Nothing But ‘Net – Week #04 – 11/20/2017 – Underwhelming

Quick Look

The University of Michigan men’s basketball team played two games last week, and they won both of them. On Monday (11/13/2017), UM beat Central Michigan 72-65, then on Thursday (11/16/2017), they beat Southern Mississippi 61-47. Both games were in Crisler Arena. Michigan’s record is now 3-0.

What Happened

Two wins in 4 days. Undefeated. Looks pretty good, huh? Well, looks can be deceiving. These were both ugly wins against overmatched opponents, and Michigan looked pretty bad in both games. Sure, they had short streaks of inspired play to finish out both games, but the first 30 minutes of each game were almost unwatchable. Actually, that’s all 3 games this season that have followed the same pattern: a seesaw battle in the 1st half, a close game with 10 minutes left, and a strong finish by UM to (finally) put away a “guarantee game”.

In the CMU game, CMU jumped out to an 8-point lead early (11-3), and still had it with 3:49 left in the 1st half (30-22). Michigan went on a 12-1 run to close the half up 32-31. Early in the 2nd half, Michigan built their own 8-point lead (42-34), and it looked like they were finally going to take control of the game. Nope. They went cold, and CMU went back on top, 47-46, with 11:53 to go. That was their last lead, as UM pushed their lead back up to 9 points (62-53) with 4:11 left, and kept it around there for the rest of the game.

In the USM game, Michigan came out hot, and had a comfortable lead (20-6) at the 10:00 mark. Then they threw the lead away in the next 7:40, as USM tied it up 25-25 with 2:20 left in the half. USM outscored UM 8-7 in the last 2:20, to lead 33-32 at halftime. In the 2nd half, USM extended their lead to 4 points (40-36) with 14:30 left. Michigan finally started playing some defense, and held USM scoreless until the 6:21 mark, while they scored 15 points, to lead 51-40. USM scored one point until the 5:30 mark, when it was 56-41. At that point, the game was over. The teams traded points, but Michigan’s lead never got below 13 points, and they won by 14.

Stats

The statistics for the CMU game aren’t very impressive. Michigan didn’t shoot very well overall (26-for-59 = 44.1%), they didn’t shoot 3-pointers very well (10-for-34 = 29.4%), but they did shoot free throws pretty well (10-for-12 = 83.3%). Michigan got out-rebounded by a MAC team (34-27), but they crushed CMU in the turnover department (14-6).

The statistics for the USM game aren’t much better. Michigan shot a little better overall (23-for-47 = 48.9%), they shot 3-pointers a little better (8-for-23 = 34.8%), and they shot free throws about as well (7-for-9 = 77.8%). They won the rebounding battle solidly (32-23), but lost the turnover battle (11-10).

Who Looked Good

The starters were Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman, Charles Matthews, Duncan Robinson, Zavier Simpson, and Moritz Wagner. All 5 of them scored in double figures in the CMU game, and 3 of them hit double figures in the USM game.

MAAR was the high scorer in both games, with 17 and 14 points. He also had 4 assists in each game. He had a rough time shooting 3-pointers: 3-for-9 vs. CMU and 2-for-7 vs. USM.

Wagner also had double figures in both games (10 and 12 points), along with 11 rebounds vs, CMU, for another double-double. His 3-point shooting was also a bit off: 1-for-5 vs. CMU, and 0-for-2 vs. USM. He needs that part of his game back.

The other starter with double figures in both games was Robinson (10 and 12). His 3-point shooting was off in the CMU game (2-for-8), but better vs. USM (4-for-8).

Matthews hit double figures in the CMU game (13), but had a quiet night vs. USM (6 points). His 3-point shooting was terrible: 1-for-6 and 1-for-3.

Simpson had a nice game vs. CMU (13 points), but was held scoreless (on only 1 shot) vs. USM. He ran the offense OK, and played some decent defense.

Jon Teske had a decent game vs. CMU (4 points, all free throws), but he had a very good game vs. USM (10 points and 11 rebounds, for his first career double-double). He was the star of the USM game, even though he wasn’t the high scorer. Besides the 11 rebounds, he also played some good post defense. It was very encouraging to see him play with confidence out there.

Ibi Watson was held scoreless in the CMU game, but he scored 5 points (including a nice 3-pointer) vs. USM. He’s looking more comfortable out there.

Jaaron Simmons scored 5 points vs. CMU, and 2 more vs. USM, but his biggest contribution was on defense, especially in the USM game. He also had 5 assists vs. USM.

Who Looked Not-So-Good

Eli Brooks only played 3 minutes in each game, and failed to score.

Isaiah Livers played 6 minutes vs. CMU and 8 minutes vs. USM, and failed to score.

Who Else Played

Austin Davis got in during the last minute of the USM game, but didn’t score.

Who Didn’t Play

Jordan Poole was the only “mainstream” player who didn’t play in either game.

The scout team players, C.J. Baird, Brent Hibbitts, Naji Ozeir and Luke Wilson, didn’t get to play.

The Big Picture

The 2 games this past week were supposed to be tune-up games before Michigan headed to Maui for the Maui Invitational. They were supposed to be easy 25-30 blowout victories where everyone got to play, and Michigan got to try out some new lineup combinations. Instead, they were both hard-fought games with the outcome in doubt midway through the 2nd half. They were supposed to give UM some self-confidence before a tough tournament. Instead, they gave Michigan a lot to worry about.

Disappointment in sports generally comes from unmet expectations. All the “experts” (including me) expected Michigan to easily steamroll all 3 of the overmatched opponents so far this season, but that hasn’t been the case. Yes, Michigan did dig in and play tough down the stretch in all 3 games, but they played pretty poorly for the first 30 minutes of all 3 games.

So, what’s the problem? Look at the “Who Looked Good” and “Who Looked Not-So-Good” lists. Almost everyone looked good. Huh? The individual performances were fine, but the team chemistry is terrible. Too much indecision and poor decision-making. Overpassing. It’s all correctable, and it should get better with time, practice, and game experience, but in the meantime, expect some ugly games when the competition gets tougher, starting this week.

Predicted Win Total

I’m afraid I have to adjust the Predicted Win Total down a few games, based on what I’ve seen so far in the first 3 games. A few of the “Should Win” games (Ohio State [away], Detroit, Illinois, and Nebraska) have slipped into the “Toss Up” category, and a few of the “Toss Up” games (Purdue [home], Northwestern [away], and Minnesota) have slipped into the “Should Lose” category.

This week’s Predicted Win Total is: 16

Here’s a chart of the Predicted Win Totals for each week:

Week

Date

Predicted Win Total

1

10/30/2017

19

3

11/13/2017

19

4

11/20/2017

16

Note that 16 wins is the minimum for making the NIT. It certainly won’t get Michigan into the NCAA Tournament.

What’s Next

This week Michigan plays three games, all in Lahaina, Hawaii, in the Maui Jim Maui Invitational. Since Hawaii is 6 hours ahead of Eastern time, the games could be on TV at very late times here in Michigan. The tournament requires each team to play 3 games in 3 days (Monday – Wednesday), so there isn’t much time for rest, practice, and scouting.

Michigan’s first round opponent is LSU, on Monday (11/20/2017, 12:30 a.m. EST, ESPNU). Technically, this game is on Tuesday, just after midnight. If Michigan wins, they play the winner of the Notre Dame/Chaminade game on Tuesday (11/21/2017, 11:30 p.m. EST, ESPN). If they lose the first round game, they play the loser of the ND/Chaminade game at 9:00 p.m. EST, on ESPN2. There are 4 possibilities for the games on Wednesday (11/22/2017):

  • Lose 1st round, Lose 2nd round (7th/8th place game): 3:30 p.m. EST, ESPNU
  • Lose 1st round, Win 2nd round (5th/6th place game): 6:00 p.m. EST, ESPN2
  • Win 1st round, Lose 2nd round (3rd/4th place game): 9:00 p.m. EST, ESPN2
  • Win 1st round, Win 2nd round (1st/2nd place game): 11:30 p.m. EST, ESPN2

Here’s the complete bracket.

LSU has an imposing roster, with lots of height and experience. This will be a challenging game.

The other teams in the tournament are: Cal, Marquette, VCU, and Wichita State. It’s a pretty good field.

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

Go Blue!

Nothing But ‘Net – Week #03 – 11/13/2017 – A Slow Start

Quick Look

The University of Michigan men’s basketball team played one game last week, and they won it. On Saturday (11/11/2017), UM beat North Florida 86-66 in Crisler Arena. Michigan’s record is now 1-0.

What Happened

The final score looks like a pretty comfortable win, but the game was close for the whole 1st half, and well into the 2nd half. Once Michigan pulled away, they finally looked good, but it was a very slow start.

Michigan took an early 7-2 lead, then went stone cold. UNF went on a 16-4 run, and led 18-11 with 10:18 left in the 1st half. Michigan looked very sloppy and lethargic. They went on their own 8-0 run to lead again, 19-18, with 6:35 to go. The teams then traded baskets for the rest of the half, with UM leading 32-30 at halftime. It was not a very impressive 1st half.

Michigan came out of halftime with a little more energy, and quickly pushed the lead up to 7 points (37-30) with 19:08 left in the game. They couldn’t put UNF away, and let them hang around. UNF kept battling, and reclaimed the lead, 47-46, with 12:49 to go. That was their last lead, as Michigan finally woke up and pulled away for good. The lead got as large as 23 points, before ending up at 20 points. The last 10 minutes were encouraging, but the first 30 minutes were depressing.

Stats

The game statistics aren’t very impressive. Michigan didn’t shoot very well overall (33-for-71 = 46.5%), they didn’t shoot 3-pointers very well (9-for-25 = 36.0%), and they didn’t shoot free throws very well (11-for-16 = 68.8%). By comparison, UNF shot 60.0% (9-for-15) from 3-point range. Michigan barely won the rebounding battle (36-34), but they crushed UNF in the turnover department (24-10). That’s what won the game.

Who Looked Good

The starters were Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman, Charles Matthews, Duncan Robinson, Zavier Simpson, and Moritz Wagner. Three of them hit double figures.

Robinson was the high scorer, with 21 points. He shot 7-for-13 overall, and 4-for-7 from 3-point range. He also had 7 rebounds and 3 assists. He even played some good defense. It was a good game for him.

Matthews scored 20 points in his first “real” game as a Wolverine (the stats from the exhibition game don’t count). He shot OK (9-for-19 overall, 1-for-3 from 3-point range), but he missed several short, easy shots that I expect him to make as the season progresses.

The 3rd starter in double figures was Wagner, with 18 points and (a career-high) 12 rebounds, for a very nice double-double. Moe didn’t shoot particularly well (8-for-17, 0-for-3 from 3-point range), but he played hard for most of the game.

Simpson didn’t score much (3 points), but he did run the offense pretty well (9 assists), and he played some tough defense.

Who Looked Not-So-Good

MAAR didn’t do much out there. He scored 5 points on terrible shooting (1-for-5 overall, 1-for-2 from 3-point range) and grabbed 4 rebounds, but he wasn’t a factor in the win.

Jaaron Simmons played 10 minutes, and only scored 2 points on free throws.

Eli Brooks didn’t do much with his 14 minutes of playing time. He scored 2 points on 1-for-4 shooting.

Who Else Played

12 of the 16 players on the roster got to play, and all 12 of them scored.

Austin Davis only played 2 minutes, but he made the most of them with 3 points.

Isaiah Livers hit his only 3-point attempt.

Jordan Poole only played for the last 3 minutes, in “garbage time”, but made the most of it with 2 points.

Jon Teske played 7 minutes, and scored 2 points.

Ibi Watson played 9 minutes, and scored 5 points, including a 3-pointer.

Who Didn’t Play

The scout team players, Brent Hibbitts, Naji Ozeir and Luke Wilson, didn’t get to play.

There’s also a new player on the roster: C.J. Baird, a 6’5″, 220 pound freshman forward. He didn’t get to play either.

The Big Picture

Michigan didn’t look very good for much of the game. They’ve got a couple more overmatched opponents before the level of competition picks up. They need to fix a few things before the tough games start.

The biggest problem that Michigan has to fix is the lack of perimeter threats. The reason that last season’s team was so successful was that they could put out a lineup with 5 legitimate threats to hit 3-pointers: Derrick Walton Jr., DJ Wilson, Moe Wagner, Zak Irvin, and Duncan Robinson. That kept the defenders out of the middle, and opened it up for pick-and-roll and isolation drive plays. With Walton, Wilson, and Irvin all gone, they only have 3 players (Wagner, Robinson, and Matthews) that are threats to shoot 3-pointers. Simpson can hit the deep ball, but he’s so “pass first” right now that he passes up wide open shots. MAAR can also hit 3-pointers, but he also appears to be gun-shy about shooting. With only 3 threats, opposing defenses can pack the middle a lot more. Simpson and MAAR need to start shooting (and making) 3-pointers.

Predicted Win Total

New this season: each week I’ll update the Predicted Win Total for the regular season, based on how well UM played that week, taking into account how the remaining opponents are doing and any injuries.

This week’s Predicted Win Total is: 19

I didn’t see anything to change my guesses for “Should Win”, “Should Lose”, and “Toss Up” games.

Here’s a chart of the Predicted Win Totals for each week:

Week

Date

Predicted Win Total

1

10/30/2017

19

3

11/13/2017

19

What’s Next

This week Michigan plays two games, both at home. On Monday (11/13/2017, 7:00 p.m., BTN), Michigan plays Central Michigan, then on Thursday (11/16/2017, 7:00 p.m., BTN Plus), Michigan plays Southern Mississippi.

These are both games that Michigan should win, but they’ll have to play better than they did vs. North Florida. CMU was 16-16 last season, with no impressive wins. They don’t have a particularly intimidating roster, although they do have quite a few juniors and seniors. SMU was 9-22 last season, with no impressive wins. They do have one 6’11” dude on their roster, and a bunch of juniors, but no seniors at all.

Come on down to Crisler Arena to see how they do, and check back next week.

Go Blue!

Nothing But ‘Net – Week #02 – 11/06/2017 – The Exhibition Game

Quick Look

The University of Michigan men’s basketball team played one game last week, and they won it handily. Of course, it was an exhibition game against a Division II team, but still. Wins are wins. On Friday (11/03/2017), UM defeated Grand Valley State 82-50 in Crisler Arena. This was an exhibition game, so Michigan’s record is still 0-0.

What Happened

Since it was an exhibition, Coach Beilein got to play almost everyone, and he got to try lots of different lineup combinations. Michigan pulled away early, and was never seriously challenged. The lead hovered in the 22-24 point range for most of the 1st half and the beginning of the 2nd half, before UM pushed it up into the 30s.

The game was sloppy for both teams, with 12 turnovers for Michigan and 13 for Grand Valley State. Michigan shot pretty well (31-for-60 = 51.7%), also pretty well from 3-point range (11-for-26 = 42.3%). Free throw shooting was a little off (9-for-16 = 56.3%). Here are the complete stats.

The starters were Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman, Charles Matthews, Duncan Robinson, Zavier Simpson, and Moritz Wagner.

Who Looked Good

The star of the game was Matthews. He was the leading scorer, with 23 points, and he looked comfortable out there. He shot pretty well (9-for-14, 1-for-3 from 3-point range), had 2 assists and 2 turnovers, and grabbed 4 rebounds.

Robinson had 11 points, and shot pretty well: 3-for-6 (3-for-5 from 3-point range). He grabbed 3 rebounds and had 4 assists.

The other player in double figures was Wagner, with 10 points. He shot 50% (4-for-8, 2-for-5 from 3-point range), and had 10 rebounds, for a double-double.

Ibi Watson looked a lot more comfortable out there, especially compared to last season. He had 8 points, on 3-for-5 (1-for-2 from 3-point range) shooting.

Jon Teske also looked a lot more comfortable out there. He only had 4 points (2-for-3 shooting), but he also had 4 rebounds, 3 assists, and 0 turnovers.

Who Looked Not-So-Good

MAAR and Simpson both had quiet games, with 6 and 5 points, respectively.

Eli Brooks and Jaaron Simmons didn’t do much with their 15 minutes each. They both scored 5 quiet points.

Isaiah Livers played quite a bit (16 minutes), but failed to score. He did have 3 rebounds and 1 assist.

Who Else Played

Redshirt freshman Austin Davis was the 3rd center, and he only played for 6 minutes. He made his only attempt, for 2 points.

Brent Hibbitts played for 4 minutes, but failed to score.

Freshman Jordan Poole only played for the last 2 minutes, in “garbage time”, and failed to score. It was somewhat surprising that he only got in at the very end.

The two scout team players, Naji Ozeir and Luke Wilson both got to play the last 2 minutes of “garbage time”. Wilson missed his only attempt, but Ozeir tossed in a 3-pointer.

The Big Picture

What can we learn from an exhibition game? Not much. Michigan was obviously quite a bit better than Grand Valley State, and they took care of business. It wasn’t pretty, but it was good practice. Michigan looked about as good as expected. On to the real games.

What’s Next

This week Michigan plays one game, in the “Maui On The Mainland” portion of the Maui Jim Maui Invitational. This game is technically part of the Maui Invitational, but it doesn’t affect which teams go to the Championship Round in Maui on 11/20 – 11/22. It’s just a “warm up” game.

On Saturday (11/11/2017, 7:30 p.m., BTN Plus), Michigan plays North Florida. I expect Michigan to win this game handily, and get more chances to experiment with different lineup combinations.

Come on down to Crisler Arena to see how they do, and check back next week.

Go Blue!

Nothing But ‘Net – Week #01 – 10/30/2017 – Season Preview

Well, the college football season isn’t going as well as we would have hoped, but there’s always college basketball! Yes, it’s that time already. The first game is this Friday (11/03/2017) in Crisler Arena at 7:00. It’s an exhibition vs. Grand Valley State. In fact, the team has already had an open practice this past week (Tuesday, 10/24/2017) in Crisler. That went pretty well, and gave us a quick look at this season’s team.

Here’s my standard description of this weekly column:

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 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.

Once again, let’s get right to the big question:

How good is the 2017-2018 team going to be? The quick answer: not quite as good as last season.

So, how was last season? In my preseason preview last year, I predicted “pretty good”, and that was a little off. Last season’s team was better than predicted, winning the Big Ten Tournament, and advancing to the Sweet Sixteen in the NCAA Tournament. I expect this season’s team to be OK, but not as good as last season’s team. They’re not ranked in the Coaches Poll, and they’re picked to finish anywhere from 5th to 8th in the Big Ten.

Read on for more details.

Last Season

Michigan ended last season with a record of 26-12 (10-8 in the Big Ten). They went 10-3 in pre-conference play, with some good wins (Marquette and SMU in the 2K Classic, and Texas at home), some understandable losses (at South Carolina, and at [#2] UCLA), one bad loss (Virginia Tech, at home), and a bunch of unsurprising wins against cupcakes. They did win the 2K Classic in Madison Square Garden, in convincing fashion, but they were manhandled in the losses to South Carolina and UCLA.

In Big Ten play, Michigan won a couple games that they weren’t supposed to win (at home vs. [#11] Wisconsin, and at home vs. [#14] Purdue), lost a couple games that they were expected to lose (at [#17] Wisconsin, and at Michigan State), and lost a few games that they really should have won (at Iowa, at home vs. Maryland, at Illinois, at home vs. Ohio State, at Minnesota, and at Northwestern). The Ohio State loss was particularly depressing. Still, they finished above 0.500 in the Big Ten, which was better than expected.

In the Big Ten Tournament, things really got interesting. Before they even got to Washington (DC) for the tournament, they had a big scare when the team plane slid off the runway on (aborted) takeoff. They flew to DC the next morning, and they got to the Verizon Center for their game less than 2 hours before tipoff. Michigan’s game uniforms were trapped on the damaged plane, so they had to play their first game in their practice uniforms. Michigan was the #8 seed, and they beat the #9 seed (Illinois) handily in the 2nd round game, which earned them a shot at the #1 seed (Purdue) the next day. Michigan beat Purdue in an overtime thriller, and advanced to the semifinal game vs. the #4 seed (Minnesota). Michigan won that game convincingly, and earned the right to play the #2 seed (Wisconsin) for the Big Ten Tournament Championship. They beat Wisconsin soundly, and won the title. It was very exciting.

In the NCAA Tournament, Michigan was a #7 seed in the Midwest Regional in Indianapolis (IN), and barely beat the #10 seed (Oklahoma State). Two days later, they played the #2 seed ([#10] Louisville), and won another tight game to advance to the Sweet Sixteen, in Kansas City (MO). They played the #3 seed (Oregon), and lost by one point. Still, it was a successful and thrilling tournament run.

Players Lost

Michigan lost 7 players from last season’s roster:

Andrew Dakich – Andrew redshirted last season (his senior season), so he could graduate and use the “graduate transfer rule” to transfer to a school where he might get more playing time. At first, it looked like he was going to Quinnipiac, but he suddenly changed his mind, and went to Ohio State instead. He played a small but important role on the team 2 seasons ago, when Michigan suffered a rash of injuries to key players, but he never really got much playing time besides that period. We all wish him well, except when Ohio State is playing Michigan.

Mark Donnal – Mark graduated, but has one year of eligibility left, and is using the “graduate transfer rule” to transfer to Clemson. In his career at Michigan, he had some monster games, and a whole bunch of really quiet games. With all the depth at center/strong forward, he wouldn’t have played much at Michigan this season, so he went some place where he’ll get more playing time. We probably won’t miss him, and we all wish him well.

Zak Irvin – Zak graduated. He was one of the most polarizing players at Michigan in recent memory. He had some huge games and big moments, but almost as often, fans were upset with him. We’ll miss him, but we won’t miss the drama.

Sean Lonergan – Sean graduated, although he still has one year of eligibility left. He is no longer on the team, and he doesn’t appear to have transferred anywhere to use the “graduate transfer rule”. He never played much, and we all wish him well.

Derrick Walton, Jr. – Derrick graduated. He was a key player on several successful teams. We’ll definitely miss him.

DJ Wilson – DJ had a breakout season last season, and decided to enter the NBA Draft. Good choice: he was drafted 17th by the Milwaukee Bucks. He’s the player who could have come back that we’re going to miss the most this season.

Fred Wright-JonesFred left the basketball team to concentrate on his studies. He never played much, and we all wish him well.

Once again, an alarming number of players are voluntarily leaving the Michigan team. While none of them were projected to be key players on this season’s team, it is still a disturbing trend. Of course, it’s not limited to Michigan: the “graduate transfer rule” is getting more popular every season, and I expect the NCAA to make some modifications to the rule soon.

Players Returning

This is a very young team. Irvin, Walton, and Wilson were all starters and key players on last season’s team, and they’re all gone. Only two starters return. Subs from last season and new players will have to step up. Here’s a look at the returning players, by class year (eligibility):

Freshman Eligibility

Austin Davis #51 (6’10”, 245 pounds, F) – Austin was voluntarily redshirted last season, due to the logjam at center/power forward. The coaching staff had to pick one of the two freshman “big man” players to redshirt, and they chose to redshirt Austin and play Jon Teske. Later in the season, they questioned their decision, and said that Austin was really blossoming on the scout team. This season, we’ll get to see what we missed last season. Austin is reported to be a good scorer, a beast on the boards, and a good defender. He’s an old-fashioned, back-to-the-basket, physical center.

Sophomore Eligibility

Brent Hibbitts #0 (6’8″, 220 pounds, F) – Brent voluntarily redshirted his freshman season, and played sparingly last season, so he’s a redshirt sophomore. He will probably play sparingly again this season, mostly in “garbage time”.

Charles Matthews #1 (6’6″, 200 pounds, G) – Charles is a transfer from Kentucky, where he did pretty well as a true freshman. He sat out last season, due to NCAA transfer rules, so he’ll have redshirt sophomore eligibility. He has the potential to be one of the most exciting players in recent memory, if Coach Beilein can get his shooting stroke fixed.

Zavier Simpson #3 (6’0″, 185 pounds, G) – No, your eyes aren’t playing tricks on you, Zavier changed the spelling of his first name from “Xavier”. He’s back for his sophomore season, after a pretty low-key freshman year. He had a few moments of brilliance, but most of the time he was out there, he didn’t seem very comfortable. He is still “the point guard of the future”, but maybe not the point guard of the present. Coach Beilein brought in a graduate transfer point guard (see below) as the main point guard for this season, to give Zavier another season to get up to speed. I expect him to play more than last season, and to be encouraged to play a little more fearlessly. We’ll see how that works out.

Jon Teske #15 (7’1″, 255 pounds, C) – Jon was the freshman “big man” that Coach Beilein and the coaching staff chose to play last season, while Austin Davis was redshirted. It didn’t work out very well. Jon had a very unimpressive freshman season, and often looked lost out there. He’s got all the tools he needs to be successful, he just needs to get his mental game in order. Just like Simpson, I expect him to play more than last season, and to be encouraged to play a lot more fearlessly.

Ibi Watson #23 (6’5″, 200 pounds, G/F) – The third member of last season’s freshman scholarship class that got to play, and the third member that needs to work on his mental game. As with Simpson and Teske, he has all the tools he needs to be successful, he just needs to go out there and play smoothly and fearlessly. He had a horrible freshman season, and there’s nowhere to go but up for him.

Junior Eligibility

Moritz Wagner #13 (6’11”, 245 pounds, F) – Moe is the undisputed star of this team, and the centerpiece that the whole team is built around. He was awesome last season, and big things are expected of him this season. He flirted with the NBA Draft after last season, but chose to come back. He won’t be coming back after this season, so Michigan needs to get the most out of him while they can. He presents a matchup nightmare for opposing teams. If the opposing center comes out to guard him on the 3-point line, where he’s deadly, he has the moves to blow right past him for the dunk. If the opposing center gives him a couple feet to keep him from driving, he can easily pop in a 3-pointer. Just ask Louisville and Purdue. He schooled them.

Senior Eligibility

Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman #12 (6’4″, 190 pounds, G) – MAAR is the quiet senior leader on the team this season. He’s a steady player, and a very good on-ball defender. He’s the best player at slashing to the rim, and he has shown great athleticism against bigger players. He doesn’t have the court vision of a point guard, and he doesn’t have the 3-point touch of a shooting guard, but he is fast and fearless.

Duncan Robinson #22 (6’8″, 215 pounds, G/F) – Duncan proved that he belongs in Division I basketball, after transferring from a Division III school. He can be a deadly 3-point shooter, but his shot has a bad habit of abandoning him at inopportune moments. He has worked hard on the rest of his game, and while he will never be a great defender, he has steadily improved on the defensive end. If he can consistently hit his shots, the team can withstand any defensive liabilities he brings to the table. If his shot cools off, his playing time could go down.

New Players

Coach Beilein brought in another great recruiting class this season, with three scholarship players, one “graduate transfer rule” player, and two preferred walk-on players:

Scholarship Players

Eli Brooks #55 (6’0″, 170 pounds, G) – You’ve gotta love a 6-foot freshman point guard wearing a center’s number (#55). Eli is another “point guard of the future” on this team, which now has 3 point guards (along with Simpson and Simmons).

Isaiah Livers #4 (6’7″, 230 pounds, F) – Isaiah is a solid small forward/wing, with good rebounding and defensive skills. He was Michigan’s Mr. Basketball last year.

Jordan Poole #2 (6’4″, 190 pounds, G) – Jordan is a good-sized shooting guard with a nice 3-point stroke. His high school team won the national championship.

Graduate Transfer Rule Players

Jaaron Simmons #5 (6’1″, 185 pounds, G) – Jaaron is the first “graduate transfer rule” player to play for Coach Beilein. He graduated from Ohio University with one year of eligibility remaining, and he is an experienced point guard. As opposed to the two “point guards of the future” (Simpson and Poole), he is the “point guard of the present”. He will play the most minutes at point guard, while Simpson and Poole get up to speed.

Preferred Walk-On Players

Naji Ozeir #25 (6’8″, 225 pounds, F) – Naji is a freshman scout team player.

Luke Wilson #11 (6’0″, 165 pounds, G) – Luke is a freshman scout team player.

This Season

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

Date Opponent Location Time (ET)
11/03/2017 (Fri) Grand Valley State (exh) Ann Arbor, MI 7:00 p.m.
Maui Jim Maui Invitational – Maui On The Mainland
11/11/2017 (Sat) North Florida Ann Arbor, MI 7:30 p.m.
11/13/2017 (Mon) Central Michigan Ann Arbor, MI 7:00 p.m.
11/16/2017 (Thu) Southern Mississippi Ann Arbor, MI 7:00 p.m.
Maui Jim Maui Invitational – Championship Games
11/20/2017 (Mon) LSU Lahaina, HI 12:30 a.m. (Tue)
11/21/2017 (Tue) Notre Dame/Chaminade Lahaina, HI 9:00/11:30 p.m.
11/22/2017 (Wed) Finals/Consolation Lahaina, HI TBA
11/26/2017 (Sun) UC Riverside Ann Arbor, MI 4:00 p.m.
ACC/Big Ten Challenge
11/29/2017 (Wed) North Carolina Chapel Hill, NC 7:30 p.m.
12/02/2017 (Sat) Indiana Ann Arbor, MI 12:30 p.m.
12/04/2017 (Mon) Ohio State Columbus, OH 6:30 p.m.
12/09/2017 (Sat) UCLA Ann Arbor, MI 12:00 p.m.
12/12/2017 (Tue) Texas Austin, TX 9:00 p.m.
12/16/2017 (Sat) Detroit-Mercy Detroit, MI 12:00 p.m.
12/21/2017 (Thu) Alabama A&M Ann Arbor, MI 9:00 p.m.
12/30/2017 (Sat) Jacksonville Ann Arbor, MI 6:00 p.m.
01/02/2018 (Tue) Iowa Iowa City, IA 7:00 p.m.
01/06/2018 (Sat) Illinois Ann Arbor, MI 12:00 p.m.
01/09/2018 (Tue) Purdue Ann Arbor, MI 9:00 p.m.
01/13/2018 (Sat) Michigan State East Lansing, MI 12:00 p.m.
01/15/2018 (Mon) Maryland Ann Arbor, MI 6:30 p.m.
01/18/2018 (Thu) Nebraska Lincoln, NE 9:00 p.m.
01/21/2018 (Sun) Rutgers Ann Arbor, MI 12:00 p.m.
01/25/2018 (Thu) Purdue West Lafayette, IN 7:00 p.m.
01/29/2018 (Mon) Northwestern Ann Arbor, MI 7:00 p.m.
02/03/2018 (Sat) Minnesota Ann Arbor, MI 2:30 p.m.
02/06/2018 (Tue) Northwestern Evanston, IL 7:00 p.m.
02/11/2018 (Sun) Wisconsin Madison, WI 1:00 p.m.
02/14/2018 (Wed) Iowa Ann Arbor, MI 6:30 p.m.
02/18/2018 (Sun) Ohio State Ann Arbor, MI 1:00 p.m.
02/21/2018 (Wed) Penn State State College, PA 7:00 p.m.
02/24/2018 (Sat) Maryland College Park, MD 12:00 p.m.
Big Ten Tournament
02/28/2018 (Wed) Opening Round New York, NY TBA
03/01/2018 (Thu) 1st Round New York, NY TBA
03/02/2018 (Fri) 2nd Round New York, NY TBA
03/03/2018 (Sat) Semifinals New York, NY TBA
03/04/2018 (Sun) Championship New York, NY TBA

Some comments on the schedule:

  • There are several good teams in the Maui Invitational: LSU, Notre Dame, Marquette, VCU, Wichita State, and California. It will be a challenging tournament.
  • Playing at North Carolina in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge is going to be extremely challenging. Extremely.
  • The two Big Ten games (Indiana and Ohio State) early in December are a result of moving the Big Ten Tournament up a week, to get into Madison Square Garden.
  • The home game against UCLA is the best home non-conference opponent. It will also be very challenging.
  • The game at Texas will be a big challenge.
  • The rest of the non-conference opponents are cupcakes.
  • The toughest stretch in the Big Ten schedule is the Purdue (home), Michigan State (away), Maryland (home) section. If Michigan can win 2 of those 3 games, they should be in good shape.
  • There’s a second tough stretch of Big Ten games: Purdue (away), Northwestern (home), Minnesota (home), Northwestern (away), and Wisconsin (away). If Michigan can win 3 of those 5 games, they’ll finish in the top half of the Big Ten standings.
  • Each Big Ten team plays 8 teams once (4 home/4 away) and 5 teams twice, for a total of 18 games. This season, Michigan plays:
    • Once: Indiana (home), Illinois (home), Michigan State (away), Nebraska (away), Rutgers (home), Minnesota (home), Wisconsin (away), Penn State (away).
    • Twice: Ohio State, Iowa, Purdue, Maryland, Northwestern.

Expectations

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

  • Should Win (13) – North Florida, Central Michigan, Southern Mississippi, UC Riverside, Ohio State (twice), Detroit, Alabama A&M, Jacksonville, Illinois, Nebraska, Rutgers, Penn State.
  • Should Lose (7) – North Carolina, UCLA, Iowa (away), Michigan State, Purdue (away), Wisconsin (away), Maryland (away).
  • Toss Up (11) – LSU, 2nd round Maui Invitational, 3rd round Maui Invitational, Indiana, Texas, Purdue (home), Maryland (home), Northwestern (both), Minnesota, Iowa (home).

If UM can win all 13 of the “Should Win” games, and just over half (6) of the 11 “Toss Up” games, that would give them a record of 19-12 (10-8 in the Big Ten). That might be good enough to get UM into the NCAA Tournament, depending on how they do in the Big Ten Tournament.

This Week

As you can see in the schedule above, Michigan’s first (exhibition) game is Friday (11/03/2017, 7:00 p.m., BTN Plus) vs. Grand Valley State. 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!

Nothing But ‘Net – Week #23 – 04/03/2017 – Season Wrap-Up, Final Grades, Looking Ahead

Season Wrap-Up

Well, we won a ring. We survived a plane crash. We played to the best of our ability in a couple games. We put the world on notice. It was special.

– Moritz Wagner

The University of Michigan Men’s Basketball team’s 2016-2017 season is over, and it was an unexpected success. Michigan finished with a final record of 26-12 (10-8 in the Big Ten), which was good enough for a tie for 5th place in the Big Ten, but that’s not the whole story. UM caught fire in the 2nd half of the Big Ten season, and strung together 7 wins in a row to win the Big Ten Tournament, and make it to the Sweet Sixteen in the NCAA Tournament. This was more than all but the most optimistic fans and “experts” predicted for Michigan. One of the biggest factors, and something I never mentioned during the season for superstitious reasons, was that no Michigan player missed a single game due to injury. This is a remarkable departure from the last few seasons, which have seen far too many significant injuries.

Before the season, I divided the games up into 3 categories (“Should Win”, “Should Lose”, and “Toss Up”):

  • Should Win (13) – Howard, UIPUI, Mount St. Mary’s, Kennesaw State, Central Arkansas, Maryland Eastern Shore, Furman, Penn State, Nebraska (both), Minnesota, Rutgers, Northwestern.
  • Should Lose (6) – UCLA, Iowa, Wisconsin (away), Michigan State (both), Indiana (away).
  • Toss Up (12) – Marquette, 2nd round 2K Classic, South Carolina, Virginia Tech, Texas, Maryland, Illinois (both), Indiana (home), Ohio State, Wisconsin (home), Purdue.

I predicted:

If UM can win all 13 of the “Should Win” games, and half of the 12 “Toss Up” games, that would give them a record of 19-12 (9-9 in the Big Ten). That might be good enough to get UM into the NCAA Tournament, depending on how they do in the Big Ten Tournament.

So, how did they do?

  • Should Win (11-2) – Minnesota and Northwestern were surprisingly good this season.
  • Should Lose (2-4) – UM beat MSU at home and Indiana on the road.
  • Toss-Up (7-5) – UM beat Marquette, SMU (2nd round 2K Classic), Texas, Illinois (home), Indiana (home), Wisconsin (home), and Purdue.

That worked out to 20-9 (10-8 in the Big Ten), which was slightly better than I predicted. They did it by winning 2 “Should Lose” games to make up for the 2 “Should Win” games that they lost, and doing one game better than half of the “Toss Up” games.

There were quite a few significant games along the way:

Marquette (11/17/2016) and SMU (11/18/2016) in the 2K Classic – Michigan won the 2K Classic, and they did it in convincing fashion against a couple strong opponents. Hopes soared.

South Carolina (11/23/2016) – As good as Michigan looked in the 2K Classic, they looked that bad in their very next game, a thorough butt-whipping in their 1st true road game. Of course, South Carolina made it to the Final Four, so the loss doesn’t look quite as bad.

Virginia Tech (11/30/2016) in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge – Michigan had this game won, and gave it away in the last minute. Hopes started flagging.

Texas (12/06/2016) – A big win for Michigan, in an ugly home game. It was close and tense, but “a win is a win”.

UCLA (12/10/2016) – Another road loss, but a spectacular one. UCLA was ranked #2 in the nation at the time, and UM hung with them for the entire 1st half, which was a 50-50 track meet. UCLA pulled away in the 2nd half, but UM looked pretty good in an 18-point loss.

Iowa (01/01/2017) – Yet another road loss, in Michigan’s Big Ten opener. This was a close game, and Michigan had a chance to win it in regulation, but they let it slip away, then lost in overtime. Not a very good way to start league play.

Illinois (01/11/2017) – This game was the turning point of the season. It was yet another road loss, dropping Michigan to 1-3 in the Big Ten. The game was tied until Illinois went on a 17-2 run in the last 4:04 of the half, and that was the game. The game was a depressing loss, but there was a “silver lining”. The Illinois center, Maverick Morgan (great name!) called Michigan a “white collar” team in a postgame interview, and that woke them up. From that point on, Michigan went 15-6.

Wisconsin (01/17/2017) – Yet another road loss, but a close one. Since Wisconsin was ranked #17 at the time, this was a minor “moral victory”.

Illinois (01/21/2017) – Michigan wore their blue (away) uniforms for a home game, to show Maverick Morgan that they could be “blue collar”, and they kicked Illinois’ butts. The “revenge tour” was on!

Indiana (01/26/2017) – Michigan crushed IU 90-60 in Crisler, and fans were starting to get excited about the team.

Michigan State (01/29/2017) – Another close road loss. The game was close and tight until the final minutes. The final score (70-62) is deceptive. Not quite a “moral victory”, but it was encouraging.

Ohio State (02/04/2017) – This was the low point of the season. Just when it looked like UM was finally getting things figured out, they came out flat at home vs. OSU, and lost an ugly game to a mediocre team. They allowed 16 offensive rebounds, and that cost them the game. At this point, most fans, including me, jumped off the bandwagon. I wrote the team off as “no chance for the NCAA Tournament, think NIT instead”. Wrong.

Michigan State (02/07/2017) – This was the high point of the season, at least for me. A win over MSU is worth any 2 other wins. This win was another good old-fashioned butt kicking. UM led from start to finish, and got the lead up as high as 30, before putting in the scrubs and winning by “only” 29 points. Another “revenge” win.

Indiana (02/12/2017) – Michigan FINALLY won a true road game, in one of the toughest places to win: Assembly Hall. They didn’t just win, they won convincingly, and swept IU.

Wisconsin (02/16/2017) – Another big win, over a ranked (#11) team. Another “revenge” win. The fans were back, and thinking NCAA Tournament.

Minnesota (02/19/2017) – Another road game, another loss. This one was also close and tense, and went to overtime. The officiating was terrible, and Michigan shot free throws terribly, for the only time this season. Ugh.

Purdue (02/25/2017) – This game was Senior Night, and Michigan played their best game of the regular season, beating the Big Ten regular season champs. They were ranked #16 at the time.

Northwestern (03/01/2017) – Another road game, another loss. Northwestern probably had to win this game to guarantee their first ever NCAA Tournament bid, and it was a good, close, tense game. It was tied with 1.7 seconds left, and it looked like it was going to overtime, but NW threw a perfect full-court pass for a buzzer-beater layup. It could have been a crushing defeat for Michigan, but they shook it off nicely, winning their next 7 games.

Nebraska (03/05/2017) – Michigan bounced back from the heartbreaking loss at Northwestern with one of their best games of the season. They thrashed Nebraska on their Senior Night, winning by 36 points. Another (rare) road win!

Illinois (03/09/2017) – Illinois, again. This time, Michigan played them in the Big Ten Tournament, in Washington (DC). Any tournament game is a big deal, but this one was even bigger, since Michigan’s charter plane had a “rejected takeoff” during the 63-mph windstorm, and ended up sliding off the runway, through a security fence, across an access road, and into a field just short of a ravine. Everyone on board was basically safe, but there were some cuts and bruises, and everyone was shaken up. If the plane had slid into the ravine, there could have been serious injuries and even deaths. The team flew to DC the next morning, and got to the arena at 10:40 for a noon tipoff. Their game uniforms were trapped on board the crashed charter plane, so they played in their practice uniforms, with very little warmup. It didn’t matter: they crushed Maverick Morgan and his merry band again, 75-55. More revenge.

Purdue (03/10/2017) – Michigan was the #8 seed in the Big Ten Tournament, so they had to play the #1 seed, Purdue, if they won their 1st game. Purdue was the regular season Big Ten champions, ranked #13, playing their 1st game of the tournament, since they had a double bye. Didn’t matter. Michigan beat them again, this time in overtime. At least they finally had their game uniforms.

Minnesota (03/11/2017) – Michigan played their 3rd game in 3 days, and they played well. They continued their “revenge tour” with a win over Minnesota. This time, they shot their free throws well.

Wisconsin (03/12/2017) – Wisconsin was the #2 seed in the tournament, and they were ranked (#24). Didn’t matter. Michigan finished up their “revenge tour” with a very convincing 15-point win (71-56), for the Big Ten Tournament championship and the automatic berth in the NCAA Tournament.

Oklahoma State (03/17/2017) – These two teams had the two best offenses in the country, and they matched each other shot for shot the whole game. Michigan managed to pull ahead in the final minutes, then hung on to win by one, 92-91. Whew!

Louisville (03/19/2017) – This was probably Michigan’s most impressive win of the season, although I’m partial to the 29-point win over Michigan State. Louisville was the #2 seed in the Midwest Region, and they were ranked #10. It was a close, hard-fought game, with Louisville ahead most of the time, but UM grabbed a small lead in the closing minutes, and hung on for the huge win. On to the Sweet Sixteen!

Oregon (03/23/2017) – This was another nailbiter, against another high seed (#3) team that was ranked in the Top 10 (#9). It all came down to the final shot, at the buzzer, with Michigan down one point. It didn’t drop, and Michigan’s fairy tale run in the Big Dance was over.

Final Grades

Freshman Eligibility

Austin Davis (Inc.) – Austin was voluntarily redshirted this season, since UM had so much depth at center.

Brent Hibbitts (Inc.) – Brent only played in “garbage time” this season: 22 minutes in 10 games. He scored 3 points (on a 3-pointer), and he grabbed 4 rebounds.

Xavier Simpson (B-) – Xavier played in all 38 games, averaging 8.7 minutes/game. He scored 59 points, and dished out 37 assists. He didn’t shoot very often, or very well, but he did give Derrick Walton a rest every now and then. He did play pretty good defense.

Jon Teske (C-) – Jon played in 20 games, averaging 3.1 minutes/game. He only scored 5 points (1 basket and 3 free throws), and grabbed 12 rebounds. He was very tentative out there. Whenever he entered the game, the opposing center went right at him, backed him down, and scored over him easily. He just wasn’t ready this season.

Ibi Watson (C-) – Ibi played in 19 games, averaging 4.4 minutes/game. He scored 24 points, but he really struggled with his 3-point shooting: 1-for-18. He seemed pretty confident out there, but he just couldn’t buy a basket.

Fred Wright-Jones (Inc.) – Fred only played in “garbage time” this season: 18 minutes (lowest on the team) in 13 games. He scored 5 points, on a 3-pointer and 2 free throws.

Sophomore Eligibility

Charles Matthews (Inc.) – Charles had to sit out this season after transferring to Michigan from Kentucky. He’ll have sophomore eligibility next season.

Moritz Wagner (A) – Moe was easily the most improved player on the team this season. He started all 38 games, and he was 3rd on the team in scoring, averaging 12.1 points/game. He cut way down on his fouls and turnovers from last season. His defense still wasn’t as good as his offense, but he got better as the season went along.

DJ Wilson (A) – DJ is another vastly improved player. He played in all 38 games, and started all but the first 2. He averaged 11.0 points/game, and he led the team in rebounding with 203, and blocked shots with 57 (more than the rest of the team combined).

Junior Eligibility

Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman (B) – MAAR had an up-and-down season. He played in all 38 games, and started 37 of them. He averaged 9.1 points/game, but he had several mediocre games scattered among his normal productive games. When he’s “on”, he’s fine out there, but he disappeared several times this season.

Mark Donnal (C) – Mark regressed from his first 2 seasons, especially last season. It’s hard to believe that this is the same player who put up 28 points vs. Illinois last season. He almost acted disinterested out there at times. He played in all 38 games, and he averaged 3.9 points/game, but he also disappeared several times this season.

Sean Lonergan (Inc.) – Sean mostly played in “garbage time”, but he had a few brief appearances in significant game situations. Still, he only played 36 minutes in 17 games, and only scored 11 points.

Duncan Robinson (B-) – Duncan is another player who regressed from last season. He played in all 38 games, and he even started 3 of them, but he quickly lost his starting spot to DJ Wilson, and the rest of the season he came off the bench to provide “instant offense”. He averaged 7.7 points/game, which isn’t bad, but his 3-point shooting percentage was way down from last season. He also had a tough time staying in front of his man on defense, which limited his playing time.

Senior Eligibility

Andrew Dakich (Inc.) – Andrew was voluntarily redshirted. It’s odd to see a senior be redshirted, but Andrew voluntarily “burned his redshirt” the last 2 seasons to help the team when injuries sidelined point guards. He’ll graduate on time, and play a “grad transfer” year somewhere smaller where he can start and contribute.

Zak Irvin (B+) – Zak was the 2nd leading scorer on the team (13.0 points/game), 2nd in assists (113), and 3rd on the team in rebounding (172). He had a terrible shooting slump in the middle of the Big Ten season, but he broke out of it, and played some of his best basketball down the stretch. He still had a habit of taking too many long 2-pointers, and playing “hero ball” in crunch time, but overall he helped the team more than he hurt it.

Derrick Walton Jr. (A) – Derrick led the team in scoring (15.5 points/game), led the team in assists (189), and was 2nd in rebounding (182). He had a mediocre start to the season, but from the “white collar” game on, he was the best player on the team, and one of the best in the Big Ten. He carried Michigan on his back for the last 10 games or so.

Looking Ahead

Michigan is losing at least 4 players from this season’s team:

  • Andrew Dakich – Andrew is going to use the “grad transfer” rule to play somewhere else for his 5th year. If he can find the right situation, he can start and star somewhere else.
  • Mark Donnal – Mark is also going to play his “grad transfer” year somewhere else. He also stands a good chance for finding a team where he can shine. He’s a talented player, he’s just behind a few even more talented players on Michigan’s roster.
  • Zak Irvin – Zak is graduating, and he will be missed. He hasn’t been the most consistent player, and he’s taken (and missed) more than his share of “hero ball” shots over the years, but on the whole he’s helped Michigan a lot more than he’s hurt them.
  • Derrick Walton Jr. – Derrick is also graduating, and he will also be missed. He was certainly the most valuable player on this season’s team, and good point guards are hard to find.

There is also a chance that Sean Lonergan will use the “grad transfer” rule to play elsewhere next season. If so, I’m sure he can find a team that will let him play and contribute a lot.

Irvin and Walton will definitely be missed, and the other 3 guys played important roles either as backups or practice players, but Michigan has another good recruiting class coming in:

  • Eli Brooks – 6’1″, 175 pounds, G – Eli is a shooting point guard, with a good 3-point stroke.
  • Isaiah Livers – 6’7″, 195 pounds, W – Isaiah was voted Mr. Basketball for the state of Michigan this season. He’s a smooth wing with a nice 3-point shot.
  • Jordan Poole – 6’3″, 175 pounds, G – Jordan is a combo guard, with an emphasis on shooting guard.

I hate to say too much about incoming freshmen until I’ve seen them play in an actual game or two. It’s easy to get excited about high school seniors, but they are usually a lot less exciting as college freshmen. Ibi Watson and Jon Teske are this season’s prime examples.

In addition to the 3 incoming freshmen, there will be 2 more new players on next season’s roster:

  • Austin Davis – As mentioned above, Austin was voluntarily redshirted this season, since UM had so much depth at center. Jon Teske played (sparingly) instead, and didn’t show us much. Coach Beilein second guessed his decision later in the season. Apparently, Austin has done very well in practice this season.
  • Charles Matthews – Charles has played on the scout team all this season, so he knows the Beilein offense. Reports from practice say that he’s done very well. We’ll see next season in real games.

In summary, the future looks very promising for Michigan for next season and beyond.

Be sure to look for the first article for next season on the Monday before the first game.

Go Blue!