Michigan Basketball: Preview of 2012-2013 Season — High Hopes Abound!!
Well hello to all: football fans, basketball fans, and generic Michigan fans. Visions of football are still an ongoing propriety. However, basketball season, yes, basketball season, is now upon us. We old-timers remember when a college basketball season started around December 1st. For those who like to focus on one thing at a time, having football and basketball going simultaneously full speed ahead may be problematical. For those who love multitasking their sports’ focus, this is a great time of year.
Northern Michigan at Michigan (Exhibition)
Thursday/Nov. 1, 2012
7:00pm Eastern Time
The Wolverine basketball team of last year was ranked 11th nationally to start the season. Our staff view, and mine in particular, was that the team was more in the 20 to 25 ranking range. And that is just about what happened. Ohio University took the air out of the balloon at the start of the NCAA tournament and Bobcat Coach Grobe has moved on to the Illinois job.
The reasons given for the disagreement with the media’s giddiness for last year’s preseason assessment included: (1) lack of overall size; (2) lack of an inside game; (3) a failure to value rebounding; (4) a somewhat soft defense, but improved, and (5) less than potent three point shooting, even though the common thought was that Michigan was loaded with three point shooters. The truth is that statistically the three point shooting was not lights out the last few years for Michigan’s offense. Sometimes the big shot fell and sometimes it did not fall, or even get away, as in the case of UM’s loss to Ohio University.
Still, looking at everything combined about last year, it remains amazing Michigan secured a share of the league title.
Things have changed, in theory, and probably in reality, for the better, which is great news. Frankly, Michigan basketball appears to be in good shape for the 2012-2013 season. Talk of maybe making the NCAA Tournament is not at the crux of this year’s basketball conversation, this is an assumption now, not a wish.
The Gaa-Gaa media have Michigan as high as fifth in the nation. This lofty position will be hard to achieve after all the smoke clears by the beginning of April. With the Big Ten having three teams in the top five, self-inflicted wounds may hurt the final rankings of Indiana, Ohio State, Michigan State, and Michigan. It is very hard for any team to hold a number one ranking, and it is hard for any team to hold a top five ranking. Those four teams will slug it out this year in the conference, never mind that teams like Purdue, Minnesota, Illinois, and really everyone else is hoping to catch a big fish napping. The winner of the Big Ten may take four conference losses and still be a great team. So, in summary, fifth seems a little high, but the ten to fifteen range is very doable. Michigan could win a league title or still be a better team than last year and finish anywhere between 2nd and 5th. However, no team worth its salt will settle for anyone else minimizing achievement. Prove us wrong guys and win it all.
The 2012-2013 team must still be built. There are five freshmen who will contribute for the first time. Michigan still has not proven as a team to have an inside game. The annually proclaimed improvement of Jon Horford gives hope. The hard work of Jordan Morgan may pay off with more talent to feed the bear on easy dunks when Michigan’s playmakers get to the rim. And it will be interesting to see how Coach Beilein uses touted freshman Mitch McGary. The early bet here is that Mitch will be used inside and outside, depending on the opponent and how he can most help Michigan in a particular game.Last year Coach Beilein declared a minor war on soft defense. The Michigan defense was improved and a little tougher overall, but still the inability to play tough on the perimeter remained a problem. This shortcoming showed up at the end of the Ohio University game. OU played much faster and tougher perimeter defense.
This year Coach Beilein has seemed to declare war on his past rebounding does not matter that much and just happens comments. Board play has always been decried as a Beilein system weakness. It is obvious to any observer, novice or highly skilled like Coach Beilein, that rebounding cost Michigan last year and years previous.
The war on rebounding deficiency starts in the weight room. Coach Beilein has gone out of his way to give a positive evaluation of the progress of strength and conditioning for basketball. McGary can rebound, period, so that will help the war effort. Coach Beilein has also mentioned the willingness of Hardaway Junior to get on the boards. Horford could help if he truly has improved, but he may be more valuable at rejecting a shot now and then, a trait of defense Michigan has only had moderate success with in many years. Jordan Morgan works hard and he can use his bulk, but he is very slow off the floor and do not expect that to change. Newcomer Little Dog Glenn Robinson III offers some additional hope for a good rebounding team. He has grown since being recruited and hopefully his father’s nastiness on the boards is genetic. Again, summarizing, by pure roster composition, Michigan should be a better rebounding team this year, maybe much, much, better.The three point shooting is the team trait that will remain in the wait and see category. There is simply no way of knowing the results. Zac and Stu are gone. They hit some big threes in their careers, but missed a ton as well. This team may go inside better than last year’s team, giving the perimeter guys better looks. There is a big percentage difference between shooting a three with a guy in your face and a wide-open horse game style three-point shot. There is no doubt that Coach Beilein will use the inside threat to attempt to open up the outside game.
Trey Burke and Hardaway Junior going to the rim will continue to provide kick-outs to perimeter shooters. And McGary, even as a freshman, will demand inside defensive help. Burke can shoot the three. When the Karma is right Hardaway Junior can hit threes. Matt Vogrich will take over Stu’s role as part time bomber and full time leader. Matt finally has gained enough bulk to at least somewhat hang with big guards. The wild card in the three-point game will be freshman Nik Stauskas. Some sites loved this guy and others were more tepid in proclaiming college success. Nik is a light them up type of guy, a microwave player. If he gets off to a nice start and gains confidence UM may have a coldblooded Novak type that is a better shooter.
GBMWolvereine will look into the team personnel more closely. So, Go Blue, beat Minnesota, and Go Blue, beat Slippery Rock.
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Written by GBMWolverine Staff — Doc4Blu
Go Blue — Wear Maize!