#38 Michigan Men's Basketball Preview

Michigan Wolverines

Overall Rank: #38
Conference Rank: #5 Big Ten
Michigan Men's College Basketball Logo
Michigan Team Page

2010-11: 21-14, 9-9
2010-11 postseason: NCAA
Coach: John Beilein (67-67 at Michigan, 618-385 overall)

Michigan has a lot of expectations heading into the 2011-2012 campaign. Returning four starters from an NCAA Tournament team will do that. The Big Ten is pretty open too and the Wolverines have the talent to make a run at a conference crown. However, they will need a point guard and the lone returning option at the point is Stu Douglass. The 6-3 senior is not a true point guard by any means; he is mostly a shooter, but he did spend some time running the show last season. His experience and knowledge of Coach Beilein’s offense will make him a very important contributor for Michigan, especially early in the year when Michigan faces some big non-conference games.

Who’s Out:
The early departure of Darius Morris is creating the questions on the perimeter. Morris led Michigan with 15.0 points and 6.7 assists per contest. He was not always a consistent player, but Morris created opportunities for himself and his teammates and that is something Douglass will struggle to do. Morris is the only player who saw any significant playing time who is not back in Ann Arbor.

Who’s In:
Freshmen Trey Burke and Carlton Brundidge may be the most important players for the Wolverines. Burke, Ohio’s reigning Mr. Basketball, is the likely candidate to replace Morris if Douglass is not up for the job. Burke is a very good athlete who can get to the basket better than Douglass, but it remains to be seen if he is capable of taking over the starting point guard duties as a freshman. Brundidge is more comfortable off the ball, but he may be thrown into the mix if needed. Forwards Max Bielfeldt and Sai Tummala will likely need some time to develop before cracking the regular rotation.

Who to Watch:
The frontcourt needs to be more productive this season if Michigan does indeed battle for a Big Ten title. Jordan Morgan showed glimpses of his athleticism and potential last season. He ended the year averaging 9.2 points and 5.4 rebounds, but those numbers could be much better. Morgan will need to stay out of foul trouble if he hopes to have a bigger sophomore season. Evan Smotrycz is a big perimeter player. At 6-9, he has plenty of size, but he is a wing. Smotrycz is a good shooter and that is what he does. Asking him to help out more on the glass probably would not be too productive. That leaves the 6-4 Zack Novak spending some time at the four spot. Novak led Michigan with 5.8 rebounds per contest and is a decent all-around scorer. Jon Horford had a decent freshman campaign in limited action and should play a much bigger role this season. If the 6-8, 220 pound sophomore can team up with Morgan, the frontcourt will have size and athleticism and Smotrycz can come in off the bench like he did at the end of last season.

Final Projection:
Sophomore Tim Hardaway Jr. will be the new go-to-scorer. As a freshman he quickly emerged as a dynamic scorer who can attack the basket and knock down the long ball with consistency. Hardaway Jr. is ready to fill the scoring void left behind by Morris. After averaging 13.9 points per game last season and having his best outings late in the campaign, there is little reason to think he cannot be the next big time scorer for the Wolverines. Matt Vogrich will be the primary backup at the shooting guard spot after averaging 3.2 points per game last season. However, the scorers will have a tough time doing much of anything if there is nobody who can get them the ball. This is a young team brimming with talent and potential, but without an experienced point guard, Michigan will fail to live up to their expectations.

Projected Postseason Tournament: NCAA

Projected Starting Five:
Stu Douglass, Senior, Guard, 7.1 points per game
Tim Hardaway, Sophomore, Guard, 13.9 points per game
Zack Novak, Senior, Guard, 8.9 points per game
Evan Smotrycz, Sophomore, Forward, 6.3 points per game
Jordan Morgan, Sophomore, Forward, 9.2 points per game

Madness 2011 Men's Basketball Recruit Rankings:
#72 Carlton Brundidge
#113 Trey Burke

Check out another story about Michigan basketball