Trey Burke. He's back again this year to terrorize PSU fans. - Rick Osentoski-US PRESSWIRE
An experienced, returning core supplemented by an exciting freshman class has Ann Arbor buzzing in Crisler Arena this season.
|Last Year||24-10 (13-5)|
|Coach||John Beilein, 6th year|
|Who's Gone||Zack Novak, Stu Douglass, Evan Smotrycz|
|Who's Back||Trey Burke, Tim Hardaway Jr, Jordan Morgan, Matt Vogrich|
|Who's New||Mitch McGary, Glenn Robinson III, Nik Staukas, Spike Albrecht|
Michigan had a very strong year last season behind Trey Burke's breakout campaign. The true freshman had the enormous task of replacing Darius Morris but made the transition seamless for John Beilein's team. He proved himself as one of the elite players in college basketball and led the Wolverines to a surprising 4-seed in the NCAA tournament. It all quickly came to an end, however, as the Ohio Bobcats, led by now-Illinois head coach John Groce, pulled the upset in the 2nd round of the NCAA tournament. Burke briefly flirted with entering the NBA draft but returned to school to avenge the early exit from the Big Dance last year and compete for a Big Ten title.
While Burke, Tim Hardaway Jr, and Jordan Morgan return, they lost two of the big staples in Beilein's program the last four years - Zack Novak and Stu Douglass. While perhaps the two didn't post big numbers, their experience and leadership were invaluable to the Wolverines, particularly Novak. Beilein will now have to turn to Burke, Hardaway Jr, and Morgan to step up and fill the leadership void in the lockerroom and on the floor.
Hardaway Jr. will look to build off a productive, but uninspiring sophomore campaign that saw him continue to be inconsistent in league play. His shot selection left a lot to be desired, as he averaged over five 3PA a game despite connecting at just 28.3%. However, Hardaway is still explosive attacking the rim and has NBA potential.
Morgan's return will greatly benefit Burke, as he was the primary ball-screener for the point guard who thrived in pick-and-roll situations. He's an experienced rebounder and a career 62.3% shooter from the floor.
In addition to these key returners, Beilein welcomes arguably the most anticipated recruiting class in his career. The five-man class consists of a few Top-100 players who will have an impact in Ann Arbor this season. 6'10" big man, Mitch McGary, chose Michigan over a host of elite schools like Duke, North Carolina, and Kentucky. They also added to their NBA protege collection with Glenn Robinson III, an explosive, versatile athlete that can play on the wing or down low. Top-100 Canadian, Nik Stauskas, should also see plenty of time as a knockdown shooter on the wing in Beilein's system.
This is one of Beilein's more interesting clubs simply because they do not fit the profile of his past teams. This bunch has more athleticism than one is accustomed to seeing from Beilein. That should help tremendously on defense and on the glass, two areas where his teams have struggled in the past. But on offense, the lack of proven perimeter shooting is glaring. Either Beilein's offense will have to be less reliant on the three-ball, or some shooters need to dramatically increase their efficiency or emerge from the freshman class.
This team was ranked #5 in both preseason polls. That seems a bit high for right now, but with a dynamic playmaker in Burke, MIchigan has the potential to win the Big Ten title. WIh some of the other heavy hitters in this league however, I'm not buying the Wolverines to be crowned Big Ten champs this season.
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