Next Years Team

Can someone encourage me for Michigan Basketball next year and the next couple years…will we get better, will it be worst?

Yes, so we are 10-7 in the conference which isn’t great, but is not terrible, and have shown good signs of potential. Our problem has been lack of depth. We have two players leaving but we have played a lot without them so it is not really a problem. We also gain a nice player in Xavier Simpson, and three players with some potential in Ibi Watson, Jon Teske, and Austin Davis. We have more options at the 5 next year so hopefully we can find someone serviceable other than Donnal. Moritz Wagner has a year of experience and will hopefully make big strides as I think he will. Key players like Duncan Robinson, Muhammad Ali Abdur-Rahkman, Kam Chatman, and Aubrey Dawkins get another year of growth. Mainly, we finally have seniors. While that may not be so big to some people, I believe it is. Seniors have been dominant this year and their experience is invaluable. Those two seniors are the last we have from the elite 8 team. I do think we could have another year like this one, or we can be pretty good.

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I honestly can take both sides of this discussion, and have a lot of hope in X to be someone who changes both our depth but also our mindset in terms of defense, intensity, always being plugged in, etc… but for the sake of point/counterpoint and just a bit of my own exasperation, the opposite view would be:

While we are going to finish 11-7 or 10-8 w basically the same team we have for next year, and are adding depth, the challenge still lies in getting reliable and improved contributions out of those players who have been here long enough to become more relevant and consistent and simply are not:

  1. The to be Seniors: Zak/Derrick - one could argue that they are at best complimentary players and not the consistent alpha dogs that we need to take over games, and keep everyone on the same page. You tell them to shoot more and they do, but neither has a great game getting to the rim, and both looked significantly better when Caris was there to get them better looks with their shot selection w/o Caris being extremely suspect. Could either of the make a junior to senior leap? Sure, and Zak’s improved health will help, but I look at both of them as “strong complimentary college players” and not of the type who can really pull the rest of the team behind them and will us to victories. Would love to be horribly wrong here.

  2. The talented, but yet to contribute consistently: Wagner/Dawkins/Chatman/Duncan/wilson - all of these guys for reasons of development (wagner/chatman/dawkins/wilson), or consistency (Duncan/dawkins/wilson) show that we aren’t getting enough out of them, or giving them enough chances to make an impact on the team when the games start to count. Some of this is JB’s approach, some of it is maybe coaching them harder, some of it is finding a role where their liabilities aren’t as painful, but overall these are very strong assets, and the return on them right now is painfully limited. How likely is this to change? Donnal can give some hope that its possible, but Chatman is a perfect example of why it may not be. We basically need 2-3 of these guys to be solid and consistent, right now you could argue its zero.

  3. The recruits X/Ibi/Austin/Teske - Honestly, other than frontcourt depth, and possibly some flashes of greatness from X, the contribution here is largely going to be in enabling the other players to play less and rest more. Anything else is gravy

The argument that purely by waiting a year with the same team, things get better is nice but JB himself said something to the effect that he expected players to have progressed to the point this year that they wouldn’t make the same mistakes at this point. Stylistically, something needs to change to get a higher return out of the talent that we have (which I would state is worthy of a top 3 B1G finish next year if optimized).

To close out on the roster… Maar/Donnal get my MVPs - really impressive what they were able to do. Filled in well around less than ideal pieces and circumstances. Doyle doesn’t seem like he really will have a place when this is all said and done.

I’ve admittedly digressed to being too frustrated, but I am fully supportive of the team. I’m flying in from Seattle for Saturday, I will follow them wherever they go in the tourney (if), but I’m reaching a point where there is enough data to question the strategy and execution. JB needs to overdeliver on something in the next 12m (recruiting, development, performance) to get me unequivocally back in his corner (not that he should care, but it is likely a common perspective).

The discussion about depth is more about Beilein’s willingness to use it to his advantage. It’s up to the players at the end of the day to perform but by the same token even if players did show their ability Beilein still isn’t going to go 9-10 deep.

Rotation players

after this it should be an open competition for the final 4 rotation spots. Doyle has regressed this year, Wagner wasn’t utilized properly this year and they wasted a rs year on a guy who has played 55 minutes during the B1G season. So there should be a chance for Wilson, or Teske to push others. I imagine Simpson will be in the rotation because Walton has shown without a doubt he’s not capable of playing 35 minutes per game. If Walton ends up playing 35 mins per game next year that’s on Beilein being stubborn and not looking at the big picture.

A lot will depend on their schedule as well if they can get good 2 plays out of teams like Minnesota, Rutgers, Penn St, Nebraska, Illinois they could fatten up their record.

Overall I see a team with a low ceiling and low floor likely along the lines of this year.

It will be interesting to see what talent leaves the Big 10

Maryland: Layman, Sulaimon, Stone, Tremble?
Indiana: Yogi (Max, Ziesloft)
Iowa: Uthoff, Woodbury, PGs Clemmons & Gesell
Wisconsin: Hayes?
Purdue: Hammonds, Raph Davis

*I don’t see great recruiting classes coming in to fill voids either for most of these losses.
I think Iowa and Maryland fall behind us. If Hayes leaves early, Wisconsin might not have the firepower.
Purdue will have solid pieces but Hammonds/Davis hurt to lose.

Then obviously MSU - They’ll lose Forbes, Valentine, Costello - finally! Deyonta should go but who knows. …but they have a good incoming class.

I see an 8 man rotation of

(Minimal minutes)
Wagner/teske (whichever isn’t in rotation)

Something huge for me is not needing to play Andrew Dakich. While he seems to be a great kid and even better bench dancer lol he isn’t a big ten player. Having someone who can spell more solid minutes for MAAR and Walton is huge. They may not need 35-40 minutes from them since they will have a solid replacement

I like how you said that. Iowa has the potential to be in the bottom 5 in the conference next year IMO. A lot of teams lose a lot of guys which is big. Michigan st unfortunately seems to be bringing in the best class though.

We won’t lose anyone who has really contributed in the B1G season.
We gain a few kids who show some potential with the possibility that one might be quite good in the 10 - 15 minutes per game he’ll likely play.
We have a coach who is a tremendous teacher.
We have guys who are willing to put in the work.
Many of those guys that are willing to work are true Sophomores.
We’ll hopefully have a full off season for Zak/Wagner/Wilson.
How does anyone think that we’ll be worse?

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Is it a good thing to be returning everybody from the worst 2 point fg% defense in the league? There’s a 3 year trend where the team is just awful defensively. This team isn’t going to get any better until they improve a lot on the defensive end. Personally I would prefer if the same guys were returning but that’s just me.


This thread is probably 2 weeks early in order to be fully appreciated. First, we need to conclude this year to really appreciate next year’s potential.
We could certainly beat Iowa, go 1 and 1 in both the B1G and NCAA tournaments. That would leave us at 11-7 in conference and 23-12 overall. Pretty good for a team playing without it’s best player, best back up and no seniors.
We lose no one from this year’s team and add at least 3 new players. This will help improve competition for playing time, lessen the need for guys playing too many minutes and improve the rotation. We can definately be better next year.


I’m optimistic, and my optimism comes from thinking next year’s team does actually have a high ceiling, and because we have a coach who is great at pushing players to their potential (Plenty want to complain about the lack of talent and recruiting, but many of those same people are calling MAAR our best player–a player who was ranked 250+, found by Beilein, and groomed by Beilein).

Returning all of the players who significantly contributed to this season IS a good thing. Though it isn’t guaranteed to happen, players tend to get better with increased experience. Just look at rest of the conference’s players who we envy: Forbes, Valentine, Costello, Utoff, Rapheal Davis, Yogi, Troy Williams, etc. All of them got better with age, and most of them (biggest exception is yogi) made the switch from irrelevant/under-performers to high-quality players and leaders.

And I believe that every player on our roster can get better. Perhaps it is unlikely that any of our players make a huge of a jump as Trey, Nik, or Caris (and it should be unlikely, that sudden and massive upgrade in performance is unprecedented and the reason they were some of the best to ever wear the maize and blue), but if you take this team and make every/most of the players better, then you have yourself a really good, experienced team.

I am actually fairly low on the incoming class, except that Xavier Simpson looks like he will be the rock and foundation of our program for the next 4 years. I think it’s unlikely, but IF he can earn 15 minutes a game next year, that’s huge, because it means he is good enough to keep more experienced players on the bench. I hope I am wrong about Ibi, Teske, and Davis, but they dont seem capable of being more than serviceable role players (fingers crossed for Ibi to follow in Caris’ footsteps).

Finally, I still think our team can get back to elite shooting. The sudden and steep drop off in 3pt shooting has been brutal. When we miss those 3s, it hurts the other facets of our offensive game and totally saps any effort out of our already poor defense. This team is full of good shooters, who have all proved that they can shoot at an elite clip, so if they are able to do that consistently, then next year’s team will undoubtedly be better. I am less optimistic about the defense (I just dont think we will ever be an upper-half B1G defensive team) but there’s no way we can not improve, if only because the baseline is so low. But, even our best teams werent ‘good’ B1G defenses, they were just not-bad enough to let the offense win games.

I’m not expecting huge leaps by any one certain individual, except I’m hoping Moe Wags has a big offseason, has a great sophomore leap, adds 5" to his vertical and gives us a two-headed interior monster.

I’m hoping Kam Chatman can make a huge leap out of nowhere. I am well aware that’s a ton to hope for but it just kills me how highly touted a recruit he was and how he has been. He was expected to be the face of the program and he is nowhere near.

No true creator, and a consistent inability to stop someone when needed severely limits this roster. Ibi’s NOT getting any minutes next year and Teske likely is headed for a RS. X is a 5-8 minute guy next year at best.

That leaves any significant improvement to come from within. Whom might that come from with any significant impact? Call me skeptical.

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There’s plenty of players whose improvement would be impactful, it’s just a matter of if/how much they improve. If Duncan gets better at getting open, Derrick and MAAR get better at passing out of the PNR, Zak get’s quicker and fixes shot selection, Aubrey gets a serviceable handle and becomes not the worst defensive player in the B1G, Ricky starts catching the ball, and/or Moe and Kam make less dumb misakes, you dont think the team would be drastically improved? I am not saying that all of that is going to happen or that all of the players are suddenly going to be great at what they are currently bad at, but some players will improve on their weaknesses and enhance their strengths, and it will make us a better team.

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If you see a potential big time creator on this existing roster who would it be? Walton - Irvin? Not a chance.

Who on this roster has even one ounce of potential of being a B1G defensive impact stopper? …

The same roster we have today is going to get 95% of next years minutes, with a 100% of the exact same limitations.

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There are a lot of improvements to be made for individual players.

Robinson becoming a better 3 point shooter in conference when the lights are on, improving his dribbling and explosiveness so teams will respect his game more.

Walton becoming a threat inside the arc shooting inside the arc at 37%. Easy for opponents to guard when you’re not a threat to hit shots consistently.

Dawkins developing a clue defensively.

In general this team has to become a lot more aggressive period on the offensive and defensive end. Far too often on offense this team tries to lay the ball in instead of dunking it. Irvin and Donnal are the biggest culprits when it comes to that.

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Can’t speak for anyone other than myself, but the reason I like MAAR is that his game has shown a lot of growth whereas many others have essentially plateaued or even regressed. I also like the way he defies some JB stereotypes – yes, he was way under the radar, but he’s also an aggressive attacker with above-average quickness who gets to the FT line and seems to prefer driving to settling for jump shots. (JB called him an “east-coast guard” or something, but there are a lot of guards like him everywhere… we just rarely recruit them. I guess the last one was Brundidge, but that didn’t work out so well…) MAAR also plays something resembling defense.

I do hope that at least one of our guys makes the leap forward that you suggest by pointing to Uthoff, Forbes, Costello etc. Do I think Donnal or Doyle will ever become the next Costello? No. Donnal is now catching and finishing passes but he’ll never be the mean, physical, rebounding presence that Costello is. Do I think DJ or Wagner will become Uthoff, or that Chatman will snap out of his funk and become the next Hayes? Not really, but I suppose we can hope.

That said, it’s hard to understand your optimism when you are so low on the incoming class. (For the record, I am too.) I am holding out some hope for Teske only because he is a true seven footer and held a Matta offer (and Matta doesn’t tend to compromise on physical tools, though he often overlooks b-ball IQ). Those factors alone defy the JB stereotype of the undersized, soft big that nobody wanted. My only hope is that he isn’t one of those lead-footed bargain-basement seven footers that you can find on maybe one third of all mid-major teams. But I figure he faces decent competition in Ohio, so I don’t think that’s very likely.

Also on the bright side, Xavier will be slightly better than Cassius Winston. On the other hand, nobody on our roster will hold a candle to Bridges, Langford, or Ward. It won’t be pretty playing those guys.

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You are cherry picking a few select attributes that the team needs to improve. If the only way this team could get better is to 1)Have a player develop into a Trey/Valentine/Yogi creator or 2)Develop into a Raphael Davis/AJ Hammons/Utoff defender, then yeah, we arent going to get better. But that logic is just wrong. Both of those things would undoubtedly make us better, but we can also get better by other means. AlbrechtShotFake cited one already: Duncan improving his shooting and dribbling. Everyone on the team can get better at some things, and at least a few of them will, so we will be a better team next year.

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I agree, those are the same reasons that I like MAAR. But I dont think he becomes good enough to be (arguably) the best player on Michigan’s roster, if he doesnt have JB to coach him up to that point. My point is that, just like how JB made MAAR better, he can make other players better. Not all of them will become a lot better and not all of them will even become as good as MAAR, but JB will develop this team to be better next year.

I didnt mean to suggest that one or more of our players will make the jump from serviceable to 1st/2nd All-B1G, but I can see how the players I listed would make it seem like that’s what I meant. Those names were just easy to think of, when listing players who got significantly better. I dont think any of our players will (maybe some can, but wont) develop into an all-conference player. I am just saying that another year of eligibility is another year where making a noticeable improvement is possible.

I can be optimistic about next year, and the year after, without being optimistic about the incoming class because only 2 of our players are going to graduate at the end of next season. Even if Ibi, Teske, and Davis dont contribute much, that’s fine because we have a bunch of sophomores this year (MAAR, Aubrey, Duncan, Mark) that can lead the team in 2017-2018, with Simpson stepping in for Walton. I also really like Poole, which I didnt say earlier.

I cant argue with your MSU assessment. The B1G will be in the hands of their ridiculous recruiting class. All we can do is hope that Davis bolts for the NBA and that the rest of them leave after 1 year. I am actually really curious to see if/how Izzo keeps a bunch of 5-star 18-year-olds in line. Usually his players have been humbled by a few years on the bench, before they see meaningful minutes.

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