Wednesday, November 12, 2014

A-Rank MI

MI has some issues similar to Indiana, starting with a lack of size (this will be a common refrain in the Big Ten as there is little quality size). After the graduation of Jordan Morgan, transfer of Horford, and McGary leaving early for the NBA, MI is decimated down low. Like IU the talent on this team is in the backcourt so expect to see lots of 3 and 4 guard lineups. Against Wayne St MI rotated 4 guys through the center position and none looked all that good. 3 Freshman took turns in the 1st half as Mark Donnal got the start, Ricky Doyle came in 2nd, and then DJ Wilson. In the 2nd half Junior Max Bielfeldt got minutes at center as well. This is clearly a position Beilein is trying to figure out, and this will probably be a problem all season. No shot blocking and poor rebounding will not help a MI defense that is usually not all that great anyway.

The point guard position has some returning talent in Walton Jr and Albrecht. They shared the point guard minutes and played some together too against Wayne St. Their load is easier because Lavert does a lot of the ball handling, especially in the half court. Albrecht is more of a short shooter than a point guard, but he has shown he can hold down the fort for 15 or so minutes a game as a backup. Walton Jr had a solid freshman season shooting 43%, 41% from 3 and he had a 2-1 assist to turnover ratio. He will have to maintain that efficiency with a lot more opportunities for MI to be successful.

As young as IU is this year, MI is even younger. MI has no seniors, and just 3 juniors. Against Wayne St 6 freshman got first half minutes and appear to be in the running to be in the rotation. The good news is that one of the experienced Juniors is Lavert, who looked great. He looks even more confident and comfortable handling the ball and could easily be the Big Ten Player of the year.

MI will play a bunch of guard/wings at the 2,3,4 positions. They did play more of the above mentioned centers at the 4 spot in the 2nd half, but it's hard to keep your best players off the court just to have size out there. They used Lavert, Irvin, and highly regarded freshman Kameron Chatman in those spots to start the game. Freshman Abdur-Rahkman and Aubrey Dawkins both came off the bench but did not show much to think they will be major contributors. Not surprising for freshman.

Despite the similarities I don't expect MI to struggle like IU, as they have much more returning talent. Beyond Lavert, I expect Irvin and Walton to have great years with expanded roles in their sophomore campaigns. This should be a team that can score with most teams in the country so they should win their fair share. Not an elite offense like they have had in recent years, but pretty good. The defense will hold them back from being a Big Ten title contender, but they should be a tournament team.

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