2013-14 College Basketball Season Preview: Michigan

Written by Paul Banks of the Washington Times, David Kay and Peter Christian of the The Sports Bank. Send Paul an e-mail here: paulb05 AT hotmail DOT com.
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Michigan Wolverines (Last Year: 31-8, 12-6 in Big Ten)

2013-14 Projected Depth Chart:

F/C: Mitch McGary (Soph)/Jon Horford (Jr)

PF: Jordan Morgan (Sr)/Max Bielfeldt (Soph)/Marc Donnal (Fr)

SF: Glenn Robinson (Soph)/Zack Irvin (Fr)

SG: Nik Stauskas (Soph)/Caris LeVert (Soph)

PG: Spike Albrecht (Soph)/Derrick Walton (Fr)

Gone: PG-Trey Burke, SG-Tim Hardaway Jr., SG-Matt Vogrich, G-Eso Akunne, PF-Blake McLimans (transfer-Miami, OH)

2013-14 Outlook:
A year after finishing as National runnerups, the Michigan Wolverines must replace Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr., who both bolted early for the NBA Draft. John Beilein almost lost Glenn Robinson, III and Mitch McGary as well, but those two players decided to return to Ann Arbor and will be the keys to Michigan’s success this season.

McGary played his best basketball when it mattered most, averaging 14.3 points and 10.7 rebounds per game during the NCAA Tournament. He is an extremely aggressive player who brings terrific energy to the floor, but has been limited during the preseason due to a back injury. At the Big Ten Media Day, McGary called himself day-to-day and said there is no real timetable for his return, though he is hoping to be back in time for the Puerto Rico Tip-Off.

“I feel and the coaches feel that they don’t necessarily need me right now,” McGary added. “I’m just trying to be ready for December rather than now. [The coaches] want me to be 100% by then rather than coming back and re-injuring myself and be out for longer.”

Like McGary, Robinson, III could have left early for the 2013 NBA Draft, and likely been a lottery pick, but decided to return for his sophomore year. He played a lot of the four last season, but will slide to his more natural small forward position since he is a versatile wing who can shoot it from the outside and is also explosive at the rim.

Robinson, III will take on a much larger role this season in helping to replace the offensive production of Burke and Hardaway Jr. He told me that played into his decision to stay in school. “We have a number of guys who can step up including myself,” he said. “I’ll have to make some of those plays, knocking down some big shots. That’s something I’m looking forward to showcasing this season; who I am, what I can do as a player.”

Nik Stauskas is another returning sophomore starter who is expected to take on a larger role this season. The Canadian is a sniper from the outside as he connected on 44% of his triple tries and is also an underrated athlete who can fly at the rim. Without question, that trio of Stauskas, McGary, and Robinson, III will dictate how deep a run Michigan can make in March.

The biggest question mark for the Wolverines comes at point guard, where Spike Albrecht and Derrick Walton attempt to fill the void left behind by Burke. Albrecht made a name for himself by catching fire in the first half of the National Title game versus Louisville, but played sparingly during his freshman season. Walton was a highly touted recruit who brings more athleticism and play-making to the point guard position.

“We’ve seen some great leadership through Derrick,” Robinson, III told me about the freshman floor general. “He’s a great point guard, pass-first similar to Spike. He has some qualities like Trey. He can knock down some shots also. Both of them, if you leave them open, they can knock it down.”

Another top-100 freshman, Zach Irvin will join sophomore Caris LeVert in providing depth on the wing. Both guys are capable of hitting the deep ball and can also attack the basket.

Expected to start up front with McGary is senior Jordan Morgan, who actually lost his starting job to McGary late last season. Morgan makes his mark on the defensive end with his physicality and rebounding. Jon Horford and Max Bielfeldt give Beilein two more active big men who should see minutes off the bench, although they will be pushed by freshman Mark Donnal unless he decides to take a redshirt year.

“This year we’re going to be more team-oriented,” McGary stated. “Last year, we relied a lot on Tim and Trey, but this year we have guys who are a lot more mature. Our sophomore class, including me and Glenn, are going to step up real big and be some of the main guys on the team.” That is what the Michigan Wolverines need to pick up where they left off at the end of last season. McGary, Robinson, III and Stauskas will lead the way, but there is more depth on the roster, which should have Beilein’s boys competing with Michigan State and Ohio State for the Big Ten title.

Player to Watch: Glenn Robinson III, SF
Robinson spent time this summer at the Kevin Durant Camp and the LeBron James Skills Academy, which should do wonders for his all-around game. There will be plenty of NBA talk surrounding both he and McGary this season, so maintaining focus on this season and not thinking ahead to the 2014 NBA Draft is a necessity.

Key Non-Conference Games:
  • 11/17 at Iowa State
  • 11/21 vs. Long Beach State (Puerto Rico Tip-Off)
  • 11/22 vs. VCU/Florida State (Puerto Rico Tip-Off)
  • 11/24 vs. Georgetown/Northeastern/Kansas State/Charlotte (Puerto Rico Tip-Off)
  • 12/3 at Duke (Big Ten/ACC Challenge)
  • 12/14 vs. Arizona
  • 12/21 vs. Stanford (at Barclays Center)

  • Predicted Big Ten Finish: 3rd

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