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

Our 2018 team relied pretty heavily on MAAR and Matthews ISOs at the end of the shot clock if I remember correctly, the latter of which was key to our Final Four victory vs Loyola. But yeah you could say there wasn’t a “go to” guy.

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I think we won that final 4 game because Wagner put up a historic stat line rather than Matthews doing anything late in shot clocks. I recall that he started hot with like 8 points, but don’t remember him having nearly as much of an impact as Wagner after that.

In general, I’d say Wagner was our go-to guy that year before anyone else


Wagner 24 points 15 boards 3 steals against Loyola. Needed that game against UConn but got into foul trouble

Doesn’t need that kind of guy, exactly. As others have adeptly noted, Michigan has multiple guys that are dangerous, and if you take one away three more rise to take their place.

And it’s the “three more” that’s interesting. In 2018 different guys would have good games at different times, but the hope is that one or two would be really productive and carry an offense that could scuffle at times. This year’s team can have two guys have mediocre offensive games and still hit 1.3 with four others piling points up. Franz wasn’t bad against OSU, but he wasn’t great… and we know how that went. If the question is, who is the star in a postseason game, it’s going to be different every night. If the question is, who do you draw up a play for with 15 seconds to go trailing by a point in the Final, you draw up a regular play because there are five guys I’d trust to get a good look depending on what the defense does.

Regarding late clock: Maybe my sample size is wrong, but we seem to get into bad late clock situations a lot more rarely than I recall in other recent teams. Howard’s NBA-length playsets helps here, but even when a shot is coming at <5 it’s usually something that’s the result of a good play rather than a guy making something happen. Yeah, if we have just a few seconds and need a guy, that’s not our strength, but I’m not sure that’s going to cost us in a long tournament run.


We sure could’ve used a guy like that last night. When things get tight and you need a bucket, who is going to step up?

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Smith gave us a little spark at the beginning of the 2nd half. Maybe we need him to go looking for his shot a little more in games like this where not much else is working.


I’ve been saying that for awhile now.

I like Smith and I would agree to an extent. Like you said beginning of the 2nd half he made a couple shots but once it got double figures + he wasn’t and really isn’t a guy that can get his team going. Isaiah has difficulty creating his own shot if it isn’t a step in jumper or back down turnaround, Dickinson can get shots but someone has to get him touches. Wagner still has to be that guy imo and last night was disappointing.

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I’m not sure if this is really necessary but the champions tend to have some elite players:

Virginia: DeAndre Hunter
Villanova: Brunson
UNC: no true elite players
Villanova: no true elite players
Duke: Okafor was pretty damn good, team on his shoulders though? Idk
UConn: Napier was pretty good too
Lousville: no one
Kentucky: Anthony Davis
UConn: Kemba

Conclusion: obviously having an elite player helps but is not a prerequisite to make a tournament run

I would say every national title team has at least 1 elite player. Almost impossible not to. but I would say Michigan does as well

At least prior to last night, we had two guys in the KenPom POY top 10.

Obviously it’s tough context to think about - neither Hunter, nor Franz (nor Zay, nor Mike, nor anyone) played like they’re elite last night. But in the context of the season, I think you can say we have at least two.


I would agree that Franz can often be that guy. But against a team like this with quick perimeter defenders, we might need Smith to step up. He is used to being a go-to guy, from his days at Columbia.

Just some context though Villanova the 18 team had 4 guys selected in the top 33. Dante had a terrific performance but that lineup was pretty stacked.

UNC had Justin Jackson and Joel Berry. Berry was a senior which was very valuable.

When looking at that list still seems Michigan lacks elite guard play. Smith/Brooks are solid players but I don’t think at the level to win a national title. Some of that has to do with depth and some of it has to do with the limitations they have.

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As we all know, teams with “Put the Team on my Back” guys are winless this season. So too was Michigan with Trey Burke, Stauskus, X, etc.

Michigan clearly has the horses to make a deep tournament run, that doesn’t mean they will in fact do that much less play great every game. But it has three exceptional players who are all probably future pros. This argument is nonsense.

Elite as in top 5, all american caliber players.

You’re definitely right though, I agree with you.

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…

Livers could have been that guy

That was my thought when we called timeout with 16 seconds to go. We do not have that one guy that can just go get a basket and it definitely hurt us today

Was Franz Wagner a “put the team on my back” guy against LSU?

He had a bad game.


Livers wasn’t really a shot creator though. You’d need someone else to find him.

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I thought Eli was that at least getting them to that point. Franz looked real good against LSU late but I didn’t think this was a difficult matchup for Franz in the least. Most of the time he had guys 3-5 inches shorter than him on he didn’t look for his shot at all. He’s a very talented player but if the team you’re on can’t find a mismatch or your own player can what is he going to be moving forward?