In Michigan's transition season, Mike Smith is ready to seize his opportunity


Good piece. I’m very high on Smith and think he’s the biggest key to our ceiling this season. (Yes, center is important too and we need Franz to make a bit of a leap…but I think we know the floor on those.) Smith has the potential to unlock the offense for us and if he’s good enough to play 25-30 minutes it addresses the biggest lack of depth on the team. If he’s a fringe rotation player in the ~15 minute range and forces everyone to shift roles then we’re less likely to hit the ceiling.

I like that you mentioned having Simmons on staff for his perspective - would have liked to explore that a little more if possible.

I also am a little bummed that Darius Morris didn’t get included in the PG lineage.

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It’s a point exemplified by Howard’s offensive strategy. If Michigan’s inbounding the ball off a made shot, Smith takes the ball up the floor. If not, whoever grabs the rebound does, so long as that’s not the center.

This gives me nightmares about some of Isiah’s past balhandling snafus in transition haha but hopefully this means we’re creating more transition opportunities to mitigate some of the half court playmaking concerns. (Of course, you have to balance that against our likely defensive weaknesses.)

I’ve agreed with you on this since the signing. I’m very confident he plays well and is a huge offensive addition.

I like the idea of running some up-tempo and getting some easier transition baskets given the lack of playmakers on the offense in the half-court. I also think it is a bit of coach-speak in that they will likely still pass the ball to Brooks or Smith when not trying to run…at least once they get over half-court.

But I share your concern about other ball handlers on this team. Which is why I liked the part of that quote about Smith taking the ball up after made baskets as much as anything. I know many on this board and other UM sites love the idea of a Brooks-Wagner-Brown-Livers-Center lineup. While I think we’ll see that at times and it will be effective in stints, I worry about it getting pressured repeatedly due to the lack of elite ball handlers on the court.

I agree with most of this. Might be harder ffor me to be confident in what the best lineup will be given that the range of plausible outcomes for Smith is just so great. He could be a plus Big Ten starter who fills a lot of crucial needs: playmaking, handles, outside shooting. If he can do all those things without getting eaten alive on defense then he’ll start and play 25 minutes easily. But it’s also very possible he’s better suited to a backup, 10-15 minutes per game role. Don’t know how he’ll handle the jump in competition, but I tend to be more optimistic as well.

In theory, going up tempo is always great. It’s why every coach talks about getting faster in the offseason. In execution, it’s much harder. I forget our transition efficiency from this past year. I know it was bad in 2019. But IIRC Franz was quite good in transition and should continue to flourish there. Livers as well. We don’t really have a dominant North—South athlete though

Up tempo might work better assuming Chaundee is eligible and he is on the floor with Johns at the 5. A lineup of Smith, Brooks/Zeb, Franz, Livers and Johns should be able to get out and run. How often that combo is on the floor thought is still up the air.

Does Smith get another season of eligibility after this year