Michigan Basketball: An Initial Look at the 2013-2014 Team
Last year was one for the ages, with Michigan going to the National Championship Game and challenging a very talented Louisville team down to the last minute. Now, Trey Burke and Hardaway Junior have departed, leaving two big holes. But such is the nature of college basketball.
This year’s team has plenty of talent, decent size, and has flexible parts. This team also has some talented sophomores that have gained a year’s experience.
Losing a consensus National Player of the Year at point guard hurts but need not be fatal. Having a part-time sophomore and newcomer freshman sharing the point guard duties may or may not work out. Derrick Walton is a Beilein type of player. He is not the opposite of Trey Burke, but perhaps there are more differences in style than similarities. Derrick is a little thicker than Trey and plays a game where the total game control and shooting of Burke will not be evidenced as much. He is a point guard that has always valued control and is very willing to pass up scoring to get the ball to others. He does not have the wow factor of Burke but could actually over time equal or surpass Burke’s efficiency. He is about efficiency. Freshman point guards have good days and bad days, usually depending on the competition quality. So, as with all freshman point guards, sit back, watch, and expect a little of everything.
Helping the situation at point guard is the return of gym rat Spike Albrecht. He is a typical Indiana point guard that while he may not be a superb physical player, knows the game and uses his brain to compete. The Louisville game demonstrated the very fabric of Spike. Spike will play the one and the two slots and hopefully his defense, while not horrible, has improved.
About half of Michigan’s team could play the two or three position. The apparent starter will be bomber Nik Stauskas. In Beilein’s offense parts are simply interchangeable. Articles coming out of Michigan’s fall camp have consistently referred to Stauskas working on his strength, gaining weight, and becoming more proficient at finishing at the rim. As seen last year, when Stauskas can be a double threat, Michigan is tough to stop.
Glenn Robinson III can play the three or the four spot. Word is that he has followed the Burke and Hardaway model of last year and has shown significant improvement. Of the four major talents Michigan had last year, Robinson may be the best five years down the road. Last year Glenn evaporated at times, similar to Hardaway early in his career. Glenn knows with the two leaders now departed that he must assume a bigger role. Some consider him a tweener type of player, but most see big future potential.
The center spot (not officially listed on the Michigan roster) is still somewhat unsettled with Mitch McGary’s back injury. His progress during the tournament run should translate to a big year, providing his back holds up. Backs are tricky. For once Michigan has some inside depth at the four and five slots with Jordan Morgan, Jon Horford, and Max Beilfeldt providing bulk, fouls, and minutes.
Michigan always seems to have some wild cards that may add extra energy and offense to the team. The two players that come to mind are freshman sharpshooter Zak Irvin and the most unorthodox Caris LeVert. Time will tell if these two players provide instant offense off the bench or work themselves into starting roles at guard. One thing for certain, Michigan’s opponents cannot slack off the perimeter, just like last year.
Defense and rebounding may actually improve this year. We will see. The offense will again be dynamic, even with the loss of about 35 points per game. Again, Michigan fans should enjoy the ride.
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Written by GBMWolverine Staff
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