Michigan Basketball: Final Basketball — Wrap-Up
Putting the Baby to Bed
Placing everything into proper context- this was a season to remember, just like last year.
It is fitting after a week off from the final game of the season, disappointing loss that it was, to write a summary article about an exciting basketball season.
Early on, well before the season, the strengths and weaknesses of this team were pretty clear. The biggest mystery was to what extent would the returning players neutralize the loss of first-round draft picks Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr. The answer was pretty well, indeed, pretty well.The prediction was for 22 regular season wins: the team surpassed that mark. The tournament prediction was Sweet Sixteen: the team slightly surpassed that as well. The team was picked in the annual preview series as a fourth-place finisher. This mark was greatly surpassed, and the achievement of a clear league title could have only been surpassed with another Final Four run.
On the surface, this team may have overachieved, although the margin of over-achievement is not monumental, but instead well within normal boundaries of predictive error.
The two perennial Michigan weaknesses, rebounding and defense (especially inside defense), were automatic topics of discussion. However, it was thought Mitch McGary would remedy the rebounding situation. McGary was never completely healthy, so this concern popped back up like a springtime mushroom once McGary had to give up the season. The defense again showed leaks galore, but in most cases the Michigan offense, one of the most pure in college basketball, overcame the deficiencies.The shooting was every bit the equal of last year as Stauskas asserted himself as a force. Glen Robinson III continued his light switch approach of off and on, but consternation should be somewhat muted. It seems that, like Hardaway before him, guys that have to guard up a spot on defense and stand in the corner on offense waiting for opportunities have variable success.
One great thing that happened starting in mid January was the improved play of Caris LeVert. He drastically cut in number and timing his mistakes, played better than average defense, and had no problem going against any team or individual. His offensive skills now consist of much better passing and improved shot selection. He metamorphosed into a true asset and team player. His future is bright with a ton more work like last summer.
Spike was Spike: finding a way to contribute. He has future coach written all over him, if that is his choice of profession. Very high-level athletes still give him trouble, but his positives outweigh liabilities. He accepts his role with enthusiasm, something that is not guaranteed in today’s culture.Derrick Walton Junior served his role well. His play improved, and this improvement again shows Beilein is excellent at getting production out of a point guard in a short period of time. Burke, Morris, and Walton all were decent players by the second half of their freshman seasons.
Zak Irvin is an even more spectacular light switch. He can be a high-powered microwave, can be is the key phrase. If this guy improves as much as Caris did over last summer, and settles into team play, look out. Frankly, his starting point should be defense, where there is little praise that can be distributed.
Jordan Morgan, limitations, bad hands, and clumsy moments all considered, did not prevent him from being the ultimate icon of the team’s success this year. He demonstrated why coaches love fifth-year players with a great attitude. Morgan held his ground as well he could. There were numerous times when Jordan made big time, must-have plays. His rebounding was, in some games, all that Michigan had going in that department of statistics. Morgan has earned the highest respect of basketball followers and his success will bring sweet memories later in his journeys.Again, Beilein showed a vision and the patience to see it out to conclusion. His offense can eat any team alive, if not prepared; take for example the execution of the team against the Kentucky professional development team that it is rumored will have four more freshmen declare. Of course the pundits blamed Michigan’s success on poor Kentucky defense.
Beilein runs a clean program with minimal public scrutiny. There is something to be said for this approach, there should be much to be said in actuality. His approach is nearly unique. Wins and losses may surmise the success of most coaches, but only seeing John Beilein in that narrow vein is an injustice.
The wild ride could only be considered a success. It was not a far, far better thing than ever done before, but the total volume of work was certainly a classic.
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Written by GBMWolverine Staff — Doc4Blu
Go Blue — Wear Maize!