Does Michigan Lack a "Put the Team on my Back" Guy for a Tournament Run?

I could not be more thrilled about the success of this year’s team. They play beautiful basketball, share the ball, are well-coached, have skilled players at every position, and boast all-Big Ten caliber players. And yet when I think about a deep tournament run it is always with a guy who can put the team on his back, get buckets in a crunch. Of course, on any given night we have several guys who could do that, which explains a good deal of our success. My concern is that when they are under the lights and things aren’t going right and you just need “that guy” to put the team on the back, who will it be? Wagner and Livers don’t really have that alpha Trey Burke/Glen Rice dawg. Can they evolve?

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is it always? seems like a misconception more than anything . 2018 Michigan didn’t have anything like that at all, I’d say Dickinson is much closer to that than anything the 2018 Michigan team had. Glen Rice’s and Trey Burke’s don’t grow on trees.


Did the 2019 UVA team have that guy? 2017 UNC? I think that stuff is more of a media talking point, but is really not as relevant as it’s made out to be


One thing about Burke is that The Shot is The Shot, but he did it in so many different ways. He also forced that 10-second violation in that game pressuring the ball. In the OSU game that year, the block on Craft. Etc., etc. You don’t have to do it just by scoring. And Burke missed those shots many times himself.

That said, Livers is kind of getting there, isn’t he? He’s really taken big bucket-getter steps as a senior. We’re not likely to win with him playing heroball either way though.


Well let’s look at recent champions. If we use Kenpom’s designation of a “go to guy” (28% usage or more) and chop out non-starters/major minute guys for obvious reasons, we get these results for the last decade+. For reference, Hunter is at 25.8% this year.

2019 Virginia: None / Highest usage = Ty Jerome (24.1%)

2018 Villanova: None / Highest usage = Jalen Brunson (26.0%)

2017 UNC: None / Highest usage = Justin Jackson (23.9%)

2016 Villanova: None / Highest usage = Josh Hart (23.6%)

2015 Duke: Close, but none / highest usage = Jahlil Okafor (27.8%)

2014 UConn: Shabazz Napier (28.0%)

2013 Louisville: Russ Smith (32.0%)

2012 Kentucky: None / highest usage = Terrence Jones (22.5%)

2011 UConn: Kemba Walker (31.4%)

2010 Duke: None / highest usage = Kyle Singler (24.2%)

2009 UNC: None / highest usage = Tyler Hansbrough (26.7%)

2008 Kansas: None / highest usage = Darrell Arthur (25.1%)

2007 Florida: None / highest usage = Joakim Noah (25.5%)


I think it’s Dickinson if you guard him 1-on-1 and if you double him then it’s can you guard our 4 shooters/drivers with your 3 scrambling defenders


I always think this way too - but there are plenty of teams without that clear cut alpha that have had deep runs - and their have been plenty of teams that have depended on solely one guy. Personally, I’d rather have the deep team.

One caveat though - I think more than alpha play, guard play is crucial in March. But I think Mike Smith has shown he can handle, run an offense and most importantly, create out of the pick and roll. I’d argue that he’d be the perfect guy in a tie game or down 1 to run a high ball screen and make something happen (not necessarily take the shot, but he can absolutely hit one if someone leaves him open).

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:dart: :dart: :dart:


The Team, the Team, the Team. Belief and Trust and the Process is “that guy”. One “always dependable guy” actually works against that aspect a bit.

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I don’t think we lack “a” guy, I think we have 3-4 that are capable of it in any given game. Hunter, Franz, Zay, and something tells me Smith has some big shots in him in March/April.


This is my list too. Franz, Livers, and smith aren’t so great at creating for themselves consistently, but I think they can create within this offense. They are all just such willing passers that they can get to the rim but would rather dump off to Hunter or make a good decision instead of forcing something up.

The truly great players can make shots they force up a lot, and we don’t have THAT guy. But that won’t be what stops us in The tourney

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When I think of deep tourney runs for Michigan, I don’t think so much of a guy who willed the team to victory after victory. Instead I think of a run of individual games where a different guy stepped up each time.


I guess it depends on perspective. I think Hunter can be that guy and the obvious pick. That being said if we are looking at a guard I think Smith would be the right answer. He shoots well from 2 and shoots great from 3. For instance back in 2019 Kyle Guy lit it up the last 3 games averaged 22ppg didn’t miss many shots and never stepped off the court playing 126 minutes out of 130 total. Does Michigan have a guy that can do that??? I still believe Smith can hunt his shot a bit more, he’s done a great job of running the offense. Still believe Franz can hunt his shot more as well, only took 4 shots against OSU and turning down open looks. The good thing is with their next few games we will have the opportunity to see if there are guys that have it in them.

Run your sets well, there will be a guy open. And totally agree, Michigan doesn’t have one–at least not after you make Dickinson the fulcrum–it has three or four.


Livers has shown that he can get you buckets in spots when you need it, but this team doesn’t seem like it has the deficiency of needing to rely on one guy to save them. Hunter is your guy that creates a matchup problem, but we have a lot of other options to go to if he is off or gets into foul trouble.

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I feel like Dickinson would be that guy if he had Austin David’s patience. HD will rush shots. He’s still a great choice to run a play for in the clutch, but I like Matt’s answer. Run your sets, b/c most of the time that works best.

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It seems to me that the one consistent in a deep tournament run is a strong PG. I think Smith fits the bill enough, even if he’s not quite on the level of some of the other recent championship PG’s. He’s experienced, even if not tournament-tested.


This is what I was thinking - I don’t think Hunter is a bad idea, I just think there is situations where it may take him too long to get the ball and rush his moves (think 6.9 seconds on the clock). I just feel like Smith can create through high screen or PNR options. Then allow any of the other guys to get a shot - or have the defense scrambling which allows the other players plenty of opportunities. We’re really stacked offensively - anyone could hit a game winner. I just want the ball in my creator’s hands 99% of the time in late game situations.

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I think that he definitely has looked rushed at times, both passing and getting up his shot; often, he has succeeded despite it. But I liked his composure on Sunday. I think that he’s convinced now that good things can happen whether he’s doubled or has one guy on him. Now, how anyone looks in a title game. . . But, I was impressed by all of them, heck–everyone on the court, really. In fact, the two guys I might be most inclined to believe might not stay within themselves are Isaiah and Franz. . . Brooks and Smith are as cool as cukes out there.

After what DiVincenzo did to us in the natty, isn’t it clear that Chaundee is going to go nuts in the final four?