Michigan Wolverine Basketball: Looking Ahead — At Some Risk


Posted at 7:00am — 4/11/2015

Michigan Wolverine Basketball: Looking Ahead — At Some Risk

The Michigan Basketball Baby

In one of Laurel and Hardy’ best short features, Brats, The gentlemanly Oliver sings to the brats (younger Ollie and Stan) the words “Go to sleep my baby (babies).” He did this with some anger and just wanted the brats to go to sleep. Likewise, the Michigan basketball baby was gladly put to sleep by many Oliver’s after the Big Ten tournament. But with good-natured sports fans, it takes little time to start discussing the future and building future interest.

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Michigan will face many uncertainties next season. The first, and soon to be determined, mystery will be whether or not Caris LeVert decides to skip his final season and enter the NBA Draft. Draft projections have Caris LeVert all over the place, from mid first-round to off the projection chart. The NBA draft is far more of a head-scratching venture than the NFL spring loony bin monstrosity. Every NBA organization has far differing opinions, and add these up across the board and, excepting the obvious first few choices, there is a clear range of diversity, and as a result many surprises arise.

It is hard to envision that Caris is being listed ahead of Dekker and Kaminsky in some mock drafts and not even mentioned in others. Every pro team has needs and a vision of who can play at the NBA level. Caris is coming off of a serious injury and possessing a slender frame offers reason for scouts and front-office folks to balance risk and reward in the decision making process.

Most prospects reply on services that evaluate and give recommendations. First round selection guarantees money, so if a prospect has good faith in his evaluation that he will be a first round selection, then usually the opportunity must be pursued. Second round picks who are not seniors have no guarantees and must face a risk, one that seniors no longer have to weigh, and may make a splash and stick in the league, or get splashed quickly and enter the adult work world.

Michigan Wolverines
Michigan Wolverines /

Michigan Wolverines

Two other injuries will still loom large. Spike Albrecht had hip surgery and will be lucky to see full time duty by November, if then. He has demonstrated leadership, toughness, and gave about all he could last year. He went from playing five to ten minutes to well past 30 minutes a game.

Derrick Walton, another guard, missed a major part of the 2014-15 season. Toes influence balance, agility, and lift. Dizzy Dean ruined a baseball career by pitching on a broken toe just a few days after getting a shot off a bat, and his compensation caused permanent arm damage. When ligaments are damaged through stretching the future becomes unknown. There is no information here as to the nature or extent of Walton’s injury, or his chance at full recovery.

Michigan has some luxury going into next season from the experience freshmen Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman and Aubrey Dawkins gained playing through the rough Big Ten season. Both show an ability to score. Both should improve on defense next year by hard work and possess a competition focus that is refreshing.

The middle will not be Kentucky or Duke like, but the trio of big guys last year held the fort for an offense that demanded some inside help. Ricky Doyle can rebound and is, as was advertised, a Big Ten type banger. Mark Donnal has a long way to go, but his good moments at the end of the season provide some hope for a second good big man. Donnal really needs to hit the weight room and not be as passive as last year.

When Caris LeVert went down with his foot injury, Zak Irvin became the most likely candidate to take over the role of primary scorer. He was happy to accept the challenge. Little by little, Zak started to accomplish more than just launch from the deep depths of the court. There were times his inside game yielded nice results and times his lack of elite jumping quickness and size mustered bunches of rejections.

Clearly his mission of becoming a more complete player will continue with intensity under Beilein’s management. One thing about Zak, it is a joy to watch his genuine enthusiasm for the game and the moment. Hopefully his three point antics diminish and he continues to celebrate down court after setting up to play (some) defense.

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  • The 2015-16 newcomers are uncertain entities. Duncan Robinson has been hyped up for his publicized practice shooting. As we all know, the Missouri “show me” scenario applies to newcomers not yet proven at Division One level play. But do not discount his potential merely because he played Division III ball. His situation is not typical; with such early success and a late growth spurt, good things may just happen. Sitting out a year has to be helpful in Robinson’s eventual success.

    The other newcomer, Moritz Wagner, is from across the Atlantic. He does have height at 6’ 9” or so, but is skinny and not a great shooter. He needs plenty of help in adjusting to the major college game of the United States. But, being with Coach John Beilein is a real plus for learning the fine art and science of shooting.

    The real wild card will be Kameron Chatman. Highly heralded, young Chatman was given numerous opportunities and the results were simply disappointing. Chatman has offensive skills and a peek was provided the last few games of the season. The intangibles will be important ground for Kameron’s improvement and living up to his advanced billing. Motivation, confidence, aggressiveness, traits of this nature, must more than marginally increase or improve..

    If nothing else, next year will be interesting, and hopefully not as much of a mystery as presented within this article.

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    Written by GBMWolverine Staff — Doc4Blu

    Go Blue — Wear Maize!