Michigan Basketball- Nothing But ‘Net – Week #05 – 11/25/2013 – So Close

The (#14) University of Michigan men’s basketball team played three games last week, and they won the first two and lost the last one, barely. All three of the games were in San Juan, PR, in the Puerto Rico Tip-Off tournament. On Thursday (11/21/2013), they beat Long Beach State 85-61, on Friday (11/22/2013), they beat Florida State 82-80 (in overtime), and on Sunday (11/24/2013), they lost to Charlotte 63-61. The two wins and a loss leave Michigan with a record of 4-2.

The 1st round game against LBSU may look like a blowout, but UM only had a 9 point lead (61-52) with 9 minutes left. A 9-3 run by Michigan pushed the lead up to a more comfortable 15 points, and another 12-6 run put the game out of reach.

The 2nd round (semifinal) game against FSU wasn’t as close as it looks. FSU led most of the way, including a 16 point lead early in the 2nd half. UM kept chipping away at the lead, and finally tied up the game with 7 seconds left. Michigan took control in the overtime, and although the final score looks close, FSU scored a meaningless 3-pointer with 4 seconds left to make it a 2-point win instead of a 5-point win.

The 3rd round (championship) game against Charlotte was miserable. Michigan shot terribly, threw the ball away a lot, and looked very disorganized. They were down 12 points midway through the 2nd half, and they looked lost out there. Yet, somehow, they managed to fight back late in the 2nd half and tie the game up with 8 seconds left. Charlotte took the ball down, missed a layup, grabbed the rebound, and put it in for the win. It was a lousy ending to a lousy game.

Let’s look at the stats. First, the LBSU game: UM shot pretty well overall (31-for-58 = 53.4%), they shot pretty well from 3-point range (14-for-30 = 46.7%), but they didn’t shoot very well from the free-throw line (9-for-15 = 60.0%). They won the rebounding battle (34-30) and the turnover battle (10-16). Those are stats worthy of a blowout.

The stats for the FSU game aren’t nearly as impressive: UM shot pretty poorly overall (28-for-65 = 43.1%), they didn’t shoot 3-pointers very well (9-for-24 = 37.5%), and they didn’t shoot free-throws very well (17-for-27 = 63.0%). They did win the rebounding battle (39-34), which is impressive since FSU had two 7-footers in their lineup. Michigan also won the turnover battle (7-13). Those 11 extra possessions really helped Michigan win this game.

The stats for the Charlotte game are pathetic: UM shot terribly overall (19-for-61 = 31.1%), and they shot terribly from 3-point range (5-for-23 = 21.7%). They did shoot acceptably from the free-throw line (18-for-24 = 75.0%), but that wasn’t enough to make up for the lousy shooting from the floor. They lost the rebounding battle (40-47), but they won the turnover battle (13-17). It was an embarrassing performance.

Individually, only one player hit double figures in all three games:

  • Nik Stauskas – 24 vs. LBSU, 26 vs. FSU, and 20 vs. Charlotte. Nik scored the tying basket at the end of regulation vs. FSU, and he was the only reason UM had a chance at the end of the Charlotte game. He had a great tournament, but the rest of the team didn’t show up for the Charlotte game.

Two players hit double figures in two of the three games:

  • Caris LeVert – 20, 5, and 11. Caris had a decent tournament, but he came up short at the end of Charlotte game.
  • Glenn Robinson III – 14, 13, and 4. GR3 also had a decent tournament, but he was invisible in the Charlotte game.

Two players hit double figures in one of the three games:

  • Mitch McGary – 6, 14, and 6. Mitch is still getting back into playing shape after missing the first 3 games (and 2 exhibition games) of the season. He certainly isn’t the same player who dominated in the NCAA Tournament run last season.
  • Derrick Walton Jr. – 9, 15, and 0. See that 0? That’s the problem.

Several other players scored in at least one of the games:

  • Spike Albrecht – 2, 5, and 6. Not bad for the backup point guard.
  • Max Bielfeldt – 2, DNP, and 0. Max missed a couple layups vs. Charlotte.
  • Zak Irvin – 3, 2, and 8. It took Zak a lot of shots (14) to get those 8 points vs. Charlotte.
  • Jon Horford – 2, 2, and 2. At least he was consistent.
  • Jordan Morgan – 3, 0, and 4.

Andrew Dakich played in the LBSU game, but didn’t score.

So, what does it all mean? Should we be worried that Michigan played so poorly in the championship game vs. Charlotte? I think so. They have had a couple bad games now, and the team chemistry just seems to be off. They have enough talent, they just seem to disappear for long stretches at the wrong time. They can still fix things, and have a successful season, but they need to start heading in the right direction soon.

This Week

Since this is Thanksgiving week, Michigan only plays 1 game: on (Black) Friday (11/29/2013, 3:00 p.m., BTN) they play Coppin State in Crisler Arena. They shouldn’t have much trouble with them, unless they take them too lightly. Check back next week to see what happened, and why.

Go Blue!

Michigan Basketball: Nothing But ‘Net – Week #04 – 11/18/2013 – Home vs. Away

The (#7) University of Michigan men’s basketball team played two games last week, and they won one and lost one.  They won the home game on Tuesday (11/12/2013) against South Carolina State 93-59, but they lost the road game on Sunday (11/18/2013) at Iowa State 77-70.  Michigan’s record is now 2-1.

First, let’s dispense with the SCSU game: Michigan was way better than SCSU, and the game was never in doubt.  We didn’t learn anything new about this season’s team, but it was encouraging to see them put together 2 good halves.

The interesting game was the ISU game.  It’s tough to win on the road, especially for a young team, and this is a young team.  In particular, UM seems to have trouble with the first true road game of the season.  They managed to hang on and win at Bradley last season in their first road game, but they weren’t as fortunate this season.  ISU is a good, solid team, and they play in an arena that’s very hostile and intimidating for visiting teams.  On a neutral court, Michigan would beat them handily, but it’s tougher on the road.

Time to look at the stats.  First the fun game: SCSU.  Overall, Michigan shot pretty well (31-for-61 = 50.8%), they shot very well from 3-point range (15-for-28 = 53.6%), and they shot very well from the free-throw line (16-for-19 = 84.2%).  They won the rebounding battle easily (43-30), and they tied (9-9) in the turnover battle.  Those 15 3-pointers were only one short of the school record.

Now for the stats from the un-fun game: ISU.  Michigan shot poorly overall (29-for-69 = 42.0%), they shot really poorly from 3-point range (8-for-29 = 27.6%), and they shot free throws really poorly (4-for-9 = 44.4%).  They (barely) won the rebounding battle (38-37), and they tied again (12-12) in the turnover battle.  Poor shooting on the road is a formula for failure.

Individually, 3 players hit double figures in both games:

  • Glenn Robinson III – 13 and 12.  Glenn had to take a lot of shots (4-for-12 and 4-for-14) to get those points.  He needs to be more efficient.
  • Nik Stauskas – 23 and 20.  Nik shot lights-out from 3-point range vs. SCSU (5-for-6), but the had a tougher time vs. ISU (4-for-10).
  • Derrick Walton Jr. – 12 and 13.  Derrick is having a tough time with his 3-point shot (1-for-4 and 1-for-5).

One player hit double figures in one game:

  • Caris LeVert – 24 and 5.  Caris had a great game vs. SCSU, and a mediocre game vs. ISU.

Only one other player scored in both games:

  • Jon Horford – 9 and 4.  Jon did have 15 rebounds in the SCSU game.

A couple players scored in one game:

  • Spike Albrecht – 0 and 7.
  • Max Bielfeldt – 3 and 0.  Max finally hit a 3-pointer late in the SCSU game.
  • Zak Irvin – 5 and 0.
  • Mitch McGary – DNP and 9.  Mitch played for the first time this season.  He came off the bench and played 22 minutes.  He looked OK, just rusty.
  • Jordan Morgan – 4 and 0.

The practice squad players (Brad Anlauf, Andrew Dakich, Sean Lonergan, and Cole McConnell) all played during the last 2 minutes of the SCSU game, but they didn’t score.

 

This Week

This week, Michigan plays 3 games, in the Puerto Rico Tip-Off tournament: on Thursday (11/21/2013, 5:00 p.m. EST, ESPN2) they play Long Beach State, on Friday (11/22/2013, 5:00 p.m. or 7:30 p.m. EST, ESPN) they play either Florida State or Virginia Commonwealth, then on Sunday (11/24/2013, Time TBD, TV TBD) they play either a consolation game or the championship game.  They should win the opener against Long Beach State, but the 2nd round game against either FSU or VCU is toss-up, and there are a couple good teams on the other side of the bracket: Georgetown and Kansas State.  It’s a tournament that Michigan can win, but they’ll have to shoot much better than they did vs. Iowa State.

Check back next week to see what happened, and why.

Go Blue!

Nothing But ‘Net – Week #03 – 11/11/2013 – Two Bad Halves

The (#7) University of Michigan men’s basketball team played two games last week, and they won both of them. On Monday (11/04/2013), they beat Wayne State 79-60, then on Friday (11/08/2013), they beat UMass-Lowell 69-42. The WSU game was just an exhibition, so only the UML game counts. Michigan is now 1-0. Oh yeah: they also raised the 2013 Final Four banner before the UML game, which was fun and cool.

So, why “two bad halves”? Because Michigan played a good 1st half vs. WSU, then they played a very mediocre 2nd half. They followed that up with a terrible 1st half vs. UML, then buckled down and played a decent 2nd half. They were lucky that the two bad halves weren’t in the same game, or they could have easily lost to vastly inferior talent. It’s OK for them to play a lousy half every now and then against a team they should crush, but if they try that against a good team, they’ll dig themselves into a hole they can’t climb out of. The WSU game was never in doubt, but the UML game was scary for a while. The score was tied (23-23) at halftime, and UML actually led in the 2nd half (25-23), before UM went on a 21-0 run to put the game out of reach.

The stats tell the story: in the 1st half of the WSU game, Michigan shot well overall (15-for-23 = 65.2%), and even better from 3-point range (7-for-11 = 63.6%), and even better still from the free-throw line (9-for-11 = 81.8%). That’s why they led 46-30 at halftime. In the 2nd half, they shot much worse overall (9-for-23 = 39.1%), and even worse from 3-point range (2-for-10 = 20.0%). That’s why they barely won the 2nd half, 33-30. The combined stats were: overall shooting (24-for 46 = 52.2%), 3-point shooting (9-for-21 = 42.9%), and free-throw shooting (22-for-28 = 78,6%). These are decent numbers, but you can clearly see the difference between the 1st and 2nd halves. Michigan lost the rebounding battle (36-31), and barely won the turnover battle (10-11). It was an ugly win.

The stats for the UML game are similar, except that the 1st half in this one was the stinker: in the 1st half, Michigan shot very poorly overall (6-for-23 = 26.1%), even worse from 3-point range (1-for-9 = 11.1%), and not very well from the free-throw line (10-for-15 = 66.7%). In the 2nd half, they did better: overall shooting (14-for-30 = 46.7%), 3-point shooting (4-for-9 = 44.4%), and free-throw shooting (14-for-17 = 82.4%). The combined stats are not very impressive: overall shooting (20-for-53 = 37.7%), 3-point shooting (5-for-18 = 27.8%), and free-throw shooting (24-for-32 = 75.0%). UM did win the rebounding battle (39-33) and the turnover battle (7-15).

Individually, only 3 players hit double figures in both games:

One player hit double figures in one game:

Several other players scored in both games:

Max Bielfeldt played in both games, but didn’t score in either. He did try a 3-pointer vs. UML, and he had a couple rebounds.

Mark Donnal played, but didn’t score, in the WSU (exhibition) game, but he didn’t play in the UML. It seems obvious that he’ll be redshirted this season, unless there is a real disaster in the forecourt.

Everyone else played in the last 2 minutes of the UML game, including the new walk-on practice squad player:

Brad Anlauf #14 (6’4″, 195 pounds, F) – Brad is a sophomore who came to the basketball team from the football team, where he was a redshirt-freshman wide receiver.

None of the practice squad players (Anlauf, Andrew Dakich, Sean Lonergan, and Cole McConnell) scored.

Coach Beilein tinkered with the starting lineup a little. In the WSU game, he started Robinson, Horford, Morgan, Walton, and Stauskas. In the UML game, he started LaVert in place of Morgan. He probably won’t settle on a permanent starting lineup until Mitch McGary is finally ready to play, which might not be until January.

So, what does it all mean? Should we be worried about a couple bad halves? I don’t think so. This is still a young team, and they’re still learning that they need to play hard, with focus, every minute of every game. They have shown that they can score in bunches, and that they can play solid defense, they just need to work on their consistency.

 

This Week

This week, Michigan plays 2 games: on Tuesday (11/12/2013, 7:00 p.m., No TV) they play South Carolina State in Crisler Arena, then on Sunday (11/17/2013, 5:00 p.m. EST, ESPN2) they play at Iowa State, in Ames (IA). They shouldn’t have much trouble with SC State, unless they take them too lightly, or have 2 bad halves in a row, but the game at Iowa State could be a challenge. Traditionally, UM has trouble with the first true road game of the season, and ISU is a pretty good team with a good record at home. Check back next week to see what happened, and why.

Go Blue!

Nothing But ‘Net – Week #02 – 11/04/2013 – Oops, Wrong Cardinals!

The (#7) University of Michigan men’s basketball team beat the Cardinals last week (Tuesday 10/29/2013), but they were the Concordia (Ann Arbor, MI) Cardinals, not the “other” Cardinals (Louisville) they played in their previous game.

Wouldn’t it have been fun if UM had beaten Louisville 117-44 in the National Championship game last April? Alas, this was just an exhibition game against an overmatched NAIA team, but it’s fun to dream…

Typically, Michigan when plays an exhibition game they almost always win, but they often look rusty or sluggish or raw, but not this time. This was a thorough thrashing. The score was actually closer than the actual game. At the last media timeout (3:52 left), the score was 116-38, and Coach Beilein emptied the bench. In the last almost 4 minutes, Michigan scored 1 point. They could have easily scored 140-150 points, but what’s the point (see what I did there?) This way, everyone got to play, and the practice squad got some game experience.

So, what can we learn about this team from a blowout win against a substandard opponent? Not much. We can see who looks comfortable out there, and we can check out the freshmen, but this wasn’t much more than a scrimmage.

Stats

The stats are almost meaningless. Michigan shot very well (41-for-63 = 65.1%), they shot 3-pointers pretty well (11-for-22 = 50.0%), and they shot free-throws pretty well (24-for-33 = 72.7%). They pounded CUAA on the boards (43-26), and they crushed them in the turnover battle (6-23) and the assist battle (26-9). Yeah, 26 assists with only 6 turnovers is really nice.

Individually, 6 Michigan players hit double figures, led by Glenn Robinson III with 33 points. He was a grown man, and future NBA player, playing against a bunch of high school kids. He did whatever he wanted to out there. Outside shooting? 4-for-6 from 3-point range. Dunks? 3 of them. Overall shooting? 12-for-15. Free-throw shooting? 5-for-5. He had quite a game, all in 25 minutes. He looked great: confident, smooth, relaxed, in control.

Next up: Nik Stauskas. Nik “only” had 23 points, with great shooting: 7-for-8 overall, 2-for-3 from 3-point range, and 7-for-7 shooting free throws. As advertised, he looked bigger, stronger, more solid, and more confident.

The 3rd leading scorer was Caris LeVert, with 16 points and 10 assists, for a “double-double”. He also had a great shooting night: 7-for-8 overall, including 1-for-2 from 3-point range. I know it sounds like a broken record, but he also looked much more confident out there, and much stronger and smoother. Last season, everything we got from him seemed like “gravy”, but this season he looks like a “main rotation” player, maybe even a starter. The word from practice is that the college game has “slowed down” for him, and he can start excelling like he did in high school.

Finally, a freshman: Derrick Walton Jr. hit double figures in his first (exhibition) game, with 11 points. He didn’t start, but he came in off the bench pretty early, and he looked good out there. He didn’t have a great night shooting (4-for-7 overall, 2-for-4 from 3-point range), but he did have 4 assists against only 1 turnover. He certainly looked comfortable out therefor 24 minutes, which is all that we can ask for at this point.

The other 2 players to hit double figures were Jordan Morgan and Zak Irvin, both with 10 points. Jordan chipped in 7 rebounds, and Zak looked pretty comfortable out there for a freshman. He played 19 minutes.

The starting lineup was GR3, Morgan, Stauskas, Spike Albrecht, and Jon Horford. Spike had 5 points, and Jon had 4, but Jon was the leading rebounder, with 12 boards.

The only other player to play double-digit minutes was Max Bielfeldt. Max only had 2 points in 11 minutes, and he didn’t do much else while he was out there.

The only other player to score was the 3rd of the scholarship freshmen, Mark Donnal. He played the last 5:28 of the game, and I was surprised that Coach Beilein didn’t put him in earlier. He hit a jumper and a free throw, for 3 points, but he didn’t look very comfortable out there. It won’t be decided/announced until after the 2nd exhibition game, but he sure looks like a good redshirt candidate.

The 3 “preferred walk-on” freshmen (Andrew Dakich, Sean Lonergan, and Cole McConnell) all got to play for the last 3:52, but they didn’t score.

Wait, what about our other All American player, Mitch McGary? Why did GR3 get to have all the fun? Mitch was held out of the game with a sore back. Apparently, he could have played if he had been needed (hah!), but they rested him as a precaution. He’ll probably miss the next exhibition game as well.

This Week

This week, Michigan plays 2 games: their 2nd (and final) exhibition game, then their first “real” game. On Monday (11/04/2013, 7:00 p.m., BTN) they play Wayne State (exhibition), then on Friday (11/08/2013, 7:00 p.m., No TV) they play UMass-Lowell. Both games are in Crisler, and both games should be blowout wins. Come on down to Crisler, and be sure to stop by and say hi to the friendly usher in sections 209/210.

Go Blue!

Nothing But ‘Net – Week #01 – 10/28/2013 – Season Preview

Wow! Is it college basketball season already? It’s only October!

Yeah, it’s time for University of Michigan men’s basketball, and this is the place to read all about it: “Nothing But ‘Net” on UMGoBlue.com. Check back every Monday morning between now and the end of the season (hopefully the National Championship game again) for a quick, concise wrap-up of the previous week, and a look ahead at the upcoming week, all in one easy-to-read article.

As always here at UMGoBlue.com, the perspective is “by fans, for fans”. I’m a fan (since 1974), and I go to all the home games, and watch/listen to all the away games. I don’t have any special access (other than being an usher in Sections 209-210), I don’t go to the press conferences, and I don’t interview high school recruits. I see the same things you do, and write about them as a fan.

So, let’s get right to the big question:

How good is the 2013-2014 team going to be? The easy answer: really good.

This is exactly what I said at this time last year, and look how that worked out: Michigan went to (and should have won) the National Championship game. I don’t know if they’ll make it that far this season, but they certainly have a reasonable chance. The preseason polls all put Michigan in the Top 10, UM returns a strong sophomore class, and the incoming freshman class looks very promising. Sure, there are questions, but things are looking good. Keep reading for more details.

Last Season

Michigan ended the season with a record of 31-8 (12-6 in the Big Ten). They won their first 16 games, including a perfect 13-0 in non-conference play. They were 3-0 in the Big Ten, and ranked #2 in the nation when they finally played a “flat” game, and lost at Ohio State. They won their next 4 games, and worked their way up to being ranked #1 in the nation, then they had to play at Indiana, where they lost. They had a rough schedule, starting with the Indiana game, and lost 3 out of 4 games. They finished tied for 4th place in the Big Ten, but they almost ended up tied for 1st place. They played Indiana in Crisler Arena in the final regular season game, and a last-second tip-in that would have won the game rolled off. If that shot had dropped, UM would have tied for 1st place. Sigh.

As is their tradition, Michigan won their 1st game in the Big Ten Tournament (Penn State), then lost the 2nd game (Wisconsin). Sigh, again.

So, going into the NCAA Tournament, there was little reason to expect Michigan to go very far. They were awarded a #4 seed, so they were expected to get as far as the Sweet 16, which would be a nice milestone for an up-and-coming program. They did win their first 2 games (South Dakota State and Virginia Commonwealth), and advanced to the Sweet 16, but they had to play the #1 seed in the South region, Kansas. It was an exciting game, but with 6:50 left, UM was down 14 points (68-54), with 2:52 left, UM was down 10 points (72-62), and with 21 seconds left, they were still down 5 points (76-71). In a miracle finish, Michigan managed to tie the game up at the buzzer, and win it in overtime! Two days later, they swamped Florida (see what I did there?) by 20 points to go to the Final Four. They beat a good Syracuse team in the National Semifinal game, but lost to Louisville in the National Championship game. They played well enough to win, but they were the victims of some less-than-stellar officiating down the stretch. Sigh, yet again.

As expected, two of the stars from last season’s team (Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway, Jr.) left school early for the NBA. They both got drafted in the 1st round, and they appear to have promising pro careers ahead of them, so they made reasonable decisions. Burke had a monster season last year as a sophomore, winning just about every Player Of The Year award out there. Hardaway also had a great junior season, and they both will be missed.

However, there are incoming freshmen who might be able to fill the gaps. It’s asking way too much of true freshmen, right out of high school, to replace players like Burke and Hardaway, but Derrick Walton, Jr. and Zak Irvin have the talent to eventually be great players in their own right. Walton plays point guard, so he’ll try to fill Burke’s position, and Irvin is a wing player with a great shot, so he’ll try to fill Hardaway’s spot. More on the freshmen below.

Players Lost

Besides Burke and Hardaway, Michigan lost 5 other players from last season’s team: 4 graduating seniors and 1 transfer:

These 5 guys made up the practice squad for Michigan, and they will be missed. They didn’t play much, especially last season, but they helped prepare the mainstream players for upcoming games. Akunne and Vogrich both started several games during their careers, but they were eventually replaced by more talented youngsters. Bartelstein, McLimans, and Person only ever played in “garbage time”. Bartelstein wrote a very enjoyable blog the last few years.

McLimans is an interesting story. He didn’t play at all his freshman year, so he still had one year of eligibility left, but he graduated with his class. There’s an NCAA rule that allows graduating seniors with a year of eligibility left to enroll in grad school at another school (as long as the new school has a program that the previous school doesn’t offer) and have instant eligibility, without having to sit out a “transfer year”. So, that’s what McLimans is doing. He didn’t get much playing time at Michigan, but I hope things work out well from him at Miami.

Players Returning

Michigan has a very talented group of players returning this season. Here they are, by class year (eligibility):

Freshman Eligibility

None. There was some talk about redshirting Caris LaVert at the beginning of last season, but they “burned his shirt” in Game #7, so there are no returning redshirt freshmen.

Sophomore Eligibility

Michael (“Spike”) Albrecht #2 (5’11”, 175 pounds, G) – Spike had a pretty good freshman season, but the undisputed highlight was his 17 points off the bench in the National Championship game vs. Louisville. He was playing behind Trey Burke, so he didn’t get as much of a chance to show us what he can do. He will this season, as I’m sure Coach Beilein will lean on him early, until Derrick Walton is ready to play big-time college ball.

Max Bielfeldt #44 (6’7″, 245 pounds, F) – Max was voluntarily redshirted his freshman year, so he has sophomore eligibility. He’s a big, strong player, and he did pretty well last year. Unfortunately for him, Michigan has a very strong forecourt this season, so he might not get much playing time.

Caris LeVert #23 (6’6″, 185 pounds, G) – Caris grew an inch and put on 15 pounds since last season, which will surely help. He had a pretty good freshman season, once they “burned his shirt” in Game #7. He’s quick, he’s nimble, he’s got a good shot, and he’s got great “basketball IQ”. I can’t wait to see what he does this season.

Mitch McGary #4 (6’10”, 255 pounds, F) – Mitch started slow last season, but he kept improving as the season went on, and he had a monster NCAA Tournament. He is a preseason All American, and if he can keep playing at the level he achieved in the Big Dance, he will be the best frontcourt player in college basketball this season. He’s tall, he’s big, he’s strong, he’s agile, and he knows how to finish around the basket. He’s a ferocious defender, and he runs the court well in transition. He is one of the reasons that Michigan is ranked so high this season.

Glenn Robinson III #1 (6’6″, 220 pounds, F) – Glenn had a great freshman season. He started all 37 games last season, and he had some great games. He was a little hesitant with his outside shooting, and he had some quiet games where everyone was surprised when he was the leading scorer at the end. He is also a preseason All American, and a lot is expected of him this season.

Nik Stauskas #11 (6’6″, 205 pounds, G) – I know this sounds like a broken record, but Nik had a great freshman season. He started out hot from 3-point range, and for a while he led the nation in 3-point shooting percentage. He finally cooled off (a little) when the Big Ten schedule rolled around, and the Big Ten coaches figured out how to deny him his favorite 3-point shots, but he still kept contributing. It turns out that he’s “more than just a shooter”: he drove to the hoop with authority, he distributed the ball well, he played better-than-average defense, and he hustled for a lot of loose balls. He is being counted on to toss in a bunch of 3-pointers this season, along with all the other things he can do.

Junior Eligibility

Jon Horford #15 (6’10”, 250 pounds, F) – Jon broke a bone in his right foot during his sophomore year, so he was granted a medical redshirt season, and has junior eligibility. He had a few nagging injuries last season, but when he was in there, he played pretty well, especially on defense. He needs to work on his offensive game a little. He and Jordan Morgan (below) will be counted on to provide upperclass leadership.

Senior Eligibility

Jordan Morgan #52 (6’8″, 250 pounds, F) – It seems like Jordan has been here forever. He redshirted his freshman year, for various medical reasons, and now he finally has senior eligibility. He plays taller than his listed height, and he plays hard and tough underneath. He started most of the games at center last season, until he rolled his ankle in late January. He missed a few games, and came back slowly, which allowed Mitch McGary to start and develop into a force. Jordan will still get his minutes this season, but he might end up behind McGary. He can still help out a lot, especially with some senior leadership.

New Players

Coach Beilein brought in another top-notch recruiting class. While it isn’t a big or as highly-ranked as last season’s freshman class, it fills in the gaps on the roster quite nicely:

Cole McConnell #12 (6’5″, 200 pounds, G) – Cole is a “preferred (or recruited) walk-on”, which means that he has a spot on the team, but not a scholarship (yet). He also has taken over for Josh Bartelstein as the team blogger, and he shows real promise. Of course, his “official” blog is carefully monitored by the Athletic Department, so it won’t contain anything outrageous. His personal Twitter feed (@cmcconnell4) is much more entertaining. Reading his bio on MGoBlue.com, it looks like he’s a good shooter. Hopefully, we’ll get to see him play.

Andrew Dakich #5 (6’2″, 185 pounds, G) – Does the name “Dakich” seem familiar? His father, Dan Dakich, played his college ball at Indiana, and is now an ESPN college basketball analyst, and a pretty good one. Andrew is another “preferred walk-on”, but he’s a talented guard, and he could see some game action in real games, not just “garbage time”.

Mark Donnal #34 (6’9″, 230 pounds, F) – Mark is another big body for the frontcourt. Given all the depth at forward/center, he’s a good candidate for a redshirt. I don’t know much about him, but I’m looking forward to seeing him play in the 2 exhibition games.

Zak Irvin #21 (6’6″, 200 pounds, G) – Zak is a highly-recruited sharpshooter, and was “Mr. Basketball” in Indiana last year. He’s a great shooter and scorer, and he will get a chance to fill Hardaway’s spot in the roster.

Sean Lonergan #20 (6’5″, 195 pounds, F) – Sean is another “preferred walk-on”, destined for the practice squad.

Derrick Walton Jr. #10 (6’1″, 185 pounds, G) – Derrick has the most pressure on him, since everyone will be watching him to see if he can at least partially replace Trey Burke. He’s a great shooter and scorer, and is good at seeing the floor and distributing the ball. We’ll have to see how he does against major college competition.

The key freshmen are obviously Walton and Irvin. If they can step in and at least partially replace Burke and Hardaway, respectively, Michigan will do fine this season. Donnal is not as much of a factor, and the other 3 freshmen are destined for the practice squad.

This Season

Let’s take a look at Michigan’s schedule for this season:

Date Opponent Location Time (ET)
10/29/2013 (Tue) Concordia (MI) (exh) Ann Arbor, MI 7:00 p.m.
11/04/2013 (Mon) Wayne State (exh) Ann Arbor, MI 7:00 p.m.
11/08/2013 (Fri) UMass-Lowell Ann Arbor, MI 7:00 p.m.
11/12/2013 (Tue) South Carolina State Ann Arbor, MI 7:00 p.m.
11/17/2013 (Sun) Iowa State Ames, IA 5:00 p.m.
Puerto Rico Tip-Off
11/21/2013 (Thu) Long Beach State San Juan, PR 5:00 p.m.
11/22/2013 (Fri) Florida St./Virginia Common. San Juan, PR 5:00/7:30 p.m.
11/24/2013 (Sun) Championship/Consolation San Juan, PR TBA
11/29/2013 (Fri) Coppin State Ann Arbor, MI 3:00 p.m.
ACC/Big Ten Challenge
12/03/2013 (Tue) Duke Durham, NC 9:15 p.m.
12/07/2013 (Sat) Houston Baptist Ann Arbor, MI 12:00 p.m.
12/14/2013 (Sat) Arizona Ann Arbor, MI 12:00 p.m.
Brooklyn Hoops Holiday Invitational
12/21/2013 (Sat) Stanford Brooklyn, NY 8:30 p.m.
12/28/2013 (Sat) Holy Cross Ann Arbor, MI 6:30 p.m.
01/02/2014 (Thu) Minnesota Minneapolis, MN 5:00 p.m.
01/05/2014 (Sun) Northwestern Ann Arbor, MI TBA
01/09/2014 (Thu) Nebraska Lincoln, NE 7:00 p.m.
01/14/2014 (Tue) Penn State Ann Arbor, MI 8:00 p.m.
01/18/2014 (Sat) Wisconsin Madison, WI 4:00 p.m.
01/22/2014 (Wed) Iowa Ann Arbor, MI 7:00 p.m.
01/25/2014 (Sat) Michigan State East Lansing, MI 7:00 p.m.
01/30/2014 (Thu) Purdue Ann Arbor, MI 9:00 p.m.
02/02/2014 (Sun) Indiana Bloomington, IN 1:00 p.m.
02/05/2014 (Wed) Nebraska Ann Arbor, MI 6:30 p.m.
02/08/2014 (Sat) Iowa Iowa City, IA 12:00 p.m.
02/11/2014 (Tue) Ohio State Columbus, OH 9:00 p.m.
02/16/2014 (Sun) Wisconsin Ann Arbor, MI 1:00 p.m.
02/23/2014 (Sun) Michigan State Ann Arbor, MI 12:00/6:00 p.m.
02/26/2014 (Wed) Purdue West Lafayette, IN 7:00 p.m.
03/01/2014 (Sat) Minnesota Ann Arbor, MI 6:00 p.m.
03/04/2014 (Tue) Illinois Champaign, IL 5:00 p.m.
03/08/2014 (Sat) Indiana Ann Arbor, MI 6:00 p.m.
Big Ten Tournament
03/13/2014 (Thu) 1st Round Indianapolis, IN TBA
03/14/2014 (Fri) 2nd Round Indianapolis, IN TBA
03/15/2014 (Sat) Semifinals Indianapolis, IN 1:40/4:05
03/16/2014 (Sun) Championship Indianapolis, IN 3:30 p.m.

Some comments on the schedule:

  • Michigan has two exhibition games this season, instead of the typical single game.
  • Michigan (#9) and Virginia Commonwealth (#15) are the only ranked teams in the Puerto Rico Tip-Off, but it’s still a good field. The other “name” teams are Kansas State, Georgetown, and Florida State.
  • The toughest stretch in the schedule is definitely the 3 games starting on 02/11 @OSU, followed by a home vs. Wisconsin, and home vs. MSU.
  • After several years of the same 4 “one play” teams (Iowa, Nebraska, Minnesota, and Wisconsin), Michigan has 4 new “one play” teams: Penn State (home), Northwestern (home), Illinois (away), and Ohio State (away). Those are 2 tough away games, but easy home games. It should be reversed next season, which is even better.

Expectations

I like to divide the games up into 3 categories (“Should Win”, “Should Lose”, and “Toss Up”):

  • Should Win (17) – UMass-Lowell, South Carolina State, Iowa State, Long Beach State, Coppin State, Houston Baptist, Arizona, Stanford, Holy Cross, Northwestern, Nebraska (twice), Penn State, Iowa (twice), Purdue (home), Minnesota (home).
  • Should Lose (5) – Duke, Wisconsin (away), MSU (away), Indiana (away), OSU (away).
  • Toss Up (8) – 2nd and 3rd round games in PR, Minnesota (away), Wisconsin (home), MSU (home), Purdue (away), Illinois (away), Indiana (home).

So, if UM can win all 17 of the “Should Win” games, and half of the 8 “Toss Up” games, that would give them a record of 21-9 (11-7 in the Big Ten). That won’t be good enough to win the Big Ten, but it will get UM a good seed in the NCAA Tournament.

This Week

As you can see in the schedule above, Michigan’s first (exhibition) game is this Tuesday (10/29, 7:00 p.m., No TV) vs. Concordia (MI). Of course, UM will win handily, and get to try all kinds of combinations of players out there. Come on down to Crisler Arena to check out this season’s edition of Michigan Basketball, and stop by sections 209/210 to say hi.

Go Blue!