equally effective. Setting aside the cherry-picking of data to look beyond Nik's spectacular late-season run, a different perspective emerges.

Nik dominated lesser talent in a way that Caris did not, but when the defensive ramped up - those guys were equals in production over the course of the season. 4-14 that last game against MSU isn't great - though Caris struggled too.  Some of that can certainly go to the attention Nik demanded. He got the top guy (like Harris), but Caris' production was right there against better teams.

Caris was not as good as Nik offensively, but he carried a heavy burden when the going was tough.  When someone had to bail the team out of struggles it was Caris as often, if not more often, than Nik.


You're making weird statements about being "certain" or "sure" on a fan message board conersation, which makes me think I need to walk away now...

Walton and Trey have very similar games, IMO. They're not exactly the same of course.  Derrick can't score inside like Trey, for one thing, and hasn't shown to be quite the passer/game-manager yet, but they're both undersized PGs who can score but whose best attribute is composure and toughness. My expectations going into their sophomore years are higher for Derrick than they were for Trey.  I don't think he'll be as good as Trey ended up either but he is absolutely in possession of talent that is on par with Trey.

Regarding Irvin - Stauskas didn't look like he could run the team either. Remember the Indiana game his freshman year, when Michigan tried to punish the Whosyers for playing Hulls by running the O through Nik.  It didn't work, at all. More importantly, Irvin doesn't have to be the 1st or 2nd option, he has the luxury of being the 3rd guy.  And THJ wasn't terrible his soph year, he was just overly ambitious.  The big difference between his JR year was knowing his role and where he fit. He focused on improving D and rebounding rather than creating his own shot.  In some ways it was similar to the doing-too-much we saw in bursts from GR3.  Maybe Irvin runs into the same trap, maybe not, but the point is we've seen guy after guy emerge as capable as they've been tasked with more responsibility.  The times of going too far, beyond one's abilities, have been limited by our coaching staff. Lets not forget that Irvin's pedigree points to a very high ceiling as well.  That's no guarantee, but circumstantial evidence says he's a strong candidate to make a leap like we've seen from others lately.


I think MAAR's a backup guard and that's it. If he can contribute on D he'll help right away but his ceiling is limited. Dawkins could red-shirt, reprise Irvin's role last year, or GR3's the year before.  Anything is on the table, even starting ahead of Chatman, Wilson, etc.  Being an athletic 'just-a-shooter' is invaluable to Beilein's teams. He's always had them and I suspect he always will. If Zak-Caris-Derrik develop the way I think they will, we won't need Chatman to be another ball handler...


Totally agree about Spike's good qualities and am expecting him to play beside Walton.  But I don't think he'll play 20 minutes per game against quality opponents.  Again, I don't think we'll need what he brings to the table if the starters are as good as I expect. With JMo and GR3 and Horford being plus defenders last year, you needed Spike to bring his O.  Seems like this year a guy like MAAR (assuming he can lock-down some people) is probably a better fit, if you go with the assumption that Wilson/Chatman/Donnal/Dawkins are going to be able to knock down shots from the frontline.


Mr. Yost

July 20th, 2014 at 2:35 PM ^

Simply because you said Nik got "completely shut down" against Wisconsin.

You have to be talking about @Wisconsin, because we lost at home.

Nik had 23 points and hit the game winning shot. How did he get completely shut down?

If you're talking about the home game...LeVert did lead Michigan in scoring, but you pick ONE game that we LOST out of the entire season. Does anyone care who carried the team in a loss? What a shitty argument. Would you like me to go back and pick every single game Stauskas outscored LeVert last year?

You and I know it's not even close. The argument is bogus. 

And yes...you dismiss half the season when you're talking about roles because last year's team took that long to find them. Caris was not 1B like you stated.

It was Stauskas, McGary and GRIII trying to figure out who was the lead dog. McGary got hurt which left the other two...it took some time but eventually Stauskas was the undisputed lead player on the team. There was no 1B from McGary, GRIII or LeVert. Period.

Just look at the numbers.

Why am I even arguing this? There is literally NO one on this board that will agree with you. Stauskas was B1G MVP...and you're going to tell me LeVert was right there with him?! 1B...MVP #2? lol, get outta here.

Franz Schubert

July 19th, 2014 at 1:29 AM ^

Last year, even with Morgan on the floor. Morgan was strong and definitely was our best post defender but let's not pretend he was better than he was. The biggest issue with the defense last year was poor perimeter defense and with Walton, Levert and Irvin a year older and stronger I would expect to see significant improvement. Bless Stauskas's heart but he was really bad at defense. The defense will be overall improved compared to last year.